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SYFY WIRE The Magicians Discussion

The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 11 sets the stage for a godly endgame

By Jessica Toomer & Alyssa Fikse

The Magicians' latest episode, "The 4-1-1" is setting the board for a final showdown between The Library, the Monster, and our rag-tag group of magically-inclined weirdos. 

Unfortunately, it looks like most of our favorites are still pawns at this point. Kady's stuck risking her life to uncover a dark secret about The Library's ultimate endgame, Fen is stuck playing Fillory's version of hop-scotch (but with bears) to save her kingdom's failing ecosystem, Julia's trying to make sense of a talking Binder, and Quentin and Alice are revisiting their past romance in the cringiest of ways. 

We're Jessica Toomer and Alyssa Fikse and we're not going to lie to you, this episode was ROUGH. So grab a bottle or two of wine and grow a pair of tits because we're diving straight in. 

Blast To The Past

Alyssa: Whenever The Magicians whips out a new spell, I always wonder why they haven’t used it before. Like, I get why they don’t now because of how regulated magic is, but I feel like this time traveling, semi-body switching thing would have come in handy previously. Maybe I just wouldn’t cut it as a magician because I would try to use magic to solve all my problems instead of trying to solve things the human way. Either way, Quentin and Alice are working together again. Friend, I’m not going to lie, this storyline had me stressed out. Digging back into the Qualice relationship was not where I wanted to go.

Jessica: Okay I’m glad someone else questioned the spell logistics this episode. Look, I know we can’t completely rely on magic for plot reasons, but an old fashioned body swap definitely could’ve solved some problems a couple of seasons ago. Alas, here we are. I too was concerned about the Qualice dynamic and this episode left me feeling even more conflicted. I think it’s common knowledge that I bleed Queliot, but seeing the past-Quentin’s love for present-Alice did something to this shriveled heart. I don’t want them to be together romantically, but I realized how much I miss their friendship and their teamwork this week.

Alyssa: That’s definitely a fair assessment. Heading back to Brakebills South was a good move because that was definitely the period in time when Q and Alice were the strongest together. Before things got Niffin-y. And the episode did make me feel for Alice, who is clearly still hung up on Q. The writers have done a pretty stellar job making me at the very least sympathize with her over the course of the season, which was something I didn’t think would happen again. Outside of the relationship aspect of this storyline, Q finally got his discipline! The repair of small objects. Obviously, this wasn’t as cool as what he was expecting, but considering the fact that the Monster is collecting pieces of his dead sister, I feel like this is going to come in handy later.

Jessica: Agreed. Piecing together a broken mug is not the endgame where Quentin’s powers are concerned. It was nice to have that callback to their school days too. The idea of disciplines and Q being a B- student seem so inconsequential now, after everything the group’s been through, but ya girl is a book nerd with a deep abiding love for the order and regimen of a class schedule so this episode was particularly satisfying. Not satisfying? Present-Alice getting caught making out with past-Quentin by present-Quentin when he finally swapped back into his correct body. I thought The Magicians had given me every awkward situation imaginable but the cringe-meter broke on this one y’all.

Alyssa: Yeah, I definitely got the feeling that Quentin preferred getting stabbed in the head by a deranged professor rather than witness (witnessing yourself in the past making out with your ex-girlfriend in the present is a real mindf*ck) whatever was going on. While there was definitely an unfrosting in Q towards Alice, I am still not particularly concerned about a romantic reconciliation. She’s just back on the team again, which is probably how it should be.

The Tale Of The Binder

Jessica: So while Q is thawing a bit towards his ex, Julia’s stuck trying to figure out how to read this ancient binder. Of course, blood seems to be the key and our High King Margo, fresh from her journey in the desert, with her twin axes of Sorrow and Sorrow at her side, offers up her tampon in solidarity. It’s Shark Week y’all! In all seriousness, I’ve missed seeing Margo with the rest of the group. In Fillory, the weight seems to be squarely on her shoulders but here, with her O.G. crew, she can pass off some of the heavy liftings to the team.

Alyssa: Agreed. Without Eliot, Margo needs someone to have her back, and hopefully, the rest of the team is up to the task. Plus, Margo makes everyone else better too by being around, especially with her incredible pep talks to Q. “Grow some tits” is the new and improved “man up” for sure. I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to get out of that book, but I certainly didn’t expect a man to crawl out of it. Cool yet creepy, show! Once again, gods are not to be trusted. That kind of power is always going to cause problems, like creating twins that will destroy the world just to get back at the Library. Bad idea. Bad, bad idea. At least Julia is given some options.

