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SYFY WIRE The Magicians Discussion

The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 5 takes a stroll down memory lane

By Jessica Toomer & Alyssa Fikse

Prepare yourselves Magicians fans, because the show's latest episode will put you through the emotional wringer. 

"Escape from the Happy Place" gives us an Eliot-centric hour of TV. (Yay!)

It also forces our favorites to confront traumatic childhood memories, confess their worst fears, mourn a main character, and accept how broken their relationships with one another truly are. (Boo!)

We're Jessica Toomer and Alyssa Fikse and we need you to have your tissues ready because this recap is about to get rough. 

A Walk Down Remembrance Lane

Jessica: So, the good news is that our sweet baby otter Eliot is not dead. The bad news is he’s stuck in some kind of memory loop and if he leaves the safe confines of his “happy place,” shrieking monsters will cut him to smithereens. Of course, the only way to reclaim his body is to revisit memories from his past, thus risking a smithereen-slashing from said shriekers. It’s a real lose-lose right now for Eliot, fam.

Alyssa: It’s true. While I appreciate the confirmation that Eliot is indeed still alive inside the monster, our boy is certainly in quite a pickle. Sure, he may have some company with Charlton, but going on a tour of his most traumatic memories is sure to harsh his vibe in a bit way. At least he can sort of bring his friends along for the ride? Even though I prefer to keep my most horrifyingly embarrassing moments to myself, if there were creepy killing machines waiting for me at each one, I’d probably bring back up too.

Jessica: I’m a big believer in the power of being self-aware but no one should have to list their most embarrassing moments on a chalkboard and slash through them only after reliving them all over again. Bad haircuts and cringe-worthy sexcapades are one thing, but the harder ones, like watching a young Eliot struggle with his abilities and with bullies at school, those are the kinds of milestones that should only be experienced once. It’s like Eliot’s purgatory is some twisted high school reunion, except with no open bar and more kicking the sh*t out of your only friend to fit in with the “cool kids.”

Alyssa: Exactly. This is a rough stroll down memory lane. However, can I just say how nice it was to have Real Eliot back? Even though he’s not reaaaally back yet, just having an episode that reminded us that Darth Eliot, as delightful as he is, isn’t the real deal was an absolute gift. Less flayings, more teasing Todd, PLEASE. I’ll take the tortured “dicks and daddy issues” any day. I also loved how his “happy place” reinforced who really is in Eliot’s inner circle: Margo, Q, and surprisingly Fen. Not that Fen isn’t great, but it’s not like she and Eliot are a match made in heaven, you know?

Jessica: I agree, Fen is not “the one” for Eliot, but I kind of understand why she’s one of his people. She’s been his partner through so much Filloy nonsense, plus she is pretty terrifying with those knives. What I really appreciated about this episode was the chance to peek behind the curtain when it comes to our tallest, best-dressed magician. Not only do we get to enjoy the real Eliot for a bit, but we also get to learn more about why he is the way he is. The writers must’ve felt bad for depriving us for so long to give us such a gift. What did you like about Eliot’s memory stroll, besides watching him try to teach Charlton the correct use of the word “f*ck”?

Alyssa: First off, Eliot’s delight tinged with horror at Charlton’s correct usage of “f*ck” post-maiming was one of my favorite moments of the episode. But yes, the stroll down memory lane was a great way to give Eliot a richer backstory without belaboring the point. Eliot is damaged — who isn’t? — and this was great shorthand for getting that point across in a way that didn’t feel cheap.

All Is Not Well In Fillory

Jessica: While Eliot’s confronting his buried demons, poor Margo’s still trying to open her birthright box in Fillory, and comfort a grieving Fen. Look, I’m all for dramatic flair, but this newly-widowed act she’s pulling is a bit extra, even for me. A two-hour mourning session followed by a “last lay” in which she sleeps in her marital bed under a heap of Eliot’s old clothes? Really, sis? Let’s tone it down a notch. Although I will say, the “Bare Breasts of Lament” ritual sounds appealing to someone who’s forced to wear a bra at least eight hours a day. I could get behind that particular shiva stage.

Alyssa: I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to hear the sheep choir, honestly. But I’m curious to hear more about why the animals of Fillory have been struck dumb. Especially since the rationing of magic, things in Fillory always seem to be tottering on the edge of ruin, but this seems like an odd side effect. Gods being killed left and right was obviously going to have consequences, but this is definitely one I didn’t expect. Poor Margo is once again holding everything together on her own, but seriously, we need to get Real Eliot back so the dream team can resume their joint rule. They just work best together.

Jessica: How devastating was it to see Margo, trembling chin and all, hold back tears while explaining to Fen that she just couldn’t cry over Eliot? She is the High King we just don’t deserve. I’m happy she’s got Josh, who seems to be serving as both f*ckboy and head chef at this point, but it feels like Margo is truly on her own with this Fillory business. I have no doubt she’s capable of handling her sh*t, but I so wish she didn’t have to carry this burden alone. And seeing remembrance Margo interact with Eliot earlier in the episode just makes their split in the real world all the more painful. I am curious to see how this “gift” in her birthright box moves things along though. Obviously, she’s going to have to figure out how to get the animals talking again first but maybe a quest like this is exactly what she needs right now to get her mind off mourning Eliot

Alyssa: You’re exactly right. I have no doubt that Margo can handle her sh*t, but having someone to lean on who understands the job is invaluable. But yes, I think a quest is just what Margo needs right now. A distraction that hopefully does not involve fishmen under magical lakes this time, but you just never know in Fillory. From the looks of things, she’s not going to get any help traveling from Penny, who definitely has a one track mind with helping Julia right now. Even if he was cut out by Shoshana and her worshiping, Penny 23 really is smitten. The relationships in The Magicians are often in a state of flux depending on timelines and magical breakups, but I can say with absolute confidence that I am all aboard the Julia/Penny 23 train. Side note: where is Kady???

