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The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 12 exposes some tough truths about growing up
We are at the penultimate episode of the season, y'all, and The Magicians has once again reset the board. Darth Eliot kidnapped Julia to use as a vessel for his sister, Zelda and Kady escape from the Poison Room, and Quentin and Alice decide to give their romance another try. Also, Josh turned into a fish.
As we wind down to the end of the season, the stakes keep getting higher and higher and we are more and more stressed out. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we are here to break down every plot twist and keep the good ship Queliot sailing.
Trapped In the Poison Room
Alyssa: As if being stuck in the Poison Room with Zelda wasn’t bad enough, Plover returns! Let me tell you, seeing characters have to weigh the value of whether or not they want to listen to a child molester when they’re just trying to survive is probably my least favorite thing they do on this show. Kady doesn’t deserve that. Plover is beginning to feel like an unkillable cockroach. Just when you start to think that he’s finally gone, he comes crawling back onscreen.
Jessica: I can’t suss out what’s worse: dying a slow, painful death in the Poison Room or having a tete-a-tete with a scum-rat like Plover. Of course, he’s found a way to survive in there, guys. And to make matters worse, we’re forced to listen to his melodramatic monologue about forgiveness and believing people can change. I’m all for clean slates but I think if you’ve molested children for years and profited off it, there’s something rotten inside that can’t be fixed with a simple apology and promise to do better. Can we just cancel forgiving terrible men for the terrible things they do? Just for a little while?
Alyssa: I second that, and honestly, I hope the show does too. Please, no more Plover. Also, LORD, can Kady just catch a break? Still grieving Penny IN THE PLACE WHERE HE DIED, trapped in the Poison Room, no one really taking her seriously, and having to deal with the Library in the most in your face way. When I said I wanted her to be more of a central character, not like this! Just let her rest! Speaking of terrible men doing terrible things, Everett is really out there thinking that he can just become a god to fight the monster and his sister with no residual consequences, huh?
Jessica: I mean, he’s an old white man in a position of power: What can’t he do, right? I literally guffawed — and you know that’s not a word I use lightly, or ever — when he sat down with Zelda to explain that, yes, he had plans to be a god, but like, only to help everyone else out. His grab for power was meant to give the Library the upper hand in their fight against the gods and, get this, if he did get a bit too drunk on his newly stolen god gifts, he was counting on Zelda to clean up his mess. Because of course a woman is expected to temper a man’s insanely selfish power bid. Give us a damn break, The Magicians.
Alyssa: I have to admit, I am more interested in what’s happening with the Library now than I probably ever have been. I’m curious to see if Zelda gets fed up and blows it all to hell, and if she goes with it or if she gets to live and rebuild. But there is no way that the Library as is will make it through the finale. It might be time to throw the whole thing out. What we do not need to throw out is Kady. It honestly crushed me when she was talking to Penny 23 about wanting to die so that she could be with her Penny. What a waste that would be indeed.
Jessica: See, I completely understand where she’s coming from. She feels so isolated from the group, AU love of her life is making out with a full-blown goddess right in front of her, and she’s stuck trying to do her part to take down an organization that, let’s be honest, probably won’t be going away anytime soon. A little afterlife vacay with real Penny sounds so good right about now. But you’re right, losing Kady that way would be tragic and such a waste. The team needs her, especially now that Darth Eliot has successfully body-swapped his sister and Zelda looks to be considering Everet’s offer.
Alyssa: Whew, yes, Darth Eliot now has his sister back in the form of Darth Julia. As worried as I am for these characters, I seriously loved every interaction these two had. Bringing back Our Lady Underground just to kill her was rough, but I could watch these two with their deeply unsettling swagger for hours. If you thought Julia was intense when she had her goddess powers fully intact, wait until you get a load of Monster Julia. I am WORRIED for everyone who has to face off against these two, no matter how weirdly interesting they are.
Jessica: I always thought waking up to see Hale Appleman watching over me with a smile would be a fantasy come true but for Julia, it’s a damn nightmare. And that bloodied “Sorry, I Was Hungry” tee was not helping matters. As sad as I was to see our sweet almost-Goddess used as a meat suit for Darth Eliot’s sister, you’re right, those two together are the embodiment of the “give-no-f*cks” attitude and I’m loving it.
Another surprise? I found myself sympathizing with Darth Eliot a lot this episode. His only goal was to have his sister back, to be with her again, and this chick is all about that revenge life, practically threatening him to help her find a key to the world of the Old Gods so they can teach their parents a lesson. Can’t we let Darth Eliot just find a minute of happiness, preferably in someone else’s body?
Alyssa: I am super curious to see how everything goes down in the finale because part of me is seriously wondering if Darth Eliot will end up turning against the very sister that he has worked so hard to bring back. He just wants to drink Starbucks and occasionally disembowel someone! Bringing down unholy revenge on everyone that ever wronged them just feels like a lot of work, and I’m not sure Darth Eliot is that dedicated to the task at hand anymore. Plus, as his sister said, he has grown weirdly fond of Quentin and the rest of the team. He can threaten to hurt Q until he’s blue in the face, but I’m not 100% sure he could actually go through with it. Such is the puppy power of Quentin Coldwater.
In Love and a B*tch
Jessica: Speaking of being weirdly fond of someone, Margo’s relationship with Josh this week gets … fishy. I personally love the pair’s dynamic but I’m sorry, no amount of sweaty werewolf sex could convince me to be a fish mom. Margo is a real one guys.
