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The Magicians Discussion: Season 4, Episode 1 resets everything we thought we knew

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Jan 24, 2019

The Magicians certainly knows how to shake things up and make each season feel like something brand new, and the Season 4 premiere, “A Flock Of Lost Birds,” is no different. After our core group lost their memories and all their power in order to save Fillory and magic itself, fans were left wondering how they would find their way back and slay the beast currently taking up residence in Eliot.

While the premiere mostly works to set up our key players, it certainly positions this season as possibly the most magical yet. We’re Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we’re here to break down all the drama on The Magicians.

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Resetting The Board

Jessica: I really wish I had kept a running tally of how many f-bombs Margo dropped in this episode because it was impressive. And also, totally called for. The board hasn’t been reset, it’s been flipped over, stomped on, and thrown out with the trash. All of our faves are assuming new identities and The Library is rationing out magic. Kudos to the show for being willing to torture its main characters season after season. It’s stone cold, but I’m loving this new season already. 

Alyssa: Honestly, same. As much as I want to swaddle all of my faves in a warm blanket and keep them comfortable with a steady supply of tea and weed, I love love love seeing them work to figure their way back to each other and to magic every time. I live for that shit. I was curious to see how long they would be living under their new identities, but I should have known that the show would make quick work of sending them on their way. I particularly enjoyed seeing Kady, the perpetual punching bag of the show, in a relatively stable place? That girl deserves a break if anyone does.

Jessica: Yeah Kady’s really done a 180 in terms of growth here. I mean, not only is she a detective for the NYPD, it looks like she’s damn good at her job. The pantsuit is doing wonders for our girl but even more than that, it’s nice to see her kind of leading the team, reuniting everyone on a comic book quest. God, this show loves quests. But I’m not going to sugar coat it, Margo continues to be my fave. I literally squealed when she popped up and as a magazine editor no less. She was giving me Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada vibes complete with a bedazzled eye patch and I was living for it. What did you think about the choice of identities for everyone? 

Alyssa: Make no mistake, I stan the High King to hell and back. The second she put on that eyepatch, I was like “Yes. This is right.” Our kween knows her way around an accessory and how to put an old god in his place in equal measure, and that’s why she’s the best. For the most part, the new identities worked for me. Of course, Quentin would be an English professor. Of course, Julia would get another shot at Fillory. I’m not sure where they are going with Penny as DJ Hansel (so hot right now), but it was fun to see him outside of his usual angry self. And I continue to not care about Josh. Sorry, Josh.

Jessica: Alyssa, you know DJ Hansel be dropping some sick beats. No seriously, it’s so nice to see a chill Penny for once. I know it won’t last but I want my baby to keep vaping whatever’s in that pen and living his best life for as long as possible. Josh can just keep driving limos or whatever the hell his alter-ego does, but Julia’s arc was confusing for me this episode. First, how dare they put her in the body of some b*tch named Kimber? That injustice cannot stand. Second, how is she getting past this whole magic clause that’s causing so much trouble for the rest of the group? Is it her goddess status? I mean, I guess that gives you a get-out-of-magic-jail free card?

Alyssa: If there is anything that I’ve learned about The Magicians, it is to trust them when it comes to Julia’s character development. I was decidedly not a fan of hers in the beginning and now I would 100% die for her, so I am patient. I am sure that this is some plan of Dean Fogg’s because, duh, Julia is the most powerful. She may have given up her goddess status to save everyone, but the power is still there. I think who we really need to talk about is Eliot. While I cackled hearing that his new identity is as the wastrel son of some British lord because Eliot is basically living in an R-rated version of Brideshead Revisited every day of his life, but he is still out there flaying people. Things are not looking good for our boy.

Jessica: Measly humans, please heed this warning: Put sprinkles on Eliot’s pistachio ice cream or face the consequences. I was happy to finally see Eliot and Quentin/Brian-not-Brian together again but the lack of both in this episode was absolutely criminal. That said, monster Eliot is on some kind of deranged warpath and poor Quentin just seems along for the ride at this point. I have a feeling these dynamics — Quentin with Eliot, Kady with Penny and Josh, Alice locked up, Margo in Fillory, Julia at Brakebills — are going to continue for a bit until everyone can clue in on their amnesia and regroup. 

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In The Library 

Alyssa: I guess it’s time to talk about Alice in The Library. She was majorly on my sh*t list last season, but she seems to be back on the upswing. It’s amazing what losing magic and being imprisoned will do to your ability to give a goddamn about the people in your life, isn’t it? While I am a little bummed at the show’s vilification of librarians (they work so hard IRL!), I do enjoy the treacly sweetness of the Head Librarian. I know she can’t be trusted, but I can’t quite figure out her endgame. Yes, the preservation of magic, but at what cost?

