“Maybe we could get back to saving the day”

Season Four

The Library and its Librarians has survived the ultimate battle against Apep.  Now, they’re past the point of prophecy; anything could happen.  Like odd priests (led by John Noble, best known as Denethor) uncovering large stones in Dark Secret.  These turn out to be the original cornerstones of the Library of Alexandria.  Flynn and Eve are practicing a bonding ceremony, led by Jenkins; they will tether the Library to this world and also gain immortality.  An alarm warns them of the cornerstones and Jenkins leads them to a cell beneath the Library, holding Nicole Noone; Flynn’s Guardian from  Quest of the Spear.  Turns out, they she got thrown back in time during that mission at the end of the film and at some point along the way, gained immortality herself.  Jenkins [rightly] does not trust her, but Flynn wants to speak to her alone.  She tries to get Flynn to doubt the Library; it’s keeping him prisoner.

In the meantime, the other Librarians track down the cornerstones before the Heretic Church of Shadows can plunge the world into another Dark Age.  Stone is excited to visit the Paris Opera House and a brief shout out to Phantom of the Opera.  But, they lose the stone and the Shadows try to bring the Library back to this world in order to destroy it.  Nicole ends up helping out and Flynn has to save her.  But she disappears at the end.

In Steal of Fortune, one of Jake’s friends gets a bad string of luck at a horse track.  Actually, a lot of people have been experiencing bad luck.  The Librarians figure out it is the statue of “Lady Luck” come to life.  They manage to rig the casino and she begins to lose her powers and revert back to a statue.  We meet Ezekiel Jones’ family in Christmas Thief.  They had no clue he was a world-class thief.  He accidentally shows his mother the Annex and the Magic Door globe, which she uses to rob the Bank of Thieves.  Ezekiel gets found out and they’re about to be terminated; for it is run by the patron saint of thieves, who happens to be Santa’s brother.  Yes, Santa has entrusted the three Librarians to guard his sleigh, which of course, they take out for a spin. Christmas is almost ruined, but Jenkins saves the day.  And Ezekiel reveals that he would steal things so he could donate the profits; roads, schools, and hospitals got built.  It is far better to give, than to receive.

Silver Screen is rather fun; Flynn and Eve go on a date to see one of her favorite black-and-white detective films.  And end up sucked in.  They have to play out the rest of the story in order to leave; and it’s a bit hilarious at times, and they enjoy themselves.  But the film does not end the way Eve remembers.  Jenkins tracks down the solution; the writer’s secretary had written the story in order to reveal her own daughter, but it got covered up (mother and daughter are reunited in the end).  And the other three Librarians travel through other films (Stone gets to sing, and then they end up in space).

A town turns old in Bleeding Crown and a former Librarian jumps through time to help.  Flynn fanboys for a bit over Darrington Dare, which is rather sweet.  But Darrington warns Flynn that the Library can only have one Librarian; more than one and the in-fighting will destroy the Library.  And say hello to Porthos again (Howard Charles); he plays the villainous wizard .  Their relationship apparently inspired Holmes and Moriaty; they are nemesis, and the only people in each others’ lives.  The wizard is attempting to create clones, but they age really quick, so he plans to steal the souls of others to stabilize his creations.  Darrington is willing to let the other Librarians die, but Flynn will not.  They are his friends and just as important as the Library.  And his talk to Darrington actually influenced Darrington’s life; he was fated to die the day he returned to the past, but they discover that he changed his ways and lived a longer, fuller life.  But he still warns Flynn there can only be one Librarian.

Eve meets up with Nicole in Graves of Time; she wants to help a fellow Guardian.  Nicole has been using her graves (she faked her death every twenty years to avoid suspicion) to hide an artifact.  Flynn and Jenkins follow them; Jenkins still does not trust Nicole.  Eve and Jenkins get captured by the old man [if he looks familiar, he’s played by Christopher Heyerdahl {Thor Heyerdahl was his father’s cousin; blame my brother for me recognizing the surname} and he’s appeared in Scorpion, MacGyver, Castle.  He’s Marcus in Twilight and oh yeah, Alastair in Supernatural] following Nicole, who claims that Nicole was a follower of Rasputin and caused the downfall of the Romanov family.  Actually, he was Rasputin and immortal.  He stabs Nicole, but Flynn feeds Rasputin radiation in order to kill him.  Jenkins believes that Nicole was protecting the Library, so he siphons off his immortality to save her.  Sadly, the episode ends with Flynn gone and his tethering ring left behind.  Jenkins feels Flynn has resigned and now the fate of the Library is in question.

The team finds a mystery in Disenchanted Forest; people have been disappearing.  The neighboring team-building camp plans to expand and this forest is connected to all other forests.  It finds its mouthpiece through Jacob.  DOSA even agrees to help protect the land, granting it “Area 51 Status.”  Jacob had also befriended a reporter who got fired for writing about magic and the Library.  So she doesn’t feel like a complete lunatic, Jacob shows her the Library, but she cannot reveal the secret and Jacob cannot be with her.  In Hidden Sanctuary, Cassandra leaves the Library for the safest town in America; she froze during a recent mission and it’s been haunting her.  So now, she wants a safe life without people depending on her.  And she enjoys her life, but she also uncovers a mystery.  The town councilman had once made a wish after saving a fairy that no one would have accidents again.  Cassandra’s arrival through the Magic Door weakened the spell containing the fairy, but she talks the fairy down, with some help, from wreaking vengeance upon the town.  Cassandra luckily returns to the Library.

Town Called Feud hosts a Civil War reenactment, focused on brothers who served on both sides, then ended up killing each other.  During this year’s event, a ghost appears and says “the brothers are rising.”  Cassandra stays back with Jenkins, to have high tea and some research (it’s rather adorable), so Eve takes Jake and Ezekiel to investigate.  A locket played into the legend, supposedly broken and will now be attached.  Jake and Ezekiel start arguing, like brothers do; there’s also the underlying tension that one of the three remaining Librarians will need to tether to Eve to protect the Library.  The two brothers’ ghosts indeed rise, as do their armies, and take over the town.  Jack and Ezekiel aim guns at each other, but miss.  As do the armies.  Turns out, the brothers had reconciled on the battlefield, to protect their families.  “The world needs brothers being brothers.”

Jenkins faces his own trials with Some Dude Named Jeff.  Jeff bought a grimoire online and used a spell to trade places with Jenkins.  He and his friends play a D&D campaign as the Librarians and Jeff wanted to have a cool life.  So Jenkins must get out of Jeff’s body and back into the Library.  He reluctantly recruits Jeff’s friends to get him in the back door.  The other Librarians eventually figure out that Jeff is not Jenkins, but before they could do anything, the grimoire released Asmodeus [yep, character appeared in Supernatural as well, a prince of Hell].  Jeff and Jenkins battle side-by-side and trap the prince again.  And Jenkins has gained some new friends, who are very interested in his tales of Arthur’s Court.  As long as he gets to be the dungeon master do they do it right.  A fairly light-hearted episode.  Which is good because…

Events begin to come to a head in Trial of the One.  The Library is reverting to protecting only its artifacts, since Eve has not chosen a Librarian to tether with.  It takes over Jenkins and has the three Librarians fight to the death to decide who will tether.  Eve fights back and brings the Librarians together again, but Jenkins is mortally wounded.  The three Librarians all resign over Jenkins’ death.  Stone no longer trusts the Library; for Ezekiel, the Library crossed a line; and Cassandra hates the Library now.  Nicole pops in and circles a grieving Eve.  This was all Nicole’s plan (we knew Jenkins was right not to trust her) to destroy the Library.  She feels the Library betrayed her.  The Library fades around Eve.  She arrives in a black and white world in Echoes of Memory.  She uses the memory palace technique to focus on specific aspects of the Library to keep it in tact; the Spear of Destiny, the Ark of the Covenant, and the lion statues.  Flynn’s tethering ring gives her a clue and she stumbles across a recorded message from Flynn.  He did not leave the Library of his own violation; Nicole kidnapped him.  Flynn loves Eve and was ready to tether.  But now Eve has to find Flynn; and the other Librarians.

This world is run by “the Company” [and reminds me a lot of 1984; I hated that book] and everything is blah.  No one seeks knowledge.  Eve finds Jake selling beige cars, but sparks his memory of the Library.  They find Cassandra next, still working complex math problems.  Ezekiel runs the only show in town, but still likes to pick locks.  Eve is captured by Nicole and put in a mental hospital, where everyone else who questions things is put.  Eve finds Flynn who has held on to his own memories, despite several attempts by Nicole to wipe his mind.  She’s trying to hang on to the man she had fallen in love with and had hoped for centuries would rescue her.  Eve finds Flynn and they share a kiss.  Eve remembers the Library now and Flynn vows to never leave her or the Library ever again.  And she still loves this nice, cute, and completely crazy man.

The other three begin to remember their gifts and mount a rescue for Eve and Flynn.  They’re soon trapped however, but Eve encourages them to manifest the Library where they stand.  It’s full of art, science, and magic and it values each Librarian.  It lives in each of them and Flynn is the heart and soul of the Library.  Nicole can only watch as the Library returns and her plan fails.  While our heroes are back in the Library, Jenkins is still dead.  But Flynn won’t give up; he has a crazy idea to rewrite history just enough.  He jumps through a portal to the moment when Nicole will take the immortality potion and he begs her to help the Library.  He cannot rescue her, but she is still the Library’s Guardian.  She agrees and Flynn wakes up back at the tethering ceremony rehearsal, from the beginning of the season.  He re-wrote everything that happened.  Eve remembers, but the other three don’t.  The couple asks Jenkins (who is alive, huzzah!) to perform the ceremony now, don’t wait for the solstice.

I’m glad things worked out alright, but I’m not fond of the Nicole plot.  I wasn’t terribly fond of her in Spear of Destiny because she was often dismissive of Flynn.  This season was a bit of a letdown after the previous season.  I know there was no big bad to defeat, but there are plenty more stories and artifacts to explore.  This felt a bit like a cop-out.

There have been a few tie-in novels published: The Lost Lamp, The Mother Goose Case, and The Pot of Gold.  I recommend them all!

And of course, there is some rather good fanfiction stories out there.

Check out Hedgehog-O-Brien on AO3 for some trio Librarian fluff.

And icarus_chained weaves in some mythology and introspection on Jenkins.

Up Next: Air Force One

Time Travel Gives You a Headache

Season Two

Drowned Book starts with a flashback to the beginning of season one, when magic surges back through the ley lines.  An older man summons a character from Sherlock Holmes; “I have need of your genius, sir.”  Fast forward to present day, everyone ends up invited to the same New York museum, but on different cases.  Eve suggests working together, but they’ve all gotten used to doing their own thing.  A strange storm blows in and Eve and Flynn meet James Worth (played by the dashing David S. Lee; he’s been in episodes of Castle, NCIS and NCIS:LA), head of antiquities from Oxford.  James charms Eve and can match Flynn for deducting.  The three younger Librarians end up teaming up again to solve their problems and Flynn realizes that Worth is a fictional.  His first guess is Sherlock Holmes (and he’s ever so excited), but Worth is actually Moriarty.  But he’s not the true mastermind connecting all the artifacts.  That would be Prospero, Shakespeare’s wizard from The Tempest.  Prospero is a Fictional so powerful, he rose from his own tale.  But he wants to control his own story, not be bound by what Shakespeare wrote.  He and Moriarty manage to disappear, but the Librarians have to deal with the storm that is spiraling out of control.  They end up using a sun from the Library to burn off the cold air and save New York.  Flynn sulks that he liked being able to do things his way, but Eve points out that pooling information works just as well.

In Broken Staff, Flynn and Eve follow up clues to keep Prospero from regaining more of his power, while Prospero and Moriarty manage to make it into the Library.  They hold Jenkins hostage for a bit, asking about the Heart of the Library, the Tree of Knowledge.  Again, it takes all of the Librarians, including Flynn and Eve to defeat the traps Prospero has laid.  Flynn burns a Tree to thwart Prospero (not actually the Tree of Knowledge, he hopes it wasn’t important).  But the Library has also been re-arranging itself and sixteen artifacts are missing.  Eve again suggests that Flynn carry on searching for the artifacts alone while she helps the other three Librarians settle the Library.

