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The Library

"Over the decades, the centuries, no matter war, famine, plague... Golden Axe always prevails."
Karen Willis


"And the Horns of a Dilemma" is the third episode of the first season of The Librarians. It aired on December 14, 2014.[1]

Synopsis[]

The trainee Librarians' first solo mission hits a snag when Baird loses the others in a mysterious Labyrinth that magically exists below the skyscraper of a modern corporation.[1]

Plot[]

In a non-descript set of hallways, a young man is being chased by an unseen threat. He finds two cloaked people and begs for help, but they start chanting in Ancient Greek and ignore his pleas. As he's dragged away, they finish chanting, and head into an elevator, where they remove the cloaks and reveal themselves to be office workers, chatting about where to order lunch.

Ezekiel, Cassandra, and Jake are being chased inside a warehouse, but the person chasing them is revealed to be Eve. She's training them and chides them on their lack of readiness for potential fights on assignments. Jake needs to be smarter with his moves instead of simply relying on brute force, while Ezekiel bailed on his team members, and Cassandra simply stayed hidden out of fear. Eve intends to drill them again tomorrow. New pages are still appearing in The Library's Clippings book, so there's already assignments out there waiting, but Eve has refused to let them out ever since Flynn left. Jenkins warns Eve that being in harm's way is part of the job and she'll have to let them out eventually.

While they debate the issue, the Librarians peek at the book and find that Henry Birch, the young man from the opening and a chemical engineer and Fulbright scholar in Boston, has recently gone missing and his disappearance is connected to seven other disappearances. Though the victims were from all over, they all disappeared in Boston and were all interns at the Golden Axe Food Company. Eve reluctantly agrees to let the new Librarians go on this mission, acknowledging that people are likely at risk.

Jenkins shows them what he's been working on: a "back door" that can be used as a wormhole to open as a door anywhere. He warns them that he is still working out the kinks, but it's certainly faster than a plane. The team steps through the door and ends up in Boston, a short walk away from Golden Axe's headquarters.

The team begins by questioning Karen Willis, the CEO of the company, who claims to have no idea that eight of her interns have gone missing. She's also confused as to why NATO is interested in what's happening. After a brief interruption by an intern, Jennie, she sends them to look through the records at HR.

Eve is certain that Ms. Willis knows more than she's admitting, so Eve says she'll check the server room and sends the Librarians to HR, which is in the building's basement. When Eve reaches the "server room," she instead finds the room is full of Minoan artifacts. As for the Librarians, they find that "HR" is actually a room filled with human skulls. While Eve calls the team to tell them what she has found, the Librarians figure out that everything is tied to the Greek myth of the Minotaur, and then realize that they're trapped in the Labyrinth--the hallways no longer have an exit.

Eve calls Jenkins to let him know what has happened, and says that he needs to figure out how to get the Back Door to open in the Labyrinth to get them out. Eve then heads down into the Labyrinth after the Librarians. They're eventually able to find their way to one another, but they're near by the Minotaur. Fortunately, Jenkins is able to activate the Back Door and get them out in time.

Ms. Willis and her second-in-command, Mr. Franklin, meet in the artifacts room to discuss the team. They wonder if they could be related to the Library, but say that there's only one Librarian and he's currently in Budapest. She says they need to move up the timeline, starting with Jennie, the intern who'd interrupted the meeting earlier.

Back in the Annex, Jenkins explains the rules of magic to the team: every spell needs a source of power and a focus for that power in order to have an effect on reality. He believes that the thread that Eve saw in the artifacts room is in fact the original thread that Theseus used to navigate the original Labyrinth, and is likely the power source keeping the current Labyrinth running. The team continues to do research and determine that Golden Axe Foods is drawing magic from the Minotaur by sacrificing interns, like King Minos in the original myth, in order to have good harvests and high stock prices. Cassandra is let down that they won't be able to save Henry and Eve advises her that they will find justice for him.

When the team heads back to Boston to try to remove the thread and collapse the Labyrinth, they discover that the Labyrinth has expanded to include the city around them, and realize it's a curse rather than a location. The Minotaur makes an appearance, disguised as a larger biker, and they barely escape.

When they regroup, Eve tries to give the team orders, but Cassandra points out that they aren't soldiers. Eve realizes that she's right, and when Ezekiel points out that they need to get to the centre of the maze to pull the plug on it, the team determines a course of action. They come to the conclusion that they need to split up: Eve and Jake will fight the Minotaur to distract it, while Cassandra and Ezekiel will go back into the Labyrinth to find the thread.

