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SYFY WIRE The Magicians

The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 6 explores the good side of magic

By Alyssa Fikse & Jessica Toomer

After the emotional upheaval of last week, The Magicians sent its characters off to pick up some important pieces of the ever-complicated puzzle. Eliot is still in the clutches of the monster, Penny and Marina go on a wild ride through dimensions, and Alice might be on the path to redemption. Oh, and the fate of Fillory rests on whether Margo can negotiate for some magical beet juice. Classic Magicians things.

As the team splinters into a host of side quests, we're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer and we're here to help you keep track of all the disparate threads.


Now’s Not The Time

Alyssa: So, I was wrong and Kady was not involved in Penny’s kidnapping. Just some sad fellow magician trying to save his mom. I thought pairing Penny 23 and Marina together was a surprising but ultimately interesting choice. I thought it would be a little too “let’s throw two sarcastic assholes together and see what happens,” but it really was an opportunity to see Penny take the lead and be his best self, no matter which self that actually was.

I also liked seeing that magic had stakes again. Not that things aren’t happening because of magic, but the idea that even what seems relatively inconsequential, like Penny 23 taking the place of OG Penny after his death (?), has ramifications. No one ever just gets to use magic and be happy on The Magicians.

Jessica: Ain’t that the truth? I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed that Penny’s abduction didn’t set up an entire episode where Kady holds him hostage until she finds a way to make him remember that his alternate timeline-self loves her. It’s the rom-com/torture subplot we deserve. But alas, Kady’s still M.I.A. and instead we’re treated to a buddy-adventure with Marina. I’m not complaining, because ya girl loves her some sassy bitch witch okay?! I know I’m supposed to miss Kady, but it’s hard when Marina is there pimping Penny out to their kidnappers and delivering lines about people in cages never not being personal. She’s such an asset to this story, even if she is a manipulative psycho.

Alyssa: Agreed. Marina is definitely my favorite side character, so I am glad that she’s so involved in this season, even if it might be at the expense of Kady. Also, I feel like we’re still due some OG Penny/Kady angst. By bringing back the original Penny in some capacity and acknowledging that that Penny really loved her, I think we will get a romantic, tragic face-off at some point. I’m ready to cry over it already. I also thought it was interesting to give Marina a girlfriend that she actually cares about. She’s been such a lone wolf in the most destructive way, so giving her a motive that’s outside of her own personal gain? Is our favorite villain finally getting a heart? Sort of?

Jessica: It certainly looks like it. From a story point of view, it makes sense to give Marina incentive to align herself with the crew. With Julia acting as a godly bullet-proof vest, Kady gone, and Margo stranded in Fillory, they could use some magical back-up. I think the main point of this adventure with Penny — besides getting a terrifying view of what a 1984/The Crucible timeline mashup would look like — was for both magicians to be reminded of the stakes and for Penny to be clued into his role in this new reality. I don’t think “our Penny” is necessarily gone for good, but it does look like he’s benched for now and I’m so interested to know exactly why that is. Why is Penny 23 the preferred Penny in this fight against Darth Eliot and The Library? That’s the question I need to be answered right now.


Magic In Modesto

Alyssa: You are definitely right there, and they’re going to need all the help that they can get with the Library. I liked that we saw the librarians out in the wild, reminding us of their scope. Like, obviously they’re so deeply linked with the Brakebills group that they need to be wary of their presence, but in this episode, we saw them popping off to investigate newly manifested magic in Alice’s new friend, Sheila.

I was actually very invested in Alice’s storyline this week, which is something I haven’t been able to say for a while! She’s clearly on a quest to make things right after all the bullsh*t that she pulled last season, and she’s even staying a couple of steps ahead of the Library, at least she was. I thought it was really interesting to see magic showing up somewhat late in life in Sheila. Was that something the show has really explored before? I am so hardwired by Harry Potter to assume that, duh, you find your magic as a kid that it really shook up my magical assumptions.

Jessica: Oh, same. The 11-year-old girl inside of me that’s still crying over not getting her Hogwarts acceptance letter has renewed hope. Maybe I too am a late bloomer. But you’re right, Alice’s storyline this week felt refreshingly relevant. It’s easy to write her off when she’s not part of the larger group and, let’s face it, she’s been stuck in The Library moaning about how terrible magic is for too long. Seeing her meet a woman searching for a way to use her abilities for good, and then helping her in that quest, felt like a step in the right direction for our girl. Obviously, exploiting the leak in the magical piping is going to have consequences — hedge witches be triflin' and The Library is basically the magical mafia so you know they won’t take kindly to any thievery — but my naive, childish heart did a few cartwheels when Alice got her win and ended the episode watching kids play in lead-free street water.

Alyssa: I’m curious what their endgame with Alice is this season. Is it for her to eventually earn her way back into the group? She’s always been an outlier whose only in really was Quentin, so I’m not sure I see her back with them at all. But I am not sure what her place on the show is without them. I mean, I would not hate seeing her and Sheila travel the world doing good with magic as a nice aside from the drama, but that is just not going to happen. The Library would never let something so benevolent happen with their magic. Plus, after some of their own were blown up by the hedge witches, I imagine that they’ll be bringing their full force down on Sheila and Alice for being adjacent.

