The Magicians: Purgatory

"I've got a goddamn movie projector stuck in my eye hole!"

In an episode that really sticks to its name, our magicians find themselves in various states of purgatory.

For Josh this is quite literal. First, Seb sends him to Taker land. Apparently Takers are meant to “take” people who have come back from the dead, because turns out that never ends well. Thus, Taker land appears to be a place between life and death, even directly connected to the Underworld. Hence Purgatory. There, Josh teams up with a little girl and they work on their escape to the Underworld together.

I somehow never realized this before, but the Underworld is also a type of purgatory. Sure, some souls like Penny 40 seem to spend their whole … deaths … there, but for most it’s a relay station. A place you go to while the Powers That Be figure out where you belong. Then you admit all your sins to an employee so you can move to your afterlife pure and unburdened. That pretty much fits the dictionary definition of purgatory. On top of that, the Underworld itself is pretty stuck right now; what with magic on the fritz, Hades gone, and a huge drop in staffing. This threatens to keep Josh and the little girl in the Underworld, despite them still being very much alive. Together, Josh, the little girl, Penny 40, and Benedict (!) work with Earth team Margo, Alice, Kady, and Fen, to fix the Underworld and get Josh and the little girl back to Earth and out of purgatory.

Elsewhere, Penny 23 and Plum find themselves locked in their own kind of Purgatory. It turns out “the room” the signal sent them to is essentially a holding cell some self-righteous time-traveler sticks other time-travelers in to take away their powers and ensure they don’t mess with the time-space continuum. It’s a place completely outside time. They never get hungry, thirsty, have to pee. They’re stuck in a torturous sameness. Just like with Josh, they need to work together, and once they do they manage to escape.

Along with continuing the purgatory theme, this storyline also returned to the show’s theme of consent. Is there a time when it's okay to take away someone’s consent? While the time-traveler did seem like a huge douche, he did kind of have a point, and he probably did know things through experience that Plum didn’t. On the other hand, Penny 40 was right that Plum should have time to decide what to do about her own powers, but at the same time Penny 23 shouldn’t have been the one to choose for Plum whether she used the machine or not. The time-traveler said the machine itself only works if the user consents. I think it would be kind of cool if when Plum gave in and used it it didn’t work. Because consent after being given little choice and tortured for who knows how long isn’t really consent, and it would’ve been a cool statement for the show to make. But anyway, back to purgatory.

On Fillory, Eliot, Julia, and Charlton are trapped in the dungeon, still alive but pretty much knowing they’ll soon be dead. The three put their heads together (somewhat literally) to figure a way out: scaring Julia into activating her traveler baby and traveling outside the cell.

Notice a pattern here? Every character finds themselves in some precarious situation, stuck in some form of purgatory, and every character supports each other in finding their way out. Which brings us to the last form of purgatory: grief. Turns out, Hades is currently overcome by his grief. He lost his wife, OLU, and has no idea what happened to her. Now his life is consumed by that grief, in the form of shirking his responsibilities, hanging out in sweats, eating take-out, and playing video games. Seb is equally consumed by his grief, he’s made his entire existence about it. It’s not until Alice recognizes Hades' grief, a similar grief to her own, and Hades actually willingly talks to her about it, that he is able to focus back on his life and his responsibilities. The Magicians seems to be saying that, when we find ourselves stuck in a literal or existential purgatory, the thing to do is open ourselves up to others, accept their support and offer our own support in return.

Bits and Pieces


-- So apparently when Seb opens the door to the dead he’s not just going to let in Lance Morrison, but also all the dead, which is apparently really bad and will destroy all worlds. But also, maybe Quentin will come back? Probably not.

-- I loved the scenes with the girls (minus Julia) trying to help Margo. Female friendships are definitely underrated.

-- Speaking of Julia, I also loved the scenes with Julia, Eliot, and Charlton. I don’t have too much to say about them except that I want more.

-- Did Alice give the Couple the page? She and Kady are still alive, but Alice is still missing her fingers. Seems like an important thing to know.

-- Why’s Penny 40 still being mean to Benedict? Poor Benedict.

-- This week’s episode description: “Margo learns to project; Josh goes to the spa.”

Fen: “Oh, this is so beautiful. You friendship really is the most underrated form of love. I’m sorry. I’m just extra emotional with the assassination going sideways, and then Josh, Eliot, and Julia not making it back. Not to mention all that crazy stuff Plover told us, it’s just really overwhelming. So uh, what have you guys been up to?”

Julia: “What the fuck’s a Charlton?”

Eliot: “I studied this first year. That make us take sex ed, what with inter-magician relations being so fraught with STIs and peril. I think we may have covered this stuff.”
Julia: “You think?”
Eliot: “I’m not proud, but I was on a record amount of greenhouse cannabis, and while technically I heard every single word, it was all, you know, Sondheim lyrics. I was there, but in a greater sense was I there?”

Plum: “A time traveler walks into a bar in Vienna 1908, sits next to a young art student named Adolf Hitler. Adolf sighs into his beer. ‘You know what I hate,’ he asks. Time traveler says, ‘I don’t know, Jews.’ And Hitler goes, ‘Huh, now that you mention it.’ Penny, you gotta laugh, right?”
Penny 23: “You’re right. There're no good jokes about time traveling."

I don’t know if it was just leftover excitement from getting a day off of work, but I really enjoyed this episode. Three point seventy-five out of four Hedge Witch explosive arts and crafts.

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