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SYFY WIRE The Magicians

The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 4 puts a twist on the classic werewolf narrative

By Alyssa Fikse & Jessica Toomer

Well, we've reached that point in the season where The Magicians throws just about everything at our favorite characters. Josh is undergoing The Quickening, Quentin's reeling from the death of his dad, the talking animals in Fillory are mute, and Julia still doesn't know the extent of her powers at all. "Marry F*ck Kill" sends our magicians off in some unexpected pairings, each one peeling back emotional layers and moving the plot along at a thrilling clip. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we're here to break it all down. Let's dive in, shall we?

Lycanthropy Sucks

Jessica: Look, Josh is never going to be an important character for me on this show, but he earned some brownie points (ehm, muffin points) this episode. As someone who’s watched entirely too many episodes of The Great British Baking Show, I appreciate a man who knows the difference between a pastry and a quick-bread. Plus, anyone who believes in the power of condolence muffins as strongly as Josh does deserves some love. If only he could’ve spent this entire episode in the kitchen.

Alyssa: It was a rough episode for Josh, that’s for sure, but I also warmed to him quite a bit. The show really found the magic recipe to make him better: make him a quick-bread wizard and team him up with Margo. Margo, being the best, tends to bring out interesting aspects of whatever character she’s teamed up with, so to have her be the one to help with his wolfie little problem was a genius move.

Jessica: Margo gives the most motivating pep talks of anyone on this show and I think Josh’s Lycan STD issue really helped take her mind off the Darth Eliot situation. Our poor High King needed a distraction and that’s one thing Josh is good for. I know the whole “werewolf” thing has been done a lot on TV, but I really appreciated how this episode tackled it. Having it transmitted through intercourse, and having Josh do the due diligence of talking with a former “partner” who might have contracted it and then watching him worry over giving it to someone else. IDK, the symbolism of that, and the idea that a man would worry about something like an STD to that extent felt really gratifying and on-the-nose considering our social climate. Or, you know, maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

Alyssa: No, I definitely agree. The era of #MeToo has definitely brought issues of consent to the forefront of pop culture discussion, and I thought this was a unique way for the show to handle it without getting too heavy-handed. Plus, this side adventure gave me two new Favorite Margo Things: the fact that she stole Kanye’s Komodo dragon (super glad we didn’t have to see another animal die onscreen) and her screaming “Son of a cl*t!” are the top of her lungs after Josh has his tree rendezvous. I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love Margo in these recaps, but my god, I stan. What did you think about her taking on Josh’s curse?

Jessica: On the one hand, the curse of lycanthropy sounds pretty familiar. It’s tied to the moon, it turns people into hormonal, hungry monsters, it makes you rage out and want to kill. I’m not entirely convinced that every woman on the planet isn’t a werewolf who just hasn’t fully come into her powers yet. If someone wants to create a show about that, I will recap until the end of time.

But I think Margo was so willing to help Josh because of her guilt with Eliot. She feels like she failed her best friend in a way. Taking on a tiny Lycan STD is nothing compared to killing a God. The ick factor was definitely there for me — Margo should not be hooking up with Maple D*ck, y’all — but I thought what it added to their friendship, and this caring side of Margo that came out because of it, were great character developments for both of them. Plus, I kind of just want to see Margo turn into a werewolf. It’s the next logical progression for her character.

The Death Of A Father

Alyssa: While Josh and Margo were getting into their werewolf sex shenanigans, Quentin was forced to deal with something even worse: the death of his dad and all of the emotional turmoil that comes with that. Q has always had an emotionally tough family situation — trouble relating to his dad, the secrets that come with being a magician, an absentee mother — and facing those demons while also keeping an eye on the literal monster inside of Eliot? Poor puppy. However, while I know that Darth Eliot (I’m glad they gave us an official nickname to use) isn’t Real Eliot in most ways, having him be the one by Q’s side in a small way felt right. Q and Eliot have always had such a beautiful and unique bond, so having Eliot, even Darth Eliot, be the one to help him find a little closure just felt right to me. I love these two so much.

Jessica: Even in his Darth Eliot state, these two still have such a connection. At first, I was annoyed that Q couldn’t even have the time to say goodbye to his father without Eliot popping up and adding to the trauma, but again, the show finds a common thread for these pairings. By having Q talk about parents and his childhood, it gave us a bit of insight into this monster that seems to be railing against his own family and trying to understand why he’s been shunned by people who were supposed to love him.

And in return, Darth Eliot helps Q take back some control of his life, not by murdering people thank God, but by breaking things on purpose. I see how these two relate to each other and while I think our puppy might actually be able to help this evil being, I hope hanging with Darth Eliot doesn’t have a negative impact on Q. Where do you think their friendship is going?

