The Magicians Purgatory Review

These last few episodes of this season’s The Magicians have taken on a bittersweet tinge after the news that Syfy hasn’t picked up the show for a sixth season. After last night’s episode, ironically called “Purgatory,” there are only two episodes left before what we now know will be the series finale on April 1. On the bright side, we can savor what we have left (including a musical episode that co-creator Sera Gamble has called the craziest one yet), and be thankful that the show’s five seasons will always be there, ready for us to re-watch whenever we want to reminisce with the characters we love.

This week, however, let’s talk about “Purgatory.” Much like the status of the show before the showrunners’ announcement, all of our characters are in some sort of purgatory of their own this week. Let’s start with Josh. After hiding out in the woods with Margo’s fairy eye last week, we start this season with the Dark King banishing him to the Taker realm. The good news is he’s able to tell Margo, Fen and Kady where he is via Margo’s eye, and he then befriends a young girl who’s stuck in Taker World as well. As they travel through the realm trying not to get killed, they find an elevator in the middle of the Taker woods, and–with no better option–they take the elevator to the Underworld. Even though they’re not officially dead, they seem to be stuck there. Luckily, they run into Penny40(!!!!), who reluctantly agrees to track down Hades, as the god is the only one who can send them back to the realm of the living. Hades, however, has abandoned the Underworld, and they find out he’s hiding out on Earth. Luckily for the still-living, Josh is able to tell Margo via her fairy eye to track Hades down. 

Turns out that Hades has bunkered down in Queens. Kady and Alice find him there, and ask for his help in returning Josh. Hades, however, is in mourning—his wife, Our Lady is still dealing with her own grief over Quentin, tries to empathize with him (again returning to the now-meta refrain, given the cancellation of the show, of dealing with loss) with little avail. (As a side note, given this season’s focus on grief, it would be great to revisit Kady’s grief about losing Penny40 as well, especially since she sees him this episode via Margo’s eye.) 

Hades eventually agrees to bring back Josh, however, as long as the gang fixes the Taker issue—they’re the guard dogs of the Underworld, apparently, and if a door is made between the living and the dead, all the dead could come pouring into the world in a true Armageddon scenario. And so Josh and the little girl make it back to Fillory, albeit surrounded by a slew of dead Takers. 

Other members of the gang have their own Purgatory-like issues this episode as well. There’s Eliot and Julia, imprisoned in the Dark King’s dungeon. They eventually escape and head back to NYC when they figure out how to scare Julia enough to activate her traveler baby’s powers. And then there’s the baby daddy Penny23, who finds himself trapped in the weird Signal room with Plum Chatwin. Turns out they’ve been trapped there by another time traveler named Eli, who claims he protects the integrity of space and time (kind of like a demented Dr. Strange), and that Plum must have her time traveling powers sucked out of her before he’ll release them. Plum eventually relents and lets Eli’s weird machine suck out her time-traveling juice, though Penny23 stops it before she’s completely dry. And good thing he did! Turns out, demented Dr. Strange is little more than a time traveling addict—Penny23 and Plum trade some of her time juice in order for him to return them to NYC, where Penny 23 turns up right in time to see a very pregnant Julia.

And that’s where “Purgatory” ends. All the gang’s back in NYC with at least one more world-ending event to stop. The gang has saved the world a bunch of times, and you could argue that this premise has been done to death on the show. Like most good things, however, the journey the characters take matters more than their destination (i.e., saving the world, once again); fans love this show not because the characters save the world a bunch of times—they love it because of the complexity of those characters, and how each season blends serious, heart-wrenching moments with wonderfully absurd situations. “Purgatory,” like the series as a whole, has a wonderful mix of both these things: from Hades’s struggle with grief, to Margo’s fairy eye snafus that ultimately make her a walking film projector. I think this rich smorgasbord of the dark and the silly will be the thing I’ll miss most about The Magicians once it’s gone. But I’ll always have the experience of watching these facets unfold each episode, and for that, I am thankful. 

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