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The Magicians: A Life in the Day

Jane: “Did you just solve the Mosaic?”
Quentin: “With a friend. We solved it together.”

Quentin and Eliot live an entire life, Margo has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and Julia and Kady get news that might seem amazing to others, but is traumatizing to them.

So let’s start with Quentin and Eliot. They walk through a portal to Fillory to find the next key, rewarded to those who finish a mosaic depicting the beauty of all life. There’s a twist, though. They end up way, way in the past. And it turns out the way to complete the mosaic is to live an entire life in front of it.

This leads to a beautiful montage of … life, really. There are no tricks or shortcuts on this quest, so Quentin and Eliot can’t just magically solve the puzzle. Instead, they banter and laugh and fight. They have at least one night sleeping together that is just is that. Quentin finds a woman he loves; he has a kid and watches him grow up and move on. He grieves his lost partner with Eliot’s support. And Eliot dies. It’s a compilation of small scenes. They’re not dramatic, or tragic, or life-shattering. But they’re real. And that makes them even more moving.

Margo, of course, gets all the drama. She’s forced into a marriage to build an alliance with another kingdom (the Floaters who no longer float). She’s super upset about this until she meets the man she’ll be forced to marry. Then she’s into it until he’s killed right in front of her during the ceremony. She’s forced to marry his brother, the assassinator. And then, as if all this wasn’t enough, she learns that her friends died way in the past and she now has to dig up a dead body for the next key. So her day effectively sucked.

The whole ceremony played out like a horror movie. And it really was horrific. The blood spattered all over Margo’s face. The shot of the ax. Margo trembling, dismayed by their customs, while everyone else does nothing to stop the marriage. The Fairy Queen appearing out of nowhere, telling her to finish the ceremony. It’s easy after this scene (and all the others before it) to feel frustrated and helpless along with Margo. Which makes her later scene with Clockbarrens Jane so much more effective. It really makes you want to believe Jane when she says she’ll become a powerful magician and queen and will lead a great life. Because Margo could really use a break.

Kady has a pretty bad time herself. Alice brings the truth key over to the mental health clinic Kady went to for rehab, probably thinking Kady will be overjoyed to see that Penny’s still around. But Kady isn’t, it actually just makes her feel worse. The scene reminds me of how Quentin struggled with losing Alice. It was nearly impossible for him to grieve and move on when he could always magic up another version of Alice. Now, Kady can’t let go of Penny when he’s still there, but not actually there. An astral projection she can’t touch or see without holding the truth key, which makes her sick. She’s exhausted and thought the fight was over, but now it’s not. And it probably feels like it never will be.

Kady, being Kady, needs to lash out. So she lashes out at Penny. Obviously this isn’t really fair. This isn’t the ideal situation for Penny, either, and he didn’t do anything to cause it. But this is still very in line with Kady’s character. After the whole thing with Reynard, she blamed Julia and is still icing her out. Now, she blames Penny. Because Kady always needs something to punch.

Finally, Julia also gets some seemingly good news that jump-starts a panic attack. Turns out, Julia’s power comes from Reynard’s magic seed. OLU and Alice think she should be ecstatic and grateful, but Julia isn’t. Because even if she can do great things with this magic, it still comes from Reynard and it was still infused in her without her consent. Which is an important reminder: just because something seems positive or pleasant to one person doesn’t mean it will seem that way to the next, which is why consent is so important. These are all interesting considerations and discussions, and I look forward to seeing this story play out as a way of exploring Julia’s PTSD.

Bits and Pieces

-- Quentin and Alice are painfully awkward around each other. As always.

-- Jane needing the key from the mosaic to create the timeloop was a nice detail.

-- Margo stopping Eliot and Quentin before they go off on their mosaic mission after she gets the key does lead to some timey-wimey questions. But I think the story was worth whatever questions I might have and that I care little about, anyway.

-- Alice wants magic now. This could be seen as really confusing and flip-floppy, but I don’t think it really is. Last episode, Alice said she’s confused and that one moment she wants magic and the next she doesn’t. So Alice herself is conflicted. I think Alice is someone who always feels really strongly and passionately, and now that she doesn’t know who she really is or what she really wants, that’s causing even more problems and confusion.

Bunny: “At castle. Getting married.”
Eliot: “Well, hello, there, little plot development.”

Margo: “Now, I'm sorry, but I've had a bad couple of days, and my best friends are dead, and, frankly, I wish I had your magic, or any magic, 'cause I'd like to build my own Clock Barrens right about now and just live there for, like, five minutes without anyone trying to usurp or marry or educate or hump me.” Can we get Margo her own Clock Barrens? Writers?

Alice: “I thought you went to rehab.”
Kady: “Uh, this is where they stick you when you don't have insurance. The upside? I'm the least crazy person in here” I like this bit of realism and this acknowledgement that Kady isn’t as well-off as some of our other characters.

Four out of four vague and impossible puzzles.

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this episode. The sequence with Quentin and Eliot living an entire life together was beautiful and genuinely sweet.

    Poor Margo.


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