Welcome back to my weekly coverage of The Magicians. To read past coverage, go here.
Somewhere in between the back half of season one of The Magicians and now it’s become one of the most consistently entertaining series on television. With an innate understanding of their characters, what makes them tick and all of the interweaving relationships between the core six along with grandiose spectacle and absurdist humor, the show has managed a genre cocktail like few others on television. This can be demonstrated just with Quentin’s character alone and the stark and poingant relationships he shares with the characters from the old familiarity with Julia, the odd intimacy with Eliot, the out of character sweetness he brings out of Margo and the bursts of hostility from Penny. We as the audience have learned to overlook some of the wonkier narratives or bizarre special effects because of how invested we are in the characters and their trajectories.
Here are some things that stood out to be in this weeks episode, yet another strong installment in a long string of them.
I but Alice and Quentin’s relationship more now than I did when she was alive
I was never a huge supporter of the relationship mainly because it was hard to buy the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Jason Ralph and Olivia Taylor Dudley especially when Alice shared more with Penny and Quentin with literally everyone else. However, since her death and especially since her reappearance as Niffin Alice there’s been a resurgence of energy between the two characters, greatly aided by Dudley and Ralph’s committed performances. This comes to a peak tonight when trying to learn about shades Quentin is forced to speak with an Alice from a different timeline, one who was the sole survivor of the Beast and left to spend her days trying to salvage Quentin’s lost soul. It’s a painful scene for the two characters who can’t even touch one another, as they get to say real goodbyes, a first for both in their respective universe.
It helps that this is a beautifully shot scene from the lighting to the music. The shows ability from going to near slapstick humor to something as poignant as a final goodbye between lovers is immensely impressive.
Margo, Fen and this fairy business
Despite Summer Bishil’s immeasurable charms it seems that sometimes Margo is used more as a plot device than as a well fleshed out character herself. We see hints of who she really is especially when she’s paired with Eliot or Quentin but otherwise her motives seem fairly plot based, doing and behaving in any manner that is convenient is moving the story along. This has been the most apparent in her deal with the fairies to give them Fen and Eliot’s child in return for the magic being returned to Filory and it all comes to a head when the former is seemingly whisked away by the fairies at the end of the episode to who knows what fate.
Margo has been proven to be a more apt ruler this season than Eliot who’s too apathetic and concerned with people liking him and following a storyline where she’s putting in more effort without holding as much power would be an interesting thread to follow, especially between the two best friends. With only two episodes left in season two it will be interesting to see just how the writers manage to write this character out of this corner without her coming off nearly villainous.
Bring the group back together
The heist from a few episodes ago was so delightful because it got all of the core characters in the same room and storyline again. Right now they’be become so splintered with Quentin spending half his time in Filory and half back at Brakebills and Penny about to sequester himself off to the library for god knows how long and with such an eclectic group it’s a shame not to utilize the full energy of them more often. Surely in the remaining to episodes the series will bring the group together to bring back Julia’s shade/trap Reynard/find Fen as it’s what the season has been building towards but regardless of how wonderful the world building is the show would be smart to not compromise the strongest element of the series for bigger storytelling-the characters.
Regardless it was yet another strong episode and this week we got the added benefit of some sweet melancholy and hope being injected into the show for the first time in a while. Things may look dire for Fen but Julia is on the cusp of finding her shade and logically knowing that she needs it, even reaching out to Quentin at the end as a mark of friendship and while his and Alice’s goodbye was bittersweet it also offered the character much needed closure.
Perhaps this year we’ll get something close to a happy ending for the characters?
What did everyone else think of this weeks episode?