The Magicians Season 4 Finale Review

Wow.

I came into the Season 4 finale of The Magicians ready for some major shit to go down, especially since showrunners John McNamara and Sera Gamble have been hinting that this finale will be particularly intense, and intense it was.

WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!

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The Magicians The Secret Sea Review

The two major story arcs this season of The Magicians—the journey of the Eliot-Monster and the Library’s steady descent toward fascism—come together in a murderous way this episode and tee up next week’s finale to be one full of more murders. Who will be killed next week, however, remains to be seen: Will the old gods die, hunted down by the Evil Eliot and Evil Julia? Will Quentin and Alice die as they face off against the evil siblings? Will Kady allow herself to be poisoned to death in order to be with Penny40 (was she the one Penny40 saw in the elevator in an earlier episode)? Will Eliot and Julia regain control of their bodies or will they become annihilated by the entities that possess them? Will Josh be a fish forever?

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The Magicians The 4-1-1 Review

“The 4-1-1” begins with a lot of the gang back together in New York City, a rare moment on this ensemble show, and one—given all the storylines that need to be tied up in the last three episodes—that’s necessarily short-lived. After Margo debriefs Quentin, Julia, Penny23 and Alice on her musical journey to the desert (she has ice axes to kick the evil god out of Eliot!), the crew splits into different groups again with seemingly disparate missions.

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Magicians All That Hard Glossy Armor Review

This season’s much anticipated musical episode of The Magicians has some great song covers, which range from sweet ballads to empowering anthems. On the softer side, there’s Hale Appleman serenading Summer Bishil with Al Jolson’s and Bing Crosby’s “Beautiful Dreamer,” as well as getting his groove on to The Pretenders’ “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” On the louder side, we have members of the gang (well, projections of the gang from Margo’s mind) triumphantly singing Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Storm Coming.”

All the songs, however, reflect Margo’s introspective journey while she’s in the desert searching for magic to save Eliot and, as almost an aside, liberating a desert community (and wrongly imprisoned red sand demons) from oppressive, patriarchal rulers. Read More »

The Magicians The Serpent Review

Like most episode titles of The Magicians, this week’s title, “The Serpent,” has many layers. There’s the obvious reference: The Serpent is the name of a magical terrorist group that is infecting hedge witches with earworms that make them boil to death from the inside if they do magic. But then there’s the subtler reference, a nod to the notion that many “serpents” in the world aren’t an evil, external force looking to do harm, but are things that live inside us, issues or facets of ourselves or what we believe that we must confront and deal with.

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The Magicians Home Improvement review

Several characters in “Home Improvement,” the title of this week’s funnier-than-normal episode of The Magicians, deal with some concept of home. First, there’s Fen, who does whatever she can for her homeland, even if that that means undergoing back-breaking yard work for the supposed prophet in her dreams. There’s also Alice, who must visit her mother to cast a location spell for Zelda, the Librarian who has her own home-related desire to find her daughter in the mirror realm. And then there’s a very-pregnant Poppy (a recurring character played by Felicia Day), who is expanding her own home — first by stealing dragon sperm to inseminate a dragon egg, and then by embracing the human baby growing inside her. Home for the gang is a fickle thing, something so flittering it’s hard to hold on to, yet something so powerful that it drives our characters to go great lengths to preserve (or push away). Read More »

The Magicians The Side Effect Review

The Magicians is an ensemble show, with the gang of main characters flitting across interwoven storylines in perpetual battles to save their lives and/or magic. In “The Side Effect,” one of my favorite episodes this season, the roles that characters’ play gets flipped; the spotlight moves away from the core gang (Quentin, Julia, Margo, Eliot and Alice) and shines on four side characters: Zelda the Librarian, Fillory’s own Fen, the warrior-woman Kady, and the kinda dead Penny 40.

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The Magicians A Timeline and Place Review

Episode 6 of The Magicians, “A Timeline and Place,” addresses the long festering question: what the hell is the original Penny (AKA the Penny from Timeline 40) doing? Last time we saw him was in Season 3, where—stuck in the Afterlife branch of the Library—he had a chat with Hades that convinced him to take on the role of a Librarian in the eternal (and infernal?) institution. Thankfully, actor Arjun Gupta has remained on the show playing the Penny from Timeline 23—a more subdued, melancholic version of the character who is also in love with Julia instead of Kady. Fans, however, miss the original Penny, and after many episodes we finally get a glimpse of him in his new Librarian persona. Even better, we get to see a conversation between 23 and 40, a trope that has been done on other shows, but is still enjoyable here, and even a little bit bittersweet when Penny 40 tells 23 to let Kady know that he still loves her, and that he’s sorry.

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The Magicians Escape From the Happy Place Review

The fourth and fifth episodes of The Magicians are slower paced than the beginning of the season, allowing viewers to marinate in some under-explored relationships and to circle back to some dangling storylines. The results are mixed, but the show’s quick dialogue and unexpectedly poignant character moments make both episodes—especially Episode 5—rich fodder that fans will enjoy.

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“The book was better.”

Even without context, those four words almost work as a manifest truth, one I have immortalized on a lapel pin and engraved on my heart. The book, by virtue of its being a story’s inception point, the very first version of a narrative where nothing’s cut for time and no grand ideas are scuttled for budget, is almost always better than any of its adaptations. And when the SyFy network first announced they’d be adapting Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy, the show felt destined to become one more example of this truism. How could SyFy, with its mediocre budget and (at the time) critically undistinguished reputation, do justice to Grossman’s dark, fantastical treatise on suffering and selfhood?

The answer: with panache.

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