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The Magicians: The Mayakovsky Circumstance

Mayakovsky: “Why the fox? Why not mollusk or firefly? Why?”
Quentin: “The fox knows and I knew... everything I needed to survive was me and it's not just to survive, but to be happy. I was... happy.”
Mayakovsky: “The fox is in you now—both of you. Feed it.”

So this is the one where Quentin and Alice literally mate like foxes.

The first years’ fly to Antarctica (Brakebills South), where they are trained by Professor Mayakovsky, a surly old Russian guy who says he may be the last great magician the first years’ ever see. So he’s super humble.

Mayakovsky does a great job pushing each character’s plot further. Alice and Quentin’s sexual tension is slowing down their training, so he makes them turn into foxes so they’ll be forced to cut through that tension. It’s a nice way to cut the will-they-won’t-they couple off before it all feels too tedious. Now that Quentin and Alice’s feelings are out in the open hopefully they’ll finally deal with it.

Mayakovsky also helps Kady and Penny change their directions. He tells Penny limiting his magic with his tattoos would be like an eagle limiting its flight. He says he’ll teach Penny how to soar. And then Penny soars right into a volcano, just like Dean Fogg predicted. Penny’s training will probably be painful, but it should be super helpful to have a character who could teleport everyone wherever they need to go. So thanks for that, Mayakovsky.

Penny’s life and death experience makes him want to hear Kady out, so Kady drops her wards so he can listen. It’s a great tool the show built for itself; Kady can tell her story without forcing us to listen to it again or without forcing the show to cut away while she tells it. It must have been so relieving and cathartic for Kady to finally choose to tell someone what’s happening to her, and then to still be accepted. To thank Penny, she tells him she loves him too. Which is sweet, but then we’re reminded her mom died. Kady can’t go back to Brakebills without being punished, so she needs to flee. She needs to leave without Penny because his powers are too dangerous without any training. It’s so sad to watch Kady once again risk her own happiness to save someone else. She might be free of her mom’s debt, but she’s still trapped.

And now Julia is trapped, too. We find a strung out and devastated Julia giving her statement to the police about Hannah’s death. When the policewoman finds out Hannah wasn’t actually her friend she asks why Julia’s crying. Julia doesn’t say anything, but I think it’s easy to figure out. There’s the obvious answer: she just saw Hannah die violently right in front of her. The guilt and sense of responsibility Julia might be struggling with. And there’s the fact that what happened to Hannah could have easily happened to Julia and probably will happen to Julia if she continues on this path.

Julia’s older sister offers her a solution—one that Julia doesn’t really have a choice but to go with. She’ll enroll Julia in rehab for the Adderall addiction she thinks Julia has. While they discuss this, we get some nice insight into Julia’s family, which really helps to understand Julia’s behavior. Apparently, her dad was (is?) a drunk and her mom used her connections to commit him. The same connections she’ll use on Julia so Julia won’t further damage her reputation if she doesn’t comply with her sister’s plans. So we find out that addiction runs in Julia’s family, which probably fuels the obsessive relationship she has with magic and the fleeting “highs” she gets from each new spell. And her mom is super controlling, which probably fuels Julia’s need to rebel, to question, and to do what she wants.

Finally, at Brakebills (North, I’m assuming) Eliot and Margo’s friendship takes a hit. Eliot meets Mike and starts a relationship with him. Margo doesn’t like the idea of someone else getting in between them and unintentionally wishes him away (and to suck—what turns out to be a literal—knob). It’s upsetting to see anything damage their tight bond, but it also highlights how deeply enmeshed they are together. It would be nice to see them forced to take something seriously so they can work through these issues. But it also seems that Mike is involved with The Beast and this revelation may block their chance for growth. Here’s to hoping they foil The Beast’s plot and grow as people at the same time. If anyone can, it would probably be Eliot and Margo.

Bits and Pieces

— Quentin and Alice loved flying as birds—it was like they could feel the air and everything fit. Penny hated it—he’d never shit so much in his life, but at least he got to eat bugs. He also hates snow.

— We meet Todd. Margo and Eliot convince him that if he goes to the magician vacation everyone would turn him into a pig and eat him. But all works out for Todd; he gets to go with Margo in the end. But he can’t talk, of course.

— Margo and Eliot try to make magic gin for the elders, but they accidentally wake a djinn (or genie) instead. And Margo becomes its master, because of course she does.

Mayakovsky: “As you gaze into your mirrors in the coming years, you may recall that I was the last great Magician you ever saw. A great Magician is magic in his bones, blood, heart, and dick. Or lady parts. Whatever.”

Margo: “This magic gin better make us see unicorns that fart rainbows.”

Margo on the gift for the elders: “Right. What did we get them last year?”
Eliot: “An actual, working bag of dicks.”
Margo: “Right. It was lame.”

Four out of four mating foxes.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love Mayakovsky. Love him. Maybe it's because he has no filter.


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