Last week’s episode of the Librarians started out as a typical time-loop, and had me yawning for the first ten minutes at the radically overdone trope. I was ready to turn the channel until Ezekiel whacked a box and got a first aid kit. Alright, maybe this isn’t just a typical time-loop.
As it turns out, the gang is stuck in a real-life video game that resets when one of them dies. Ezekiel, the first one through the Back Door, is the player in this real-life escort mission, and has the burden of watching his companion characters die every few minutes, and remembering all of it while they don’t. Ezekiel, after learning this, locks the rest of the team in a laboratory and tries to reach the Save Game point alone. When the companions protest, he tells them he can’t watch them die anymore. This episode demonstrates John Kim’s acting at its best, and this line is particularly heartbreaking; it’s the moment we realize that this unfeeling prick of a cat-burglar cares deeply about the team.
Thankfully, Ezekiel seems to have infinite lives, and uses each one to learn from Stone about hydraulics, from Cassandra about hacking soundwave-based locks, and from Bard how to fight through a wave of “Rage People”. By the end of the game, we are left with a fantastic new Ezekiel. He’s watched his loved ones die countless times, learned the best from them, and, as a result become selfless enough to sacrifice his own life for theirs. But nothing lasts forever, and when the team saves him, he is “Reset” and remembers nothing, while the rest of the team remember the final run (and the sacrifice he made). Just like that, the writers undo all of that beautiful characterization…which begs the question; WHY?!? Noble Ezekiel was a more likeable character with clear motives and diverse emotions, and all-around superior to the shallow, annoying, one-dimensional Jones that he’s been re-reduced to. UGH.
Overall this episode was great, and John Kim’s acting is at its best. The beginning is deceptively boring, but the video game reveal and entire concept of the episode is mind-blowing and cool. The only true critique is erasing the new characterization of Ezekiel, although the frustration it brings may be exactly what the writers were going for.