Cassandra does calculations to get them to the centre of the maze, but finds that she's overwhelmed by the seven-dimension space that it occupies. When she worries that she's not cut out for this, and that she's just going to let everyone down again, Ezekiel tells her that while she betrayed them, she came back for them and didn't let them down. He says that in her situation, he would have done the same thing, but worse: he would have let Flynn die to save himself. He offers to guide her through the Labyrinth so she can close her eyes and navigate the maze without visual distractions.

When Eve tries to take on the Minotaur herself, Stone grabs a nearby truck and slams into the Minotaur with it--working smarter and harder. The two of them make an escape from the Minotaur, fleeing to the Annex, but the Minotaur chases them down and starts breaking down the door.

Back in the Labyrinth, Cassandra and Ezekiel reach the artifact room, but are interrupted by Ms. Willis, who holds them at gunpoint. She considers sacrificing them, but Cassandra surprises everyone by trying to tackle her, discharging the gun and shattering the case around the thread. Ezekiel grabs the thread and appears to make a break for it, back into the Labyrinth, but reappears once Ms. Willis leaves to chase after him. Unfortunately, she isn't tricked for long, but when Cassandra realizes that the ball of thread is representational magic and Ezekiel throws it into the Labyrinth, unraveling it, Ms. Willis makes a break for it.

The thread shoots out of the Back Door in the Annex, and Stone catches it. It takes the combined strength of him, Eve, and Jenkins to pull the other two out of the Labyrinth. With the ball of thread now the Annex's first artifact, the Labyrinth's power starts to fade, and the Minotaur is released--bad news for Ms. Willis and Mr. Franklin, who are now the targets of a Minotaur with a grudge.

Cassandra expresses her concerns to Jake about the fact that he doesn't trust her, and he tells her that no one back home knows his about the academic part of his life, and that discovering the Library was the first time he'd opened up about it. She'd betrayed that trust, and while he likes her, he doesn't trust her, and he's decided that he was right not to trust anyone in the first place.

Gathering the team together, Eve tells them that they did a good job, and that she was the one who needed to learn how to work with a team that isn't military in nature, neither soldiers to command nor assets to protect. Stone suggests that she think of them as partners instead, and she decides that works for her.

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Trivia[]

