Laurel and Lucy get annoyed about mansplaining and incorrect job titles
For our Objects, Artefacts & Talismans issue, I didn't have to think hard about what film trilogy to watch. Some may have gone for the obvious choice (Lord of the Rings - various men faff around trying to get a ring) but I immediately informed Laurel that we'd be watching the made-for-TV The Librarian trilogy, starring Dr Carter (Noah Wyle) from ER.
As a film archivist, this series has been mentioned quite a few times at information professional parties (the best kind of party) and conferences and I knew vaguely that Dr Carter (his name is Flynn in the Librarian films but he'll always be Dr Carter to me) is a librarian who has to go on quests to get mythical objects. So, we booked a day in our diaries to watch all three films and got some tea and cakes in.
There will definitely be spoilers!
Lucy-Anne Smee = LAS
Laurel Jo Sills = LJS
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear
The opening credits roll.
LJS: Woah. Clearly, this film is made for TV. Look at that font.
LAS: I… think, it's… Papyrus…?
Dr Carter is seen, dressed like a pseudo-Indiana Jones (these films are basically Indiana Jones). He is in full mansplaining mode about hieroglyphs although he's a student like everyone else, while his classmates are working hard building a replica of the Giant Pyramid and keeps interrupting everyone and the teacher.
LAS: What a douche.
The teacher tells Carter he is graduating him from his class now, mainly because he's too arrogant.
LJS: FAIR ENOUGH. Wait, did he just say he has 22 degrees?
He does have 22 degrees. Dr Carter does not want to experience real life.
LAS: Ugh. Man child.
Flynn returns home to his mother, who he of course lives with. "My brilliant son is back from a day of becoming more brilliant."
LJS: She's totally enabling him.
His mum has set him up on a date with a normal woman, who leaves in less than 5 minutes after sussing that Flynn is a total loser and should sort his life out. His mum gives him a stirring speech telling him that life is about what's in his heart, rather than in his brain.
LJS: Frankly, she'd achieve more if she kicked him out and changed the locks.
The next day, Flynn receives a magic letter from the Metropolitan Public Library on a glowing piece of paper inviting him for a job interview.
LAS: Well, that was easy. This guy will never learn to fend for himself if people keep giving him things.
At the library the interviewer challenges him to tell her something she doesn’t know and he Badgerman Cucumsnatches Sherlock Holmes her ("you have three siblings, you broke your nose when you were 4, you have 2 cats etc. etc."). He uses his mum’s life lessons from the night before to get the job.
Flynn flies to the Amazon. A scornful British woman sits next to him on the plane. He mansplains some stuff to her but she brilliantly cuts him off mid-sentence.
LAS: I wish I did that when men mansplain things to me.
She then saves his life when all the baddies are on the plane. She throws him out of the plane, puts on a parachute, jumps out, puts her parachute up and then catches him up.
LAS: That is not possible.
The baddies hire a Latin American stereotype as a tracker to find the two. The lady is Nicole, another library (archive) employee. Flynn asks her what happened to the last librarian [archivist] and she cuts him off.
LJS: I bet she loved the last librarian and he betrayed her and the library and that is why she is so cold.
After some adventures, Flynn Bindercoot Camembert Sherlock Holmes her, ("your father is Argentinian but you never learnt Spanish etc.") and they grow closer. She tells him about Edward Wild, the last librarian, who she loved and died because of her.
LJS: *fist pumps * I was basically right!
At a village of South American stereotype tribespeople, they watch a mating ritual. That night, Carter re-enacts the mating ritual for Nicole and Laurel hides her face behind a pillow.
LAS: I am so embarrassed for him.
They finally get to the temple where the Spear of Destiny fragment is and pass a series of Indiana Jones tests to get to it. One of them is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. A series of swinging axes and so on impede their path, and they realise that it is a waltz beat. Nicole teaches Flynn to waltz and they waltz their way through the deadly obstacles.
Film 2! The Librarian [Archivist]: Return to King Solomon's Mines
The opening credits roll and some magic words come up:
LAS: DIRECTED BY JONATHAN FRAKES OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING/MEDIOCRE!
After a completely pointless opening scene in the American west where Flynn has a Native American sidekick, he returns to the library (archive). He no longer has a Native American sidekick.
LAS: Maybe one of the most blatant attempts to add excitement by using ethnic minority sidekicks I've seen!
Meanwhile, in Cairo, a man wearing a Masonic symbol around his neck who is being chased, asks a kid to post a mysterious package for him.
LJS: Dr Carter will receive that package.
Flynn's mum has a surprise birthday party for him, and his dead dad's friend shows up and gives him a photo of him and his dad when they were younger.
LJS: Wait. Flynn's dad, in that photo… is that just Noah Wyle with a moustache on?
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Another librarian materialises out of thin air and tells him his life will never be the same. He gets the job as The Librarian. They tell him he is The Librarian quite a few times, specifically using that job title. They go to a secret room.
LAS: Wait. Wait. This is a room full of original artefacts. WAIT A MINUTE. I think you'll find this is an archive? This film series is incorrectly named. I am furious.
