New dangers, some more intriguing than others, have arisen for just about every character in this week’s The Magicians episode.
This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
Okay, so this wasn’t the best follow-up to last week’s The Magicians, but with new conflicts arising in “Do You Like Teeth?” the excitement level is still high. This week’s episode mainly suffers from a choppy narrative rather than from a lack of compelling elements, so it’s a bit of a trade-off that still leaves viewers mostly satisfied. Much ado was made of Felicia Day’s appearance on the show, and the layers of secrets that Poppy no doubt is keeping certainly made her character a highlight this week. Some of the quirkier elements of the episode (fairy embryos?) will have to develop further before judgment is cast.
It’s almost as if Margo and Eliot realize their storyline is dragging a bit when the High Queen laments their fairy dilemma by remembering fondly when they used to be “mega-bitches,” and Eliot follows that up by acknowledging dryly that “now we have depth and character.” It’s true, they do, but Eliot says it with irony, especially given the wonderful turn for his character with Quentin last week. Yes, he had to save his friend Margo no matter what he and Q went through, but the whole Floating Mountain marriage plotline feels like a less interesting rehash of the Lorian arc last season.
The truth is that Margo has more than just depth and character; she still has her wonderful sass that is used to great effect in putting off the consummation of her marriage to Prince Fomar, especially in the entertaining scene with the Fillorian sex ed book. Unfortunately, her journey with Eliot and her new husband is fraught with plot contrivances such as Prince Ess’ note that talked about “Chernobyl-level shit” going on in the northern orchards and the mushroom gardens acting as a breeding ground for a fairy invasion force. It’s cool and all, but it makes something we kind of already knew — that the fairies want to take over — into a faintly ridiculous spectacle. Even when Eliot says, “Really?” to the fairy embryos and responds to Margo’s kidnapping of a few eggs with a weak, “Oh fuck,” it mirrors the muted reaction of the audience.
And muted reactions are not the desired effect when dealing with the emotional burden placed on Quentin on board the Muntjac. His journey to the Abyss began with the same hope we felt after last week’s mosaic montage, and when Poppy came aboard talking about Josh Hoberman, the Lost Class, and her study of dragons, eyebrows were raised in genuine interest. For Quentin then to be tested by a doppelgänger trying to make him commit suicide was hard to watch, knowing Q’s history before Brakebills. Although Poppy’s complicity in Benedict’s subsequent death will make it difficult to trust her moving forward, the fact that Quentin survived what Benedict could not says a lot for how much stronger he is now, despite his guilty conscience.
So after the dark turn for Quentin and the weirdly muted story for Eliot and Margo, the interaction between Julia and Alice captured the most attention this week. The small details really made these scenes pop, such as the need for aluminum wiring from 90’s toys for the Voltaic Transfer spell or Alice testing her new powers by making the familiar glass horse that we remember from season one. Plus the incubus and the “Magic Johnson” trick he played on Dean Fogg was just classic, despite whatever sympathy you may have for the professor who’s “just a blind, unemployed black man in America.” The young actors don’t get all the good jokes!
Penny’s involvement was especially fun, too, given his inability to communicate effectively with Julia and Alice. He had quite a few strong scenes in the episode such as his interaction with Hyman who suggests he find another “story” to watch, his discussion with Alice about getting him a new body, and his desperate call for help through the singing fish when Alice seizes at the end of the episode. For a phantom character, he sure does bring a lot of impact to the story!
Is Alice’s body rejecting the magical infusion that Julia gave her? The fact that Julia is having visions of Reynard seems to indicate she hasn’t shed all of her god-given power. In the end, this secondary (or even tertiary) story redeems the deficiencies elsewhere in the episode, and the new potential conflicts presented by the fairy occupation of Fillory and the fact that the fourth key is now in the Underworld after being ingested by a dragon did spice things up a bit as well. Despite occasional hiccups, The Magicians is never boring, and there’s always reason to look forward to next week.