The three younger Librarians head to Jacob’s home state to solve a rift in the Earth in What Lies Beneath the Stone.  Jacob’s not thrilled about returning home; he kept his academic life very secret at home and he’s been saying “family ain’t easy” for a while.  He has strong disagreements with his father, but the Librarian job is more important.  They pass Ezekiel off as the expert since Stone’s father is dismissive of him and eventually work out that it’s a Native American trickster who has been set free and causing chaos; feeding off lies.  It looks like Jacob reconciles with his father for a moment, but it was the shapeshifter.  Jacob fights him off and locks him away again.  He still does not tell his father the truth, because he has realized that he doesn’t need his father’s approval.  So he signs his own name to the academic paper he is writing.  The team heads to Wexler University in Cost of Education, where people are strangely disappearing.  Cassandra meets another girl who is tracking magic and linking it with science.  A tentacle monster from another dimension is stealing people who are full of ego.  Cassandra follows her new friend into the wormhole to rescue her, but is stopped for a brief moment by the ladies of the Lake Foundation, interested in combining science and math.  Cassandra is content with being a Librarian, but the invitation stands.  She disagrees with Jenkins on whether magic should be studied or not.  Ezekiel sadly loses his new gargoyle friend, Stumpy.

In Hollow Men, Flynn pops back in to find the Eye of Zarathustra, which “is the key to the door of Lost Knowledge, the Staff summoned by Sun and Rue.”  But he’s quickly separated from the rest of the Librarians, held by a strange man who somehow knows Flynn, but not really.  Prospero is also after the staff and Moriarty still flirts with Eve.  She ends up having to team up with the antagonist in order to find Flynn.  And it turns out, Flynn is traveling with the intelligence of the Library.  Meanwhile, the other three work with Jenkins to keep the Library from completely dying.  Ray regains his memories, though Moriarty has to take the staff to save him. The Library is wholly restored.  Baird visits an old friend in Infernal Contract; Sam Denning (Michael Trucco, he’s appeared in several TV shows, including Castle as a similarly named Detective Tom Demming that was interested in Kate) is running for mayor in a small town.  But turns out that his opponent’s family has had a long running deal with a devil (played by John de Lancie, a few episodes of Charmed and Stargate SG-1, and Q in Star Trek); a bit like crossroad demons in Supernatural.  Eve, Jenkins, and the Librarians manage to trick the devil and rescue Sam and the town.  Jenkins sweetly takes care of the three ill Librarians at the end and points out that Eve’s job as Guardian is to save the Librarians’ souls.

The team gets to go clubbing in London in Image of Image, trying to figure out how people are mysteriously dying from something they weren’t doing.  They’re all connected to Club Effigy, where pictures mark them as the next victim.  There’s a charming Englishman who turns out to be Dorian Gray.  Any of his vices are passed onto his victims, keeping him young and beautiful.  Until Ezekiel and Cassandra turn the tables on him.  Jenkins once again counsels Eve on the upcoming battle between good and evil.  Jenkins goes to a Fae for information on Prospero at the beginning of Point of Salvation.  The rest of the team gets stuck in a video game scenario at a DARPA lab.  Ezekiel is the only one who remembers each pass and gets tired of seeing his friends die.  He forces them to believe him and follow him, even sacrificing himself at the end.  Jacob and Cassandra figure out a way to bring him back and now he doesn’t remember his heroic deeds [or does he?].  Prospero attacks in the final moments.  He created a spell that wiped the memory of Eve, Cassandra, Ezekiel, and Jacob from Jenkins’ mind in Happily Ever After.  Flynn heads off to find them and discovers they’re leading new, but similar lives together on a small island.  Eve is the sheriff, dating Moriarty.  Cassandra has been to the moon, Jacob teaches eleven different classes at the university, and Ezekiel is an FBI agent, but their home base seems to resemble a library.  Flynn teams up with the sprite, Ariel [she is adorable] to bring his family’s memories back.  Eve has to do the same for Flynn at the end because his perfect life is one puzzle after another that he solves by himself.  But they’ve been under the spell for three weeks, Jenkins reports.  The ley lines have been supercharged by Prospero; it means the end of the world.

A giant forest begins to cover the earth in Final Curtain.  Due to a wet hand, Flynn and Eve finally realize the strange note they found in John Dee’s estate in Drowned Book was written by Flynn in his left hand.  They use time travel to go back to when Shakespeare wrote The Tempest, but it breaks upon their departure.  Now Jenkins and the other three Librarians have to follow the rest of the clues to stop Prospero in the present.  Prospero has one final task for Moriarty and sends him back in time as well.  But Moriarty wants vengeance on his taskmaster for holding him prisoner and decides the best way to do that is to try to kill Shakespeare.  Obviously, that does not work out, but Flynn and Eve discover that Prospero is Shakespeare transformed.  His quill is magical, part of the Tree of Knowledge gifted to him by John Dee.  With it, Shakespeare transforms into the wizard so he can escape a failure in his career.  Moriarty is swiftly dealt with by Prospero, and he almost drowns Eve.  She rises out of the water, like the Lady of the Lake (aided by the ladies of the Lake), throwing Excalibur to Flynn to defeat Prospero.  So it follows that old adage of King Arthur, that he who wields Excalibur will do so once more and save England.  The other three turn Prospero back into Shakespeare in the present, using some of Shakespeare’s’ work to define themselves.  A portal opens that can send Shakespeare back to his time, but Flynn and Eve cannot come forward.  However, they figure out how to do time travel the long way round, leaving the notes they need for themselves and asking Shakespeare to use his magic quill one last time to make them into a statue that is delivered to the Library for safekeeping.  The other three free them from their very long kiss and heck, even Cal is back.

It’s adorable how much this team continues to become a family.  Since I am not fully versed in Shakespeare, I probably miss some of the nuisances of Prospero being the villain, but Moriarty is excellent; almost sympathetic at times.  I’m glad that Flynn takes Eve with him to defeat Prospero, rather than leaving her behind and handling the mission on his own; and I’m even happier that they don’t stay stuck in Elizabethan England forever.

Next Time: Season Three

Offering You the Chance to Save the World, Twice Before Friday

Season One

Flynn Carson is back, still protecting the world from dangerous magical artifacts (Noah Wyle is billed as “special guest star” since he couldn’t star in two television shows at the same time).  He’s been doing the job, alone, for eleven years.  Though it turns out that the Library wants to add to the team.  It recruits Colonel Eve Baird (played by Rebecca Romijn, who was Mystique/Raven in the 2000’s X-Men trilogy), head of a NATO terrorist task force, to become Flynn’s Guardian.  As Charlene points out, Flynn hasn’t had a proper Guardian since Nicole (in the first movie).  We also find out that Judson passed away five years previous, though his spirit still speaks to Flynn in a mirror (and Flynn’s mother apparently had passed as well).

In The Crown of King Arthur, Eve helps Flynn solve the mystery of why experts are being killed; one professor had been trying to reach Flynn regarding a painting.  The connection?  He had been invited to interview at the Library the same day Flynn was hired; the professor was only a few people behind Flynn.  There are a few top candidates left alive.  Cassandra Cillian (played by Lindy Booth who has starred in a few Hallmark movies, including playing a librarian falling in back in love with a football star) is startlingly brilliant with math and science, but they sometimes get cross-wired with her other senses and a brain tumor pushes her death sooner rather than later.  Ezekiel Jones (John Harlan Kim, he has appeared in a few episodes of NCIS: LA and Hawaii Five-0) is a master thief, and Jacob Stone (Christian Kane, previously starred in Leverage, and I absolutely loved his appearance as an old friend of Dean’s in Supernatural; complete with singing Good Ol’ Boys [one of my favorite scenes of the entire show]) is a genius art historian who hides out in his hometown.  Yes, apparently ninjas do pop up in Oklahoma, sent by the Serpent Brotherhood. 

Eve and Flynn bring the other three to the Library to keep them safe.  One of them excitedly asks if vampires are real.  Flynn answers yes to vampires, no to Dracula, because he killed him (call back to the third movie).  Cassandra is glad to have lived long enough to find out magic is real, but Jacob wants to know why no one sees is.  Response: it’s buried in ley lines.  Long ago, the world was filled with magic, but it was drained off and stored in artifacts; which is why the Librarian travels the world to collect the artifacts and house them safely in the Library.  As technology has risen, magic has faded away.  Stone helps solve the mystery of the painting; it’s The Crown of King Arthur.  The actual crown was apparently created by Merlin to allow Arthur to control the magic of Camelot in order to rule.  Hence why the Serpent Brotherhood wants it; they want to release wild magic back into the world and create chaos; that they will rule.

Flynn catches up to Eve and the trio in Munich.  The painting supports the Roman hypothesis of Arthur [we’ve seen that in a few of the prior Arthurian legend movies], but the painting is actually a fake, Stone points out.  They quickly discover that the museum was built around the painting; it’s a clue (after arguing for a bit, it’s like the inside of Flynn’s mind has spilled out, but louder).  It leads outside to a sundial, which leads to a henge in the German forest.  All the while, trying to keep ahead of the Brotherhood, led by Lamia, a skilled female fighter.  The good guys recover the crown with a bit of shenanigans. 

Flynn intends to send the three newcomers home, but an alarm is set off.  The Serpent Brotherhood has gotten inside the Library.  But with the security upgrade, someone would have had to let them in.  Sadly, it was Cassandra.  The Brotherhood promised her magic would cure her brain tumor.  Lamia gains the crown and calls Excalibur to her, though Flynn puts up a fight.  He’s stabbed with Excalibur, and even though he takes a healing tonic, it cannot cure wounds dealt by a magical weapon.  Flynn will die.

The adventure immediately picks up in Sword in the Stone.  Judson and Charlene work together to protect the Library, meaning they lock it into its own pocket dimension.  Flynn mourns the their loss and the loss of his home.  Eve and the three men are met by an elderly gentleman who agrees to help them and takes them to the Library’s Annex.  You can still access any of the books from the Library.  Its’ caretaker is Jenkins (the veteran John Larroquette, got an early start with Black Sheep Squadron, then broke out in Night Court amongst his long career), who is eager to send them on their way so he can return to his peace and research.  Jenkins encourages Eve to help Flynn; she gives him a pep talk so he will save the world one last time.

Meanwhile, Cassandra meets, Dulaque (Matt Frewer, who provided several animated voices to various series and appeared as Pestilence in Supernatural), the leader of the Serpent Brotherhood.  Excalibur is the key to unlocking the Stone, which will release magic.  And the stone is in London.  Through a secret entrance in Buckingham Palace, the royal family has been guarding it for years.  Cassandra helps the Brotherhood, until she discovers their true purpose and is then locked up for her troubles.  She does aid her new friends; Flynn understands why she chose to initially help the Brotherhood, to save herself.  Lamia places Excalibur back in the Stone, but distractions help Flynn gain the Crown and regain Excalibur.  The Brotherhood runs off, but Flynn is still dying and now so is Excalibur.  He offers the sword to heal Cassandra, it has that much magic left.  With Judson and Charlene gone, and Cal dying, it’s Flynn’s time.  Instead, Cassandra chooses to save Flynn.

Flynn feels it is safer for the three young adults to leave, but he vows to find the Library and bring it back.  Though he begins thinking; if he’s in charge now, he can change the rules.  There can be more than one Librarian.  And they can train the Librarian instead of throwing them into sink or swim situations.  He tells everyone to open their envelopes; there are new invitations inside.  Flynn will go off by himself, he’s used to it, but Eve will stay and protect the new Librarians, with Jenkins’ help.  He’s offering them a life a mystery and misery, of loneliness and adventure.  A chance to save the world, twice before Friday.  Flynn bids farewell to Eve who makes him promise not to die, and there is a parting kiss (squee!) [And I still totally want this job!]

The new crew continues their adventures in Horns of Dilemma, where they have to solve the labyrinth of the Minotaur and recover the twine.  (Familiar face is Tricia Helfer, who has been in several Hallmark Channel movies).  And yes, Santa Claus is real (and played by Bruce Campbell, who played Sam Axe in Burn Notice) in Santa’s Midnight Run.  The Serpent Brotherhood plans to kill Santa and the Librarians must stop them.  Eve ends up taking on the role of spreading goodwill back to the human race on Christmas Eve.  She was in fact named “Eve,” for being born on that night.

