The Librarians and Daniel Webster and Some Other People

The Librarians Ep.206 "And the Infernal Contract" ph: Allyson Ward Riggs
The name is Baird. Col. Baird. (The Librarians / Photo: Allyson Ward Riggs, TNT)

It’s ‘The Librarians and the Infernal Contract’ as the team faces off against a devil.

Baird’s old comrade in arms (of whom we have never heard prior to now, natch) is running for mayor of a small town in New Hampshire in order to clean the place up. The place doesn’t look at all dirty1, but the clippings book sends the librarians in to crash Baird’s reunion and track down someone who has made a deal with a devil. Said devil is all too happy to see them (and Jenkins) – it would be quite the coup if he can add a Librarian to his collection of signatories…

The magical, mystical, legend/artifact/thingie:

The Contract. Most devils2 utilize a tool along these lines, a parchment that grants the signer whatever their heart desires. It comes, of course, with a couple of catches – the signer’s life force is collateral, and The Contract itself will wreak some amount of chaos and destruction every 44 years, drawing power from the carnage.

Wouldn’tcha know it, this one is coming due right now.

Into which wrong hands might it fall?

The devil (a devil, a soul contractor, or an executor) has all the details already – an immortal named Mr. Susseman, played on a subtle point by Q himself, John de Lancie. At first this is a risk as this Contract has repeatedly caused disasters in town to further a political dynasty’s ends. Then it’s a risk because Baird’s friend3 takes over the contract as his heart’s desire is to improve the lives of the townsfolk.4 *Then* it’s a risk because the Contract defends itself by worsening the luck of anyone who tries to find and/or thwart it – meaning the trio gets trapped and Susseman can offer them a faustian bargain.

Teamwork makes the team work:

“You’ve got a kid, some cute chick, and a guy who looks like he’s a bar fighter?” asks Baird’s friend, reading from The Librarians‘ original casting notice.

This week was a real team effort with Stone, Ezekiel, and Cassandra complimenting one another’s skills the whole way along to figure out what was going on and where The Contract might be hidden. Baird sort of gets the B-plot, coaxing information from her friend and swooping in in her Guardian role towards the end, when the librarians have done all they can. Plus Jenkins gets some field work in, *rocks* a suit, has a deliciously distinguished murmuring standoff with Susseman, and heroically rescues the three amigos from Certain Doom.

We love Jenkins.

Giddily ridiculous moment of the week:

I want it to be the chupacabra jerky and Stone ecstatically relaying that it’s the *chupacabra* *making* the jerky!, but Cassandra’s voice as Jenkin’s trophy wife was beyond wonderful. “I like boats!”

The science checks out:

Baird has a plan. A clever plan. Spoiler: she signs the Contract, invalidating Sussman’s hold over her friend. But the old terms stay in force until she makes a wish, something Susseman figures she won’t want to do since it would mean she’d be responsible for whatever disaster strikes to give her her wish. But Baird wishes for the one thing that’ll bring this cycle to the end – she wishes Susseman were human. He’s floored (his double take alone is worth watching the episode), the magic is mooted, and good job writers for nailing that one.

Dewey decimal? Do we ever!

Jenkins: …the moon landing farce.
Cassandra: The moon landing wasn’t real?
Jenkins: Oh (apologetic smile) no, not that one.

I’m realizing how dang hard it must be for the writers to balance 4-5 main characters each week, to say nothing of a Flynn-centric episode. Hopefully we’ll get a little more on Ezekiel before season’s end5 but in the meantime the bigger problem remains the mismatch in pacing between the adventure/humor sections and the heartfelt/pathos sections. I suppose it didn’t help that both Baird and friend were sort of wooden with the emotions in this week’s arc. Fortunately the trio’s heist and the regular doses of humor balanced that out.

  1. Nor does it look small. It is, at least, a town. Some day I will write a lengthy dissertation on fictional portrayals of small towns, beginning with three chapters on how the American education system has so failed our populous that we are completely unable to correctly use the word ‘small’.  
  2. As Jenkins points out early on many a demon has gone by ‘devil’; we’re not talking about Ol’ Scratch in particular  
  3. *Friend*!, she keeps insisting, until she doesn’t.  
  4. Who, again, seem to be doing QUITE WELL FOR THEMSELVES in this tiny, corrupt town with spotless streets, a grand old hotel, and no signs of crime.  
  5. Knowing his motivations include “Katy Perry. Holding the crown jewels. holding a wad of cash. with an unnatural attraction to young aussie boys.” was a nice touch.  

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About Aaron Mucciolo 206 Articles
He does things. That's all we can say at this time. E-mail: mooch@whatelseison.tv
  • Dammit, Q!

    Okay, now that we’ve got THAT out of the way …

    I was a huge fan of that trophy-wife exchange between Jenkins and Cassandra, until the tone of Jenkins’ reply made me feel like I needed to take a shower. All of a sudden I pictured him as a lecherous old man, and it was not a pretty sight.

    I also was happy with the way Baird wrapped up the danger, but c’mon — really? Even the genie in Aladdin had rules about what one could and could not wish. Seems like Q, er, Sussman would have something in place preventing wishes from breaking the contract. Although, I guess Aladdin did set the Genie free with his third wish, so maybe I should just stop typing now.

    • Aaron Mucciolo

      I didn’t notice Jenkin’s response, but the show is just a collection of individual line deliveries to me at this point. This episode was quite egregious in that regard. They’re not going through the motions – everyone clearly enjoys this too much – but it’s getting close.

      There’s a… danger is too strong a word, but there’s a something with this show when it rests on the simple tropes of its characters. Cassandra’s cutesie-ness, Ezekiel’s immaturity, Baird’s insecurity. For one, they’re usually less well delivered (Lindy Booth does everything great, so it’s the writers’ fault there) the result being a real undermining of the positive traits otherwise presented.

      • You say “collection of individual line deliveries” like that is a bad thing … ?

        Agreed re: tropes, although we’ve gotten some good development for a few of the characters so I don’t mind an episode of pure banter here and there. That said, I’m still waiting for Ezekiel to be something other than an Aussie thief.