  • This episode was shot fourth and aired third.[2]
  • As the first episode after the two-part series pilot, this episode had to set the framework for the rest of the series and establish the team without Flynn and their relationships, the settings and rules of the universe, and the style of the series itself.[2] As they only had five weeks of prep time, and the first two episodes dismantled a lot of what had been established in the movies, this episode was key to the rest of the series.[3]
  • Although this was the second episode shot after the pilot, "And the Fables of Doom" had the characters not acting themselves, so this was the first time the actors really got a chance to find their characters.[2]
  • As part of establishing the set up for the rest of the series, this is the first episode where the characters use the Clippings book, and introduced the Back Door. Each artifact served a specific use for the writers:
    • The Clippings book brought cases to the team's attention, but doesn't give them all the information, allowing them to spend the first part of the episode investigating and putting together clues. This also means that the writers can add suspense and surprise the audience with a reveal once the clues are put together.[2]
    • The Back Door allowed the team to travel nearly anywhere, but had its own quirks that mean it can't always be used to solve problems. It also meant that the team could return to the Annex easily, which let the creators use their beautiful sets instead of having the team sitting around in bland motel rooms, as Mulder and Scully were forced to do on The X-Files.[2]
  • This is also the first episode to explain how magic works in the Librarian universe: power, focus, and effect. According to John Rogers, he originally wrote out the concept in a memo to the network executives who were asking how magic worked in the show, and was pleased to discover that it helped give the series structure.[3]
  • One of the focus points of the first season was how magic worked in the modern world. This episode, along with "And the Rule of Three", showed that magic was being used by unexpected people, and that magic wasn't necessarily going to be obvious or flashy.[2]
  • This episode also began to establish the wider magical world, with the Golden Axe executives being aware of the Library, and set up one of the season's themes: the magical world realizing that there are now multiple Librarians.[2]
  • With the creator and show-runner (John Rogers) and the writer (Jeremy Bernstein) and director (Marc Roskin) of this episode all coming from working on Leverage, a series about a team of thieves taking down corporate crime, an evil corporation seemed like an obvious choice to be using magic to do "monstrous things". They refer to Karen Willis as "an old school Leverage CEO", and even give her the "evil speech of evil", where she tries to justify her terrible actions, that was an oft-used element in Leverage.[2]
    • The myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth is about "royalty, and power, and abuse, and secrets", and seemed to fit the situation well.[4]
    • The original plot for this episode didn't include any repercussions for the evil corporation executives, but the network asked the writers to make sure that the bad guys lost.[2]
  • Throwing the characters into a literal maze was a good way to throw them into a stressful situation, which lets the viewers see what the characters can and will do.[4]
  • The writers wanted to avoid having the team immediately start working together like a well-oiled machine, and instead set up a full-season arc of them getting to know and trust each other. In this episode, the first one after the pilot, they're still essentially strangers who have just started working together, and don't necessarily trust—or like—one another. By the end of the episode, they've at least learned to trust one another's skills and have figured out that they can get more done working together.[2]
  • As part of establishing what the show would be without Flynn as a main character, this episode featured each of the three new Librarians using their specialities to solve part of the problem: Stone knowing art styles and mythology, primarily at the beginning; Cassandra using math to map out the Labyrinth in the middle; and Ezekiel's thief skills to steal the thread at the end.[2]
  • In order to focus on the character aspects of the episode, they made the mystery very straightforward: the Minotaur is introduced almost immediately, and the rest of the episode is spent trying to escape from it or defeat it.[2]
  • Aside from Ancient Greek myths, this episode was inspired by older X-Files episodes, and had an homage to Poltergeist when Ezekiel and Cassandra are being pulled through the door at the end.[2]
  • This episode was shot in a number of locations:
    • the opening fight in the warehouse was shot in "the hardest-working paper mill in Clackamus", which was also used to film a number of Leverage episodes, most notably "The Big Bang Job"
    • the alley that they emerge into was also used in Leverage (specifically, "The Future Job")
    • the Golden Axe headquarters was an empty office building in downtown Portland
    • the basement hallways were in a different building, as the office building didn't have a basement
    • the tunnels were a cave set that also showed up in other episodes
    • the outside of the Annex is the actual base of St. John's Bridge, where the tied-off ends of the giant metal cables holding the bridge together are kept
    • the Annex and Jenkin's magic lab are the standard sets, with the lab being introduced in this episode in order to give writers and directors another area to film in when the team is in the Annex[2]
  • The idea that the Labyrinth was a curse as much as a location was introduced so they didn't have to spend 40 minutes of the show running around various hallways.[2]
  • Golden Axe's headquarters were in Boston because the creators knew that Portland doubled well for Boston, thanks to filming three seasons of Leverage set in Boston there.[3]
  • Writer Jeremy Bernstein spent a lot of time on the phone with his dad, who has a PHd in topology, trying to figure out how the Labyrinth would work and what a seven-dimensional structure might be.[2]
  • Both Tricia Helfer (Karen Willis) and Tyler Mane (the human version of the Minotaur) had previously worked with people on the show: Tricia Helfer had worked with director Marc Roskin on another series, and Tyler Mane had been in the X-Men film series with Rebecca Romijn.
  • The minotaur's human form was called the "Manotaur" during production in order to avoid confusion.[2]
  • Christian Kane broke his thumb while running down the alley.[3]
  • John Kim threw the ball of thread directly into the camera at least once when he was supposed to be throwing it into the Labyrinth.[2]

Quotes[]

  • Jenkins: We used to put Librarians in the field with no training at all.
    Baird: Oh, yeah? And how many came back?
    Jenkins: The best ones.
  • Baird: I found something real weird.
    Stone: Oh, did you? We found something weird, too.
    Baird: I found a room full of really old art.
    Stone: That is weird. We found a room full of human skulls!
    Baird: What do you mean, human skulls?
    Stone: How many ways can I mean "human skulls"?!
  • Ezekiel: Seven's nothing. Leaves you with, what, three fingers? I once stole a gun out of a cop's hand using three fingers.
  • Cassandra: Shut up, I'm doing math.

Media[]

External links[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Listings - LIBRARIANS, THE on TNT - The Futon Critic
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 Rogers, John, Marc Roskin, and Jeremy Bernstein. Audio Commentary. "And the Horns of a Dilemma", The Librarians, season 1, episode 3, TNT, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Rogers, John. "LIBRARIANS 101/102 +103 Answer post" Kung Fu Monkey, 21 Dec. 2014, http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2014/12/librarians-101101-103-answer-post.html
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rogers, John and Jeremy Bernstein. "Writer Vlog: And the Horns of a Dilemma." The Librarians, TNT, 2016.