Friday, December 26, 2014

The Librarians - 1.04 - And Santa's Midnight Run - Roundtable Review

Welcome back to our Librarians roundtable review. Sorry this is a little late but on top of Christmas, I've been having computer problems. Still it's a great time to talk about such a fun episode. Today we have Gavin Hetherington, Alouzon, Michaela, and me, Dahne, joining in. If you want to be part of a future article, just fill out the form which you can find on Google+, my Twitter feed, or e-mail  Thanks for reading the roundtable and please comment on your own opinions below.  Merry bealted Christmas and I hope your new year is filled with only the best.

What was your favorite thing about this episode?

Alouzon - Bruce Campbell, hands down. I also loved the take on Santa Clause as an avatar that is reflective of the times in which he exists. The idea that he accumulates goodwill all the year through & distributes it at Christmas is also fantastic.

Gavin - Christmas!! I'm obsessed, so having a Christmas episode of this show so early in the game is my dream come true. I loved the episode from start to finish. The fact that they had Santa Clause was incredible. I loved the idea of the gift-giving was more about giving hope and courage to those around the world rather than toys and material objects was a beautiful message. Thorougly enjoyed it.

Michaela - I really enjoyed how the episode deepened the characters, showing a different side of Ezekiel, setting up a potential pairing between Jacob and Lamia and making Eve and Cassandra a little more fleshed-out with their reactions to Christmas. It was nice to see how everyone was affected differently by the spirit of Santa and Christmas, but my personal favorite moment was watching Ezekiel lead a conga line of caroling children. It was so adorable and it was nice to see a different side of his character, but I'm glad that his aside to Jacob of "kill me now" showed that his personality hadn't been completely swallowed up by Christmas cheer. I also thought that Eve's gift of hope at the end was really powerful without being too sickly sweet.

Dahne - I really enjoyed seeing Bruce Campbell on my screen again.  I miss Sam Axe from Burn Notice.  I also thought the story behind Santa was intriguing, unlike anything else I have seen.

If you could change anything about this episode, what would it be?

Alouzon - A better explanation of how the baddies got into the cargo plane while it was flying would go a long way.

Gavin - It was pure, campy, silly fun. I wouldn't change a thing about this episode. Perfect Christmas episode.

Michaela - Maybe the whole Santa's hat= Christmas cheer thing could have developed a little more slowly instead of completely changing its wearer pretty much with the snap of a finger, although I understand why the plot required it. Overall, I really liked this episode and personally think it's been the best one so far.

Dahne - The first time I watched it, all the talking in third person drove me absolutely nuts.  It's a pet peeve of mine.  By the third time, it was manageable but still irritating.  The whole plane scenario was a little too farfetched as well.

The writers use how the characters respond to Christmas as a way to explore their backgrounds and reveal more information about each of them. Do you feel this worked well? What was the most interesting revelation/character moment to you? Were there any you didn't like?

Alouzon - I thought it was pretty standard, and only reinforced what we already know about the characters, although Eve's streak of cynicism runs deeper than I thought.

Gavin - Christmas is a wonderful time of year but that just means the holiday could have a deeper impact on people and I think the episode explored some of the emotion behind the characters pretty well. I love how infatuated Cassandra was with the holiday and the traditions. Being told there's no Santa at a very young age is devastating but I can relate, and her reactions to finding out Santa is real was exactly how I would be if I found out. Really shows her childlike side. It was also sad for Eve who really hadn't had a good Christmas. It made it all the more sweet at the end when the Librarians were all together with Eve.

Michaela - Yeah, I thought the different responses that each character had worked in general and succeeded in developing them more. Eve's dislike of Christmas wasn't really surprising, but her grumpy interactions with Santa were priceless and her rationale for disliking Christmas because the idea of bringing people together on Christmas was just a story people told each other and wasn't true because she had seen firsthand that people would kill each other even on Christmas provided a lot more insight into her character. I thought they could have delved deeper into Jacob's views on the holiday instead of having him just say he liked getting into bar brawls on Christmas Eve, but that's just a minor nitpick.

Dahne - I thought it was a great way to get to know more of the character background.  I tend to dislike Cassandra, and nothing here changed that, but even I feel sorry for her in this instance.  Learning that Santa is not real at 3 years old is a little early.  I wish they had fleshed out Baird's complete disdain for Christmas a little more although it informed her character a lot.  I agree with Michaela that a little more on Jake's experiences would have been welcome too.

