There are Christmas-themed episodes that are saccharine affairs from start to finish (usually, they rip off It's a Wonderful Life in some way) and then there are glorious holiday romps that are absurd and fun all the way through. This episode of The Librarians was the latter. Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus! THIS IS EVERYTHING.
It should surprise no one that Baird is the Grinch of this episode (there is always a Grinch in Christmas episodes) — she is not a fan of Christmas. The other librarians all are: Stone likes the family bar brawl on Christmas Eve, Cassandra loves the festive season as a way for making up for a childhood without belief (her parents told her Santa wasn't real when she was three), and Ezekiel is a fan of the valuables clearly marked in bright paper and ribbon.
Anyway, the big bad of the show, the Serpent Brotherhood, kidnaps Santa and plans to kill him to obtain the magic — peace on Earth and goodwill to men — that he releases on Christmas Eve. So the Librarians set off to rescue him. They find him through the best teamwork thus far: Stone keeps Cassandra focused as she remembers things about where the Serpent Brotherhood's headquarters are, and Ezekiel hacks London's CCTV to pin it down.
Also a lot of fun is the bit where Stone and Baird keep the head honcho of the brotherhood (Mat Frewer playing a man called Du Lac — 100% chance we're going for an Arthurian homage with that, he even name drops Morgan le Fay later) and his main heavy, the woman Lamia (... yes, in the Serpent Brotherhood. I kind of love how unsubtle this show's allusions are) busy while Cassandra and Ezekiel get Bruce Campbell Santa free. They do this by taking the priceless artifacts in the headquarters and casually tossing them around while Stone shows off his knowledge.
Santa needs to get to the North Pole to use the ley lines to release goodwill into the world, which he does every year to keep mankind from just tearing itself apart. Unfortunately, the Serpent Brotherhood has taken his sleigh. Bruce Campbell's delivery of "Somebody jacked Santa's ride" is priceless. And, very stupidly, Baird has put Santa's hat on Ezekiel, so he can draw them off. Baird totally forgot the whole magic thing, and Ezekiel ends up filled with the holiday spirit. And is very aware that something's wrong. It's like Gollum/Smeagol if Gollum leads children in carols and Smeagol says "Please kill me" as he does.
It turns out that Santa's habit of referring to himself in the third person is so that he remembers what his current incarnation is. He's the personification of goodwill, which has taken a bunch of different guises over the course of human history. Poisoned by Du Lac and missing the hat to anchor him as Santa Claus, he reverts to both Nicholas the Wonderworker — uses a staff to put toys in shoes — and Odin. On the list of things you never knew you needed: Bruce Campbell smashing a beer stein against his head and yelling "Odin wants more beer!"
Stone gets his bar brawl and he fist bumps Santa. I love everything that this episode chooses to be.
They get stranded in Canada on the way to the North Pole, so Cassandra figures out somewhere in Alaska that can work for Santa's magic midnight and the team gets on a plane to get him there. Unfortunately, Du Lac and Lamia use Santa's stolen sled to board the plane. And, again, a bit of excellent teamwork when Baird tricks Du Lac into putting on the hat on and is infected with the Christmas spirit and the impulse to grant everyone's Christmas wishes. So the team tells him that all they want for Christmas is for Lamia to leave and for him to stay. Cassandra even says that her Christmas wish is,"Actually, it would make us all very very happy if you told us all the secrets of magic and how to stop the Serpent Brotherhood's plans," which is both someone actually doing the thing we all think they should given the circumstances and is blunt enough to get Du Lac to rip the hat off.
Of course Santa's tapped out and can't deliver the gift of goodwill — he needs someone attuned to Christmas to do it for him. Of course it's Baird, who was born at midnight on Christmas Eve and is therefore named Eve. Everything else this episode was so much fun that I will forgive the sappy ending where Baird travels everywhere on Earth at the same time to deliver hope to everyone, including saving a man in an ambulance, stopping a suicide, and inspiring democratic protestors.
The Librarians throw Baird a birthday party and we're out for the week. Merry Christmas!
This episode was firing on all cylinders and was only partly because of Bruce Campbell. Although he was amazing. The pacing was good, the jokes landed, and the team's chemistry was the best it's been. Even the character development, which has been a the weakest thing so far, was nicely handled. The holiday setting gave a natural reason for the characters to talk about their families, upbringings, and wishes. And now just some banter moments that were superb:
- Jenkins talking to Mrs. Clause on a payphone attached to nothing.
- Cassandra: "Mrs. Claus is real!" Jenkins: "Oh shiny balls yes!" "Oh shiny balls" is how I will swear for the rest of this week.
- "Ho, ho—" "Don't ho" "You have to let Santa get to the third ho, otherwise it sticks in Santa's head."
- Jenkins' face when he's asked where Ezekiel got the apron for baking Christmas cookies.
- Ezekiel's anguished "I can't stop stuffing!" as he prepares stockings.
- Matt Frewer's delivery of this speech: "Now, hand over Santa, blah blah, and you won't be harmed, blah, blah, a patently transparent lie, of course I'm going to kill you. Blah, blah ... BLAH."
- And this line: "Want to help me out? Google 'how to lower landing gear.'"
- The running gag of Stone throwing the globe in the air trying to make it expand into a giant floating map like Flynn did. And even yelling, "Flynn!" the second time.