Ezekiel and Jenkins have to team up and entertain a conclave of magical beings in Apple of Discord while Stone, Cassandra, Eve, and even Flynn shows up to retrieve the dragon’s pearl.  Except hidden inside the pearl is the Apple of Discord, which brings out the worst in everyone.  And Dulaque wants the conclave to vote to disband the Library.  Of course, the heroes prevail and point out that the world needs the Library to protect it from harmful artifacts.  Eve permanently transfers to the Library and sends Flynn back out to do his thing (of course, with a parting kiss).  The Librarians’ next case is the Fables of Doom, where fairytales are coming to life in a small town.  Eve does ask Ezekiel to not antagonize local law enforcement, though he argues it is fun.  An old book, the Librus Fabula brings fairytales to life, but will re-write reality and sucks life from those trapped in its stories.  The local librarian is using it on a young girl and our heroes slowly turn into archetypes: Jacob is the Huntsman, Cassandra is Prince Charming, and Eve is the Princess (their clothing and hairstyles change throughout the episode).  Ezekiel is what he always is, the Lucky Thief and he helps the girl recover and rewrite the story so the good guys win.

They encounter magic occurring at a STEM fair in Rule of Three.  Someone has created an app that doubles as a focusing spell, so when the students all imagine beating the leader, bad luck will befall them three times over.  Cassandra gets to shine by combining science and magic.  And they encounter a new foe; Morgan le Fay (played by Alicia Witt, another actress who has appeared in Hallmark Channel movies, and even an episode of Supernatural [I think I may have figured out why so many Hallmark stars are in Supernatural; they both film in Canada]).  Jenkins is furious to encounter her (she calls him Galais) and warns Eve that there is a larger battle coming.  The Librarians save the day, but hints are dropped that something bigger is coming.

Heart of Darkness reminds me of a Supernatural episode.  There is a haunted house that traps people inside.  Eve keeps trying to protect Cassandra, but it is ultimately Cassandra who faces off against Katie.  The house is actually the House of Refuge, until a family of serial killers, the Bloody Benders, moved in [yep, really sounds like a Supernatural episode].  Jacob befriends the local archivist in City of Light.  It is ultimately a town designed by Tesla, but the citizens got trapped between worlds and the streetlights are the only thing tying them to this world.  They try to recreate Tesla’s plan to bring everyone back, but Cassandra works out that too much could go wrong and harm too many people.  Mabel sacrifices herself to shut it off.  Though there is a ray of hope at the end; Jenkins has Eve write down an appointment for future Librarians, so maybe there will be a way to bring them back.

The season ends with Loom of Fate.  It begins with Flynn meeting the team at an Egyptian tomb; he has an idea on how to bring the Library back.  The team helps out with the artifacts they have recovered throughout the year.  But just when Flynn is about to succeed, Dulaque enters and kills Lamia so he can view the Loom of Fate.  Eve and Flynn jump through and Dulaque cuts the Loom at the spot where Camelot fell.  Eve and Flynn then bounce through different timelines, where Flynn did not become the Librarian.  In each case, one of the junior Librarians took the job and they all lost Eve.  In one case, it’s Jacob Stone and Eve who pair up, instead Flynn.  In Cassandra’s case, she studied under Morgan and has a few more clues.  Camelot was the height of magic and power, but with the Loom cut, time is fraying and it will require all three Librarians to get Eve and Flynn back to the Annex and then to the River of Time.  Flynn reweaves the Loom with the labyrinth twine, while Jenkins faces off against a younger Dulaque…as in Lancelot du Lac (played by Jerry O’Connell, among his many television and movie roles, he does play Sheldon’s older brother in Big Bang Theory [Rebecca Romijn’s real-life husband].  Jenkins is actually Galahad [the son of Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic] and argues against Lancelot wanting to return to Camelot; it wasn’t as great as Lancelot remembers and mortals have earned the right to rule themselves.  Jenkins bests Lancelot and Flynn reverts to his usual self.  They have to get Eve help; Lancelot stabbed her.  But first, Flynn has to finish bringing back the Library.  The Library holds the solution for curing Eve…the same potion Flynn took in Sword in the Stone will actually work on Eve’s wound, though it’s a close thing.  Flynn refused to let Eve die like she had in all other timelines; he does not believe in Fate.  But he’s glad to be home in his Library.  They send the three young Librarians off on their own adventures, and Eve will accompany Flynn on his adventures.

I adore the show even more than I love the movies.  With a television show, there is more time to develop characters and plot lines further.  And of course, I love the integration of Arthurian legend into the story.  Cassandra is a sweetheart, Jacob is the big brother, Ezekiel is the annoying little brother, and Eve just tries to keep them all together.

Up Next: Season Two

“Cry God, for Harry, England, and St. George!”

Partaking in something that satisfies both the historian in me and the English major: Shakespeare.  Now, I believe I have mentioned before that I am not a dutiful English major; I don’t like Shakespeare, well, I don’t like reading Shakespeare.  It’s boring and most teachers pound it into our skulls by analyzing it to death.  I hate that.  But, BBC put together a phenomenal cast and put Shakespeare’s histories on screen (which I am aware has been done before, heck, I tried to watch a version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart and couldn’t make it through it.  Now, there was a slightly modern version of Hamlet done with David Tennant that was fantastic).  They timed the first arc to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics; this arc included Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II, and Henry V.  Their second arc included Henry VI and Richard III in 2016.

Gut reactions?  Richard II was a bit odd.  Henry IV was wonderful to see and Henry V is utterly magnificent.  Henry VI is simply everyone changing sides and the start of the War of the Roses and is interesting to see from this perspective.  As for Richard III; I remember doing a segment on the historical accuracy of the play in a British history course in college and I can certainly see the Tudor propaganda in the play (oh, they all cut out and condense history, but then, these are plays, not true histories…actually, I’d like to see historical documentaries on these people), yet I now see what all the hype is about.

Above all, these are a veritable who’s who in British acting.

Richard II stars Ben Whishaw (Q in Craig’s James Bond and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns) as the king.  Opposite him is Rory Kinnear (also appears with Whishaw in Skyfall, and Spectre as Bill Tanner, which he briefly played in Quantum of Solace as well) as Bolingbroke, who goes on to be crowned Henry IV.  The great Patrick Stewart appears as John of Gaunt.  If Thomas Mowbray, who argues with Bolingbroke, looks familiar, that’s because he’s played by James Purefoy, who portrays Colville aka Edward, the Black Prince of Wales in A Knight’s Tale [making this a bit funny to a historian, because Edward, the Black Prince of Wales was Richard II’s father: his father was King Edward III, but he died before his father did and so thus, his son inherited the throne].  David Morrissey appears as the Earl of Northumberland.  He’s also been the Duke of Norfolk in The Other Boleyn Girl [uncle to Anne], and has appeared in a 2008 episode of Doctor Who, “The Next Doctor”.  We briefly see David Bradley (Filch in Harry Potter and Walter Frey in Game of Thrones) as the gardener and Lindsay Duncan (also appeared in a 2009 episode of Doctor Who, “Water of Mars,” she was the mother in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, a queen in two episodes of Merlin, and Lady Smallwood in several episodes of Sherlock) as the Duchess of York.

The very gifted Jeremy Irons (Scar in The Lion King [the animated classic], Tiberius in Kingdom of Heaven, Brom in Eragon, Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask, and Alfred in several of DC’s newer Batman movies) takes over as the older Henry IV.  Tom Hiddleston (we love him as Loki in the MCU) shines as Prince Hal.  Julie Walters (Mrs. Wealsey in Harry Potter and Rosie in both Mamma Mia movies) is Mistress Quickly, Robert Pugh (he’s Craster in Game of Thrones, amongst other roles in Kingdom of Heaven, The White Queen [which also depicts the War of the Roses], and Master and Commander) is Owain Glyndŵr [that is the proper spelling, IMDB lists him as Owen Glendower; a real Welsh rebel that I’ve got a book on].  Oh hey, there’s Michelle Dockery (Mary in Downton Abbey) as Kate Percy, and Harry Lloyd (Baines in 2007’s Doctor Who “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood,” Will Scarlett in BBC’s Robin Hood, and insane Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones) is Mortimer, and Joe Armstrong (Allan a Dale in Robin Hood) is Hotspur.  His father, Alum Armstrong (he’s had roles in Van Helsing, Braveheart, and Patriot Games amongst others) plays Hotspur’s father Northumberland, and Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, Sir Richard Carlisle in Downton Abbey, and 2010’s Doctor Who “The Time of Angels” and “Flash and Stone”) pops up as Warwick.

Of course, Prince Hal graduates to King Henry V in the next installment.  This was the bit that makes me almost like Shakespeare.  Tom Hiddleston delivers some of the best known speeches with such quiet passion.  “Once more unto the breach,” stirs my blood, and he got the role of Henry V with “St. Crispin’s day,” which includes that famous line: “we few/ we happy few/ we band of brothers.”  One almost cries.  And his wooing of Katherine…if a dashing man ever said those words to me, I’d be weak-kneed.  I remember rehearsals for faire, male cast members are encouraged to woo female patrons (worked on me when I was a patron), and so they practiced on female cast members; I was just happy some guy was saying nice words to me, I didn’t really care what he was saying.

If Corporal Nym [grrr, I hate his name’s “Nym,” because I want to use it for a headstrong female character in my saga] looks familiar, he’s Tom Brooke and he’s appeared briefly in a few Sherlock episodes.  And look, there’s Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursely in Harry Potter, King George in On Stranger Tides) as the Duke of Burgundy [this was one of his last roles].  The ever talented John Hurt (the dragon Kilgarah in Merlin, the War Doctor of Doctor Who, Ollivander in Harry Potter, Professor Oxley in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Montrose in Rob Roy, and other roles going back to the 60’s)  acts as the chorus [and he just passed away in 2017].  Some other familiar faces join us in Henry V; Anton Lesser (Qyburn in Game of Thrones, an episode of The Musketeers, Harold Warne in Miss Potter, and other roles) as Exeter [he’ll stay on through Henry VI and Richard III] and Owen Teale (part of some older Doctor Who episodes, The Last Legion, and the Headmaster in Tolkien, but I’m sure we recognize him as Thorne in Game of Thrones ) as Captain Fluellen.

Tom Sturridge takes up the mantle of Henry VI.  Sophie Okonedo (Liz Ten in “The Beast Below” and “The Pandorica Opens” in 2010’s Doctor Who) joins him as Margaret of Anjou, and Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey, Monuments Men, several episodes of Doctor Who as a pirate captain, he was even in Tomorrow Never Dies) is so encouraging as Gloucester.  Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in Harry Potter, Lord Charles Fox in Amazing Grace, and he’s even appeared in Doctor Who 2010’s “A Christmas Carol”) briefly appears as Mortimer.

In the second part, Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Sherlock, Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness, amongst other roles) pops up as the Duke of York [called Plantagenet in Shakespeare as a claimant to the old royal dynasty]’s son Richard.  Phoebe Fox (the Duchess of Savoy in The Musketeers) is Anne Neville.  James Fleet as Hastings has been in several period pieces.  And say hello to the appearance of Andrew Scott (C in Spectre and Moriarty in Sherlock) as King Louis of France.  Somerset is played by Ben Miles (Peter Townsend in The Crown), and George, the Duke of Clarence is played by Sam Troughton (Much in BBC’s Robin Hood).

Benedict takes center stage in Richard III.  He is brilliant in the role.  I dislike the character of Richard, but Benedict delivers exquisitely.  Let me go on a little historical accuracy rant: historical evidence proves that Richard was not a hunchback; he may have had a slight difference in shoulder height, but is regarded to have been a tall, broad-shouldered man.  Nor was he the “Machiavellian villain” Shakespeare depicts him as, at least, no more than any other man of that time.  Shakespeare wrote him as a villain to please the Elizabethan court in order to paint her grandfather as a benevolent conqueror.  As another historian pointed out to me, if Richard had the princes of the tower in his custody, he could have produced them in order to throw suspicion off himself.  We also get the addition of Judi Dench as Richard’s mother, Cecily.

