The Magicians: Apocalypse? Now?! and Oops!...I Did It Again

“Release the Kraken!”

Much like the moon in “Apocalypse? Now?!” the episode struggles under too much pressure. Storylines drag the episode a million different ways, season-long threads are tied up too fast to really land, and some decisions just don’t make sense, making the conclusion feel cheapened. It’s a problem that’s really been plaguing the fifth season overall. While The Magicians has always been somewhat overstuffed with crazy plotlines, this season lacks a main character (RIP Quentin) to be its anchor.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the episode; I did. More so the first time. There were plenty of parts I really liked. The sleep deprivation plot lent itself to some great comedy and emotional reveals (Margo finally telling Josh she regretted leaving him to die in Fillory, before immediately forgetting what she’d said.) It was nice seeing Julia try to offer support to Eliot, as the only other person who had shared his experience. Zelda and Kady also had a nice heart-to-heart born from similar experience, allowing the show to further explore the parallels between the Ethereal Realm and addiction. And the show’s always good for some fun twists and turns when they decide to pull off a heist (or a heist fake-out, in this particular situation.)

But I can’t help but feel those great moments would’ve been greater if they’d had more time to breathe and the episode had more focus. They would’ve been able to mine more humor out of the sleep deprivation and allow for more affecting emotional reveals. They would’ve had more time to explore the episode's themes at a deeper level. And while I enjoyed the heist, some aspects of it were confusing or didn’t make any sense. I didn’t quite get that no one gave away a shade because they never stole the moon rock until writing this review (although maybe that was just due to my own stupidity.) I don’t understand why Julia would assign Eliot to casting-duty when she knew he was spacing out and already told him she didn’t trust him; I can’t think of any reason why Margo or Kady weren’t assigned to such a crucial task instead (Josh and Penny 23 were out due to falling asleep and meth-muffin brain, respectively.) The reveal that Marina was behind the whole depository plot would’ve landed better if more time were provided for the reveal to sink in. It seemed like the writers knew where they were taking their characters and (sometimes artificially) moved them to their positions.

“Oops… I did it again” worked better for me because the episode seemed to avoid all the previous episode’s issues. This one had much more focus. Eliot and Margo were using their knowledge of the time loop to try to stop the moon apocalypse, over and over again. At the same time, Eliot was struggling with his monster issues and Margo was concerned.

The more simplified structured allowed the episode to more deeply explore the state of Eliot (and, to a lesser degree, Margo.) It’s easy to understand and track Eliot’s journey of denial and cowardice (for lack of a better term) to bravery, confrontation, and growth. You feel Eliot’s fear along with him. You’re just as pissed at Charlton for being so creepy and as relieved the monster doesn’t walk through the door (also ecstatic to see Charlton again, of course.) It’s nice to see Eliot and Margo finally have a real talk about what Eliot’s going through, and it’s even nicer because it feels so earned. And the episode is of course hilarious.

“Oops… I did it again” has a pretty clear theme, as well: the importance of confronting your fears. After having a conversation with the surprisingly wise and brave Josh Hoberman, Eliot realizes he has to confront his (reasonable) fear and open the door to what he thought was the monster. Later, he realizes, in order to save the world, he has to release the magic whales’ worst fear: The Kraken. In both situations Eliot faces these fears head-on, staring right at danger as it appears. Now Eliot realizes he has to face his own, non-literal demons head-on, just like he did before. Margo tells him he has to do for himself what he managed to do for the world. Now Eliot should feel a little more capable of that. Plus he’s always got Charlton in (and out of) his head for emotional support.

Bits and Pieces

-- The guy who invented the stop sign was a lunatic.

-- Penny 23 seems to be getting addicted to meth muffins.

-- I really appreciate that Julia and Eliot were sitting down during their talk because whenever they’re standing next to each other in scenes all I can think about is how tiny she looks.

-- Some good Fogg-related news: it is possible to escape The Ethereal Realm, he just has to fix whatever flaw is keeping him there, whatever he’s trying to escape.

-- I don’t trust Mayakovsky’s “daughter” and think maybe she’s torturing him? It’s a good thing they didn’t give her a shade.

-- Julia and Kady are officially “good.” I am very relieved.

-- It was a great touch to have Margo and Eliot think they’re outside the time-loop because they’re special only to realize it’s just because of Jane Chatwin’s “Permanence” perfume.

-- Margo slept with Todd. Possibly multiple times?

-- Apparently the magicians stopped the wrong apocalypse. Now they have to save Fillory. They can never catch a break.

Marina: “Oh my god, are you on meth?”
Alice: “You know, it sure as hell seems like it.”

Penny 23: “I know a horomancer who built machines, maybe he has something.”
Margo: “Fantastic! Vamanos!”
Penny 23: “One problem: I kinda let his mom die last time I saw him.”
(Everyone looks at Penny 23)
Penny 23: “Oh come on, like you guys are all saints?!”

Margo, to the horomancer: “Here, this is Penny’s address.”
Eliot: “Margo, what are you doing?”
Margo: “Shhh. Favorite coffee shop, hipster club where we suspect he DJs on the weekend, and it’s your lucky day. His traveling’s borked, so he’s a sitting duck in a scarf.”
Eliot: “Margo, we can’t just kill Penny.”
Margo: “We don’t, he dies anyway along with everyone. This is basic trolley problem shit. Ovary up.”

Charlton: “There’s no substitute for being heard.”

Three and a half? out of four meth muffins/magic, Kraken-guarding whales.

3 comments:

percysowner said...

I agree that Julia probably should have assigned Margo to the spell instead of Elliot, but I don't think Kady was a choice. She was involved in her quest for the Depository, and there was no indication that she was trying to stay awake for the spell. I don't think she had moonbrain.

I think a lot of people didn't realize that no one gave up their shade. I was confused and I'm seeing confusion in other reviews.

MochaJay said...

Julia and Eliot couldn't go into the party as they had already been in the house asking about the moon rock, so I thought that was the reason Eliot got assigned to the spell.

Plus, did he say in Season one that his specialty is telekinesis? I suppose that would be considered helpful in moving the moon.

Anonymous said...

Wait, what?! There were two episodes this week?!

[Googles frantically]

I'll return with comments after watching the second episode!

~Josie