By putting on Santa's hat, Ezekiel becomes an entirely different person. What did you think of this persona? Do you think the experience will change Ezekiel in any way?

Alouzon - I thought it was funny how unhappy he was with it, but I'm not sure it's because it's contrary to his true nature, or if it's because he's embarrassed that his exterior persona has been revealed as a mere facade.

Gavin - I loved his different persona, it made it really funny to watch, especially when he and Cassandra meet the pilot of the plane but he's got so much goodwill that he lets the pilot go home to his family for Christmas Eve. In the episode before, Ezekiel made that comment about betraying the others like Cassandra did if he was in her shoes. He seemed to show little care for the others, but I think now he has had the experience of feeling goodwill, it might have a lasting effect. I can definitely see Ezekiel really changing his ways and becoming a better person through all of this.

Michaela - Like I said earlier, I think that it would have been more powerful if his personality had changed more slowly and the writers had made it seem more as if the hat were bringing the good that was deeply buried within him to the surface instead of just infecting him with good cheer in an uncontrollable Jekyll/Hyde type way. If this were real life and not a tv show, I would have been less amused and more freaked out to see someone's personality completely change, even if it was someone I didn't know that well and their personality changed for the better.That said, I think it'll definitely change his relationships with the other characters because now that they see he's capable of being caring and generous, it might make it easier for them to trust him than it was when he was just a selfish, sarcastic thief. For Ezekiel himself, I think that getting his wish of knowing what it was like to be the good guy might cause him to take that role on a little bit more. He's spent most of his life looking out for #1, and not really having anyone else that he really cares about enough to put himself on the line for but I think that his moment with Cassandra in "The Horns of a Dilemma" and seeing that he could be a "good guy" in this episode will start to change that, even if he's more comfortable being a selfish thief.

Dahne - I liked the comic relief it brought to the episode and how it was kind of a foil to Baird's overall grumpiness.  My problems with it leans more to the logical side, including why Santa didn't say anything when Baird removed his hat and why they didn't immediately give him back the hat when they arrived at the airport.  It was a bit too much of a plot device for me.  Throwing logic out the window, it was a lot of fun.  I'm not sure if this will lead to any long-term changes in Ezekiel and I actually think it would be better if it doesn't so we can get a slower evolution of the character.  The character is too interesting to rush.

In the episode, Santa is described as "an immortal avatar of goodwill" and therefore could take on several different incarnations from different cultures. What did you think about this twist on the traditional character? What was your favorite Santa incarnation or power?

Alouzon - I really liked this. I particularly liked his first change. I don't recall which culture they said he was supposed to rep. there, but the leaving gifts in shoes is a Dutch tradition that we followed in our house (we would leave wooden shoes out for him). Odin was pretty funny, too.

Gavin - I thought it was brilliant the twist of collecting goodwill through the year then returning it on Christmas as the gifts instead of toys and stuff. I wasn't really expecting it and it wasn't a traditional tale at all but I ended up loving it. It makes a lot of sense too, more sense than Santa going down chimneys leaving presents for billions of kids in one night.

Michaela - I personally liked the modern Santa the best, but I thought that all of his incarnations were entertaining. Nicholas the wonder maker and his penchant for making toys materialize in people's shoes were delightful and I was surprised to find out that Odin, the Norse god of war was one of the Incarnations of Santa. I definitely did not see it coming that Santa would smash a beer stein on his head or get into a brawl in a Canadian dive bar.

Dahne - This was a fantastic way to go.  It allowed them to play with the Santa legend and make it more interesting.  I love how they incorporated different traditions throughout.  There really wasn't one incarnation I liked more than the others but I do wish they had added even more.  This is one of those times that I wish the episode was actually a Librarian movie.  Overall, I thought the way the writers incorporated a new Santa mythology was fantastic.

In the end, Eve takes Santa's good will and finds her own Christmas spirit. Overly cheesy or a good way to end a Christmas episode?

Alouzon - Cheesy, but it is a Christmas episode.

Gavin - Definitely cheesy but still a great way to end the Christmas episode. I think it would have been even cheesier if she 100% changed for Christmas, so to have her still not call him Santa prevented it from being the absolute cheesiest moment of the show so far. It reminded me of a classic Christmas film but condensed down into 40 minutes. I love the cheese. Keep it coming.

