I don’t know what to tell you about The Librarians. This week they put John de Lancie as the devil and John Larroquette as Galahad in cocktail party to snipe politely at each other. If you’re not watching for things like that, you are beyond help.

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Spoilers for “And the Infernal Contract” follow.

I’ll tell you, contracts with satanic provisions that warp time and space to make sure they are fulfilled are pretty much exactly what my nightmares looked like in my first year of law school. Anyway.

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That’s this week’s magical artifact nightmare. It takes the team to Hawthorne, New Hampshire, which is in the middle of a mayoral race. Baird is already there, because one of the candidates is her buddy Sam (Michael Trucco, yet again playing a good dude with many issues named “Sam.” There’s a lot of typecasting in this episode.) Sam lost an intern and now a scandal is brewing which blames him for her death. She was, of course, actually taken by a devil. And then, just as Sam says she’s not in the hotel room they’re all standing in:

This isn’t the gif I meant to make. Sometimes accidents are funnier than intention.

All the points in the world to Trucco who goes from “So, this is nice, huh? After all these years we can still talk over coffee” to “Okay, I’m sorry. SERIOUSLY? Were you just going to blow by this thing? Why did Brandy’s body just suddenly appear and fall through the ceiling?” in a single sentence.

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Sam’s opponent in the mayoral race is named Keating, and his family has signed a deal with the devil every 44 years like clockwork. They get to go down in history as having done great things for their town, the devil gets their soul, and the contract creates a disaster each time. Jenkins lists the times people have signed these infernal contracts as “lottery winners, folks who hate the Cubs, the moonlanding farce (no, not that one).” The team needs to find the contract, since that’s where devils get their power from.

Ezekiel figures out where the contract is being kept, using both magic and thief instincts. I do love that Stone points out that with all his new knowledge, Ezekiel could go stealing whatever he likes. Ezekiel says he doesn’t because that’s not a challenge. Stone says it’s because he likes being a good guy. Ezekiel responds by giving Stone back his own wallet, which Ezekiel had lifted and emptied of money. Not yet that virtuous, I guess.

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Getting into the house where the contract is involves going undercover at a fundraiser. This clip of Stone, Cassandra, and Jenkins pretty much shows you how that goes:

The devil in Hawthorne is, of course, John de Lancie. And if he and John Larroquette had sipped champagne and lobbed barbs at each other for this entire episode, I would have been okay with that. Especially since the devil reminds us all that Jenkins is the immortal and incorruptible Galahad, and it would be quite a coup to get his soul.

The contract ruins everyone’s day, and the Librarians manage to get it to Baird and Sam. Except Sam, being a lovable idiot, signs it. He wants to be a hero. So the contract creates a gas leak that Cassandra, Stone, and Ezekiel stop. Except the contract traps them in a room with the gas. Which brings about the usual contrast of hilarity and peril that oxygen deprivation brings. So the devil shows up to tempt them into signing the contract to save their lives.

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Baird’s on the ball, though. She sends Jenkins to go get the Librarians—since he can’t be killed. She signs the contract over Sam’s name and asks for the devil to be made human, stripping him of his powers. In another brilliant moment of comedy, Baird and Sam walk away while, in the background, de Lancie moans and snaps at people about his painful new mortal body.

Amidst the comedy, we have the usual character beats. Cassandra’s getting really adept with magic, unlocking the dead intern’s phone with ease (and something Jenkins keeps around to break through blocking spells and clean the tile). Ezekiel’s thief planning skills—down to having Baird act as a backup in case they can’t get the contract out—are also working in his favor. And Stone figures out the sigils and the signs in the art.

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As for Baird, she learns that she’s not there to protect the Librarians physically. Her way of getting rid of the contract saves the Librarians from signing the contract thinking they can find something in the Library later to “fix” it. Jenkins tells her that they go through Librarians like paper. The real danger is in them thinking that they can “fix” things with all the magic in the Library.

And then there’s even Jenkins, who is asked by Sam if he’s a “Magician” and says, “No, I’m a Librarian. Actually, I’m neither. I’m Jenk—” before just giving up. But, by the end, he’s nursing the Librarians and saying he’s always felt like a caretaker. I’m also going to give a special shout-out to his relationship with Ezekiel, which may be the best thing ever. From telling him that the devil would appear to him as “Katy Perry, wearing the crown jewels, holding a stack of money and with an affection for young Aussies” to saying that they need the dead intern’s phone and “You took it, didn’t you?”

Other running gag I loved: Cassandra failing to catch a single book

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I want to take a minute to marvel at The Librarians, a show which looked out at a landscape of grim, dark, and grimdark shows and went “nah.” And it’s not less good for it! Right now, it’s the highlight of my week. It’s a bear to recap, since so much of what makes it great is in the timing and inflection on the characters. Take, for instance, the second scene of this episode where Stone is delighted that the Chupacabra they’ve captured is making them jerky:

Stone: Jenkins was kind enough to run a pipe from the room of perpetual fire—

Jenkins: He begged me to do it

Stone: —straight into a smoker behind his lab. Get ready for Chupacabra jerky.

Cassandra: Ew, you’re cooking it?

Stone: No! He’s making it. The Chupacabra! He’s awesome!

EzekielIs that safe?

Jenkins: As long as we keep it away from the goats on level four.

Cassandra: (Excited) We’ve got goats!

Ezekiel: (At the same time, annoyed) We’ve got goats!

Everything is firing on all cylinders here. We know the characters’ personalities, how they interact, and it’s always nice to have a moment not related to the action. The Librarians packs a lot of character development and plot without leaning on “dark” as a crutch.


Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.