Alyssa: Truly, becoming a werewolf for a man and then keeping him alive when he’s cursed to be a particularly fragile fish proves that Margo is the best girlfriend who will not accept the title of girlfriend. I really enjoy it whenever Margo and Fen interact, particularly whenever Fen spouts off some new weird facts about Fillory like they’re obvious things everyone should know. I hope that dynamic never ever stops. But yes, Margo really is all in on Josh, up to the point where she is willing to cede control of the Eliot rescue mission in order to stay behind and keep Josh alive. That’s quite a gesture.
Jessica: Right? I appreciate the fact that both Fen and Josh found the magical reservoir, and without Josh accidentally activating the curse on it, the whole crew might’ve been turned into Fillorian dying fish that require constant eye contact to stay afloat, so good on ya Josh. But seeing Margo choose to stay behind when her driving purpose this season has been to save Eliot really put things in perspective. Eliot’s still her number one, but Margo has grown in their time apart. She’s found room in her heart for more than just one person. And, she’s still a b*tch. It’s such a beautiful thing.
Alyssa: I love that this season has spent so much time encouraging Margo. I feel like so many of the things that she has faced — her history with her dad, her time in Fillory — have told her so explicitly that she needs to change in a fundamental way in order to be acceptable, and this season has just been like no, you do not have to put yourself in that kind of box. You can be a number of different things at once and still be good. While I wasn’t initially on board with this pairing because I am pretty ambivalent about Josh, he has been a major part of this. While he may have pushed her to be more in touch with her feelings than she was ready for, Josh never tried to change Margo. That’s no small thing.
Quentin Faces Reality
Jessica: And now we come to the most controversial part of this episode: Quentin’s relationship with Alice. I know I said I wanted the pair to reunite and make amends, but I DID NOT want them to immediately jump into a make-out sesh. I honestly don’t know how to feel about this development. It just seems so backward with how things were progressing, not only for Quentin and Eliot but also for Alice. I felt like each of these characters was moving on and up, and now, we get a Qualice plot-bomb just thrown in for fun? I’m hoping Queliot is still in the cards since the real Eliot seems ready to pursue that relationship and, right now at least, Quentin has no idea of his true feelings, but still, color me a bit disappointed with this development.
Alyssa: I saw someone on Twitter this week mention that the revelation in Eliot’s Happy Place is still unknown to Quentin. As much as Quentin loves Eliot and has those memories of their time together, for him, their romantic relationship was halted because Eliot told him no. He has no idea about Eliot’s change of heart and what that could mean for the two of them, and that is what I keep reminding my Queliot heart. I think a lot will be tossed in the air to see how it lands in the finale.
All that being said, I agree and really do not love Q and Alice reuniting romantically. After all the work that Alice has done to redeem herself, I am onboard with her being back and friendly with the group, but I did not need a Qualice redux. Been there, done that, it’s toxic.
Jessica: Best believe I will be performing a Queliot summoning circle by the time the season finale comes around. Qualice will not prevail! But another interesting turn for Q this episode was his Fillory realization. Quentin has always been a Fillory stan, he’s always been this precious, fragile puppy who still believes in the good of magic, and this episode really drove home that loss of innocence. In a way, that’s good. I mean, it’s about time he toughened up a bit, but I also felt a tremendous sadness in seeing him struggle to find meaning in something he once loved with such childish sincerity.
Did I laugh when Penny suggested Q “couldn’t get it up” for Fillory? Of course. Did I have a moment of real fear that Q was going to f*ck that flower stick so they could break the curse and access unlimited magic? You bet. But I also felt my heart breaking a bit everytime Q found out something he loved about the place was totally fabricated by our favorite child molester, Plover. I’ve never seen more anguish from an adult man than when Q finally understood that, yes, the Cozy Horse was a lie.
Alyssa: At the core of The Magicians, it’s really a show about growing up. Quentin began the show obsessed with all things Fillory, eventually learning that the magic he believed in was in fact real. However, just like normal adulthood, the promises of magic are not what you originally thought they would be. There’s pain, there’s deception, there’s failure. All of the things that you never considered as a kid. Sure, there’s so much good stuff too, but having to face the painful realities of life is a major step towards really, truly growing up. You don’t have to throw out the magic, but you do have to realize its darkness too.
I think that has been at the heart of Quentin’s journey since day one. Quentin has had to grapple with some truly awful things and has come out of it all much stronger, but that process certainly isn’t easy. As sad as it was to see Quentin tormented by something that he once loved in such a pure childlike way, the acknowledgment of reality will set him free, you know?
Jessica: You’re completely right, as always, Alyssa. And I think the finale is setting up Quentin’s return to form in a way. He used to be consumed with finding and saving Fillory, now he needs to use Fillory to save all of magic, to save the person he loves. It’s a good thing his magical discipline is fixing broken things because there’s so much broken with the Library and his fractured friend group right now. But I think he can do it. If Darth Eliot and Darth Julia don’t turn him into a pile of ash first. I have to admit, I’m more than a little excited about that showdown. The siblings have unlimited power but so now do Alice and Q, and they’re particularly clever magicians, so who knows what’s going to happen. As long as Julia and Eliot’s bodies make it out okay, I’m down for this scuffle.
Alyssa: “Scuffle” is such a nice, gentle word to use about this upcoming magical clash. A scuffle makes me think of a pile of kittens battling over who gets to play with the best toy. But yes, I wholeheartedly agree that I am very, very excited about these pairs facing off. Seeing Quentin and Alice really power up on magic after being forced to subsist on scraps all season long was pretty exhilarating. The Magicians always manages to pull out all of the stops, both action and emotion, in their finales, so I am fully prepared to have my mind blown. And maybe my heart destroyed. Either way, I can’t wait.