Historical note: there are several “Duke of Gloucester” throughout the plays and throughout history, because it is a title, typically a relative of the monarch.  Same as the Duke of York, and Mortimer is a title (which I got confused a bit, seeing a Mortimer in Henry IV and one in Henry VI.)  I swear, one needs a family tree to reference when watching these histories.  I’ll try to explain the central plot of the War of the Roses as best I can.  Edward III had several sons, the eldest of which was Edward, the Black Prince of Wales.  His third son (his second died young-ish) was John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, his fourth son was Edmund, holding the title Duke of York, and his fifth son was Thomas, the Duke of Gloucester.  The Black Prince’s son was Richard II.  The way that Bolingbroke claimed the throne was that he had a right to it as the son of Edward’s third son (hence, Richard and Bolingbroke were cousins and until Bolingbroke’s exile, they were close).  Bolingbroke became Henry IV [Lancaster], who has at least four sons, the eldest of whom became Henry V.  Henry V died tragically young and his son, Henry VI, assumed the throne incredibly young, only nine months old.  England was ruled by the Lord Protector, his uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (one of Henry V’s brothers).

Then along comes Richard, Duke of York (the great-great-grandson of the Edward III’s second son by way of Lionel, Duke of Clarence’s daughter, then grandson, then great-granddaughter).  Just like Bolingbroke challenged Richard II for the throne due to ineptitude, the Duke of York [white rose] challenged Henry VI [followers wore a red rose].  The Duke of York’s son, Edward took the throne, becoming King Edward IV.  He had three children with Elizabeth Woodville; Elizabeth of York, Edward (briefly Edward V), and Richard (also holding the title Duke of York).   Edward IV has several younger brothers, including George, the Duke of Clarence, and Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.  Once Edward IV and George were dead, Richard declared Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville unlawful, making his offspring with her illegitimate.  He took the throne as Richard III.  There’s the York contingent.

But back with John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, his second marriage produced several generations, to John Beaufort, the Earl of Somerset, then his son John, then his daughter Margaret Beaufort, who married Edmund Tudor, the Earl of Richmond, and then had Henry, who in Shakespeare was called Richmond, thus making him the Lancastrian claimant.  [Edmund Tudor was the son of Owen Tudor (a Welshman), who married the widowed Katherine (wife of Henry V)…as for Henry V’s claim of “I am Welsh, as you know,”…well, he was Prince of Wales and born there, but not actually Welsh by blood; I would guess it was a line Shakespeare inserted to play to Queen Elizabeth’s Welsh ancestry].  Henry Tudor became Henry VII and he married Elizabeth of York (remember, Edward IV’s eldest daughter) and uniting the Lancastrians and Yorkists and ending the War of the Roses  From here, we should know how things go from there for a bit.

This is the sort of stuff that fascinates me as a historian; how the different lines come together and play out.  And I understand Shakespeare’s language a bit better watching it performed, more of a dialogue rather than verse.

On a different note: I highly recommend Netflix’s Enola Holmes film.  Millie Bobby Brown is precisely the female heroine we need; smart and not afraid of action.  Henry Cavill is a calmer Sherlock Holmes, but I greatly desire to see more of these characters.  I may just check out the novels the film was based on.

Dreams Can Kill You

Die Another Day

Brosnan’s last Bond film, sadly.  Also features Halle Berry (Storm in the early 2000’s X-Men) as Jinx, Toby Stephens (Prince John in BBC’s Robin Hood…oh, and I found out…he’s Dame Maggie Smith’s son!) as Gustav Graves, Rosamund Pike (very odd to watch her in this role after getting accustomed to the serene Jane in Pride and Prejudice, but she is a marvelous actress and this was her feature film debut) as Miranda Frost.  And if the one henchman, Kill looks familiar, he’s a Kiwi and did several bit parts in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit.  Young Colonel Moon is played by Wil Yun Lee who occasionally showed up in the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 as Sang Min.  Madonna performed the opening song (in good company with Sir Paul McCartney who did Only the Good Die Young), and made a cameo in the film as Verity, the fencing instructor.

We begin in North Korea, still a hotspot, though Bond oddly surfs in (because you don’t really think of Bond surfing) and takes over a meeting with two young Koreans; a general’s son, Colonel Moon and his bodyguard, Zao, over diamonds.  But he’s found out and tries to escape.  The C-4 he planted into the briefcase explodes, shooting diamonds into Zao.  Bond then chases Colonel Moon over a minefield in a hovercraft (Mythbusters did prove that this was plausible). Moon goes over a waterfall and Bond escapes, only to be captured by General Moon then tortured for fourteen months during the opening credits (the scorpions are creepy).

The general returns, hoping one last time to turn Bond on his former employers, who left him to rot and denied his existence.  General Moon also knows that there is a Western agent who flipped his son; he had hoped that  Western education would have been a bridge for his country, but he betrayed his country.  The general wants to know who; they most likely betrayed Bond as well.  But Bond doesn’t know and won’t tell.  He figures he will face a firing squad, but is instead part of a prisoner exchange with Zao.  He’s taken to medical before he can ask any questions.  M finally shows up and discusses the situation with him.  If she had had her way, Bond would still be a captive; his freedom came at too high a price – Zao.  The Americans fear that Bond was a leak in the prison, giving up secrets and they had to get him out.  But Bond had not broken.  He understood the danger every agent faces; they get caught, they’re on their own, there is no rescue.  But M can’t be entirely sure; with the drugs in his system, Bond may not have known if he was giving up information.  Bond insists someone else betrayed him.  “You’re no use to anyone now,” M remarks as she leaves.  Which simply encourages Bond to escape by lowering his heart rate, then springing into action.  He jumps ship and walks into the Hong Kong Yacht Club.

The manager knows him, even with the beard, and sets him up with a suite, food, and clothes.  Then sends a masseuse.  Bond knows it’s a trap and reveals that the manager works for Chinese Intelligence, but won’t rat him out, if he continues to help him.  Zao is a threat to them as well.  He’s pointed to Cuba, specifically a gene therapy clinic.  In Cuba, Bond meets a young woman as she emerges from the water (a throwback to the first Bond girl in Dr. No), Jinx.  The two flirt then hop in bed with one another (because it’s Bond).  Jinx is gone come morning, already heading into the clinic.  Bond sneaks in and discovers Zao.  They get in a fight and Jinx kills the head doctor and uses his computer to look up Zao.  A fire breaks out and then the building blows up, courtesy of Jinx.  Both Bond and Jinx chase Zao, but he gets away in a helicopter.  Bond did get a necklace he was wearing and discovers diamonds in it.  His contact informs him they are laser-etched in the signature of Gustav Graves, yet they have the chemical makeup of African conflict diamonds; just like the ones that Bond blew up at the beginning of the film [note, it is not that easy to simply tell where a diamond is from, and they do not travel in briefcases like in the beginning].

Bond knows he must return to Britain and meet this Gustav Graves (he parachutes into media meetings).  Graves is due to unveil his latest project, the Icarus Space Program.  Bond meets the man face-to-face at a fencing club and the two men try to one-up each other in sword fighting, under the guise of playing for a diamond, starting with foils and moving up to broadswords (it’s not great sword work, but still a bit flashy and makes you wonder who will bleed first).  Bond wins, but Graves’ assistant, Miranda Frost has to break them apart.  Graves invites Bond to his gala in Iceland.  Bond receives a key as he leaves and uses it in a backdoor.  He trades information with M, though he’s not officially reinstated.  Q goes over his new gadgets, including virtual reality simulation glasses, a car that uses mirrors to appear invisible, a ring to break glass, and his twentieth watch (a nod to this being the twentieth Bond film).  We see M briefly speak to Miranda Frost; apparently an MI6 agent whose three month assignment has been to get close to Graves.  Frost determines he is clean and reports she is wise enough to not get involved with Bond.

An Ice Palace has been created for Graves’ event in Iceland.  He continues to get his thrills by driving a high-speed ice car.  We also note that Jinx has arrived for the gala and Bond tries to flirt with Frost (not knowing she is MI6) and gets nowhere.  Zao also happily greets Graves.  Graves introduces his Icarus Project as a seeming “second sun,” with use to grow crops year-round and bring light to darkness.  Later, it seems that Icarus has been modified for Graves’ use, and Jinx has wandered off.  Frost gives herself away as MI6 to Bond by kissing him as a distraction and telling him she told M she didn’t want him there.  They bed each other to continue the charade as lovers, but Bond leaves to take care of the situation.  Jinx in the meantime has snuck into Graves’ lab and is captured by his henchman.  His henchman wants to use the lasers to kill Jinx, but Bond stumbles upon her and rescues her. 

Bond then confronts Graves, who has lived to die another day – Graves used gene therapy to change his face from Colonel Moon.  Miranda arrives, and betrays Bond…again.  She was the agent who sided with Moon and got Bond captured.  Bond uses his ring to break glass to escape, then drives away in Graves’ ice car.  Graves uses Icarus as a laser to chase Bond, but Bond skis out of trouble (with noticeable CGI).  Then Zao drives his own car after Bond in his gadget car.  Bond crashes into the Ice Palace to rescue Jinx, who will soon drown in a melting Palace that Graves hit with his laser.  Zao is also killed in a crash in the Palace.

Jinx and Bond head to South Korea; Jinx is an American NSA agent and they are formally teaming up to take down Graves.  The two agents manage to get on Graves’ plane as the Americans attempt to blow up Icarus, which does not work out.  Graves/Moon reveals himself to his father, expecting him to be proud, but General Moon is not (seems he has more honor than his son).  He’s killed and a hole is blown into the airplane, causing massive suction.  Frost (in a ridiculous skimpy outfit for no good reason) takes on Jinx with a sword.  Jinx has set the plane to fly into Icarus.  Bond takes on Graves; Graves electrocutes Bond, then takes the last parachute, but Bond opens it early, dragging the man into the engine.  The plane is falling apart, Jinx manages to stab Frost, and the good guys have to use Graves’ fancy helicopter to escape (which luckily has the diamonds inside).  They put those diamonds to “good” use when they snuggle up with each other in a remote cottage.

I’m not thrilled with Jinx as a Bond girl; I will admit, they at least give her some action and motivation, but barely and she gets captured and stuck twice, to be rescued by Bond.  Frost, meanwhile, is far more intriguing.  Jinx was too easy.  It’s a bit of a trend with some of the Bond films I’ve just watched.  Christmas Jones was practically useless in the last movie and Elektra had far more development.  Natalya in GoldenEye was more compelling and Bond did not instantly fall into bed with Onatop.  Wai Lin struck a happy medium and got a better fight scene, though she too fell easily into Bond’ arms.

Up Next: Casino Royale

Are They Fighting or Are They Dancing?

The Mask of Zorro

Another of the swashbuckling movies produced in the nineties, like Three Musketeers and Prince of Thieves and like those two, it’s very well done.  Stars Anthony Hopkins (a classic Welsh actor who is Odin in MCU Thor, famous as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs [and I refuse to watch that movie, I do not need the nightmares], was Van Helsing in 1992’s Bram’s Dracula, was in A Bridge Too Far with the other great actors of that time) as Don Diego de la Vega, Stuart Wilson (an older Robin Hood in Disney’s Princess of Thieves) as Don Rafael Montero, Tony Amendola (Marco/Geppetto in ABC’s Once Upon a Time series amongst other TV series) as Don Luiz, Antonio Banderas (this is probably his most famous role) as Alejandro Murrieta and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who is actually Welsh, and married to Michael Douglas since 2000; this was her breakthrough role, and she went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002’s Chicago) as Elena.  This is not the first appearance of the character Zorro; he dates to 1919 and was originally supposed to be a one-time character, then the popularity of the 1920 movie had the author create dozens of further stories.  However, this is probably one of the more well-known iterations.