Alice Attempts Redemption

Jessica: I am so glad you said something! Where the f*ck is Kady?! Like, I am all in for an Eliot-centric episode but even that kind of goodness hasn’t distracted me from the fact that we haven’t seen Kady in two episodes. I’m assuming this is part of the storyline, that she’ll pop up with an explanation soon, but I’m also terrified that the next time we see her she’ll just be munching on chips in Marina’s apartment like she was there the whole time with nothing to do. With Alice back now, that seems likely. Speaking of, Alice you shady b*tch, I’m proud of you for throwing that child molester down the poison realm but hun, that’s just the start of your redemption arc. I felt like our girl came to Quentin a bit too proud of herself for that one, and with a self-righteous savior attitude that meant there would be no chance of a reconciliation between the two. What did you think of Alice’s return?

Alyssa: I was torn! After she basically handed them over to the Library and was instrumental in the rationing of magic, I knew that Alice’s road back to the group would be a rocky one AT BEST. She is indirectly responsible for them losing their memories and go on the run and what happened to Eliot (and to a lesser degree Julia losing her goddess powers), so yeah, Alice has a lot to atone for. I was a little surprised that she was so shocked that Q didn’t immediately forgive her because Alice is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. Still, I was glad to see that she was still willing to help them, even if she wasn’t welcomed back with open arms. I’m curious to see how she will work outside the group going forward, especially now that Q made it very clear that they are never getting back together. Like ever. But yeah, throwing a child molester into the poison world was certainly a start.

Jessica: Quentin took Alice’s betrayal especially hard, understandably, but he’s such a sweet puppy, I can’t believe he won’t forgive her in the end, especially after she risked her neck to bleed that stone and take out Darth Eliot. Luckily that didn’t happen because Eliot is still alive and well somewhere in that body but I have to admit, seeing these two working together again was so satisfying. I’m reminded of just how talented and capable Alice is with magic, and how much Q relies on that, even when he doesn’t necessarily want to. She’s a vital member of the group no matter what those personal feelings are, so I doubt she’ll be on the outside for too much longer. We’ve still got a god-killer on the loose and real Eliot trapped in his happy place. With Julia’s magic gone, Penny taken hostage, Kady off eating junk food, and Margo in Fillory, Alice really is the only one left who can actually do magic, and do it well.

The Most Traumatic Memory

Alyssa: You are absolutely correct. They need Alice. However, I think it’s time to discuss the big reveal of the episode: Eliot is in love with Quentin. Obviously, he’s flirted with Q since the moment they met, they had that ill-fated threesome with Margo, and oh you know just lived a whole life together raising a child in the woods, but to find out that Eliot’s most traumatic memory was when he told Q that it wouldn’t work out between the two of them was huge. HUGE. Yes, we all swooned whenever those two would look at each other lovingly, but to have that ship confirmed? That it wasn’t just people looking for love in the subtext, it wasn’t queerbaiting, it wasn’t a ship sent to live out its days unfulfilled in fanart on Tumblr. Queliot lives, bitches!

Jessica: Alyssa, we have been burned so many time on other shows that I literally gasped and started sobbing when this Queliot endgame was revealed. Of course, anyone with eyes can see the bond between Eliot and Quentin, but for a show that started out with a relatively heterosexual male hero to switch gears and say, “You know what, these two men are each other’s soulmates” instead felt so… I don’t know. Brave? Refreshing? Gratifying? I know we have a long way to go before Q and Eliot are reunited but I hope, once they are, this relationship can fully bloom. These two need each other, they push and challenge each other, they make each other better human beings. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.

Alyssa: I second you on the sobs, girl. Eliot telling his “happy place” Q that he was the one who made him brave? Stick a fork in me, I was DONE. All of the hats off for Jason Ralph and Hale Appleman for their acting during the brief moment that Real Eliot fought to the surface, good lord. The moment that Q realized who was really talking killed me. I am writing this from beyond the grave. The hope on Q’s face + Eliot’s “peaches and plums, motherf*cker” = my cause of death. But you’re 100000% correct. This feels like a huge moment for fandom. We can move beyond het ships in canon, y’all! (I know there are other queer ships out there — big ups to Legends Of Tomorrow and Wynonna Earp — but still.)

What’s Next?

Jessica: Well, now that we’ve all been emotionally stripped bare from this Queliot revelation, I feel it’s only fair the two are reunited for real. I know that’s too much to ask for but damnit, I want my peach and plum together again. I also want to know who the f*ck kidnapped Penny and for what purpose? And when is Kady going to be done snacking? And what magical body is Darth Eliot building? So. Many. Questions.

Alyssa: Yes, while this episode certainly had a lot of emotional payoff, there are more plot questions in play than ever. This may be an insane theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Kady is behind Penny’s kidnapping. Sure, she could just be eating chips, but she left with some powerful magic and a chip (heh) on her shoulder. That could lead to some very hasty decision making. In my dreams, Julia is the one to save Penny and sort out her god powers in the process, but we’ll just have to see. But yes, first on the agenda: free Real Eliot from the monster. IT’S TIME. PLEASE!