The Magicians: The Rattening

Definitely not how I imagined the afterlife...
Dragon: “Your bodies will stay here, and your souls will travel. You have 24 hours to return to the portal.”
Shadeless Julia: “Or?”
Dragon: “I sit patiently, waiting for you to come back. No, I eat you – I'm a fucking dragon, what do you expect?”

This episode’s full of little sacrifices. And a couple big sacrifices.

Quentin sacrifices the button, his way home, so that Julia can reunite with her shade. Once there, Richard sacrifices a few weeks in solitude out of his eternity in the afterlife so that Julia and Quentin can sneak around the underground and find her shade. And Julia sacrifices her chance to take back her shade so that Quentin can use Alice’s shade to save her.

Quentin and Richard’s sacrifices were sweet and showed how much they cared about Julia. Especially in Quentin’s case; Fillory means so much to him and the fact that he didn’t hesitate in giving it up for Julia’s sake really highlighted his strength and selflessness. That said, Shadeless Julia’s sacrifice showed the most growth. Just a couple episodes ago she was declaring her loyalty was only to herself and was willing to risk the lives of anyone if it could get her what she wanted. But when she finally has what she wants right in front of her, what she needs to continue in her fight against Reynard, she gives it up so Quentin can find some happiness. So far the show has made it seem like anyone without a shade is heartless, so it’s interesting to watch Julia work around this. Cutting off Julia’s shade could have had some terrible implications for the show’s commentary on rape and abortion (and maybe it still does), but showing Julia accept who she is and find a way to act with humanity and empathy under those limits helps to paint a more positive picture. Julia has been (maybe irrevocably) changed because of what’s happened to her, but she’s still using her intelligence, her resolve, her inner strength to retain her morality and benevolence. And that’s something we haven’t seen anyone else without a shade manage to do.

In Fillory, Margo struggles with her guilt over the deal she made with the fairies. Fen’s missing and things are just getting worse. A bunch of staff and Lorians (including Eliot’s fiancĂ©) have been turned into rats, rain is falling upside-down, ant hills are becoming volcanoes. Apparently the fairies aren’t the cause of this, but it still adds to the ensuing chaos since her decision. She finally admits to Eliot what she did and he immediately sends her to the dungeon. Looking to fix her mistake, she heads to the Fairy Realm to beg for a new deal.

Margo’s sacrifice here seems a bit less noble because she did bring on much of these problems herself. All season she (and Eliot) has been making hasty decisions without listening to the royal staff. Yes, Margo didn’t have much of a choice in making a deal with the fairies given the consequences of the broken wellspring. But things could’ve gone differently if she learned about fairy deals before meeting with them or if she just hadn’t lead them into a war in the first place. But now Margo’s ready to take some responsibility for what she did, fix the problems she partially created, and accept whatever consequences she’ll have to bear. And that is pretty noble.

What’s great about this show (and this episode in particular) is that it keeps putting our characters in tougher, painful situations, yet they continue to make hard decisions, self-sacrifices, and to take action to help those hurting around them. A lot of shows focus more heavily on showing characters devolve, and that’s not to say that can never be interesting or provocative or constructive, but it’s nice to see an example of characters learning how to grow stronger through their increasingly perilous situations. The Magicians is a super dark show, but it’s also got a lot of heart.

Bits and Pieces.

-- We get a bit of insight into Reynard. He seems to fit the typical serial killer/rapist profile. He’s great at manipulation, he rationalizes his actions into seeming like he’s actually helping his victims (improving the herd), he’s all about power and prey, and he has a big hang-up with a woman from his past (Our Lady Underground). At least his manipulation doesn’t work on Senator Gaines, who’s now willing to help Julia and Kady take him down.

-- Penny meets his new supervisor, (pre-teen?) daughter of magic mafia men, who offers to help him get into the poison room. She seems pretty cool.

-- I feel like Margo should have told Eliot about the other possible big bad messing with their kingdom. Then he may have been less confused when he got kicked out of Fillory.

-- Quentin still has his baby teeth. Because of course he does.

-- The Underground provides souls with comforting pamphlets that read, “don’t panic, you’re probably not going to hell.”

-- It was so cute seeing Julia reunite with the deceased Free Traders. And then less cute seeing her reunite with Richard.

Quentin: “Oh, my God, Julia! I - I got a strike.”
Richard, to Shadeless Julia: “The thing about the Underworld is, the first week, it's always a strike.”
Shadeless Julia: “Let him have this one.”
This whole exchange was just adorable.

Shadeless Julia: “We're running out of time. We should split up.”
Quentin: “I kind of have a thing about splitting up in houses full of creepy kids.”

Shadeless Julia, asking about her shade: “Well, she's a-- she's a mess.”
Eugene the Shade: “We all were when we got here. Anything else?”
Quentin: “Um, she's brave. And funny, and she probably made friends with some of the most shy, maladjusted Shades. She's curious, and she won't take no for an answer.”
Eugene the Shade: “Are you looking for the kind of new one who's always getting in trouble and sneaking into Ms. Persephone's room—because, you know, we're never supposed to go in there.”
Shadeless Julia: “Yeah. Yeah, that does sound like her.”

Rafe: “Abigail? If you can hear me, squeak. Let me know you're okay. Why didn't I study how to speak rat in school?”

Three and a half out of four ferocious dragons who hate millennials.

3 comments:

Baby M said...

When I was very small, my grandmother used to tell me that thunder was "the sound of the angels bowling." So a bowling alley in the afterlife totally makes sense to me.

Ariel Williams said...

Oh yeah, I was told that, too! That does make sense!

Billie Doux said...

I love how they shoot every scene in the library at an angle. I've spent most of my working life in libraries and I find Penny's job sort of creepily delightful.