“Coming Home”: Bookburners S02E12

Bookburners S2E12 cover

Bookburners S02E12: Coming Home
by Margaret Dunlap
4.5 out of 5

When We Last Left Our Heroes…: The Network launched their ‘beta test’, as it were, and magicked an entire town in rural Ireland. Not only could the Bookburners not save anybody, but one of their own was caught in the spell’s web…

Case of the Week: Frances considers what it will mean to ‘recover’ from her magic incident while the rest of the team sets out to stop the Network once and for all.

How It Went: NOT SUPER WELL, you guys. That’s how it went. I mean, OOF. Things are getting rough for our heroes.

We open on Frances in a gurney, in a Vatican hospital. She’s disoriented to say the least but the doctors and Asanti are trying to keep her calm. That only works for so long, though, because she realizes that her legs have been replaced by tentacles. She passes out, as would we all. Meanwhile, the rest of the Team is waiting to be sent after the Network – and they’re itching for it.

To that end, Father Menchú has gone to Angiuli to make his case for sending Team Three after Christina and the Network cabal. He’s clearly exhausted but also knows that they have to end this and Menchú continues to be reliably a good guy, even when it goes against just about everything he actually wants. I think it’s safe to say he expected a little push-back from Angiuli; I also think it’s safe to say that he was not expecting Angiuli to be RESIGNING. But he is, citing Team Three’s “success in spite of my leadership” – and it’s all but certain that Fox is going to get the job. This development, unsurprisingly, does not favor Team Three and Menchú is clearly reeling.

So he goes to visit his old friend Asanti, with whom at this point his relationship might not ever be salvageable. The two start to bicker and argue, Asanti clearly looking for a fight – but Menchú cuts it off with a quiet, “Is this our fault?” It stops the argument in its tracks and we see the truth about these two: they’ll never truly be able to not rely on each other, even when they’re completely at odds. They’re both tired – and Asanti gives a moving reason for why she, in particular, has more to lose than the rest of them: because she has a family. And it’s true – none of the others have anyone other than themselves, at this point. But Asanti has children and grandchildren and she’s not just worried about leaving them too soon but what the world will look like if she does. Asanti fights these fights for personal reasons as much as spiritual or altruistic ones – it’s just that her personal also happens to be both spiritual and altruistic.

Meanwhile, Liam locates Christina in Belfast but the team is unsure of what their mobility is at this point, with leadership in disarray. Sal and Liam debate whether or not they should tell Menchú and Asanti or just go on their own – and when they can’t decide, they ask Grace her opinion. Grace, who is burning out her candle on her own, which is a dangerous sign. Regardless, Grace tells them that they pretty much have to go to Menchú and Asanti – which is of course the right course of action, but one could be forgiven for thinking that they wouldn’t be on board. Menchú is clearly nervous about defying orders to go rogue, but Sal makes the good point that this is their job and it’s what they, as a team, are really good at. So why not? And off they go.

Meanwhile, Frances has been starting to come to grips with her situation. Menchú and Asanti were keeping pretty constant watch over her, just keeping her company – and Frances even wanted to come with them on the rogue mission but Grace shut that down pretty fast (although not unkindly). Still, pretty much the minute that Team Three has left the building, things get dodgy for Frances: after a nurse apparently drugs her unexpectedly, she wakes up to find Fox there in her room. He, of course, wants to know where Team Three has gone and Frances, truthfully, doesn’t know. It starts to get hairy before Sansone shows up and defuses the situation – but Frances is feeling a little frying pan/fire about it all when Sansone sticks around to basically put the same screws to her in a different way. She’s been threatened now in multiple ways, including being told essentially that she (and Grace) could be considered Church property, and much as Frances hasn’t maybe been the best addition to the team, one gets the sense that she doesn’t take a lot of shit from anybody – so things are going to reach a boiling point soon.

In Belfast, Liam is battling back some nostalgia while heading to an old bolthole from his demon days. There’s a trapdoor in a shed in a community garden, because of course there is, and at first he isn’t sure it’ll work without the demon onboard. It’s a simple moment but a nice one when Liam realizes that he can do it without the demon – and that he should. He does and the team joins him in this little dingy space to start trying to hack the Network. This goes about as well as you’d expect, considering, and they notice him almost immediately – but not before he manages to get the basic information that they need. Before smashing the hell out of his computer.