The story begins in 1821 as Spain is leaving Mexico due to a rebellion led by General Santa Anna.  The last governor, Don Rafael Montero is ordered to leave, but has one last piece of business to take care of.  He gives his friend Don Luiz orders to distribute the Spanish land amongst themselves and pay taxes to Santa Anna, thereby maintaining their wealth.  Montero is planning to execute three innocent men amidst a protest.  Two boys are waiting for the legendary Zorro to appear and he does not disappoint.  The boys even save Zorro from a trap and in return, he gifts them with a medallion.  The crowd cheers for their hero and protects him from the guards.  He confronts Montero and marks his neck with a “Z”, three slashes for three men.  Montero would murder a hundred innocent men in order to kill Zorro.  But Zorro rides away.

There is a lair beneath his estate (the original Bat cave; in fact, Zorro is considered an influence to Batman); Zorro remarks to his faithful black steed that they are both getting too old for their activities.  Zorro without the mask is Diego de la Vega and he visits his infant daughter in her nursery and tells her stories about his escapades.  His wife, Esperenza joins the pair.  They are interrupted by Montero and his guards.  Montero has an inkling at this point that de la Vega is Zorro and pressing on his arm reveals a bloody scratch de la Vega received during the fight that day.  He attempts to arrest de la Vega as a traitor to both his country and his class, and oddly apologizes to Esperenza.  Turns out, Montero loves Esperenza and is upset that she married de la Vega; but now, he probably is thinking with de la Vega out of the way, he can claim Esperenza.  But Esperenza tries to protect her husband during his duel with Montero and a guard accidentally shoots her.  Montero dispatches the guard, and de la Vega goes for his crying daughter; a fire has started during the scuffle.  Montero knocks de la Vega out, puts him in chains, and claims his daughter.  Montero leaves with young Elena for Spain and de la Vega is taken away to prison to rot; Montero’s parting words to de la Vega: you must “live with the knowledge you have lost everything you hold dear,” and “your child should have been mine.”  (This of course, takes away the notion of Esperenza’s own choice; she seems very happy with de la Vega and aware of his secret, most likely meaning it was a love match, so no, Elena should have never been Montero’s child.)  de la Vega swears to Montero, “you will never be rid of me!”

Twenty years later: the Murrieta brothers have been caught…well, actually, they were in on their capture so they could steal the guard’s money and redistribute it to the poor (a la Robin Hood).  But there is a new Captain in town, Captain Love from Texas; he ends up shooting Joaquin and capturing Jack.  Alejandro escapes, but watches his brother shoot himself instead of being captured.  Alejandro collects his brother’s medallion, then tries to barter it away for a drink.  In the meantime, Montero has returned to California.  His first stop is the prison, in order to be sure that Zorro is dead.  Several prisoners claim they are Zorro (like the famous “I’m Spartacus” scene), but Montero doesn’t believe any of them.  He walks right by an old man with an eye patch, pauses for a moment, but dismisses him.  He deduces Zorro is dead.

Wrong.  That old man is de la Vega and he manages to free himself and get smuggled out of the prison by impersonating a dead body; meaning he then digs himself out of the grave.  He will exact his revenge on Montero.  He attends Montero’s official arrival the following day, where Montero plays to the crowd, insulting the other Dons so he can claim he works for the people.  Obviously, de la Vega knows better and starts to make his way to the former governor, until Montero’s “daughter” arrives, Elena.  This halts de la Vega.  He must rethink his plan.  On his way to his hideout, he comes across Alejandro and his old medallion as Alejandro prepares to barter it away.  He easily bests Alejandro in a fight, but offers to train the young man.

mask of zorroAlejandro is eager to start fighting, though his answer of “the pointy end goes in the other man, [sounding like Jon Snow or Arya Stark]” shows de la Vega that he must start with the basics.  The master has a new apprentice.  de la Vega has Alejandro bathe and trim his hair.  After disarming the old fox once, Alejandro figures he is skilled enough to capture a black Andalusian, like Zorro’s Tornado.  Alejandro, in a mask, encounters Elena and she is quite taken by the dangerous man.  When his plan goes a bit awry, Alejandro hides in the church and ends up hearing Elena’s confession, that she is starting to have thoughts about the masked man and her heart is too wild for her father’s liking.  Alejandro manages to escape before Captain Love appears, but he leaves the “Z” mark to let them know Zorro has returned.

de la Vega, expertly using a whip to extinguish candles (Hopkins could do that trick and was added into the movie), is not pleased with Alejandro; Zorro serves the people, not himself.  Alejandro is tired of the lectures and demands de la Vega duel him.  The older man holds up a spoon.  Alejandro must have the polish of a proper gentleman, and needs to spy on Montero.  The two men attend a gala held at the estate, de la Vega masquerading as Alejandro’ s servant, who goes by the title Don de Castilio.  Alejandro is properly presented to Elena, but his gentleman charm does not impress her, though he is impressing Montero.  However, when Alejandro has to stall Montero, he dances quite passionately with Elena (it is a wonderful and lively dance).  Alejandro gains an invitation with the rest of the Dons and Montero reveals his plan; he means for the Dons to claim California.  They will buy it from Santa Anna with gold from a mine on his own land that he is unaware of.  Santa Anna will take the gold because a war with the United States is expensive.  Montero shows off the mine the next day and Alejandro discovers that poor Mexicans who have gone missing have been taken to the mine.

Elena has a conversation with de la Vega the next day in the stables, only knowing him as Alejandro’s servant.  But de la Vega remarks that she looks like her mother.  Elena has been told that her mother was very proper.  And de la Vega’s voice is familiar.  Then, in the market, her former nursemaid makes a gift to her, recognizing her as the daughter of Esperenza de la Vega.  Elena tries to tell the woman she is mistaken and that she was born in Spain.  But she’s already encountered native Californian flowers she remembers the scent.  Montero’s tale is starting to unravel.

de la Vega gifts Alejandro with a proper Zorro mask and instructs him to sneak into Montero’s office; they need the location of the mine.  de la Vega sets a flaming “Z” on the hillside as a distraction, but Alejandro still encounters Captain Love and Montero and even duels them both.  he escapes through the stables and faces off with Elena, who is skilled in sword fighting as well (I love that she’s an action woman).  He does delicately cut her clothes off her as a way to stop her (her hair covers her top).  Alejandro still has hilarious issues with his new horse, but does demonstrate that he is a good rider.  de la Vega returns that evening to confront Montero and demands that Elena be brought out.  Montero’s tale fully unravels; the name “de la Vega” is a clue from the woman in the marketplace and the truth comes out.  She persuades de la Vega to put down his sword to save himself from being shot.  At this point, Elena must be wondering what did Montero do that he was able to take her from de la Vega and what truly happened to her mother.  Then she later frees him from the cellar he’s been thrown into and they race off to help Zorro.

zorro dance

Zorro sneaks into the mine and discovers the people are locked in.  Captain Love’s suggestion is to blow up the mine once all the gold is out and kill the people as well so there are no witnesses.  But when Zorro shows up, Love cuts the fuse so he has time to deal with the nuisance.  de la Vega confronts Montero again as Elena watches.  Montero seems willing to kill her to stop de la Vega, but he wouldn’t actually hurt the woman he views as a daughter, though it gives him the chance to shoot de la Vega.  Zorro dispatches Love, even after being stabbed and unmasked, then Montero is caught behind the wagon as it falls.  Elena goes to rescue the trapped people and the fuse has restarted.  Zorro helps her with the last cells and they save the day!  Alejandro holds de la Vega as he bids his daughter farewell; she has the same spirit as her mother.  He even blesses Alejandro and Elena, then passes away.  Elena mourns de la Vega; not Montero.

There must always be a Zorro; it is a destiny and a curse, for there is always another battle.  But both Zorros have loved Elena.  And now Alejandro tells the story to his son.

In 2005, there was a direct sequel to this film, The Legend of Zorro, bringing back both Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to reprise their roles.  Rufus Sewell (Knight’s Tale, Tristan and Isolde, Victoria) joins as Armand, a former friend of Elena de la Vega’s when she grew up in Spain.  This film is not nearly as good as Mask of Zorro.  The premise is that California is voting to become part of the United States in 1850, but there is a secret organization attempting to block it.  Zorro is doing his best, but since he is gone often, his marriage is strained and he’s missing out on seeing his son grow up.  His secret is found out by mysterious men, who blackmail Elena into working undercover for them.  She divorces Alejandro and he must make a choice between being Zorro and saving his family.

Of course, several of the fight scenes are still good and Elena retains some of her action-girl status.  But there are several glaring errors.  California at that time was Catholic; divorce was not allowed and Elena’s status would have surely suffered.  Mentions of the Confederacy are inaccurate since it didn’t form until 1861.  The inclusion of nitroglycerin is just barely factual; it was invented in 1847 as an explosive, but to me, still seems a bit farfetched.  The overall feeling I get from the film is that they were trying too hard.  The villains are flat.   Of course, the son learns who his father is, and the marriage is put to rights.  I argue how could Elena say to Alejandro “we were never meant to be together?”  You married him knowing full well who he was and what he did.  That was what attracted you to him.  There was a more logical way to deal with the matter.

So, definitely watch Mask of Zorro, it is a classic.  Hopkins is excellent and I actually would love to see more of him in that role.  Antonio is charming and this is why Puss in Boots in Shrek is a takeoff on Zorro, since Antonio voiced the cat (despite the tale being French).  As I’ve stated before, I love a good sword fight.

Next Time: Top Gun

These Names Will Never Die

Troy

I’ll be honest, I watched this film originally because it has Orlando Bloom in it. And I probably only bought the DVD because I found it in a bargain bin at some point. Released a year after Gladiator, it is part of the early 2000s rash of “epic” movies. It’s an adaptation of Homer’s great epic poem The Iliad. Greek mythology is not what I tend to study, so I have not read this (I think part of it is that I can never keep their names straight; same with Roman names. They’re all the bloody same!) It has an all-star cast as well. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles. Brian Cox is Agamemnon, the king of the Greeks and Julian Glover is Triopas, king of Thessaly, an opponent of Agamemnon. Brendan Gleeson is Agamemnon’s brother Menelaus, king of Sparta (yes, when I hear Sparta now I think of 300. Yes, I’ve seen the movie; no, we will not be covering it [that was far too much death for me; though it was fun to learn about it a bit as part of A.P. English class]). Diane Kruger (she’ll later be in Copying Beethoven and the National Treasure movies) is the famous Helen. Peter O’Toole is king Priam of Troy; Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom play his sons Hector and Paris, respectively. James Cosmo is back as Glaucus, Julie Christie is Thetis, Achilles’ mother. Oh yes, and that’s Sean Bean as Odysseus! It’s been pointed out that Odysseus stars in the sequel to the Iliad, the Odyssey, so he can’t die in this story. Huzzah for Sean Bean.

The film opens telling us these events took place 3200 years ago, with a scrawl setting the stage; Agamemnon has spent decades warring with the kingdoms of Greece and forcing them into an alliance. His greatest warrior is Achilles, but Achilles disdains Agamemnon and threatens all that the king has built. Sean Bean narrates part of the prologue, that we ask ourselves, will our actions echo across the centuries, will strangers wonder how bravely we fought and how fiercely we loved? The idea of being remembered for all time crops up throughout the film.

Achilles is called to defeat Thessaly’s hero in single combat. He does so in one move. He asks the opposing army “Is there no one else?” Meanwhile, Sparta is working on a peace treaty with Troy, tired of fighting all these years. Seems to be going well; until Paris meets up with Menelaus’ wife, Helen. They’ve actually been meeting secretly for several nights and they have fallen in love (apparently, Menelaus is a terrible husband). Now they wish to run away together. And they are dumb enough to do it. I get this is an epic poem and a literary classic, but reading and watching enough royal shows, I have to point out; they knew what they were doing was wrong. There would be terrible consequences and they really don’t want those consequences; and yet they did it anyway! Yes, they loved each other. But a war got started because of it. People died. You couldn’t have left well enough alone, Paris? Hector is a nice older brother and will protect his young brother. Troy welcomes their new princess.

trojan princes

Agamemnon doesn’t care about the slight to his brother’s honor; he’s just happy to start a war with Troy. But, he’ll need Achilles, however much the warrior annoys him. There is one man that Achilles will listen to: Odysseus. His argument to his friend is “this war will never be forgotten, nor the heroes who fight in it.” Even Achilles’ mother says the same; he could stay where he is and have peace and a family, but eventually forgotten. Or he could fight in Troy and win more glory and the world will remember him; but it will be his doom. We all know what Achilles chose. His ship is the first of the fleet to land on Troy. The Greeks take the beach and Achilles attacks Apollo’s temple and has a short encounter with prince Hector. He tells the Trojan prince “go home, tomorrow we will have war.” Another twist is thrown in; Briseis, the niece of the king is a priestess of the temple and is gifted to Achilles. He’s surprisingly gentle with her. But Agamemnon tries to take her for Achilles disobedience. Achilles is ready to defend her, but Briseis declares “I don’t want anyone dying for me.”