Jessica: I knew we were in for it the minute that crazy old white man in Jesus sandals wrenched himself out of that book and started talking exclusively in the third person but damn, The Library really is the root of all evil on this show. I mean sure, gods suck too, but anytime you start experimenting on kids, you’ve crossed the point of no return. Again, the show is doing a good job of making me sympathize with its initial villain, Darth Eliot. This episode felt like a hammering home of something I’ve suspected from the beginning: that this monster, though obviously terrible, is not the big bad we should be worried about. Still, I am worried. He’s got Julia, guys, and because she has yet to decide whether to go full-goddess or become human again, she’s ripe for Darth Eliot’s body-snatching plan.

Alyssa: At least Julia and Penny 23 got to make out a little beforehand? Thanks for the creepy assist, Hymen! It was weird to see you again!

Poison Control

Alyssa: The creepiest thing in this episode, though? The insects in The Library. After drawing the metaphorical short straw and having to accompany Zelda into the Poison Room, Kady not only had to face the place that killed her Penny but also ingests some seriously disgusting creepy crawlies to boot. Nothing to give you confidence like bugs that will eat the poison that enters your bloodstream. Cool, cool, cool. Nothing to panic about there. Every new thing we learn about The Library is truly awful.

Jessica: And the fact that Zelda just chugs them like it’s nothing, just a regular Tuesday in The Library, drinking a bug cocktail so a Poison Room won’t cause you to die a slow, painful death, is truly disturbing. Can we just burn The Library to the ground already? I did, however, enjoy Zelda’s treasonous side this episode. She’s clearly committed to helping the team take down Everett, even though you can tell she has warring emotions about it. But who saw that twist with Everett’s endgame coming? Because I’ll be honest, I did NOT.

Alyssa: Yeah, no, “trying to become a god” is never the first outcome that I go to, even on a show as insane as The Magicians. This guy really has come out of the dark fringe as the maniac to watch in the final episodes, and unfortunately, he doesn’t have the weird comedic timing and t-shirt collection of Darth Eliot. Just real sinister energy and the magic to back it up. Once again, old white guys in suits are the true villains.

The Thirsty 13th

Jessica: Speaking of true villains, who knew that the good people of Fillory enjoyed a little waterboarding every now and then? Obviously, the situation there is worrisome. The Winds of Destiny are blowing too early, talking animals are going mute, but torturing a Nyad for information on Fillory’s failing ecosystem felt so out of character for our trio. They’re the fun guys. The softies. The bumbling idiots. They are not CIA-level interrogators with nothing to lose.

Alyssa: Yeah, the casual approach to torture was odd, to say the least. Sometimes Fillory is just the weirdest place. I did enjoy Josh’s brief foray into cooking TV though. I need that biscuit recipe, so sign me up for Eating Out with Josh Hoberman. As weird as the Fillorian customs are, the reactions of the Earth dwellers are always worth watching. Of course the games others learned as a child are stupid to you, an adult, Josh, but there’s no reason to be a butthead about it! It worked! Secret staircase!

Jessica: You know I love a secret staircase, and it looks like this one might lead to the solution to Fillory’s magical reserves problem so bear-skip away Hoberman!

What’s Next

Jessica: So obviously the show’s setting Fen up to be the savior of Fillory, which is in line with what her catty dream guide revealed to her. I’m fine with that because Margo has bigger fish to fry, namely Darth Eliot, who’s kidnapped Julia and plans to host his sister’s spirit in her body. The only problem: I highly doubt this psychopathic man-child knows how to piece together his twin’s parts which means, you guessed it, Q’s not-so-special discipline will come into play. Are we heading towards a Catch-22 dilemma: Julia or Eliot? Because my heart could not handle it.

Alyssa: Color me similarly concerned. We’ve got two episodes left, and I feel like we’ve got some heavy losses on the way. As much as I want Julia to keep her ability to feel and love and be mortal, having a goddess on their side feels like a really important move. Now that she’s in Darth Eliot’s grasp, I’m not sure she has much of a choice right now, but seriously. They need an edge because every time they take a step forward it feels like they’re forced two steps back. I just want them to get a win, you guys. I agree with you about Fen, and I’m certainly glad that she’s getting her moment to shine, even if it is a bit overshadowed by all the drama going on. Mostly, I hope that Kady and Zelda get the hell out of the Poison Room next week because that is NOT how Kady deserves to go. She deserves her hero moment and getting to live out the rest of her life in peace. I know that’s not in the cards for anyone on The Magicians, but let me dream, please?