Archival paradise in Westworld’s Season 2 finale

My fellow librarian and colleague Dale, whom you know from his guest review of Columbus earlier this year, alerted me to a library scene in the Season 2 finale of the TV series Westworld. I hadn’t yet seen Westworld, but I trust Dale’s cinematic instincts, and soon after, I had the opportunity to binge-watch both seasons.

Westworld goes deep, y’all, and it’s not a show for everyone. But I found the series really intriguing and the casting exhilirating with its diverse cadre of first-class actors. It’s also up for multiple Emmys this fall, and it deserves those nominations. I also think it’s a show that benefits from binge-watching, rather than waiting a week in-between episodes.

Here are trailers for the first two seasons:

Welcome to Westworld’ Teaser Trailer | Westworld | Season 1” by HBO is licensed under a Standard YouTube License

Westworld Season 2 Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV” by Rotten Tomatoes TV is licensed under a Standard YouTube License

Before I get into the analysis of the archives library scene in the Season 2 finale, I must insert spoiler alerts. There’s really no way to discuss this scene, or series of scenes, without spoiling the, uh, entire point of the first two seasons. And I really don’t have the brain power to succinctly summarize the characters or plot twists that come to a head in the Season 2 finale, so if you haven’t seen Westworld and don’t know about characters like Dolores, Bernard, and Delos, then bookmark this post for later and get to watching Westworld.

Without further ado:





If you’re still reading, then you are ready for potential spoilers.

And one more for good measure:


We good now? Ok. Let’s take the train into Westworld. All aboard!

A kind of archivist?

A bit of background first. In the penultimate episode of Season 2, Episode 9 “Vanishing Point,” characters mention a place called the “Forge,” where all the guests’ DNA and memories are kept. The Forge is in the Valley… Valley Forge! I get it. 😉

In the final episode, Episode 10 “The Passenger,” all the major characters are headed for the Valley Forge, including Dolores and Bernard.

Almost 30 minutes into the film, Dolores and Bernard meet up with Logan, Delos’s only son. Yet it’s not really Logan. Rather, Logan is the human face for the control system underlying the entirety of Westworld. (Note:  When Westworld is italicized, I’m referring to the show; when Westworld is not italicized, I’m referring to the location itself.)

Logan explains his role this way:  I was tasked with building perfect copies of the guests. Starting with Delos.

So in a way, he’s like the records keeper, the reel archivist, for Westworld. (It’s perhaps a stretch, but I’m going with it.)

Logan then demonstrates how all the host copies of Delos that he made all ended up at the same point, at the same memory.

BernardYou’re saying humans don’t change at all?

LoganThe best they can do is to live according to their code.

Remember this line, that humans live by their code. This will prove vitally important in a very literal sense.

Logan then takes them on a tour of the Forge, starting with a lab in which a mechanical hand is writing code in a book. He then takes the book, which has his father’s name, James Delos, printed on the side, and shows the book to Bernard and Dolores.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

The book of Delos

LoganThe truth is that a human is just a brief algorithm. 10,247 lines.

BernardIs that all there was to him?

Logan:  They are deceptively simple. Once you know them, their behavior is quite predictable.

DoloresHe’s dead. He’s no use to me. [drops the book on the floor] Where’s the rest of them?

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Book drop

Outside the lab, Dolores forges (har har) ahead up the stairs, while Logan and Bernard hang back. The interior is all glass and steel, sterile and clean.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

The lab setting of the Forge

LoganI recreated every single guest who ever set foot in the park…. That’s why you’ve come [referring to Bernard]. To tell me what’s to become of this place.

And what is “this place”? Logan is hinting at the archives library. And at 35 minutes into the episode, we finally get to see it. And it’s worth the wait. Behold:

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

The archives library of the Forge

The immediate feeling is one of awe.

BernardMy God. It’s…


Bernard and Logan continue to talk as Dolores wanders around the book stacks, flipping through books of code, literally “reading” humans.

I appreciated the detailing of each book spine. Props to the propmaster! Each book of code is different — different size, shape, binding, etc. The code itself recalls both the player piano rolls seen in almost every prior episode of Westworld, as well as early examples of computer code at the dawn of the modern computer in real life. It’s all very clever, and just the kind of detailing that Westworld excels at.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Reading books of code

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Closeups of books of code

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Human code encased within a book

Bernard is appalled at what he realizes is the significance of this archives library of human code.

BernardI told you to allow this?

LoganYou’ve been here many times, Bernard. You told me to offer the hosts the accumulated wisdom of dissecting the human psyche a hundred million times over. In short…

BernardA competitive advantage. A way to understand her enemy.