Dr Carter sees the Ark of the Covenant and of course, assumes it is a copy. Because they told him about ten times that his job title is The Librarian, NOT The Archivist or The Curator. He has 22 degrees, presumably one in some kind of information science, he knows his stuff.
LAS: Is there only one Ark of the Covenant? Yes. Is there only one Pandora's Box? Yes. Is there only one Excalibur? Yes. This is an outrage.
The magic librarian (Judson) tells him that the artefacts aren't magic, but really are just real objects that act like they are magic because they are so far advanced that human brains can't comprehend the science behind them.
LJS: Wow! I am so pleased. That is what I think magic is! Just magic science!
Flynn touches all the artefacts and puts the jetpack artefact on and flies around the library.
LAS: He is the worst archivist ever.
LJS: He's The Librarian! Not an archivist. Haha!
LJS: Are you seeing this. Are you seeing this. This is absurd.
Of course, once they have the spear, the baddies catch up with them and take it. Because why wouldn't they. Nicole sees Edward Wild and realises the truth. They go to Shangri La in the Himalayas to find the third fragment. With the aid of the monks, Flynn and Nicole grab the last fragment and escape, go to Mongolia, Nicole calls Flynn a 'pansy'
LJS: !!! she can't say that, that's well bad.
They have sex in a hotel. Carter keeps his socks on.
The next morning, she and the spear are missing. Flynn realises they will be at the replica of the Giant Pyramid he was working on at the start of the film.
LAS: Because of course.
Ridiculous battle scenes ensue. Judson is apparently an ex-marine.
LJS: He is kicking loads of ass, despite being very easily knocked out when the baddies originally stole the spear.
Obviously, they win and return the spear intact to the library [archive].
LAS: Wasn't it in three pieces to stop people using it for evil?
LJS: Well, that was ridiculous.
LAS: Ha! All the women he meets know he's a big wang. Although, I bet she still sleeps with him.
They find half of the map legend, nick the scroll off the baddies, and go to Kenya to find the mines.
LJS: Why?? Just protect them so the baddies can't find the mines! The baddies will just follow you!
In Kenya, they take a safari bus and the woman who Flynn had the terrible date with in the first film is on her honeymoon. Her husband is being played by JONATHAN FRAKES!
LAS: Oh my god! WILL RIKER CAMEO!
They wander through a Masai tribe doing a dance in a village.
LJS: Oh my god. Of course. Of course, all villages in Kenya look like that. They're probably just dancing all the time. All day long, every day. Dancing.
We've gone insane from being shut in all day and hate everyone in these films now.
Film 3! The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice
Pointless opening scene in an auction house in London where Flynn bids £1,000,000 for a Ming vase, smashes it, and gets the Philosopher's Stone from its base. The lady librarian is cross with him for bidding so much, and refuses to use the Philosopher's Stone to turn things into gold to pay for the vase.
LAS: Well, I'm glad someone in this organisation has some professional ethics.
Meanwhile, some Russians break into Vlad Dracul's tomb and kidnap a professor to help them find the Judas Chalice to wake him up.
LJS: There better be some sexy vampires in this.
Judson tells Flynn that he has to translate the Voynich manuscript in the next 12 hours and Flynn flips out. They send him off for a holiday and because of a weird dream he has with a singing lady, he goes to New Orleans.
LJS: What on EARTH is he wearing? A baby blue tux with a red bowtie and a white fedora?
Flynn meets Andre, a cabbie who knows everyone in the city. Andre says, "laissez les bon temps rouler," because he is a New Orleans stereotype.
LAS: There have already been about five New Orleans tourism montages. I get it. Tourism after the floods. Please stop playing zydeco on the soundtrack though.
Flynn finds the singing woman from his dream, singing in a jazz club in a former church.
LJS: Woah, the love interest isn't a posh, blonde Englishwoman.
Simone the jazz singer explains she called him there as she knows he's the librarian. She gives him the marker showing how to find the Judas Chalice but the Russians arrive to steal it. Flynn gets Simone to break the glass in the room by singing a high C?
Flynn touching Pandora's Box, like the terrible information professional that he is.
They look at the portraits of the previous archivists and he finds out the last one died. The last one is shown in the portrait to be Kyle Maclachlan, or as Laurel says:
LJS: The guy from Sex and the City!
That night, Charlotte's husband from Sex and the City's minions (he's not dead, shocker) break into the library [archive] and steal the Spear of Destiny, knocking out Judson in the process.
LAS: Who is Judson, anyway? If he's working there, why do they need Dr Carter also?
Flynn is sent out into the world to find the other two fragments of the Spear of Destiny before the evil Brotherhood of Serpents do. The Serpent Brotherhood are a sect of evil librarians who want to control knowledge and are the ones who burnt the library at Alexandria down.
LJS: It's so stupid to find the other two fragments and just bring them back to the library -
LAS: * archive *
LJS: - archive, when the baddies already know how to break into it!
Dr Carter takes with him the book that says where the other fragments are (the baddies don't have this book. Just lock up the book?)
