Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

The Magicians: A Timeline and Place

“I'm a grown woman. You're a grown woman. We make choices. Is there something I'm missing here?”

All our magicians want to do is something right. Fix something. Help their friends. Go wherever they should go. But their choices are stacked with terrible repercussions and complications and compromises.

There’s really little hope to be found by the end of the episode. We end with Alice, taking in the sight of the first good thing she’d done with magic in a while. We watch knowing somewhere, in Modesto with Alice, hedgewitches are blowing up sketchy libraries and librarians are taking Sheila the landlady in. One good thing surrounded by horrible, unknown consequences.

And still, it took such effort for said landlady to convince Alice there was hope, there are good things to be done with magic, good things Alice could do with magic. Alice did severely mess things up last season, but she also has been terribly hard on herself about it. She’s just looking to do what she’s supposed to do, knowing she probably can’t make things right. If the show is trying to make us root for Alice, it is working. Pretty well for me, at least. More importantly, her attempt at redeeming herself brings up important questions. What is the right way to make things right? Can you make things right? And does the danger come from the substance (be it magic or alcohol or drugs) or the person who yields it? The answers to these questions are likely complicated, and I enjoy watching the show struggle with them.

Penny 23 is also just trying to figure out what he’s meant to do, where he’s meant to be. A desperate kid intent on saving his mother ships Penny and Marina 23 to their own timeline. Penny 23 tries to save the mother, but he can’t. So he’s left with pretty sucky choices. Go back to timeline 40, killing the mother, or stay in timeline 23 where everything sucks (he probably could’ve also had fun exploring timelines, but he didn’t seem to consider that an option). In the end, Penny 40 makes his choice for him. He says Penny 23 actually belongs in timeline 40. The mother will die no matter what. And Penny 23’s forced to squash any hope the kid has of saving her, spreading dandelions from his timeline so the kid will never be able to clean up.

What’s interesting about seeing the Penny confrontation is how different our Penny has become. He’s always been more prickly than 23’s Penny, but now he’s sharper, more heartless, his time in the library seemed to spark a more “greater good” mentality and made him a bigger believer in fate. Which says a lot about not only our Penny, but the library as a whole.

Off in Fillory, Margo and Josh’s strange relationship is tested by failed diplomacy. In order to fix the mute animal problem, Margo needs to obtain these magical beets from a foreign land. The ruler of this land is super icy with Margo, but Josh insists on helping Margo negotiate. It goes well, until he tries to encourage her by saying she’s “out-Elioting Eliot” and you could just see the light go out of her eyes. She lashes out at him. Josh was just trying to help, to be her friend or even boyfriend. But grief is complicated, relationships are complicated, and sometimes attempts to make people feel better only leave them feeling worse.

Finally, Quentin and Julia struggle with monster duty. They debate over what to do now that they know Eliot’s still in there. Quentin wants to help him build a new body, hoping that will allow them to save Eliot, but Julia rightly points out the monster could kill a bunch of people if he gets a stronger body. All Quentin wants to do is save his friend, but saving him could risk so many others. By the end, he’s doubling-down on this choice. Making deals with the monster to help him so long as he keeps his friends’ body safe. Problem is, who knows what the unintended consequences might be if the monster succeeds in building his new body.

Bits and Pieces

-- I watched this episode with my English teacher mother. She was super excited they mentioned two works she teaches (1984 and The Crucible) in one line.

-- Speaking of 1984-Crucible-Land, what timeline was that? And is the idea that this is what the library will turn into if left unchecked? It certainly seems to be ramping up that way.

-- I loved Quentin and Julia’s conversation about magicless goddess Julia making a great mutant. Just all of it. They have an adorable friendship.

-- Marina’s dating the timeline 40 version of her timeline 23 ex-girlfriend, using her insights from her previous failed relationship. Penny 23 thinks that’s super shady, but did he really expect anything different from expert-in-shady Marina?

-- We get more library-ruled world world-building. Hedge-witches seem to feel even more marginalized. The magic is running through pipes (I think?). They seem to be spying on the magicians, hedge-witches, and potentials.

-- I’m still not sure how I feel about Margo and Josh. They’re a somewhat strange combination, but I’m interested enough in seeing where they go with it. It’s not a great time for Margo to start a relationship (given she thinks she just lost Eliot). The execution of it seems real, for a relationship starting from grief.

Marina: “People in cages are never not personal.” A nice, not-so-subtle political dig.

Julia: “I was a goddess and now I’m just your friendly neighborhood bullet-proof vest.”
Quentin: “You'd be a very high-level X-Men like Emma Frost's Diamond Form.”
Julia: “A mutant.”
Quentin: “A mutant.”
Julia: “Like The Indestructress! Pew, pew!” I also love how they’ve apparently read a bunch of comic books. I should’ve seen that coming.

The Monster: “This body hearts tequila. When I'm happy. When I'm sad. When I'm bored. Because everything is taking too long—meaning you. Relevant story: I was in the road, and I almost hit by a what-do-ya-call-it—big fat truck? But I wouldn't have felt anything at all because tequila is my friend.”

Three and a half out of four verbally-challenged mummies.


  1. Penny has been my favorite character for a long time, and I'm so glad they had our Penny and Penny 23 work it out. Our Penny seems to have adjusted to serving the library eternally in death and doesn't even seem jealous that Penny 23 is supposed to go live his life for... reasons.

    Margo is in so much pain. She isn't going to recover from losing her best friend any time soon. The way she turned everything about her undiplomatic mission into an obscenity was too funny and very Margo. She has to lash out somehow.

    It's nice to see Alice in recovery and also nice to see magic being used for something so good for a change. I hope the librarians don't do something awful to Camryn Manheim. I like Camryn Manheim, even when she's playing a villain. Which she clearly isn't here.

    All this good stuff, and there were so many things that made me laugh. The interdimensional television device from Fringe. The mummy shedding sand as it talked. The best thing was the "Famous People from Modesto Jar Candles" in the convenience store, the most recognizable of which was James Marsters as Spike. :) They often do little homages to Buffy. I love it.

  2. I love your reviews! And I agree with a bunch of things you mentioned. ��

  3. Thanks Jessica! And Billie, I didn't notice the jar candles, let alone the James Marsters one. Definitely just made my day!

    Edited: Changed James to Jessica. Sorry, had James Marsters on the brain :)

  4. I thought the 4th season started off strongly, but it's feeling a little aimless to me right now. The storylines are so disconnected and most of the characters don't seem to have any long-term objectives, they're just reacting to circumstances as they come. Though it was nice to see Penny 40, it's not clear what he's up to and Kady seems to have been sidelined completely. The individual scenes are mostly still enjoyable and there's been some good character stuff but it just doesn't feel to me like it's building up to anything.


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.