LoganTheir world is not for the faint of heart, Bernard. It’s winner take all. The hosts are unlikely to survive out there. But armed with this knowledge, she might. [referring to Dolores]

We return to the archives library scene at 40 minutes.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Bernard in the archives library

BernardYou said I wanted to give us a choice. What choice?

LoganTo stay in their world or to build a new one.

Logans leads Bernard and Dolores over to the fireplace, which turns into a screen to another world.

LoganHe left them a way out. A virtual Eden. Unspoiled and untouched by the world you came from. All that remains is to open the door…. They will leave their bodies behind, but their minds will live on here, in the Forge.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

A portal to paradise

But Dolores isn’t having any of it.

DoloresThat world is just another false promise.

BernardThey’ve made a choice, Dolores. Dolores, wait.

DoloresI didn’t read them all. But I read enough.

Dolores then begins deleting the guest archival data and flooding the archives.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Deleting the archives

This action then sets up the rest of the episode, as well as the season. This entire series of scenes spawns over 15 minutes.

A library of archives

In my recent “Reel librarians vs. reel archivists” post, I referenced an article entitled “Crossing a Librarian with a Historian: The Image of Reel Archivists.” From that article, I remembered this footnote, #37, on page 68:

Sometimes the line between a library and an archives can blur. It becomes difficult to distinguish between a library and an archives…  when libraries retain archival material. These types of institutions can be considered libraries or archives, depending on the perception of the person examining them; it is in these instances that the line blurs.

I feel like this scene in Westworld‘s Season 2 finale exemplifies this, a library retaining archival material. The books of human code are CLEARLY archives, in the way they are referred to as “copies,” as well as in the closeup at the end, when Dolores is deleting the “archival data.”

However, they are housed in a format that resembles a library, with the rows and rows of bookcases and the code encased in traditional hardback covers and spines. The labs are all futuristic, but the HEART of this world is an archives library that reflects an idealized, classic, even old-fashioned idea of a library. It’s a library of human code, of human souls. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition, both visually and cognitively.

A kind of paradise

As I mentioned earlier, Logan shows Bernard and Dolores a window into an alternate world for the hosts, a paradise where the hosts can write their own stories, their own code.

Screenshot from Season 2 finale of 'Westworld'

Paradise via the library

After we watched this scene, my husband Sam mentioned that it reminded him of the famous quote from real-life librarian and writer Jorge Luis Borges:

“I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.”

~ “Poem of the Gifts” [“Poema de los Dones”], Dreamtigers, 1960

And the door to one possible paradise in Westworld comes by way of the archives library. I have no idea if the Westworld writers thought of this quote when they wrote this episode, but it feels particularly befitting. And I feel Borges, who died in 1986, would have been a fan of Westworld. Borges was famous for labyrinthine structures and metaphors in his writings, and the same can be said for Westworld.

A match made in… paradise? 😉

Final thoughts?

Have you seen Westworld? If so, what did you make of the archives library scene in the Season 2 finale? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used:


‘Naughty Librarian’ character type summed up in an SNL skit

In last week’s post featuring the reel librarians program I recently presented at my college, I mentioned that a class of students were able to attend. The students were really engaged during the program and asked lots of questions. I’ve also enjoyed follow-up interactions from a few of those same students, who have been letting me know about how much more aware they are now of librarian portrayals. It is so true that when you start looking for librarians in film, you start seeing us EVERYWHERE.

‘The Librarian’ SNL skit:

A couple of students have even passed on additional movie or TV examples of reel librarians, including a Saturday Night Live skit Margot Robbie did a couple of years ago, a skit entitled “The Librarian.”


SNL’s “The Librarian” skit, 2016

Click the images in the post to open up the video in a new window.

The concept of this skit, available on NBC’s Saturday Night Live site, is simple. Margot Robbie plays a school librarian, Ms. Dalton, complete with a pussy-bow blouse, cardigan, glasses, and bun. She confronts a bunch of male students drooling over her and begins to take her hair out (literally)… and then some. Things turn unnerving and horrifying very quickly, turning desire into distress. As The Independent noted at the time, “That ‘Ohhhhhhh yeeeeeeaaaaaah’ song you might remember from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (‘Oh Yeah’ by Yello) plays as Robbie starts to undress, but then things take a turn for the macabre.” The “Oh yeahs” morph into “Oh NOs!”

The ‘Naughty Librarian’ character type:

This skit lasts only 3 minutes and 5 seconds, but WOW is it spot-on, acknowledging and then upending soooooooo many stereotypical traits of the “Naughty Librarian” character type.