Jessica: Agreed. The sustainability of her plan to ration magic just doesn’t seem promising and the whole Dolores Umbridge vibe she’s giving off is particularly worrying. But can I just say, the book nerd in me loved hearing these “evil” librarians questioning whether they should use Times New Roman or Comic Sans in an email? It’s sick I know, but God I love a good dialogue about font choices. Back to Alice though, I started this episode unsure of whether I should be rooting for her or perversely enjoying her new life in Shawshank. Which is how I’ve felt about Alice pretty much every season since the show started. I still don’t know what her plan or endgame is either but I hope it doesn’t include trusting the Head Librarian because y’all, that b*tch cray. 

Alyssa: Two things stuck out to me in the Library scenes: Santa is canonically black (take that, Megyn Kelly), and Alice has an incredible gag reflex. Holding that beetle in her mouth without choking for that long? That is a skill. I’m not sure how that beetle will help her with her escape plan, but if you can get in somewhere, you can get out. Why do you think Dean Fogg refused to see her? Guilt? Not wanting to accidentally give away the plans that I’m sure he has?

Jessica: Dean Fogg is the ultimate man of mystery. It’s obvious he’s going along with The Library for now because it’s the only way to practice magic at Brakebills. And he’s really taking steps to right past wrongs by keeping Julia/Kimber at school. There’s tension between him and Zelda which, of course, there is, she’s insane, but I can’t believe he doesn’t have something up his sleeve when it comes to Alice and the rest of the group. Maybe he’s just worried if Alice knew, or had a hint of suspicion that he was planning something, she’d f*ck everything up? That’s a specialty of hers. 

Alyssa: Sometimes, the less Alice knows the better. She tends to think that she knows better than everyone, and that leads to rash decisions. I think the Librarian knows that, mentioning her potential for greatness, and is working to exploit that. Playing on Alice’s daddy issues? Dirty move. 

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Reunited, Somewhat

Alyssa: Possibly my fave moment of the episode was the return of Marina. That hedge witch bitch is my favorite villain/anti-hero/opportunist that the show has ever had, so to see her back in play was a delight. Kady managed to round everyone up and discover that magic is real, but Marina really sets them off on their quest. Into it. Subscribed to the newsletter. Bought the merch.

Jessica: Oh yes, we’re buying whatever scam Marina is selling right now. Homegirl treating this group of magic-less magicians like the ignorant babies they are is such a mood. I mean, I have no faith in the goodness of her intentions. Marina and morality do not mix, but I’m sure helping the group rediscover their identities will somehow further her cause, and her desire to have access to unlimited magic, so for now, she’s on the team. 

Alyssa: It’s true. Every good quest needs a trickster, and I prefer Marina to Ember the old god any day of the week. I’m curious to see more of how Fillory is coping with the rationing of magic and the loss of their leadership. Margot has saved them once and will surely do it again, but there’s no chance the place isn’t in utter shambles. But first, the team really needs to find the shell of Eliot. He may have a wavering moral compass on the best day, but even he will feel guilty about all the flaying. It’s not a good look. 

Jessica: But, and let’s pause for a minute, Eliot is looking good this episode. The curly hair, the hint of blood splatter — it’s working for him. I feel worse for Margo at this point. She’s stuck in Fillory thanks to Ember and his posse of kittens and she has no idea where she is, who she is, or what she’s expected to do. Our King needs a break. 

Alyssa: Eliot has never looked bad a day in his life. Not even with a novelty tee and blood splatter.

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What’s Next?

Alyssa: So, what do we think the next move is? I for one am hoping for a little more Eliot and Quentin and a little less Alice next week. Who do we think is going to be the first to really wake up? My money is on Julia. She has the leg up by being at Brakebills, but she has that killer intuition. She knows, or at least very soon will know, that something is not right.

Jessica: I was happy to explore Alice’s situation in depth this episode but I’m confident our girl can break out of prison. Let’s leave her to it. I think Penny and Kady might be closer to the truth than Julia at this point. Kady’s been a bloodhound when it comes to these alter-identities and having Marina there to explain who they were, plus a call from Dean Fogg — that preview with Josh calling him James Earl Jones was a treat. Josh isn’t great, but he’s okay — might mean they’re on the fast-track to figuring this whole thing out. I want them to, and quick, because there’s a bigger problem they need to solve this season. 

Alyssa: That’s fair! If anyone is due for a hero moment, it’s Kady. Not only is she rocking that buttoned-up look, but she’s ready to save the day. I can get on board with that pretty quickly. At this point in my fandom, I’m pretty content to see where the show goes. It always surprises me, and that’s pretty rare these days. Onward to Fillory again!

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