Paris challenges Menelaus to single combat to prevent more death. But he loses the duel, saved only by crawling to his brother and Hector killing Menelaus. Agamemnon attacks and Troy proves why they are so hard to defeat. Odysseus finally suggests retreat. He speaks to Achilles after the fight, insisting that the Greeks need him, the soldiers need the morale boost. Achilles rescues Briseis. He once again tries to care for her and she resists at first, holding a knife to his throat. Until he starts kissing her and she drops the knife. I swear, this movie is more about their connection than Helen and Paris. Achilles still insists that he is sailing for home; he will not fight for Agamemnon.

achillesThe Trojans attack at night with giant fire balls, which leads into the Trojan army advancing. Achilles joins the fight and faces Hector. Hector cuts his throat and reveals that it is Achilles’ beloved younger cousin. Hector declares enough for one day. Achilles’ second in command delivers the news. The next day, Achilles rides alone to the gates of Troy and demands Hector to face him. Hector, an honorable man, faces Achilles. And behind the scenes trivia reveals that Eric Bana and Brad Pitt did not use stunt doubles for the duel. (They also has a gentleman’s agreement to pay for every accidental hit; $50 for each light blow, $100 for each hard blow. Brad Pitt ended up paying Eric Bana $750; Bana didn’t own anything to Pitt.) It’s a good duel, but really didn’t enrapture me. Achilles defeats Hector, then ties his body to his chariot to drag back to the Greeks. That evening, king Priam comes to Achilles to beg for his son’s body, so he can have an honorable funeral. “Even enemies can show respect.” Achilles relents and allows Troy to have their twelve days of mourning, and lets Briseis return to Troy. Agamemnon is furious.

Odysseus has a plan; his men start building. He makes it look like the Greeks have left and they have left an offering of a large wooden horse. Paris advises his father to burn it. He’s ignored. His father ignored Hector’s advice as well. The Trojans drag the horse into their city and celebrate. At night, Odysseus, Achilles, and others emerge from the horse and set about taking the city down from the inside. They get the gates open to let in the army. Well, Achilles is off running to find Briseis, who is looking for Paris. Helen, Hector’s wife and son, and as many others as they can find escape through an old tunnel that Hector showed his wife (because he was smart and knew what could happen). Paris refuses to leave and passes the sword of Troy to a young man so the Trojans will always have hope and can start over. Paris joins the fight with his bow (which is hilarious, because Orlando Bloom is Legolas).
Agamemnon kills the king and tries to take Briseis back. She stabs him and Achilles finishes the guards. But Paris finds them and misunderstands the situation. He shoots Achilles in the heel, slowing the warrior down. Another four arrows strike him. Achilles manages to tell Briseis, “it’s alright. You gave me peace in a lifetime of war,” and sends her with her cousin Paris. He pulls the arrows out of his chest, but the one in his heel is left, so that is how he’s found. Odysseus burns Achilles and the movie fades out as he says “if they ever tell my story, tell them I walked with giants.”

This movie moves slow at times. And I swear it’s more about Achilles than either of the Trojan princes. Helen is not terribly developed. From a certain point of view, one can easily agree that the whole war is her fault. She was unhappy with her husband and a younger, more handsome man took interest in her and she ran off with him. Though Hector does later stop her from running away, knowing that it won’t stop the war that has already come. We witness more nuances of Achilles’ character. He’s more than just a hardened warrior; he cares for his younger cousin and is downright tender with Briseis (this is after seeing him willingly bed other women). Hector is noble; I prefer him to Achilles. Paris is an idiot, though he tries to make up for it at the end. Priam is a bit of an idiot as well, listening to other advisors over his experienced sons. Agamemnon is an idiot as well, the definition of warmonger.

Overall, I’m underwhelmed by the movie. The duel between Hector and Achilles was alright; but they’ve shown all those moves previously in the movie. I didn’t connect with the characters. No, the thought I had running through my head after I heard Sean Bean at the beginning was “does he live?” I put Pompeii on again afterwards. I watched it for the same reason that I did Troy and yet I became more invested in it.

What are your favorite historical periods?

Next Time: Kingdom of Heaven

Inconceivable!

Princess Bride

Based on the book, which I believe I actually read before I saw the movie; a friend lent it to me in high school to demonstrate how to write dueling scenes. Since I had already fallen in love with Lord of the Rings by that point, I just take it as a fun medieval/fantasy story. I have friends who dearly love the movie. Billy Crystal appears in the film as Miracle Max. Fred Savage, older brother to Ben Savage (Boy Meets World) is the grandson. Andre the Giant plays the giant Fezzik. Robin Wright who played Buttercup, kicks butt in the 2017 film Wonder Woman as General Antiope. This is probably Cary Elwes’s most famous role as Westley, though he’s gone on to play Lord Arthur Holmwood in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (I’ve seen parts of it), starred as Robin Hood in Men in Tights, played against type as the villainous Edgar in Ella Enchanted and I guess is now part of Stranger Things (no, I am not going to watch the show; I’ve fallen into too many fandoms as it is).

This is a case of a story within a story; the premise is that a grandfather reads this story to his grandson when his grandson is sick. The tale opens with a beautiful young girl named Buttercup, who torments the farm boy Westley, ordering him about. He always responds with “as you wish.” One day, Buttercup comes to realize that he is secretly telling her he loves her. She then realizes that she loves him; they are true loves. (Fans picked up on this notion in Once Upon a Time, when Hook tells Emma “as you wish,” when she orders him to wait after they share a searing kiss.) Westley leaves to seek his fortune so he could marry Buttercup, but word comes that his ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves survivors. Five years pass and Buttercup is now raised to a princess and engaged to marry Prince Humperdinck. But she does not truly love the prince. She is abducted during one of her daily rides the day of her engagement announcement by Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik. They have orders to kill her and blame it on a neighboring kingdom, thereby starting a war.

First, they set sail. Inigo notes that they are being followed. “Inconceivable!” Vizzini declares (Inigo later points out: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”) Buttercup attempts to escape by jumping overboard, but the water is filled with shrieking eels. They next come to the Cliffs of Insanity; only Fezzik is strong enough to climb, they should lose their tail. Nope, a man in black makes his way up the cliffs as well. Vizzini cuts the rope, but still he persists. Inigo is left behind to deal with him. It is a rather fantastic duel; both are gentlemen about it, Inigo even helping his opponent finish the climb and giving him a chance to catch his breath. (Behind the scenes notes state that the actors performed the duel themselves, tutored by legendary sword masters). We learn that Inigo is hunting for a six-fingered man who killed his father. The man in black wins after a dizzying circle of his sword, knocks Inigio out and continues. He faces Fezzik next and manages to choke him asleep, after being rammed into a rock a few times. battle of witsFinally, the man faces Vizzini in a battle of wits. He pours iocaine powder into a goblet and Vizzini is to guess which one. Vizzini is a smug man, believing he is smarter than any famous philosopher. Then he relies on a simple trick to switch goblets, thinking he’s won. The man in black was more cunning; he put powder into both goblets, but he’s spent the past several years building up an immunity to it. He then pulls the princess along, even though Humperdinck is tracking them.

Buttercup admits to her new captor that she does not love the prince; her first love was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, whom the man admits he is. Then admits he remembered the lad, but calls Buttercup out for being unfaithful, moving on to Humperdinck. “I died that day!” she declares. Humperdink is close; she pushes the man in black down a hill, telling him “you can die for all I care.” “As you wish,” the man stutters down the hill. She realizes it is her beloved Westley and follows him down the hill. Westley’s mask is now off, revealing it is the same man. They take refuge in the Fire Swamp to evade Humperdink, facing bursts of fire, lightning quick sand, and R.O.U.S (Rodents of Unusual Size, which are creepy and remind me in hindsight of creatures from Merlin). Westley is injured in a fight against a rodent. When they emerge from the Fire Swamp, Humperdinck is waiting for them. Westley is all ready to return to the swamp to protect Buttercup. But she sacrifices her happiness so Westley won’t be killed. Humperdinck promises his fiancée that he will not harm Westley and will return him to his ship. He takes his bride-to-be back and rides off. Westley makes eye contact with Count Rugen; they both know the prince is lying. Interestingly enough, the Count has six fingers on one hand.

Rugen takes control of Westley and plans to torture him on his machine, which sucks the life out of people. Buttercup in the meantime has decided she cannot marry the prince; she loves Westley and will be reunited with him. Humperdinck then promises that he will send word to recall Westley, but if that does not come to fruition, Buttercup will still marry him. In truth, he was the one who had hired the trio to abduct and kill Buttercup; now he plans to murder her on their wedding night; still planning to blame another kingdom and start a war.

Fezzik is reunited with Inigo before the wedding and they decide the break the man in black out, discovering that he is the princess’s true love. Except Buttercup has figured out that Humperdinck never followed through with his promises. She believes that Westley will still come for her and calls Humperdinck a coward. Humperdinck is enraged and cranks Rugen’s machine up to fifty, killing Westley. Everyone can hear his scream. Fezzik and Ingio recover Westley and buy a miracle; they need his brains to sneak into the castle so Inigo can have his revenge. It works only because Westley is “mostly” dead, compared to completely dead. Miracle Max creates the pill to get back at Humperdinck for firing him.

Our heroes storm the castle with some illusions, breaking up Buttercup and Humperdinck’s wedding (the priest has a hilarious manner of speaking), though Humperdinck gets the priest to declare them “man and wife.” Rugen faces off against Inigo, who simply advances on the man despite his wounds declaring “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die.” Buttercup, despaired that she is married drop your swordto Humperdinck and Westley is dead, per Humperdinck’s word, decides she will kill herself before Humperdinck reaches their marriage bed. But Westley is waiting for her. He is still not back to full strength but gives the prince an epic speech; they will fight to the pain and Westley will leave his ears so the prince can hear every word against him and his promised hideousness. He stands and orders the prince “Drop your sword.” Humperdinck complies and Buttercup ties him up. Inigo finds them and Fezzik is waiting with horses. Westley and Buttercup share the most epic kiss that has ever been recorded.

The boy decides that he doesn’t mind the kissing and maybe his grandfather will read him the story again tomorrow.

There are times this movie reminds me of Mel Gibson’s work, or a bit of a spoof on traditional fantasy movies. Maybe it’s the inclusion of typically comedic actors. Vizzini is a laugh, there’s a little bit between Miracle Max and his wife whom he calls a witch. Maybe it’s the fact that it simply includes a lot of typical fantasy elements, presented straight forward, without trying to add anything. Buttercup is admittedly not a simple damsel in distress. She does try to help Westley fight off the giant rat, after standing there most of the time. They speak of true love often and I can see it once Westley and Buttercup are separated, but not so much while they’re growing up. Westley is an excellent, dashing hero. The costumes are over all fine; but those huge crowns are ridiculous. There is admittedly some epic dialogue. At the end of the evening, a fun movie to put on, not something that needs to be processed deeply.

I’d love to hear from anyone who truly loves this movie as to their reasons, since I didn’t really connect with it.  Maybe I found it too late to completely fall in love?

