Following last weeks episode where watched as Margo allowed the monster to kill a God for the sake of possibly saving her friend and Quentin learned that his father had passed away when he’d had his memory wiped, “Marry…Kill” isn’t so much a reprieve from the sadder tone the show had struck as it is a stepping stone for where the series will be going next
It’s refreshing to see the characters granted a moment to take a knee and process the repressed grief they’ve been burying and the fear they’ve been running from as it chases to catch up. Margo and Quentin take center stage as they’re deal with the fallout of watching Eliot be totally possessed by a horrendous monster. Summer Bishil in particular impresses as she gets to play both her dry comedic support while also carrying the weight of one of the most devastating moments of the episode.
For a show that runs at lightning fast speed through storylines it always knows when we need a second to breathe. From season’s twos “Skip Day” to last years “A Day in a Life” when The Magicians chooses to slow down it does so with a grace that demonstrates a series that has an innate understanding of the emotional foundation is works on. We couldn’t just charge through material that required a moment of contemplation so we took two routes to grieving: we watched as Quentin directly worked with it in a manner he thought was appropriate while Margo chose avoidance and deflection. Both in the end are, as to be expected, derailed. In Margo’s case she’s got a grievous situation to deal with as Josh is about to undergo the turning where he’ll have to kill or have sex with someone in order to stave off his more uncontrollable urges, much to his chagrin as he has no desire to do either.
Josh has gone from being a mere blip on the radar to an integral portion of the cast because despite the fact that he at this point is the least human (Julia aside) he possesses the most humanity. He is the audience insert but rarely shows cowardice when it’s important, standing up to those around him who try and belittle or dismiss his concerns. Pairing him with Margo is a genius choice as it forces him to raise his hackles and her to offer moments of vulnerability. The latter’s motivations to help him without second thought and to do so with little thought of her own safety all makes more sense when we realize she believes Eliot to be dead. So when she seemingly has a death wish and locks herself in a cage with Josh, only after to tell him the two can have sex because while she can’t take away his disease, she can at least consent, the moment is punctuated by a sense of desperation. Yes, the moment between the two after is sweet and her comment about not living long enough for the time the turning would make her find a sacrificial lamb darkly humorous considering the lives of this group, but there’s an underlying thread of despair that cuts straight through the laughter and afterglow and straight to her pained eyes as she comes to the Eliot realization.
Similarly, Quentin must come to this understanding as he cleans out his fathers old storage of model airplanes that he’s never going to live up to the standards those in his past life held for him. In a sweetly marcbe moment, the monster even gives Quentin a moment of catharsis as he mossies in, munching on frozen peas, and asks him why he’s following the rules of his mother, who expects him to fail at every turn. So, with the Eliot Monster’s help, he tears into the room, throwing model airplanes against the wall and smashing them to pieces as he tries and break free of the grief that has him in a vice grip. As he tells the monster, he’s not over his sadness, but over time it will lessen. To which, he’s given the bombshell that Eliot is dead, that the monster felt his soul go out like a flame but that he didn’t suffer. He figures the sooner Quentin knows the sooner he’ll be able to be happy and help him on his continued quest to kill gods. It’s a staggering moment for both the audience and Quentin but it only keeps the breath locked in your chest for a moment before flinging us into the where Eliot is trapped inside the monster alone but very much alive.
Elsewhere in the story there’s a side story where Julia and 23 Penny venture to Fillory to learn more about her powers. More than anything it’s a chance to show off Stella Maeve and Arjun Gupta’s excellent chemistry as he must reconcile his feelings for 23 Julia and the would be goddess standing in front of him. It’s sweet and tender and, like the moments aforementioned, allow the characters time to both discover more about themselves while moving along the plot at a steadier pace.
It’s a solid episode of the series that hints more at what’s to come than packs itself to the brim, something that’s necessary for the show every once in a while. Underneath all the battles and plotting there are still damaged individuals in dire need of healing and little time do so, something that “Marry…Kill” goes out of its way to express. 2