LAS: This book is written in the language of the birds, that no one in the world knows. Again, the baddies cannot read the map and do not have the map anyway. Oh well.
Nicole won't stand for manplaining.
LAS: It can't be.
LJS: It is!
LJS: [laughs hysterically]
There is a montage of photos in which Noah Wyle's dad is played by Noah Wyle with a moustache on. Noah Wyle says, "I feel like I don't even know who he was."
LJS: Yes, you do. He's you.
Flynn's mum gives him his childhood drawings that he made of stories his dad used to tell him, and a necklace with the same Masonic symbol on it. Flynn receives the package - a scroll covered with symbols - in the post but is knocked out and the scroll is stolen. Judson tells him the scroll was a map to King Solomon's mines, but the thief won't be able to decipher it without the map legend. Flynn goes to Morocco to find the map legend.
LAS: He's just travelling around supposedly exciting locations but all these places are purely used as exotic background.Flynn meets another scornful Englishwoman, Emily.
LJS: Ah, the weirdly similar love interest of this film.
Emily has 25 degrees (three more than Flynn) and puts a quick stop to any mansplaining that Flynn attempts.
Flynn's dad is basically a beardy Dr Carter
They come across a man who is buried in the sand, and save his life. He is deeply indebted to them and carries their bags all the way to where they are going.
LAS: I don't approve of this at all. Bad Will Riker.
The nice Kenyan man eats maggots. They eat chocolate bars. He saves their lives from hippos.
At their destination, they escape from baddies, get the rest of the map legend and run into Jerry, Flynn's dead dad's friend, who helps them onto a train. He also gives Emily a Masai dress to change into.
LAS: That dress is very revealing and culturally appropriating.
Flynn and Emily solve the map legend, which gets them super hot for each other, and they bang. They find the mines and of course, in doing so, lead the baddies there. The baddies are led by Uncle Jerry, who wants to use King Solomon's book to go back in time and marry Flynn's mum. Oh, not kill Hitler then. Uncle Jerry also murdered Flynn's dad.
Noah Wyle with some Kenyans in the background. He ignores them in this scene.
Flynn and Emily are thrown into a pit, with water pouring in. Flynn starts to drown, is transported to a beach where he and Judson are wearing white tuxes and have an entirely pointless conversation.
LJS: What is going on. I hate Judson. He's so pointless and weird.
Jomo, the magic kind African from earlier, saves them.
LJS: Where did he come from? Has he also been following them? How did he get there? How did he save them?
LAS: He's magic, I guess? A magic, kind African man.
Of course, they defeat the baddies, although Flynn is nearly tempted to the dark side as he could go back in time to see his dad, but Flynn throws the Book of Solomon into some lava instead.
LAS: He really is the worst librarian/archivist ever. If he had just preserved the map and map legend then he wouldn't need to be destroying artefacts.
By this stage, we've eaten all these cakes and are supine on the sofa, drooling.
Simone, like the love interests of the other Librarian films, refuses to take Flynn's mansplaining.
LJS: I don't think I can cope with how ridiculous these films are.
There is another New Orleans montage. Simone gives Flynn a tour of the city and they dance in the street to the brass band that is playing on the street corner at 2am.
LAS: I know it's New Orleans, but do you get brass bands playing at 2am in the street? Also, aren't they on the run from the Russian ex-KGB agents?
Flynn asks her if she has a boyfriend. She says there was someone -
LAS & LJS: Dracula.
- a long time ago -
LAS & LJS: Hundreds of years ago.
LAS: I know he's quite clever and that but really, women are a bit eager to get into bed with him.
Flynn gets kidnapped by the Russians but Simone rescues him. He realises she's a vampire and she explains that she was turned into one hundreds of years ago but has chosen to guard the Judas Chalice to prevent evil people using it. While she tells her back story we see her ex-boyfriend.
LJS: Wait. Is her boyfriend being played by Noah Wyle in a top hat?
He is. At her house, she shows him a portrait of the first ever librarian, Yahuda. Flynn says that Yahuda means… Judson.
LAS & LJS: *loll heads in pain *
They try to get the chalice. Somehow (we have sort of stopped paying attention), Jean LaFitte's ship is involved. Flynn starts to mansplain to Simone about Jean LaFitte, but Simone shuts him up as, "I'm 403. I knew him."
LAS: I love how in every single one of these films the women all immediately tell him to stop his mansplaining. Although, I wish they did that AND didn't sleep with him.
Turns out, the professor with an interest in vampires is Dracula. He got ill drinking cholera-infected blood and needs the chalice to revive himself. Everyone fights. Flynn and Simone win. Simone doesn't want to go out with Flynn; she'd rather die. She dies.
LAS: Well, I'm glad that's over. Quick, let's get into the sunshine!
LJS: That was all ridiculous. The best bits were his girlfriends as they were all brilliant women. Who all failed us by sleeping with that idiot.
The Librarian is being made into a new TV series, not with Dr Carter/Noah Wyle/Flynn Carsen/The Librarian [Archivist] but with four new Librarians [Archivists]. We'll probably still watch it.