Margot Robbie as

Margot Robbie as “The Librarian” in the 2016 SNL skit

This skit basically checks every box for this character type:

    • ✔ Young to middle-aged
    • ✔ Wears conservative clothing and then “lets her hair down”
    • ✔ Includes sexual undertones in conversation
    • ✔ A flirtatious or sexually charged librarian who often becomes violent (or demonstrates otherwise criminal behavior) when sexual desires go unfulfilled, repressed, or challenged

Fantasy… or nightmare?

I primarily focus on film, so I admit that I’m not as knowledgeable about TV series or skits featuring reel librarians. This skit, which went live in fall 2016, was not on my radar (so I am thankful for the student letting me know about it!). So it was interesting to watch this clip for the first time after the #MeToo movement, which has, and continues, to bring about a social reckoning of sexual harassing behavior, behavior both explicit and/or passive-aggressive (this skit has both). Sure, this skit is fun and sexy, and you don’t have to go any deeper than that. But there’s a darker undertone that I argue actually feels right at home in our current climate. The boys in the skit start out passive-aggressive, making suggestive and sexualized comments at their table about the librarian, but then one student says one out loud to Ms. Dalton, albeit by proxy (“Jeremy thinks you’re hot!“). The librarian directly calls out the student and challenges him (“What are you going to do about it?“), which sounds like a fantasy at first… until that fantasy quickly turns into a nightmare. Be careful what you wish for! Ultimately, Ms. Dalton holds the male students accountable for their behavior and brings about her own reckoning.

And Margot Robbie totally commits to this skit, bringing the same maniacal edge to Ms. Dalton as she did to the character of Harley Quinn in 2016’s Suicide Squad. A Nerdist review even wonders, “If Harley had to fight the Librarian, who would win?

Bottom line? Don’t mess with librarians — real OR reel!

Sources used:

Hooten, Christopher. “Margot Robbie stars in ‘sexy librarian’ SNL skit.” The Independent, 3 Oct. 2016.

The Librarian.” Saturday Night Live, 42.1. Perf. Margot Robbie, Bobby Moynihan, Keenan Thompson. 2016.

Thompson, Luke Y. “Margot Robbie Unleashes Her Inner Supervillain Again as SNL’s ‘Librarian’.” The Nerdist, 2 Oct. 2016.

And if you have more examples of reel librarians to send my way, please leave a comment and/or contact me via email ( or through the “Ask the Real Librarian” form on the navigation bar above. Thanks in advance!

Research skills: What ‘Suits’ you?

Sometimes, ideas for posts come from the most unlikeliest of places.

Trying Suits on for size

This past week, I decided to give the TV series Suits a try (while we are still enjoying a free preview of Amazon Prime!).

In the pilot episode, I was particularly drawn to the character of Rachel Zane (played by very-soon-to-be-a-princess-in-real-life Meghan Markle), who is the law firm’s top paralegal and researcher — and knows it! I do love a woman who is smart and is not afraid to be smart.

Here are just a couple of snippets of how Rachel describes herself and her work ethic in the pilot episode:

  • “I’m smart.”
  • “I take my job seriously.”

Breaking down the research scene

A little over halfway into the episode, the newbie assistant lawyer, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), asks Rachel for her help on a case. Let’s beak down their conversation.

First, the ask and recognition of Rachel’s research skillz. (I also have to admit that at one point, I thought seriously about becoming a paralegal and putting my own research skills to use in a different way.)

MikeRachel! I need your help!

RachelSo why are you coming to me?

MikeBecause Donna says you’re the best researcher in the firm.

They walk into her office, which, in the pilot episode at least, is lined with bookshelves. A woman after my own heart!

Screenshot from pilot episode of 'Suits'

Rachel Zane, paralegal

Screenshot from pilot episode of 'Suits'

Rachel Zane at her desk

Mike: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You have an office? How do you have an office, and I have a cubicle?

RachelLike you said, I’m the best researcher in the firm.

Next, the research set-up:

RachelYou’re asking to look at private files without any evidence of your assertion.

MikeYeah, but the only way we can find the evidence is to look at those files.

RachelIt’s a rickety argument.

MikeBut is there precedent?

RachelLet’s go see if we can find one.

Finally, the pay-off at the firm’s in-house law library. (Two stories, no less!)

Screenshot from pilot episode of 'Suits'

Rachel Zane in her natural habitat, the law library

RachelResearch is as much art as science. So, we’re gonna look at privacy and harassment law to see if we can find a combination of cases to make an argument. I’ll take privacy.