Next Time: Stardust

It’s Called a Lance

A Knight’s Tale

A 2001 film set in medieval Europe featuring jousting…and rock music. It’s a fun movie that’s good to throw on when bored with TV. It stars Heath Ledger (later to reinvent the role of Joker in Dark Knight; he also features in Brokeback Mountain, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot [haven’t seen those], Brothers Grimm [saw it once, don’t remember liking it], and Ned Kelly [eh, all star cast, the plot confused me] as peasant squire William Thatcher. This is the first role I saw Rufus Sewell in, playing the antagonist Count Adhemar (he’s an antagonist in Legend of Zorro, good guy Marke in Tristan and Isolde, decent guy in Amazing Grace, bit of a jerk in The Holiday, and lately was Lord Melbourne in the show Victoria). Paul Bettany (voice of Jarvis in the first Marvel movies, then became Vision in Age of Ultron. He was Lord Melbourne in the movie Young Victoria, bit ironic. Also featured in as the albino in The Da Vinci Code, and surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin, best friend of Russell Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World) is Geoffrey Chaucer, yes, that writer. Alan Tudyk (now known for his voice acting abilities in Frozen and Star Wars, but would later play pilot Wash in Firefly) is fellow peasant Wat alongside Roland, played by Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones and Friar Tuck in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood). And if Sir Ector in the flashback looks familiar, he’s played by Nick Brimble, who was Little John in Prince of Thieves.

The film opens with the death of Sir Ector, master of Wat, Roland, and William. He’s due to joust again in a few minutes, or else they forfeit and the young lads haven’t eaten in three days. William gets the idea to wear Ector’s armor and finish the match, with Queen’s We Will Rock You occurring in the stands. Then, when he wins, this could be their chance to change their stars. He takes the name Sir Ulrich von Lichenstein from Gelderland (and apparently, a real knight and real place; though not as used in the movie). They come across as naked Chaucer trudging the road. Being peasants, no, they have not read any of his works (takes place before The Canterbury Tales), but they do have use of a writer to forge papers of nobility. He also becomes Sir Ulrich’s herald, to announce him at tournaments.

William discovers a beautiful woman, Lady Jocelyn and decides to woo her. He’s…somewhat successful. He starts following her, on horseback, into a church. And doesn’t even get her name. Count Adhemar also discovers Jocelyn and helpfully explains the rules of jousting for the audience while Taking Care of Business plays in the background. William faces Sir Thomas Coleville (another historical character, but not from this time) and mercifully draws on the last pass so they both retain honor.

Will continues to compete and pines after Jocelyn. She sends him a token to wear at the next tourney. William faces Adhemar, who proves why he has never been unhorsed. They break lances on each other on their first pass. The second pass, Will scores and avoids Adhemar’s lance. But on the third pass, Adhemar knocks William’s helm off, causing a flashback to when Will was a child and seeing knights with his father. Adhemar returns Jocleyn’s favor to her and tells “Ulrich” “see me when you’re worthy.” William loses the jousting portion, but wins the sword. He now had enough to pay Kate the blacksmith, who fixed his armor. She wants to join his crew and even offers to make new armor for him. He dismisses her first, until he finds out he needs to attend the ball in order to see Jocelyn. Chaucer, does not do the best job of teaching Will to dance, so Roland makes Will politely ask Kate (since he’s going through the trouble of making a new tunic for his friend). Chaucer and Wat are not boon companions, but they’re funny. And we’re treated to Golden Years, and modern dancing. Knight’s Tale does not try to be wholly accurate (most certainly in their female costumes. Which is disappointing, because some of the gowns from that period can be gorgeous).
knights tale armor

Some of the heralds’ introductions are hilarious; Adhemar’s messes up at one point and declares his master “a shining example of chivalry and champagne” and “defender of his enormous manhood.” Chaucer certainly has a way with words and whips the crowds into a frenzy for Sir Ulrich. When Adhemar is about to face Coleville, he withdraws when he finds out that the other knight is actually Prince Edward in disguise. Chaucer in turns reports this to William, but he still jousts. The royal endangers himself and has obviously disguised himself so he can truly compete. Coleville appreciates the gesture. William wins the tournament, but his victory his hollow since he did not defeat Adhemar.

William goes on to win the next slew of tournaments, aided by Prince Edward sending Adhemar back to the front and the Battle of Poitiers. In the meantime, Will has Chaucer help him write a rather romantic letter to Jocelyn, aided by all his friends. The couple meets for the Paris tournament and William unfortunately cannot produce poetry on demand. Jocelyn insists that if “Ulrich” truly loves her, he will lose the tournament, rather than win it in her name. She’s got a point. But, Will has to take a pounding first (this is also after his friends have made a substantial bet with a group of Frenchmen). Still loves her. Mercifully, she sends word that he is to win the tournament, which he does. Chaucer sees Jocelyn enter William’s tent after the tournament and remarks “as Guinevere comes to Lancelot. Bed him well, m’lady. Bed him well.” (By this age, I knew what he meant). She discovers what exactly Will went through to prove his love, and has noted that his friends slip call him “William” instead of “Ulrich.” His name matters not, only that she can call him hers, and the good that comes with the bad will be of her doing as well.

William and his friends return to England, bring about another flashback of when they left. They enter London for the World Championships to The Boys Are Back in Town (and now I cannot hear that song and not think of that scene). Adhemar will compete; Prince Edward has recalled him for his company’s behavior in France. Will takes the opportunity to visit Cheapside, where he grew up and finds his father still alive, though blind. Unfortunately, Adhemar manages to spy on him and uses the information to prove the lie William has been leading. The next day, Jocelyn and Chaucer bring word that guards will arrest Will if he competes. His friends all urge him to run. He refuses. He is a knight. (Only those of noble birth can become knights; but Will points out in the beginning that many became noble by taking the title at the point of a sword).

Adhemar visits Will in jail, declaring “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you have been found wanting.” Will is put in the stocks the next day; his friends stand alongside him. The crowd easily turns on their champion; earlier chanting his name, now throwing food. Prince Edward emerges from the crowd and declares that his own research has proven that William is descended from an ancient royal line; and as prince, his word is above contestation. He frees Will and knights him. William will face Adhemar.

Knowing he stands a chance of losing, Adhemar cheats and tips his lance. On the first pass, he embeds it in William’s shoulder. On the second pass, William drops his lance. Adhemar murmurs to his opponent, “in what world can you ever have beaten me? Such a place does not exist.” William can’t breathe and has his friends remove his armor. Neither can he hold a lance, they must strap it to his arm. To buy time, Chaucer has missed his introduction. “Here he is! One of your own! Born a stone’s throw from this very stadium and here before you now. The son, of John Thatcher…Sir William Thatcher!” Will’s father is in the stands; he heard that. He sits near Prince Edward. Revitalized, William unseats Adhemar. We pause, as the group tells Adhemar “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you absolutely have been found wanting. Welcome to the new world.” The crowd goes nuts as the action picks back up. Edward kisses his wife. Jocelyn races down to see William, who dismounts and removes his gloves and such so they can share an epic kiss. The film closes as Chaucer decides he needs to write this tale down and we go to black on Shook Me All Night Long.

As I stated, it’s a fun movie. I like the music they feature for the most part. I understand some of the costuming choices; I believe one feature states that they were going for a rock ‘n’ roll look with the knights, since they held that sort of status in medieval times; a more modern fit pant, lots of leather. It’s the women’s costumes that drive me nuts. The exotic hair styles that you know could not have been done at that time. Sheer fabric on display, an Audrey Hepburn hat. Now, after being blown away by other films, the romance falls a bit flat. Will sees that Jocelyn is pretty and that’s why he loves her. Not because he sees her do anything particularly good or special. Jocelyn likes Will because he’s not like other nobles who have courted her.

Up Next: Princess Bride

The Story We Have Been a Part of, Will Live Long in the Minds of Men

Merlin – Season 5

We’ve come to the end of the series. I feel they rushed this series; maybe they were surprised how quick they would have to wrap things up. My one friend came back and asked me where the season was that they end up in modern times, since she had seen pictures of it everywhere (I can find them on Pintrest, maybe they’re on Tumblr; I’m not on Tumblr, I don’t know). Sadly, no, that’s not how this season ends. I feel that they should come back and do that season, or a movie at the very least.

Arthur’s Bane, begins the season in two parts. Three years have passed since Guinevere’s coronation. Arthur meets with his knights at the Round Table. Unfortunately, Gwaine and Percival are missing after an expedition. Morgana is suspected, even though they haven’t heard from her in the three years. Morgana is indeed behind the disappearances; she’s capturing men to work searching for the key to the knowledge of Arthur’s Bane, his downfall. Joined by Liam Cunningham whose character isn’t named until the second episode. (Since I’ve been wandering down the Game of Thrones path, when I saw his name in the opening credits I was surprised. I haven’t seen this season as often as the previous ones, so a lot of this was unfamiliar to me.) Arthur and his knights, and Merlin, go looking for their brethren. Merlin receives a vision that Arthur is in danger and even Gwen worries about Arthur going on the mission himself; he is Camelot’s king, he needs to be cautious. But Arthur is the type of king who will show his people he is not afraid of any task.

Sadly, Gwen’s new maid who is adorable with Merlin is also a traitor, for her father who is harboring Morgana. Her father (played by Liam Cunningham) ultimately rescues his daughter, but also dies in the aftermath. Morgana doesn’t seem particularly bothered, more concerned with the overarching search for Arthur’s destruction. Arthur is injured on their quest and he and Merlin are captured by Saxons, and a familiar looking young man. Mordred is back and now a young man (don’t think too hard on what ages they look). He shows Arthur and Merlin kindness even though Merlin does not trust him. Arthur saved his life as a child and he will repay that debt. Arthur and Merlin manage to escape and sneak into the castle where they find Percival.

Gwaine has been missing for a few days. An alien-looking being (really BBC? Let’s bring aliens into the mix) finds him and heals him after guards beat him. (And they’re all shirtless for no apparent reason. Again, does BBC really need to do this to attract viewers?) Percival starts gathering men and taking out the guards. Morgana comes across Arthur while Merlin is chasing after Aithusa. Mordred is with her and prevents her from killing Arthur. He recognizes that Morgana has gone a bit crazy; she has chosen hate. He has not. He carries Arthur to his knights. Merlin finds Gwaine and the creature. He is granted one question. Who is Arthur’s Bane? Himself.

Everyone is back in Camelot; Arthur knights Mordred. Merlin honestly likes Mordred, but doesn’t trust him. He asks why Mordred saved Arthur. “Because he’s right, the love that binds us is more important than the power we wield.” Merlin knows that for good or ill, the die is cast. Albion’s greatest trial has begun.

The Death Song of Uther Pendragon brings to light Arthur’s doubts whether he is being a good ruler. He does a lot of things his father wouldn’t approve of. He’s then gifted a chance to see his father again when he saves an old sorceress for a horrible death and no trial. And Uther is disappointed with his son. He knighted commoners, he married a commoner and not for an alliance for the kingdom. He feels that his son has failed to strengthen and protect the kingdom; he’s destroying Uther’s legacy. Meanwhile, we, along with Merlin, counsel Arthur that he is better than his father. His people love and respect him and his is a more wise and just ruler. But Uther’s spirit is released and haunts the castle. Percival is attacked. Gwen is almost killed. Merlin and Arthur set out to put Uther’s spirit back. Uther attacks Merlin and discovers that he has magic. Uther tries to warn Arthur, but Arthur sounds the horn dismissing the spirit before he is able.

Mithian’s kingdom is attacked, bringing her back to Camelot in Another’s Sorrow. It’s a ploy between Odin and Morgana. Morgana disguises herself as Mithian’s maidservant so Mithian will persuade Arthur to rescue her father. Merlin suspects the maid and discovers it is Morgana, but she knocks him out before he can warn Arthur. Arthur proceeds with the plan and walks into the trap. Merlin comes to, with magical aid from Gaius, in time to take Gawine and rescue Arthur. Arthur faces Odin and Merlin prevents his friend from killing the other king. There is a better way. Arthur asks for a truce; else, their blood feud will simply continue on. Odin accepts. And we start a trend this season of seeing Merlin injured more often. I think it’s good, because it shows that he is vulnerable and we like vulnerability in our heroes.