Alyssa: I think Q is going to be the key to saving Eliot, and BY GOD THEY WILL SAVE ELIOT. Whatever the status of their relationship, those two are the heart of the show. Darth Eliot chose to find Q first because he knows how important Q is to Real Eliot. I’m not worried about Q becoming corrupted by the monster, even in an attempt to save Eliot, but I am worried what kind of sacrifice he’s going to make to get him out. The monster fed him the lie that Eliot is dead — I’m glad they cleared that up by the end of the episode because that would have been a devastating cliffhanger — but there is no way that Q takes that at face value. No way. He wouldn’t give up on Eliot unless he was absolutely sure. (sob)

God Status

Jessica: Speaking of sobbing, I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a bit during Julia’s Godly exam. She’s gone through so much, fam, and she’s come out on the other side, stronger, more compassionate, a total Goddess. I knew her awkward relationship with Penny 23 would have to be addressed at some point, but I was so surprised that the show did it in this way, by using Penny’s love for Julia to affirm that she’s completely healed, that she’s not broken by what happened to her. Sure, that sensual oil anointing was all kinds of hot, but what I loved most about their pairing was Julia telling Penny to get over himself, that she knew what she could handle better than him, that by trying to coddle her and treat her as something fragile, he was insulting her and not seeing her as a fully-realized human being. Again, the depth of this episode just blew me away.

Alyssa: Yep, their story thread was one of the strongest in an extremely strong episode. Julia has handled this whole goddess thing better than anyone else could, I think (can you imagine Alice with that kind of power? I mean, she kind of had it and it was BAD). The process of her rebuilding herself after every horrible thing that has happened to her has been absolutely beautiful. The thing about The Magicians is that a case could be made that every character is my favorite, but Julia has had the best arc, hands down. I too had my reservations about the thing with Penny, but as soon as the maenad was talking about needing someone who believed in her and worshipped her completely, I died. I’m still worried about how this will further hurt Kady — still MIA — but I’m on board with this ship.

Escaping The Library

Jessica: So … Alice is still in the library, guys. I have to admit I’m a bit surprised about this. Homegirl hid a cockroach in her mouth for hours just a few episodes ago. I thought for sure, she’d be out of this hell hole by now. And, as if suffering from Black Santa’s betrayal wasn’t enough, now she’s playing pseudo-therapist to a child molester who just wants to find a world where he can be happy. *tears*. Look, I appreciate the idea of rehabilitation. The Magicians has always been a show about how people can change, often for the better, but I do not need a lecture on second chances for old white men who are unhappy with their lives after doing terrible things to innocent people. And Alice doesn’t either!

Alyssa: Listen. I am not Alice’s biggest fan. After last season, she needed to atone in a big way. But having to team up with Plover in order to escape feels like one punishment too many. Sure, he has that handy magical writing trick, but damn, is that the only way for her to break out? I guess they had to find someone even worse than her to explain that “what we do is not the same as what we are” (not sure if I agree with that sentiment, but moving on), but bringing Plover back for some kind of redemption arc feels a little gross. I trust the show to handle it well in the coming episodes, but yikes.

Jessica: I’m all for a spell that does the writing for you. (Think of the deadlines met, Alyssa!) But no magic is worth having to deal with this scumbag who thinks he’s suffered enough and is due for a little R&R in the world of his choosing. Hard pass. Still, he’s definitely going to prove useful to Alice in ways I think we haven’t realized yet. After all, he has intimate knowledge of monsters and what creates them.


What’s Next?

Alyssa: Now that we know that Eliot is still alive and inside the monster — or rather the monster is inside him, but you get what I mean — I’m hoping for some good face time with the real thing. As much as I have enjoyed Darth Eliot, I miss the original flavor. I also hope we get a check in with Kady because I am worried about the saddest member of Team Magic.

Jessica: Justice for Kady. I don’t know where she was hiding this episode, but I’m so disappointed that she hasn’t been a major player this season. It felt like that might be her arc in episode one but then, the action got going and Alice, Julia, and Quentin soaked up all the fun. I too am ready for the real Eliot to return, but I have no idea how they’re going to bring him back and what he’ll be like when they do. Is he aware of what’s happening while he’s stuck in that unfinished cartoon drawing? Are Darth Eliot’s memories his too now? I just need some assurance that our sweet little peacock will come back as sassy and flamboyant as ever.

Alyssa: Yes! As hilarious as the bloody Tacocat t-shirt is, I miss the waistcoats. Bring back Real Eliot, you monsters! I’m also super interested in seeing where Julia’s headed. Having the undercurrent of “what the actual hell are my powers?” is interesting, but I’m ready to see what Julia can really do. She deserves to stretch her wings a bit. Also, I think it’s time for Alice to rejoin the group. She’s been gone long enough and she always adds an interesting, sharp dynamic to the group. If she happens to find a way to kill Plover on her way out, even better.