Right? I mean, they haven't done a ton to hide it, which I appreciate. I'm obsessed with figuring out who's who and how this is going to shake out in next week's season finale. By which I mostly mean the fate of John Larroquette, national treasure.
Look, guys, as much as I enjoy this show as a whole, let's be real: John Larroquette is the best. Everyone gets good one liners, but his are the the best. And so is Larroquette's delivery. He also has to spend a lot of the show as the Exposition Fairy, which he does with great aplomb. I am literally bracing for a miserable end to him next week, because I no longer trust the characters I love to stay.
There were a lot of threads to keep track of in last night's episode. We had a whole message about being more than the part we're assigned, which was paired with a giant chunk of character history being thrown in our faces. We had magic and science working together for good and ill. And we had the aforementioned giant clue about Jenkins.
The title of the episode was "And the Rule of Three," which should be familiar to anyone who has done even the most casual googling of Wiccan beliefs. For the purposes of this episode, the relevant part is that there are science fair participants using magic to get ahead, and there's magic karma in form of three times what they put out into the world coming for them all. And since they're all going with "Hit my competitor in the knee with a lead pipe" rather than "Please let me be better," shit's going to get bad and fast.
The episode takes place at a science fair where the winners get college scholarships, internships, and research grants. Unsurprisingly, the kids involved are incredibly stressed about it all. To the point where a bunch of the top tier competitors have had to drop out due to strange maladies. Also unsurprising is that the two Librarians who have the most in common with our lovable nerdy high schoolers are Cassandra — who used to be the winner of these things — and Stone, who has a hidden second career as an academic.
The front runner is Amy, who A) has a mother who self-identifies as a "wolverine mom" and B) is Bex Taylor Klaus, who you might recognize as Arrow's Sin:
She is both the target of the rest of the science hopefuls and of Dashell, the leader of a trio of goths. Dashell's crew is initially suspected as being the source of the magic because, hey, they're goths, right? Except they're not evil bullies going after the nerds, they're actually there to help Dashell ask Amy to the prom. In as earnest a poorly thought out a tableau as can only be envisaged by a high schooler:
Amy, under a truly staggering amount of pressure from her mom (refers to having a "balanced" life as having "distractions"), isn't focused on anything other than academic excellence and college. In order to figure out what's been going on with the kids, Stone decides to talk to Dashell, who laments not fitting in with the Alphas (the smart kids), or the jocks, or what have you. Stone quotes Byron, and points out that Dashell's whole... everything owes a lot to Byron. Who wasn't just a sensitive poet. Stone gives us this episode's message in the form of explaining that the labels we get in high school are just roles we play. We put on costumes to signal what role is ours to others. Stone, who was a miner and a surveyor and all manner of lower class jobs that had him fit in with his home, and who has a secret life as an art history expert, knows very well. You get from Christian Kane a real sense that Stone regrets playing the dumb jock kid and not getting to be who he was. And as a Librarian, he does everything. He rattles off knowledge about antiquities when they need it and saves the day using his surveyor skills.
The flipside is Cassandra, who really did love being a nerd girl and competing as a child. She worked for the "perfect future" her parents had in their minds. She talks to Amy, who explains that she just wanted to have a more balanced life. And she can't even tell Amy it gets better, because it all just ended for her when Cassandra couldn't carry their dream for them. For Cassandra, it all ended when her genius turned out to be a disease that would kill her and give her hallucinations. Her parents just threw out her trophies, thinking they were a reminder of who she used to be rather than proof of who she is.
The cause of all the weirdness is a wish fulfillment spell disguised as an app to help with increasing your IQ. The kids using it are told to focus on a goal, which is the actual point of the spell, while distracted by a "brain improvement" game. The goal is to get that three-fold retribution magic to hit them all at once, where some of the magic can be siphoned off. The person behind the app is the person sponsoring the science fair, the person making sure that all the students are staying at the fair.
It's Lucinda McCabe, who keeps the fair going with absurd explanations (someone used too powerful chemicals and "is getting a firm talking to by some librarians" and a kid with bugs in his lungs was attacked because the fair attracted them with their chemicals) and who gets the crowd telling awesome science slogans (Science works! It's not science until something's on fire!).
She's also Morgan le Fay. We've gone a few episodes without being reminded that there's a ton of Arthurian legend underpinning the whole season, but now it comes back. In a big way. Morgan makes it into the Annex, which causes Jenkins to lose his entire shit. He wants her very, very dead as he has seen her ruin thousands of lives over centuries. Also, she calls him Galeas, which very much confirms that he's Galahad. So I think we can safely assume that Dulaque is also tied into Arthurian legend. I'm betting as Mordred.
Morgan doesn't die, as she can Matrix her way out of being shot. So Baird uses her spell to wish for a level playing field, and kicks her ass back at the fair.
Morgan basically counts on people being shitty by giving them magic and watching them turn on each other, and siphoning off the rule of three backlash magic. Of course, not everyone is that awful. Cassandra figures out that a magic Faraday cage would protect them, and Morgan made one to make sure Amy stayed in the competition and fueled more wishes for her harm (as the obvious frontrunner). So the Librarians extend the cage out, using Stone's surveying skills, and Amy gets everyone to stand in it by taking credit for a giant swath of "electricity" about to come through the room.
Saving everyone means that Morgan is able to use the power to get away. She's interested in running because something — I'm betting whatever the Serpent Brotherhood is also working toward — is coming that will end the world. And Morgan's out for safety.
Jenkins 100% does not care if the people in the science fair are saved. He wanted Morgan gone and is pissed Baird gave up the shot. Also, Morgan leaves Baird with a message for Jenkins, "Do not fear the villain, fear the hero." He warns that they need to fight the war and not win the battles.
The stuff with Stone/Dashell and Cassandra/Amy was very well handled, with everything as a metaphor for high school and high school as a metaphor for everything running both ways. Both Stone and Cassandra are very shaped by who they chose/were forced to be back then. And they can recognize it in others and reach out. It was very nice, and I only wish that it had also tied into the often brought up and then dropped bit about Stone not trusting Cassandra. This could have been more of team moment than individual ones.
Alicia Witt was a great Morgan le Fey and I so hope we see her again. The door was certainly left open. Which is good, and almost makes me forgive that I'm still not sure why Baird couldn't take her down and save everyone, since she wasn't involved in the Faraday cage plan. She was just with Morgan while it went down.
And as usual, there are the little things that make this show a constant delight. There's Baird and Stone questioning the first kid with a magic outbreak, with the two questioning him on the set of a detective's office:
There's the obligatory perfect Jenkins line, which this week is, "I was just going to stand around all day waiting for you to call, and then I remembered I had free will." It's got runners up in his dissertation on his excellent drink — corn syrup, water, and frozen water — and his answer to Baird's question about his brain in a jar — "Yes. It's a brain jar. What else would one put in it?"
We also see that everyone really is perfectly suited to their job, since they are all in on their day off: Cassandra improving their ley line charts, Stone reading up on art, and Baird trying to get a handle on the beasts/artifacts they keep running into. Ezekiel is using the Annex's magic door to steal things, but we've got two episodes proving that he is perfect for the team as he is, so that's fine.
There was another episode this week, but it was a more "monster of the week" deal, with a "haunted" house. It's a Cassandra episode that focuses hard on the team treating her as fragile and her whole "not to be trusted" thing, when, of course, she ends up turning around to save everyone. While as fun as all Librarians episodes are, it's really the Rule of Three that holds the most important clues to the season in it.