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.

“Marry Fuck Kill”

The Magicians’ fourth episode, “Marry Fuck Kill,” is a detour from the main conflicts of the season (the Eliot-Monster doesn’t even kill anyone in this episode!), and takes us down a meandering path that explores relationships between characters we haven’t seen interact much with each other. This journey is…well, fine, for the most part; a pleasant romp sprinkled with some nice moments for Julia and Margo. By the end of the episode, however, the viewer is eager to return to the larger arcs of the season.

Each relationship explored this episode had some gems, though. Let’s start with Margo and Josh: the latter is suffering from a lycanthropic STI, which will force him to rape and/or kill someone in the next few days or, if he resists, die a horrible death. Margo, who is suffering from losing Eliot to the monster that possesses his body, is aggressively on board to save Josh. The two go on a convoluted quest to do so, but ultimately fail until Margo proposes that Josh sleep with her in order to save himself. Her sacrifice here—she’s now likely infected too—is the most interesting part of this storyline; her willingness to do whatever it takes to save the life of those she cares for reveals a crack in her tough exterior, something actor Summer Bishil portrays perfectly.

Two other not-seen-before pairings are Julia/Penny 23 and Alice/Christopher Plover. Both of these storylines present an opportunity for the women to show us who they are. For Julia, she and Penny head to Fillory to ask a maenad why her super-god powers are gone (except for the whole un-killable thing), and results in a besotted Penny anointing Julia’s naked body with oil. The scene is awkward and a tad cheesy, but it gives Julia a chance to tell Penny she’s not some fragile flower, but a person who can heal and be stronger for it.

Alice’s pairing with Christopher Plover—the child molester who made Martin Chatwin into the Beast—was, in a word, icky. Alice is forced to join forces with him to steal her and her friends’ books from the Library, and the two have a scene (a scene that’s a bit too on-the-nose) where Plover causes Alice to confront whether she can separate what she’s done with who she is.

Last but certainly not least, “Marry Fuck Kill” also deals with Quentin coping with his father’s recent death. Eliot-Monster (who I guess is all good with the gang now?) shows up when Quentin is packing up his father’s things. The two talk about death (Eliot-Monster finds it boring) and Quentin ends up destroying his father’s beloved model airplanes in grief and frustration. The monster likes this, and then tells Quentin that the real Eliot is dead as well, in hopes that Quentin will get over it and spend more time with him.

The monster’s “confession” about Eliot is heartbreaking—but the episode ends on us traveling through actor Hale Appleman’s eye to see our dear Eliot lost and confused in some representation of Brakebills. Eliot’s in there! He’s alive, Quentin! Alive! The most exciting moment of the episode is the last scene, one that episode 5 expands on wonderfully.  

“Escape from the Happy Place”

“Escape from the Happy Place” gives The Magicians fans a longed-for dose of the regular Eliot, who we find out is trapped inside what his guide Charlton calls the Happy Place, a safe zone inside the monster where the evil entity can’t destroy him. Eliot wants to escape, of course. Or at least be able to let his friends know he’s still alive. The episode also sets up a ticking clock for Eliot, as the gang, believing their friend is officially dead, has agreed to work with the goddess Iris to entrap the monster in Eliot’s body for eternity.

There are other threads in “Escape from the Happy Place” besides Eliot’s entrapment. Smaller storylines involve someone unknown abducting Penny, and watching Margo in retrieving her birth box and keeping her grief under wraps while others around her publicly mourn Eliot’s supposed death. The second most prominent storyline, however, involves Alice, who has made it back to Earth after sending Plover to a very unhappy world in the Neitherlands. She shows up at Quentin’s door because she’s read his book, and knows that he is expected to die in two days when he tries to entrap the Eliot-Monster. And while she does end up saving Quentin’s life, she learns that whatever she does won’t be enough to fix their relationship. She ends up leaving at the end of the episode, going wherever the World Book she has from Plover tells her to go.

But most of the episode (and wonderfully so), involves Eliot searching his most shameful memories for a secret door that will allow him to take control of his body for a short period of time. With the help of Charlton and the fighting projections of his friends, he relives many painful memories (while being chased by the monster’s failed experiments) to no avail. Right before Quentin is about to entrap the monster in Eliot’s body, however, Eliot (in a wonderful nod to the shippers out there) realizes his most shameful moment was dismissing Quentin’s suggestion they try to make a go of it on Earth after they both remember their 50+ years together in Fillory. The scene where Eliot apologies to his memory of Quentin is heartbreakingly touching, and makes his appearance to current-day Quentin all the more gut-wrenching when he briefly gains control of his body.

When Quentin realizes Eliot is alive, he spoils the plan to entrap the Eliot-Monster. This has repercussions, of course—the creature ends up killing the goddess Iris (right after Iris kills the poor maenad Shoshana) and pulls another stone out of the goddess’ chest, which Julia then tells him will help construct his real body. Evil Eliot believes them when they lie that they had been secretly planning to give him Iris, and he apparates off, leaving the gang in one piece and now laden with the knowledge that Eliot is alive (although Margo, who has had to deal with Fen and others mourning in Fillory, has yet to find out). The gang will likely grapple with this knowledge for episodes to come—how much should you help an embodiment of evil in order to save someone you love? We’ll have to keep watching to find out.

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