Bookburners S02E09: The Village
by Margaret Dunlap
5 out of 5
When We Last Left Our Heroes…: After a tip on the location of Team Four, Team Three took a trip into the Everywhen – and found their erstwhile colleagues, as well as a bit of a lead on the apparently imminent magicpocalypse.
Case of the Week: Team Three sets a trap for the Network – but Liam gets caught and sucked back into his memories while the rest of the Team must attempt a daring rescue.
How It Went: I love trains. I love riding trains, I love watching trains, and I sure as hell love sequences on trains. So the opening scene of this latest episode – the sort of thing that feels like a cold open to a Bond movie – had me riveted from the start: Liam, on a train, with a magic-hologram of Sal next to him, heading to Switzerland with a plan to ensnare the Network. And it’s not just Liam and Sal but a major inter-Society operation: Teams One and Two are in the field as well.
The inter-office drama has increased again after the brief detente of a few episodes ago; they’ve figured out how to connect the Circlet to the Orb (it’s how Sal is holographically appearing next to Liam) and going after the Network is a good plan… but Asanti wanted it to be a Team Three-only op, Menchú went over her head to bring in the others, the two of them are at odds again… and so Liam is pretty stoked to be out in the field. Less stoked to be functioning, essentially, as bait, but still pretty happy.
Until, unsurprisingly, the plan goes south in a big way. Some member of the Network who isn’t Christina shows up and bags Liam – and even though Grace and Team One are on the train, they managed to get him out of there before anybody could find him. They extract after a thorough search (and after Shah of Team One offers Grace a job) and head back to headquarters… where Angiuli is pissed. So far, we’ve seen him as a pretty gentle figure – not so, this time! We cut to him having it out with Menchú over this pretty unmitigated failure of an operation – and it turns out that Liam is still somehow subconsciously connected to the Orb. Angiuli, not surprisingly or incorrectly, wants them to terminate the connection – but Menchú pushes back until Angiuli basically tells him that he thinks Liam has been a sleeper agent for the Network this whole time.
Menchú believes this to’ve been part of Team One’s report and when he gets back to the Archive, any internecine squabbling is pushed aside in favor of getting Liam back. And damned if it wasn’t nice to see the old ass-kicking Father Menchú back; he’s been sidelined a bit this season, often stuck at the Vatican or serving as just another player on the field… but here, he roars back to life and reminds everybody why he’s the leader of this team. The order from Angiuli was to “secure the Archives” – which Angiuli definitely meant to mean “cut the connection” but which Menchú interprets as “get Liam back.” TEAM THREE FOR LIFE!
Meanwhile, Liam wakes up in a dingy room with one hell of a hangover. The dude who nabbed him – Opie, whether or not that’s his real name – is asking him about the relays and Liam is like “what in the hell…” before finally coming to and remembering: ah yes, they’re in rural Ireland, working on the Network’s biocomputing beta test. Tooootally normal, exactly where he’s been and what he’s been doing; he just got wicked drunk the night before. Christina is there, they’re a couple, all is groovy. Except he’s obviously been brainwashed or something.
The Orb link still being active, the Team takes turns attempting to reach him – Sal, Grace, Asanti, Menchú. Slowly but surely, they piece together his location and what exactly is happening to him. Somehow, the Network managed to get past the memory-block of those two missing years and not… not restored those memories but rather built something new, a sort of memory-palace or dreamscape, out of them. And we get to see just how smart Liam really is, as he troubleshoots the various problems thrown in front of him. The prodding from his friends, too, helps start to fracture the trap laid by the Network – but Christina is often there to battle it back. There’s a great fight between Liam and Grace and a kind of hilarious conversation between Liam and Asanti at the bar – and slowly but surely Liam’s mind is starting to come back to him.
Meanwhile, Menchú goes first to Shah about the report he saw on Angiuli’s desk. She didn’t point the finger at Liam (although she does have her doubts about him) and they have an interesting discussion of Society politics – which leads him to meet with Sansone, who convinces Menchú not to go to Fox. Because Fox wants the head-of-Society gig – which, yeah, probably should’ve been able to call that one. If he can discredit Team Three, that’ll be a mark against Angiuli and possibly catapult him into the gig… but Sansone also doesn’t want Fox in the big chair. So she agrees, on the promise of a pretty enormous favor, to help Menchú essentially run a black ops mission to get Liam back.
As this is happening, Liam’s mind finally opens up and he remembers everything. He remembers the demon, he remembers his time with the Network, he realizes that the village he’s in is actually an amalgamation of places he knows and has been to – except for that fallout shelter he neared earlier, the one where something behind the door spooked him so bad he ‘passed out’ and came to again with another fuzzy hangover feeling. Christina, it seems, is controlling this trap and Liam can’t seem to figure a way out except to go for the shelter, where he discovers… his demon.
It’s a pretty tense moment as the two reconnect and I had a question of how much of this was memory / if any of it might in fact be real. (I imagine we may encounter some more aspects of this question in the last few episodes of the season…) Anyway, the demon reveals to Liam that, when he was controlled, he was a pretty evil dude. It wasn’t all parties and Robin Hood behavior; he tortured, he killed. But to cap off Liam’s growing arc over this season, he’s prepared to be at peace with that reality and so he steps forward to embrace his past…
…and wakes up to find Sansone freeing him from some deserted storage shed. “Either they meant for us to find you or they didn’t think you’d survive,” muses Sansone ominously – ominous because she’d also been there for a little while, watching Liam and observing (which is pretty creepy no matter how you slice it). But the scales are balanced between Teams Two and Three now and she extracts, leaving Liam to drive back to the Vatican. And Liam decides to take his time – because he feels whole again, for the first time in a long time. And while that should feel like a happy ending – yay, he’s at peace with his memories and no longer has that two year blackout! – it’s hard not to be a little worried about the darker possibilities of that ‘whole’. Who says this isn’t a part of the Network’s grand plan, you know?
- “Brogrammer-in-chief” is not only a perfect joke, it is the perfect way to instantly envision what Liam was like under the control of the demon. Oh man.
- The most heartbreaking line about Grace: “Like a bird of prey trained to the falconer’s fist, the light in her window would always draw her home.” OOF.
- Anybody else catch the hat tip to The Witch Who Came in From the Cold? Ahh Prague. I’ll never not think of ley lines and the Cold War when I think of you.
Before joining the Bookburners, Margaret Dunlap wrote for ABC Family’s cult-hit The Middleman in addition to working on SyFy’s Eureka. Most recently, she was a writer and co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning transmedia series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and co-created its sequel Welcome to Sanditon. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Shimmer Magazine. Margaret lives in Los Angeles where she taunts the rest of the team with local weather reports and waits for the earthquake that will finally turn Burbank into oceanfront property. She tweets as @spyscribe.