The Magicians: Thirty-Nine Graves

Quentin: “I never thought I'd say this, but thank god for Hitler.”
Julia: “Yeah, no, that still sounds bad.”

A lot is going on with our magicians in the penultimate episode of the first season.

The episode opens on a very awkward, tension-filled strategy session. The group is gearing up for their trip to Fillory to stop The Beast, but recent events are making it difficult for them to work together, or even look at each other. A very confused Penny offers himself as a distraction to a drunk Alice, the two have sex, and the group tension continues to grow. We see a lot of fighting this episode, and I think what works well is that it’s easy to see all sides of the fight, to understand all the hurt feelings, and the show has done their job of making us want to see them work things out. But they don’t work things out because they have a time-sensitive mission on their hands.

The Brakebills magicians head to The Nietherlands and Quentin immediately falls back into the Earth fountain. The rest of the group spends some fun time in The Library. Penny learns there might be a sweeter side to traveling—a bunch of travelers before him detailed their adventures around the world in The Library’s books. Eliot reads up on the not-possessed version of Mike (apparently he was a republican) and then burns it in the trash, which gets them all kicked out of The Library. Then he almost endangers the group again when they try to make an invisible run for it to the Fillory fountain. But they still make it.

It’s upsetting to see Eliot so messed up, even in this super dangerous situation. But it also makes Eliot’s substance abuse issues so much more real. Eliot’s been fixated on alcohol all season and since Mike he’s only gotten increasingly more dependent on it. So it makes sense that his problems wouldn’t take a break; it would probably seem super convenient if they did. It’s terribly heartbreaking to see that Eliot either doesn’t care or notice the danger his substance abuse issues put him and the others in.

Back on Earth Quentin demands a one on one session with Dean Fogg—he even drugs him with truth serum to get it. Quentin gets the down low on what’s been going on for the past thirty-nine timelines—because apparently they’ve been through thirty-nine timelines. Jane rigged the timeloop and has been changing something every time hoping some change would lead to The Beast’s demise.

The whole timeline thing was super cool and I never saw it coming my first time around. During this re-watch I noticed a lot of clock imagery, as well as the more obvious Librarian references to the different loops. It also lends itself open to cool storylines involving other timeline versions of the characters. I would love to learn more about the experiences of other timeline versions of Julia when she attended Brakebills. Which leads into this loop’s change: Julia was rejected from Brakebills.

After hearing this Quentin heads to Julia’s place. Julia’s been having a time herself. The Free Traders completed the ritual detailed to them by a creepy magical creature and Julia seems at peace now. She tells Quentin that the goddess granted all their petitions and that the goddess told Julia she’s destined to discover a new type of magic. Quentin seems appropriately weirded out by the whole thing. But the two apologize and forgive each other, and then get to work on finding a way to Fillory. It’s a lot of fun to see the two interact as friends. They have a nice banter going on that they slip right into like they’ve been friends for ages—which they have, just not for the duration of the show.

The episode ends with all the magicians making it to Fillory, whether past or present. And now the show’s got a whole new, exciting world to explore.

Bits and Pieces

— Julia was actually super skeptical about the whole ritual after meeting the creepy magical creature. Richard says that’s what he loves about her—the fire within her. Kady, who was skeptical at the start of the episode, has complete faith in the ritual after the creepy magical creature mends a tightness she’s had since her mom died. Summoning a god may seem stupid, but the techniques they use to instill faith do seem like they’d be effective.

— Penny tells Alice he used to medicate with Midori (melon crossed with perfume crossed with ass) to get rid of the voices. It’s easy to forget how tragic Penny’s life has been because he isn’t as open about it as Quentin.

— Julia and Richard sleep together this episode. There’s sure a lot of sex going on as of late.

— I found it kind of annoying when Quentin was blaming Eliot and Margo for the whole group sex debacle. Like, accept some responsibility for your actions, Quentin.

— Emotionless Quentin thinks Alice and Penny would make a cute couple.

— It was really nice seeing Julia so light and hopeful. We haven’t seen her this way since the beginning of the pilot. It kind of felt like a relief.

— Julia kept the table she and Quentin mapped Fillory out on when they were kids in her apartment, which is really cute.

Dean Fogg, regarding the time loop: “Can you imagine, Quentin, how many times we've had this exact conversation? You've managed to slip truth serum to me 27 times, 27 ways, and I'm quite sick of it.”
Quentin: “So, what, this is just some giant, blood-soaked Groundhog Day?”
Dean Fogg: “You always bring up that fucking movie. I still haven't seen it. Now it's a point of pride.”

The Librarian: “Penny, Alice, Eliot, and Janet, you are all late.”
Margo: “Actually, it's Margo.”
The Librarian: “This time.” Nice reference to the books.

Josh, on Fillory: “It was magical. I mean, more magical than Brakebills, like going from black and white to color. V and I had a threesome with a naiad. This guy Donnie, he had sex with a talking horse. I mean, it's not exactly taboo in Fillory since the animals can give consent, but we were all still a bit squicked out.”
Margo: “We get it. You fucked some animals.” I like Josh.

Four out of Four References to Groundhog Day.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

I didn't see the time loop thing coming, either, but it made a lot of sense. Loved it.

Another terrific review, Ariel.