Jessica: You’re right, Alice has always been on the fringe and with her Quentin connection blown, it does seem unlikely she’ll be a team player for too much longer. I could see her taking more of a Dean Fogg role. Perhaps, once this Library business is over, she’ll somehow be in charge of magic, cleaning up its messes and helping the group from a more authoritative position? What a full-circle arc that would be for a character who, at one point, hated magic and wanted to rid the world of it? I don’t know, I’m sure the writers will find a use for Alice once all this is over, but that “happy ending” feels a long way off right now.


The Meat Suit

Alyssa: Speaking of happy endings feeling a long way off, after all of the Queliot content in the last episode, I felt absolutely CHEATED having to go back to just Darth Eliot. JUST LET MY BOYS BE HAPPY AND IN LOVE, SHOW! However, I do really love how this season has reinforced the friendship bond between Julia and Q. While there was some weird semi-romantic stuff in the earlier seasons, they’ve settled back into what works for them: genuine, platonic love. They are such a good team and honestly, if anyone can figure out what the monster is up to, it’s them. Q’s natural abilities plus Julia’s smarts and whatever her god powers are make them a pretty formidable team.

Jessica: Look, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy seeing Darth Eliot on a tequila binge, resurrecting mummies, and demanding cinnamon churros, but teasing us with a Quentin/Eliot endgame only to rip that dream away with this Sith Lord trying to destroy his Eliot “meat suit” is cruel, even for The Magicians. I suppose we can’t live in that beautiful slash fantasy world forever though, and I think the seeds planted in last week’s episode are still there. Quentin basically begged Darth Eliot to choke the life out of him. He pledged to take on all the Gods. He seemed totally fine with innocents dying, all so long as Eliot returns to his natural form. We should take comfort in the fact that when these two are eventually reunited, some intense, firework-causing sexing will most assuredly take place.

Alyssa: Yeah, Q telling the monster to break his bones if it meant saving Eliot wounded me deeply. I don’t think I would have described The Magicians as a romantic show before this season, but these two are making me swoon hard. But yes, you are correct. Drunk Darth Eliot was a sight to behold. However, I am very concerned/delighted by the fact that Q and Julia just left that mummy there in the museum basement. Some curator is going to get a very nasty shock when they show up to work! Plus, like, all of the magical exposure side effects seem like it would be a real issue. Or is that mummy just going to crumble into dust with extended exposure to the elements?

Jessica: These are the questions that can and should be answered with some kind of Talking Magicians aftershow.


Alpaca Milk And Beet Juice

Jessica: Speaking of questions, some of ours were actually answered this episode. Margo’s birthright box-dwelling lizard’s gone mute, as have all the talking animals in Fillory, and a certain flower is to blame. Apparently, like yours truly, livestock in Fillory have terrible pollen allergies. Good news is there’s a relatively simple fix: beet juice. Bad news: While Margo was living out an amnesiac’s alternate reality, Fillory mismanaged a civil war and now they’ve got a new enemy that exists solely to make their lives hell. Our High King is having a rough time of it, fam.

Alyssa: Margo is so competent and emotionally closed off that it’s hard to read how she’s actually doing sometimes, but not that kind of facade can’t stay in one place forever. We saw a bit of that when she explained to Fenn why she couldn’t allow herself to properly mourn Eliot, and we saw that pain come through again with Josh. Poor, stupid Josh. Something insane is always happening in the world of The Magicians, so no one really has a proper gauge for when moving on is too soon, and Josh really missed the mark with his “out Elioting Eliot” quip. Rule of thumb: don’t flippantly dismiss the absence of a girl’s best friend if you want to make the jump from f*ckbuddy to boyfriend, my dude. That is the wrong path to take.

Jessica: Right?! I’m not minding this little romantic dalliance for Margo. Our King is sad and if an orgasm makes her feel better, then who cares that it’s coming from this marshmallow puff. But know your place, my dude. You’re here to serve. Making comments like that is a major overstep, plus, it’s just bad taste. To be fair though, Josh’s word vomit did give Margo permission to handle this bitch Queen the way she knows best — with violent threats. As she so eloquently puts it, Margo doesn’t know how to “intentionally care about other people’s shit” so while seeing Josh give her diplomacy lessons was hilarious, the nice was never going to stick. Our little firecracker is the kind of leader who leaves a bloodied alpaca head to stain your sheets a la The Godfather, not the schmoozing charmer that Eliot was and honestly, I’m fine with that.


What’s Next?

Alyssa: This was very much an episode that was setting the stage for big stuff ahead, so there is a ton to look forward to. I feel like we’ve got to have some resolution for Kady coming soon (I feel like we’ve been saying this for weeks, but I’m still holding out hope), especially with the reintroduction of her Penny. Also, as sad as I am to see the dream team still separated, I am enjoying Margo coming into her own alone. Honestly, Eliot was never that wild about ruling anyway, so I’m enjoying the further rise of High King Margo. I feel it goes without saying that I am looking forward to more swoony shipper content from Q and Eliot, but I’m going to say it: I am looking forward to more swoony shipper content from Q and Eliot.

Jessica: I have also boarded the swoony Q and Eliot ship. I’ve unpacked in my cabin, I’ve put on my fancy dinnerware, and I’m ready to enjoy my meal before we strike an iceberg and succumb to the icy, watery hell that I know this show has in store for us. I think big things are coming first though, specifically, Kady things. With her Penny back, it’s time we were clued into what she’s been doing the past few episodes and how that fits into the bigger picture. I’m also curious to see how Alice handles this new intrusion by the library and if she’s somehow unknowingly started a magical revolution with these hedge witches. But mostly, I want to know that Margo, Eliot, and Quentin are gonna be okay. I need them all to be okay.

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