The Magicians: Lesser Evils

Penny: “We are not, not, killing a US senator. But we will commit a felony almost as stupid.”

Any Magicians episode with a musical number is a great one in my book. And one that also involves committing a felony is automatically amazing.

So the magicians are still dealing with their overall season two struggles. Margo and Eliot are off to war and failing at fixing the wellspring. Niffin Alice is still stuck inside Quentin and she’s killing him. And Shadeless Julia is running amuck as she, Penny, and Kady try to kill Reynard. As they deal with these struggles, they inevitably make everything worse.

Eliot agrees to duel the King of Loria in order to avoid war and to become the most popular king in Fillorian history. He needs to use a magical sword to beat the Lorian King, but magic is still on the frits. To protect Eliot, Margo makes a terrible deal with the fairies, promising them Fen and Eliot’s child if they fix the wellspring. So the fairies hold up their end of the deal, magic is fixed, and Eliot decides to forgo the duel and marry the King of Loria instead after learning royal polyamorous relationships are allowed.

A lot of their Fillory struggles could be lessened if Eliot and Margo would just listen to other people. Eliot dives right into the duel despite his lack of swordsman skills (magical or otherwise) and his lack of knowledge of his opponent’s abilities. Margo immediately demands a negotiation with the fairies without taking a minute to learn about them, how they negotiate, and what types of deals they make. And we’ve seen Margo make plenty of hasty decisions before (namely, the war). But I don’t think her decision to give the fairies Eliot and Fen’s child was a bad one. She was willing to get pregnant herself and definitely regretted manipulating Fen. She was in a super hard spot: Eliot and the whole kingdom in danger, and no other way to fix it. That said, you’ve gotta feel bad for Fen. Her relationship with Eliot is still rocky from the Foo Fighter reveal, Eliot’s just taken a husband, and now her baby is going to be given away. You could see her sorrow through her parts in the amazing musical number. And it seems that things will only get worse from here.

Shadeless Julia, Kady, and Penny almost gain an upper hand this episode when they hilariously kidnap Reynard’s son Senator John Gaines, but then Shadeless Julia unintentionally ruins everything. Penny’s right, she’s psychotic. After finding Quentin trapped in a cage and figuring out that Niffin Alice is stuck inside him, she tries forcing Quentin to make a deal to release Niffin Alice if she kills Reynard. It doesn’t work and Reynard ends up leaving with his son, leaving the rest of Brakebills in one piece.

A couple of important things came out of the debacle. First, Shadeless Julia almost seems to experience actual regret and concern for someone other than herself. She instinctively starts to move towards Quentin to protect him from Reynard before Kady pulls her back. Seeing Shadeless Julia find a way to feel like the others without her shade should be interesting. It also leads to the next important outcome: Kady finally sees that Shadeless Julia is not the Julia she knew. She doesn’t feel things the way humans do and up until now she’s only cared about herself. Kady locks Shadeless Julia up, promising to try to fix her. This is all a nice way to show that Kady actually cares for Julia. She’s so guarded that it would be easy to think Kady’s only helping Julia because Julia saved her, but through her desperate need to believe her friend is still around and her pledge to save Julia, you can see how much she loves her.

Quentin’s also trying to save someone who really doesn’t exist anymore. Faced with his imminent death, which would also kill Alice, Quentin’s forced to either release a possibly evil version of Alice out into the world or trap her forever. He chooses the former, because he doesn’t want to live in a world without her. It’s all very sweet, though also probably a terrible decision that will likely make things worse in the future. Because everything they do does.

Bits and Pieces

-- Josh has sexually-transmitted lycanthropy. Somehow not surprising.

-- Fillory’s soldiers are deserting in protest thanks to Julia’s tree genocide. I guess her logic wasn’t so sound after all.

-- Julia starts this episode trapped in a pretty nice-looking dungeon and ends it trapped in a not-so-nice-looking clean (no magic) room.

-- Shadeless Julia and Niffin Alice size each other up when they meet. They do have a lot in common: both insanely smart and great at magic and both lost their humanity after sacrificing themselves.

-- I love how Eliot started the musical number out determined to continue training for the duel, and then dropped his sword after like one line. I honestly loved everything about the musical number.

Margo: “We may be the least trusted monarchs in the history of Fillory. Thank God they don't have polls here.”

Penny: “Why are you here anyway?”
Shadeless Julia: “I killed trees.”
Penny: “Seriously?”
Shadeless Julia: “That could talk.”
Kady: “They have talking trees here?”
Julia: “Not anymore.”

Fillorians, singing: "One more dawn, One more day, One day more..."
King Idri of Loria: “I'm confused. Is the duel not today?”
Eliot: “It's a metaphor.”

Three and a half out of four magical musical numbers.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

I absolutely loved this episode. The musical number from Les Miz was just terrific, exceptionally clever and remarkably well-performed. Margo's bad decision was very like her. You're so right, Ariel, that everyone keeps making terrible decisions -- except that Eliot hiding in that tree was clearly a good one, and marrying the King of Loria another. Geez. Poor Fen. You'd think only the parent of an infant could sell it into fairy slavery.