This week’s episode of The Magicians was easily the best paced, and therefore the most enjoyable of the season so far. By not wasting time exploring a dozen different stories, this show finally managed to not only make viewers care about the core cast, but also started to turn Brakebills into a magical school worth attending. Spoilers below!
At Brakebills this week, the main plot surrounded a series of three trials that all of the first years had to go through in order to prove they deserved to stay at the school. Doing this halfway through the first semester seems a little random but at least we finally got to slow down and see a little more of how this universe works and how magic has begun to incorporate itself into these character’s lives. All three trials were hosted by Margo and Eliot who add as much style to this episode as they have to all of the others, even if it made no logical sense for them to be the ones hosting this party. The first trial was fairly simple but Penny and Quentin still had to cheat off Alice in order to make their way through it, something the school heartily approves of. The second was simpler, encouraging the main group to rely on one another instead of magic to get through. The third test was downright steamy at times, having the students pair off in order to stand naked in front of one another and reveal their deepest secrets. Kady and Penny made it look almost fun until Kady’s big reveal, while Quentin and Alice managed to be as awkward as ever.
Well, it took six episodes (which in hindsight isn’t actually that many) but I’m finally starting to enjoy more of these character. Margo, Kady and Penny are now easily my favorites as The Magicians has started to let us get to know everyone a little better, digging beyond the angst. Yes, there’s almost certainly still a lot more angst and self-indulgence headed our way with this gang, but there’s also a lot to like here as well. Is it just me, or should Penny be the main character of this show from here on out?
Needless to say, at this point but things didn’t go as well for Julia as they did for Quentin, which seems to be the case even when Q has an absolutely horrible week. Julia had thought she’d found a new friend/ally in another former hedge-witch, who happened to be Kady’s mom and the reason that Kady is stuck stealing things for Marina. But when the two of them teamed up to try and steal some magic, Marina’s defenses got the best of the older ex-witch and Julia had to watch her die bloody, leaving her once again with no friends or access to magic. It’s almost enough to get me curious enough to jump into the second book in “The Magician’s” book series, even though I didn’t enjoy the first, just to see if I can get any hint about where the show is headed with Julia’s character.
The episode wrapped with Quentin (and likely Penny and Alice as well) turning into a goose. In the books this is something that didn’t happen until third year, but I’m willing to run/fly with this. I enjoyed this episode far more than any one that came before it, and finally have a few characters who I’m genuinely rooting for. Though I don’t know what it means for Kady if she didn’t “find her truth” and get goosified as well. I would think admitting to Penny that she had lied about everything would probably count, but who knows? If this means the end of her character I’ll definitely be a little bummed. At least I’ve got Penny to cheer for now!