The Magicians: The Tales of the Seven Keys

Bacchus: “Magicians, right?”
Quentin: “Yeah, how can you tell?”
Bacchus: “Your hands, and your crazy level of trauma.”

At the end of season two The Magicians torpedoed their entire show. They stripped its most important part and left season three to sort out the mess. So the premiere considers where these characters are now, where they want to be, and how they’ll get there. And the show has a lot of fun in that process.

So magic’s gone. Completely. Except for Julia, who can do stupid things like make sparks of fireworks or smoke rings but can’t do anything real. She thinks it’s just a fluke, but Quentin’s determined to chip away at it, to find a way to fight. Which makes sense. The magicians’ lives have sucked, for sure, but they almost always had a cause, a big bad, something to fight against. Now they have no magic and no discernable way of getting it back and nothing to do but wallow in their own misfortune.

So Quentin makes a plan to go up the god ranks until they can petition one for magic. They start with Bacchus, God of Revelry, and throwing huge, crazy parties. This brings us a dance routine from Julia and Quentin’s high school days. It’s not only fun to see how horribly awkward Quentin looks while doing it, but it’s also a nice glimpse into their friendship pre-magic.

Elsewhere, Margo and Eliot are struggling with the fairies, who’ve effectively taken over Fillory and are making Margo and Eliot look like idiots talking to no one anyone else can see and performing weird, gross errands like weeding all the worms out of a forest. They keep trying to fight back, but the fairies always figure out their plan. And in an amazing scene, the highlight of the whole episode and maybe the series so far, they figure out why.

Eliot and Margo have a coded conversation about the fairies. Coded because Margo is apparently an unwitting sleeper agent thanks to her lost eye. And it’s just an amazing way of dealing with exposition. The writers could have easily just had the characters go into some fairy impervious room and have a straight conversation, but the writers made it harder on themselves and more enjoyable for the audience. It’s so much fun to hear all the references, the entire conversation is in keeping with the character’s personalities, and even though I didn’t get a bunch of the references (I haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones, etc.) I could still easily follow along and enjoy it.

So throughout the episode we establish that everyone’s lives suck without magic. Julia has useless power, Josh is just depressed, Penny is dying of Cancer Plus, Kady needs magic to save him, Alice is being hunted by some scary creature, and Dean Fogg is losing his school. Quentin wants a way to fight and the Great Cock of the Darkling Woods gives it to them. They complete this quest, involving the entire cast, lasting the entire season, and they get what everyone needs: magic.

It’s all very in keeping with the show’s theme. Instead of a quick wish that solves this small problem but causes much bigger ones, they need to work and fight and earn their desire. And now the character’s all have a common goal, the show has a new focus. And I am super excited.

Bits and Pieces

-- At the start of the episode Quentin says he’s willing to be Julia’s sidekick as she figures out her magic. This seems to be another sign of great Quentin character growth. Reminiscent of the Quentin who told Alice she was the powerful one who should go up against the Beast and got over Eliot being named High King. Once again, he’s willing to set aside his neuroses and pride and be the supportive character in someone else’s story. Which is cool of him.

-- Magical creatures still have their powers. This means Penny still has his traveler powers, too. Because apparently Penny’s a magical creature. (Not a complaint, I just hadn’t realized until now.)

-- Poor Fen keeps seeing random objects and animals as her lost baby.

-- Julia was hesitant about Quentin’s god plan, which makes sense because it sounds super similar to the Free Trader’s plan—go up the god ranks until you find someone you can petition for magic—and that didn’t end well the last time.

-- Apparently party gods enjoy Trivial Pursuit, Star Trek edition.

-- I appreciate that the show hasn’t dropped Julia’s PTSD. While the show has always been very focused on mental health, it’s still nice that it didn’t just give her PTSD symptoms only to inexplicably drop them after a few episodes, like most shows would. It should still be a thing for Julia, so it’s still a thing for the show.

-- I really enjoyed the sweet moment Julia and Josh had, where she uses her powers to give him a tiny bit of hope.

Julia: “What if this is like a smudge—like a fingerprint—left by OLU when she gave me back my shade, and she didn't even realize? It's like, oops, speck of magic!”
Quentin: “She's a goddess. Does she seem like the accident type?”
Julia: “Have you met her son?”

Joining Eliot on his quest: “The one-eyed conqueror, the traveler, the warrior, the fool, the god-touched, the lover of tomatoes, and the torture artist.”

Eliot: “How long does a quest like this take?”
The Great Cock: “A good season.”

Eliot: “Anyway, whatever your Marsden would xoxo, Cersei xoxo's. So, we have to keep it very best episode of Buffy.”
Margo: “Musical?”
Eliot: “The other one.”

Four out of four awkward drunken dance numbers.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Eliot and Margo and their coded geek conversation was so absolutely, totally delightful. Like you said, the writers could have just found them a room where the fairies couldn't eavesdrop, but geek speak was so, so much better.

Maybe this is a good place to mention how much I love Eliot and Margo and their friendship. If they were just comic relief, if they didn't care about each other so much, there wouldn't be this depth to their relationship, to their situation. They're wonderful.