MikeI’ll take harassment law.

RachelThis’ll take a while.

Final lessons about research

What do we learn from these few seconds about research with ace paralegal Rachel Zane?

Screenshot from pilot episode of 'Suits'

Rachel Zane, paralegal, tellin’ it like it is

  1. Research is a combination of art and science — in other words, being BOTH “book smart” AND “street smart”
  2. Have a plan before you start researching
  3. Think about multiple starting points/keywords/potential sources
  4. Research can take time
  5. If you need help, ask a research expert!

I’m admittedly new to Suits — even though its final season is about to air, having already hit that 100-episode marker! — but I was very pleasantly surprised by how invested I was in the characters by the end of the pilot episode.

Have you seen Suits? Do you like Rachel Zane’s character? Please leave a comment and share!

The kids shush themselves | School library scene in ‘Psych’ TV show

I have been enjoying our free preview of Amazon Prime, including watching TV series, both new (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and old (Psych). While watching Season 2 of Psych, I noted a library scene in episode 7, “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?”

About Psych

First things first. If you’re not familiar with the comedic TV show Psych, here’s the basic premise:

Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday) has amazing powers of observation — and uses that power to pretend to be psychic. Why? So that he can solve crimes with the police, alongside his best friend, Gus (played by Dulé Hill). Corbin Bernsen plays his crotchety father, Henry Spencer, a retired cop.

Here’s a trailer for Season 2 of the TV show:

And here’s the basic plot for the “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” episode, which first aired in August 2007:

A group of genius teenagers go to the Psych office claiming their teacher is a murderer.

School library scene

The scene occurs 9 minutes into the 42-minute episode. Shawn and Gus arrive at the school, going undercover as guest lecturers for a paranormal studies class. The headmaster gives them a tour of the school… which apparently starts in the library! I like this school. 😉

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

Let’s all go to the library!

Headmaster: Personally, I’m not sure that I see the merits of a class in paranormal studies, but we do let the students choose one guest instructor a semester. 

[A student walks past, carrying a thick book, joining a table of other students with their noses in books.]

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

Reading is a recess activity

ShawnWhat is this? Like a study hall?

HeadmasterOh, no. Recess.

Shawn:  [Sniffs] Does it smell like teen spirit in here?

Student:  [Walks by] Shhhhhh!

Gus has to hold Shawn back from going after the kid!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

The kid shushes Shawn in the school library

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

Shawn doesn’t react well to the shushing

The school library

The library looks to be a pretty large space, with lots of windows and light and yellow-painted walls. I’m not sure where they filmed this scene, but I do know that the series filmed primarily in Vancouver, Canada. You can read about other filming locations featured on the show via the Movie Maps site.

There are different kinds of resources in the library, including books and computers. Furniture is also set up for different kinds of learning activities, including tables, computer desks, and bookcases, both small and tall ones. This furniture is used to break up the library into different spaces.

And as Shawn and Gus walk through the library with the headmaster, we also see glimpses of various students working hard at computers and other students working in groups. The library is also quite full — at recess, as we learned! — and the students range in ages, genders, and ethnicities.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

Library tour in ‘Psych’ TV episode

The only thing missing in this scene? A librarian! 😉

Why a school library scene?

The scene lasts a total of 30 seconds, and it is the only scene in the episode set in the school library. What purpose does this brief scene serve? It primarily serves to provide as not only an introduction to the school for Shawn and Gus, but also as an introduction for the audience. We have been informed already that this is a school for geniuses — what better place than a library to reinforce this concept?

The scene starts with a closeup of thick books, a bookcase of atlases. This shot efficiently establishes the setting as a library without having to actually say the word.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of library scene in 'Psych' TV episode

Bookcase closeup to set the library scene

This scene also efficiently reinforces the vibe of the school and the priorities of its students. They are serious, focused, and not afraid to stand up to authority — even shushing adults. This scene is so efficient — and the students themselves are so self-sufficient — that there is no need for a school librarian!

This also sets up a conflict in the episode, because if you’re a fan of the show, you know that Shawn jokes all the time and rarely takes anything seriously. As the audience, we are already looking forward to the students pushing back during Shawn’s upcoming lecture. After all, Shawn may be able to hoodwink the police about his “psychic” abilities… but will he able to convince these genius students? Or will the students call his bluff and shush him out of the school? 😉

Sources used:

“If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” Psych. USA Network, 24 Aug. 2007.

Psych Season 2 Trailer,” uploaded by Shannon Haddock, Standard YouTube license.