The Disir, the mouthpiece of the Triple Goddess, pass judgment on Arthur and find him lacking. He has persecuted sorcerers as a carryover from Uther. His fate is set; while Camelot flowers, already the seeds of its destruction are sown. Arthur argues he makes his own path, but he still wants to protect his people, so he appears before the Disir. He is not respectful the first appearance though and they attack. Mordred takes a spear meant for Arthur. Arthur now has a choice; to save Mordred, he must allow magic to be freely practiced in Camelot again. If not, Mordred dies. We can see Merlin struggle to advise his friend. Merlin desires for magic to return, for his sake and his people. But even Kilgarah warns him that Arthur’s fate is bound with Mordred. So Merlin tells Arthur there is no place for magic in Camelot, thereby sentencing Mordred to die. Yet when they return to Camelot, Mordred lives. This gets terribly confusing for Merlin; every step he takes toward not bring the future to pass actually helps it along.

Morgana kidnaps Gwen in The Dark Tower and tortures her in a way. She locks her former maidservant in a dark room with mandrake root, listening to screams, and seeing visions of people she loves. Elyan and Arthur mount a rescue attempt, though they are waylaid in a magical forest. Merlin trusts his magic and leads them out, but Elyan darts ahead to rescue his sister. An enchanted sword runs him through. At the very end of the episode, we see Gwen sneak out to visit Morgana. She now believes that only Morgana has her best interest at heart; after all, they were close friends for many years, they know each other best.

Gwen begins to work behind the scenes to help Morgana and bring down Camelot and kill her husband. Accidents begin to befall Arthur in A Lesson in Vengeance. (Yes, the stable hand is played by John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones. And due to when this season was filmed, he had already begun playing Sam. So we are correct to gasp, “Oh my gosh, it’s Sam!”) The stable hand Tyr Seward takes the fall and Gwen stabs him to prevent him from talking. Morgana gives Gwen a magical poison to slowly and painfully kill Arthur. She has no hesitation in giving it to Arthur; she plays her part as grieving wife well. Gwen next arranges for Merlin to take the fall; he’s close to Arthur and has access to cause him harm. Gaius helps Merlin out of the cell while Leon pledges the knights to follow Gwen who will succeed Arthur should he die. Merlin ages himself (we can see he is having a lot of fun in his Dragoon character). Only Merlin’s magic can save Arthur, but he doubts he has the strength for both the aging and the healing. Gaius informs his ward that the only one who doubts Merlin’s abilities is Merlin. Merlin cries when he thinks Arthur has died, but Arthur survives. Merlin sneaks back into his cell so he can be released the next day. Arthur never suspected Merlin. Well that’s good, but why didn’t the knights stand up for him? Gwen gets the credit when she finds a new suspect and pins the blame correctly on Morgana.

Arthur meets with potential allies in The Hollow Queen while Gwen arranges a distraction for Merlin. A “Druid” boy sneaks into Camelot and asks Merlin for help. He leads Merlin into a trap by Morgana (she and Gwen are just trying to get Arthur’s biggest defense away while Gwen arranges for Arthur’s assassination). She poisons Merlin and throws him into a ravine. The boy returns for Merlin; the young man had shown him kindness and helps Merlin heal. They make it back to Camelot just as the assassin sets up. The boy is killed helping Merlin. Gwen had fed Arthur the tale that Merlin was sneaking off to see a girl when Arthur began to worry about Merlin. Now Gaius and Merlin know that Gwen is working against them.

They come up with a solution in With All My Heart. Merlin helps Arthur spy on Gwen when she meets with Morgana. They know it’s Morgana’s magic this time betraying Arthur. Which means it will take even more powerful magic to undo the spell. Merlin gets the solution off of an old sorceress and must lead Arthur to a magical lake and summon the White Goddess. Gwen must enter the lake of her own will. Arthur and Merlin sneak Gwen out of the castle, keeping her unconscious. Mordred follows them, which was a good thing because both Merlin and Arthur fall off a cliff and Arthur’s arm is pinned. Merlin has to transform into an old woman so as to not arouse suspicion merlin dolma(though Mordred does note that Merlin is missing at one point). The magic works and Dolma (Merlin in disguise) asks that Arthur remembers that magic can save, as well as hurt. “She” tells him off when they almost forget Merlin and tells Arthur “one day, he will recognize the true worth of those around him.” Mordred finally realizes that Merlin has magic, but promises to keep his secret. They share the dream of magic returning to Camelot.

Alator returns in The Kindness of Strangers; Morgana has hunted him down and tortures him to reveal Emrys’s identity. He refuses, but has recruited others to his cause. An old woman warns Merlin that the great battle is approaching. Mordred and the other knights give chase when they discover the old woman, since Gaius does not trust her. She is not in league with Morgana, but Morgana finds out about her, so she too is hunting for the woman. Merlin goes to help and is injured. The woman sacrifices herself to protect Merlin and he is not discovered. He hears the prophecy of Camlan and receives word that Morgana has declared war.

A familiar face for us pops up in The Drawing of the Dark. Alexandra Dowling (Roslin Frey in Game of Thrones and Queen Anne of Austria in Musketeers) is Kara, an old friend [and love interest] of Mordred’s. She’s injured and Mordred tends to her in the woods. Merlin finds out, but Mordred swears him to secrecy. Arthur and Merlin discover Kara themselves, even after Merlin tries to lure Arthur away. Kara attacks Arthur and is arrested. She proudly defies the king; “I will not rest until you are dead and your kingdom is no more.” Mordred pleads for her life, but she shows no repentance. Arthur cannot risk her being free. Merlin even pleads on Mordred’s behalf, but Arthur believes Mordred will see that Arthur had no choice and eventually forgive him. Merlin suspects that Mordred will try to free Kara, Mordred throws in Merlin’s face, “wouldn’t you do the same for a woman you love?” We know that Merlin tried, but Arthur killed Freya when she attacked Camelot. And Merlin forgave Arthur and serves him faithfully to this day. Merlin does not tell Mordred this (there is a fanfiction story Love Lost by Revhead where Merlin does tell Mordred and changes the story a little).

Mordred breaks Kara out, she kills a guard along the way, but they’re captured. Arthur offers her one last chance, but she will not change her ways. Mordred is in a cell when she is led to her execution. His magic breaks him out of his cell and he goes directly to Morgana. He has information for her, which will lead to Arthur’s death. He knows the identity of Emrys: Merlin.

The Diamond of the Day completes the season in two parts. Morgana sends a mook into Camelot to sneak into Merlin’s chambers, planting some sort of slug. It attacks Merlin’s face and somehow steals his magic. While that happens, Morgana and Mordred attack on outpost. Gwaine rescues a young woman and they make it back to Camelot to give word. Arthur decides to ride out and meet Morgana and her army on the field, to keep the fighting away from the people and other villages. The best place is Camlan, where the path narrows. Merlin sadly cannot accompany Arthur on this great battle; he must secretly journey to the Crystal Cave in an effort to restore his magic. But Gwaine’s new friend is a spy for Morgana, she passes along the information about Arthur and Mordred surmises where Merlin is heading. Morgana is waiting for the warlock and causes a cave in.

Merlin is injured and when he wakes, he sees his father. Balinor urges his son to not let go, don’t give in. Merlin is magic itself; he cannot lose what he is. Rest, he advises, believe in the crystals. When Merlin wakes again, he is healed and sees a secret path that Mordred plans to cut Arthur off with. Merlin warns Arthur in a dream, then bursts out of the cave.

Arthur misses having Merlin with him; the man who has stood beside him in every other instance is now gone for this vital confrontation. Gwen has accompanied him, not to fight, though she will help behind the scenes, but so they can spend what time they have together. She knows there is a good chance that Arthur may not return from this battle. Arthur receives Merlin’s message (Gwen has already begun to suspect there is more to Merlin that appears) and sets the camp to business. Percival and Gwaine will meet the band coming around behind. Arthur rallies his troops; fight for a united kingdom, fight against tyranny. The battle has begun.

Aithusa spews fire on Arthur’s troop, but a sorcerer (an aged Merlin, his true Emrys form) calls him off, then directs lightning on the Saxons, saving Arthur. He knocks Morgana down. Mordred hunts down Arthur on the field and stabs him with a blade forged on Aithusa’s breath. Arthur kills Mordred. Merlin finds Arthur on the field, bypassing Mordred, and carries him off.

When Arthur wakes, Merlin is back to his normal form. Merlin apologizes to his friend; he thought he was in time to defy the prophecy. Arthur doesn’t know what Merlin is talking about. Merlin reveals he was the sorcerer.

Arthur…doesn’t take it well. He responds to Gaius, when the old man finds them, but shies away from Merlin. They need to get word back to Guinevere in Camelot. Leon is giving her updates; but they have not found Arthur. Gaius tells Arthur that Merlin is his friend; he needs him far more than he needs Gaius. The wound is fatal, due to the blade. The only place Arthur could heal is the Isle of Avalon. Gaius can take the royal seal to Gwen.

Back in Camelot, they realize that truth of Gwaine’s traitorous female friend. She is executed, after passing along misinformation to Morgana. Percival and Gwaine set out to take down Morgana. Sadly, she bests them, knocking out Percival, then torturing Gwaine. Percival frees himself in time to watch his friend die. And so starts the “how many stabs does it take to kill Morgana?” Gwen confronts Gaius about the truth of Merlin. She seems pleased and knows that Merlin will care for Arthur.

Merlin continues to care for Arthur, confusing the man. Arthur slowly comes around to the fact that his manservant has had magic all along, but it still takes time for him to get over the fact that Merlin lied about it the whole time he knew Arthur. Merlin insists, it has always been to help Arthur; he is proud of what he has done and he wouldn’t change a thing. Arthur finally apologizes for the way he has treated Merlin. Morgana finds them just as the reach the shore of the lake. Merlin faces her and stabs her with Excalibur. That does her in. He has brought peace at last to Albion. But Arthur is fading fast. “It’s too late,” he tells the young warlock and asks his friend to hold him in his final moments, and says what he has never said before: “Thank you.” We cry alongside Merlin.

merlin and arthur in the end
Pardon my blubbering

Merlin calls Kilgarah one last time to carry them to the Isle. But it is too late, the dragon tells his young friend. Fear not, he has not failed. All that he has dreamt has come to pass. “I can’t lose him! He’s my friend!” Merlin cries. Some lives are foretold, Kilgarah counsels. Arthur is the Once and Future King. When Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again. Merlin throws Excalibur into the lake, caught by a hand. Again, we cry alongside Merlin as he lays Arthur to rest in a boat and sends it to Avalon. Gwen is crowned queen; Leon, Gaius, and Percival are alongside her in Camelot. The parting shot of the show is a truck passing the tower on the Isle of Avalon and an old man, Emrys, walks along the side of the road.

Gosh, the last two episodes hurt. Part of me expected, hoped, that it would turn out different than legend, that Arthur and Merlin would work together and see the fruits of their labors. There is a chance that Gwen was carrying Arthur’s child at the end, maybe the writers threw in her accompanying Arthur to the camp in order for that to be a possibility. I have no doubt she made a just and wise ruler, but it’s not the same as if Arthur would have been around. Yes, it’s a deviation from legend, but I prefer a happy ending where heroes get some peace and quiet and rewards. You make us love these characters and then you separate them. We have no idea if Merlin even returned to Camelot, or just stayed away. (Check out fanfics, we’ve got lots of ideas. And fixes!)

Heck, I was even beginning to hope that Mordred would turn out alright. Again, doesn’t follow legend, though I like how they wrote around the incest nature of Mordred. And Merlin’s reveal has so little time to sink in. (Again, check out fanfics!) I would have preferred at least another season to the show. Again, I think they were surprised at when they had to wrap and had to bring about so much to end it, it all ended up rushed. Did not like Gwen’s storyline for several episodes. You’ve already done the “Gwen is a threat to Camelot.” They keep her a good character since none of it is her actual fault, she’s always influenced by Morgana. Still haven’t gotten over her turn and sudden descent into madness. “Oh, I’m a witch, so I must turn evil.” I don’t buy it. Never bought that mentality. (That is why my female characters who have magical powers are good. Well, they fight bad ones, but they’re still good after wielding phenomenal power).

I still like the show and I love the portrayal of characters, most specifically the relationship between Arthur and Merlin. Banter is my favorite. Yes, they insult each other, but they genuinely care for each other and they see that, even though they don’t say it (until the end and that makes us cry). I just wish it had ended different. Please, BBC, do a movie!

Next Time: Continuing a bit with fantasy type movies, Knight’s Tale (Well, it fits with the medieval setting).