Needing another, Liam goes (with Sal) to borrow a computer – and a car – from his older brother. The sky has started to go pink, by the way, and people are starting to notice. But I appreciated Margaret Dunlap taking her time with this scene at Liam’s brother’s house – and the “did you ever turn down your little brother?” line absolutely killed me. They then head to an abandoned amusement park and send out a flare that essentially tells the Network exactly where they are – a trap, of course, with all kinds of fun nasty surprises waiting for them courtesy of Sal and Liam.

The others are waiting at a strip mall – the location Liam pulled during the hack – and are nervous about the plan’s potential efficacy. They’re also nervous about Grace, who wasn’t reading on the plane and has clearly been acting strange. Grace, of course, overhears them and is about to get into an argument… when the Network rolls out of this dingy looking copy shop and make tracks on some mopeds (because of course they do) and so Team Three sets to work.

Back at the Vatican, Fox and Sansone have a confrontation that felt like something out of House of Cards, all politics and subtlety and multiple motivations at once. It’s a terrific scene and it shows both of them in truer colors than we’ve maybe seen so far… which might not be a good thing, because the next thing we know, Frances is being arrested. She’s cuffed to her hospital bed and told that she’s under detention. Fearing the things that Sansone and Fox said/implied, she decides in a snap to take matters into her own hands and escape – which means using her newfound body alterations to their fullest advantage.

The fur starts flying fast and furious back in Ireland as we cut back and forth almost constantly between the copy shop and the amusement park. Liam and Sal have their hands full with the Network, especially because Christina has a demon onboard – Liam’s old demon, to be precise. She tries to cajole and blame him, everything she can think of basically to get him to snap. He eventually does and, when he touches her, they enter into a battle of wills while Sal has to do the manual ass-kicking of the other goons. Liam manages to drop his cross over her head – and, in a nice trick, he tied it to an EMP that goes off and wreaks havoc on the Network. Liam realizes that Christina doesn’t want to fight, that she maybe realized what she’d done… and so she dies, there with him, the demon banished and the threat neutralized.

Meanwhile, Asanti has begun the containment process of the book – she’s trying to link to the neutralizing spell in the shroud, in order to combat the enchanted copy machine that’s been spewing out pages of books for the Network. She makes the link with the shroud, noticing that lorem ipsum is floating all around as though that placeholder text is in fact a protective/neutralizing spell of some kind, and sees that it’s doing its job, overwriting the magic… but then it also begins to overwrite her. It’s one of the few times I’ve truly wished I could see this as a real show, because I want to see Asanti’s face as she realizes that magic is in fact hungry and perhaps intrinsically evil or at least bad. Because she’s definitely realizing it as the demon rises up out of the book and comes for her. Menchú goes to try and stop it, but Grace in turn stops him and does it herself, burning more than she ever has before and charging in to destroy the demon. She does so, having literally burned the shroud and the demon and saving Asanti in the process.

A weary, bedraggled team hop on a flight home and there’s a moment of exhale as Liam and Sal share a piece of cake and everyone seems to be, at the very least, satisfied with having done what they are meant to do. This satisfaction doesn’t last long, though, because the minute they step off the plane, Asanti is arrested for thievery, insubordination, and witchcraft.

And instead of being surprised or fighting it or really anything, she stands tall. “Let’s do this,” indeed.

Other Highlights:

  • I want to see a one-shot with Fox. His scenes with Frances and his Emmy-worthy scene with Sansone have shown me more of him than I think we’ve seen and I want to see just one full story with him.
  • The Pope! Is pissed! This was a pretty solid moment to drop a Pope reference; we don’t hear about him that much if at all, all things considered.
  • “Everything going according to plan. Fuck.”
  • Is that Lost Folio a Shakespeare Lost Folio? And does it have Love’s Labour’s Wonne in it?
  • Can we stop for a moment and address the hilarity of an enchanted copy machine? The episode was pretty dark but damn if that’s not, on its own, a funny idea.

Author Bio:

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.

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