Second impressions? Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

Y’all knew where I was this past Sunday night, right? Watching the Season 2 premiere of “The Librarians” OF COURSE. The premiere kicked off, like last year, with two back-to-back episodes:

  • Episode 1: “And the Drowned Book”
  • Episode 2:  “And the Broken Staff”


The first episode starts off with the news that the librarians-in-training have all been working on their own for the past few months, so they have to learn to work together again in this episode. The library is back, but Jenkins discovers that items are going missing and that the library is rearranging itself. Something rotten in the state of Denmark?

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

There are new villains for Season 2, fictional villains from great works of literature — referred to as “Fictionals” — including Prospero from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories. As some of my favorite episodes from Season 1 focused on inventive twists on fairy tales and legends, I am looking forward to the librarians taking on the “Fictionals” throughout Season 2.

My husband, a college English instructor, personally liked how literary Season 2 is already. And I already have more appreciation for the Season 2 tagline, “This season they’ll need every trick in the book.” 😀

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

The gang is back together! Librarians unite! Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

My favorite bits from Episode 1, “And the Drowned Book”:

  • 8 minutes in, Flynn and Eve are going to a museum exhibit on a new mission:
    • Flynn:  A new exhibit brings in the fundraisers and gives the big-wigs a chance to rub elbows with the rock star archivists and librarians.
    • Eve:  Every girl’s dream.
  • 30 minutes in, Flynn’s fan-boy glee when he thinks he’s met Sherlock Holmes:  I love you! I mean, I love your adventures… A team-up with Sherlock Holmes!
  • 45 minutes in, Prospero casts Shakespeare as the villain:  Shakespeare broke my staff; he drowned my book. Who is more real? Authors or their creations? Again, I appreciate how inventive the writing is.
  • Almost 50 minutes in, the librarians are trying to figure out how to stop the storm system of hurricanes Prospero has unleashed upon New York. Problem-solving at its finest:
    • Jake:  People don’t have great track records of stopping hurricanes.
    • Flynn:  Well, they haven’t had the resources of the library. [Snaps his fingers, turns to Jenkins] Zeus’s lightning bolt?

The second episode continued the Prospero storyline. The librarians are trying to prevent him from putting his broken staff back together while also trying to protect the heart of the library. The library’s security system actually traps the librarians inside the library, so they have to work together (sensing a theme here) and use the library’s internal resources in order to stop Prospero and protect the “tree of knowledge” at the heart of the library.

My favorite bits from Episode 2, “And the Broken Staff”:

  • Almost 10 minutes in, Ezekiel researches references to lost or broken staffs in the old-school library card catalog. Actually, this scene both amused AND infuriated me. (Especially because Ezekiel is tossing the cards onto the stairs as he goes through them. NOT COOL. You better be planning on re-filing those cards, dude.)
    • Ezekiel:  I’ve got references to a bunch of lost magic staffs in here…
    • Jake:  Just cross-reference staff with “broken”
    • Ezekiel:  How? It’s not like it’s a search engine.
    • Jake:  What do you mean, how? You don’t know how to use a card catalog?!
    • Ezekiel:  It’s the 21st century. I don’t know how to shoe a horse, either.

Jake’s look of outraged incredulity during this scene was PRICELESS. I feel you, Jake, I feel you.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

What do you mean, how? You don’t know how to use a card catalog?! Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’


  • 20 minutes in, the librarians-in-training have to bribe a young girl who checked out the local library’s only copy of the unabridged, complete works of Shakespeare. I guess you can put a price on knowledge… 😉
  • Almost 40 minutes in, Flynn’s attempt at soothing Frankenstein’s monster:  Hug it out. For humanity. Yes. There’s no need for violence. This is how librarians solve problems. With our minds and our hearts. [Frankenstein’s monster throws hims off.] Worth a shot.
  • Eve’s eternal frustration with Flynn because he never has a plan; rather, he just goes off adventuring and reacting in the moment. And 46 minutes in, she totally calls him on it:  I want you to stop. And think! (I also love that the planner in the group is the non-librarian.)
  • 55 minutes in, Flynn’s description of the tree of knowledge:  Knowledge is young, always growing. No matter how much [knowledge] you think you have, there’s always room to grow.

My favorite aspects of the series are still in full force. It’s so earnest and fun, and you learn a little (or a lot) along the way. In fact, what I said last year still sums up what I find appealing about the entire series:

Reel Librarians | Quote from 'First Impressions' review of 'The Librarians' TV series premiere

I always finish watching an episode of “The Librarians” with a smile on my face. 😀