Michaela - It was a little cheesy, but it's nearly impossible to make a non-cynical Christmas episode in a way that isn't at least somewhat cheesy. I thought it was a satisfying way to end the episode and even got a little misty-eyed when her gift of hope convinced that girl not to jump off the roof of the building. I know that some reviewers didn't like the ending, but I thought that it tied up the episode well.

Dahne -I agree with everyone else that it was definitely cheesy, but tis the season for cheese.  I don't think it would have worked in any other time of the year but it was perfect for Christmas.

Dulaque and Lamia return as the Big Bads of the episode. What do you think of them as the villains so far?

Alouzon - I think they're laying down the groundwork for Lamia to reform. I think Dulaque is a former Librarian gone bad. He'll be very interesting. Matt Frewer always does a great job.

Gavin - They reminded me of Warren, Andrew and Jonathan of Season 6 of Buffy. They're trying to be bad guys but doing a pretty poor job so far. It's hilarious really. You can't really take them seriously though there's still an element of danger about them as they can become unpredictable.

Michaela - They give the episode slightly higher stakes when they're onscreen because they really are trying to bring about something that could completely plunge the world into chaos. I like the tease of a flirtation that's developing between Lamia and Jacob and Dulaque is definitely creepy enough to be convincing as a Big Bad. Their goal to bring magic into the world without realizing the potential consequences also make them a lot scarier and more effective as villains than any of the case of the week villains. Even though I do love me some good ol' case of the week episodes, I think the show is better for having villains that connect the episodes together.

Dahne -  I find these two too cheesy to take seriously.  They have the over the top hamminess of a cartoon or Warehouse 13 villain without all the fun.  Mostly I find myself making fun of them or being confused as to why they should be taken seriously.  I do agree with Alouzon in that it's almost certain Lamia will get a redemption arc.  I also think Dulaque will get more interesting as we get to know his back story so I hope we get that soon.

Obviously Jenkins has history with Dulaque. In the end he implied that Dulaque and he are similar in a magical way when he said, "Dulaque, die from falling out of a plane? Huh? Well we're…he's much tougher than that." Any theories on what he meant by we're?

Gavin - I didn't think anything of that on first viewing to be honest, so you have a good eye. Now you mention it, the way he said it was very suggestive of a past. Very interested in this development now. It suggests Jenkins might have fought Dulaque if he thought falling out of a plane was too easy for him. Dulaque has probably been fighting with the Librarians for years and years and never succeeded in his goals, so he's probably impatient.

Michaela - It really could be anything, but my guess would be that they're both some sort of supernatural being that can apparently stand falling out of planes.

Dahne - This was actually the most intriguing part of the episode for me.  It hints at a long history and more supernatural at play.  What exactly are Jenkins, Judson, and Dulaque?  I have a feeling Dulaque held the same job at one point and that's how he knows about the Library.  It also explains his extensive art collection.  In my mind, Dulaque was definitely employed by the library at some point and could end up being this series' Paracelsus like on Warehouse 13.  I much applaud them if that's the route they're going because it makes the villain more personable and will lead to good back story for Jenkins too.

What grade would you give this episode and why?

Alouzon - 9/10 It was well done; the original interpretation of Father Christmas is refreshing, and Bruce Campbell played it to perfection.

Gavin - A+. Because I'm a huge lover of Christmas, I rated the episode based on how much festivity it offered. With an original take on the classic Santa story and a lesson to be learned by the end, it's become a Christmas episode I'll rewatch every Christmas along with my other favourite festive TV show episodes.

Michaela - I'd give it an A. I was thoroughly entertained by their race to save Santa and I thought that the show's interpretation of Christmas was heartwarming without being too cheesy. Besides, any episode where Christian Kane and Rebecca Romijn play hot potato with priceless artifacts in order to keep the villains occupied automatically deserves an A in my book.

Dahne -I would give it a B+ for fun.  It was an entertaining episode with enough folklore about Santa and a twisty mythology that made sense and kept my interest.  Cassandra's high-pitched kid squeal has to go and I still don't get anything about the plane (like how they could even stay in it when the hatch opened), but overall it was a fluffy piece of Christmas cheer.

Anything you want to add?

Gavin - If I haven't said it already, I love Christmas.

Screencaps by Tumblr - Librarians, Tumblr - Librarians Spoilers, Tumblr - Eve BairdKane Nation, and IMDb.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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