Wednesday, February 14, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Quentin Faces His Darkest Thoughts While Eliot and Margo Find Mushrooms in 'Do You Like Teeth?'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 3.06 "Do You Like Teeth?"

Quentin faces his most formidable foe yet as Julia helps Alice with a dangerous endeavor.

The Magicians has had a couple of truly outstanding episodes over the last few weeks. As such, it's not surprising to get a breather at the halfway point of the season. "Do You Like Teeth?" is still very entertaining and a lot of fun. But it also feels like a piece-moving episode where a lot of stuff happens to set up what the foreseeable future will look like for a number of these stories. It introduces Felicia Day as Poppy, another one of the Brakebills students from the missing class who tried traveling to Fillory. She is a welcome addition to this world despite the sinister undertones every time she's on the screen with Quentin. It also transfers Julia's magic to Alice. That's a huge decision that is bound to have severe repercussions. And finally, Eliot and Margo learn what the Fairy Queen has been up to. They finally declare her the Big Bad that needs to be taken seriously and above all else because of just how well-crafted and destructive her conspiracy actually is. All of these are important threads. There are additional details that happen in this episode as well. But it's mostly just a chance for the show to assess what's working and find a way to get new characters to interact while relying on a couple of really strong classic pairings. Margo and Eliot will always be a delight. They are so wonderful to see here. But it's also just as compelling to see Alice, Julia, Penny and Dean Fogg get caught up in a story to transfer magic from one body to the next. This setup is all very intricate but the show is still remarkably light on its feet. This hour still features a dragon emerging from the sea. That's quite entertaining while setting up a very intense journey for Quentin in the future. So all of this is very important information to have moving forward for the season.

And so, Quentin goes off on his next quest to retrieve the fourth key. He does so by himself. It's so exciting that Quentin and Eliot remember their lifetime together and that will inform their interactions moving forward this season. They are more comfortable and close as they say goodbye here. Quentin has the freedom to go off on this advantage using Fillory's resources because the Fairy Queen doesn't know that he is one of the kings of this land. She has never met him before and he's disguised as a guard in the castle. But he has to go off on this adventure by himself because Eliot needs to rescue Margo from consummating her new marriage. Of course, it also allows Quentin to live out his fantasies of being on a boat just screaming out into the ocean. The people of Fillory know that he's a king. And thus, he has a loyal crew leading him into the dark unknown. That's literally where they are headed. The fourth key resides in an uncharted corner of the world known as The Abyss. It's a place where it is night all of the time. It is black as soon as the ship enters. It makes it that much harder to navigate these waters. The crew has no idea if they are about to run onto land or if they'll emerge into the light a few moments later. It's the great unknown. But it also turns out to be quite an easy journey in retrieving the key. Quentin hears someone out in the ocean calling for help. That person is Poppy, who just happens to be carrying the key. That's very convenient. It happens early on and very easily too. As such, it's clear that this story and this new character are going to complicate things for Quentin.

That's exactly what happens too. Right now, it would be fair to question if the power from these keys is actually beneficial to anyone. The third key has the strongest power so far because it can channel time magic. It can create time loops and send people to alternate timelines. That's a very useful skill while not depriving individuals of the experiences they had along the way. But the first key only creates illusion of what the holder fears the most. The second key allows the truth to be seen which mostly makes the holder feel uncomfortable. And now, the fourth key takes all of the darkest emotions the holder has and manifests it into a ghost only they can see. It's a power that lingers even when the holder is no longer touching the key. It's a power that only transfers once someone new picks it up. That's a very distressing complication that leaves Quentin struggling with the side effects for a very long time. He was in a very dark head space at the start of the series. The world around him was ready to declare him mentally ill. He did spend time in institutions. He found meaning and purpose through magic. He is excited again because he has this quest. But now, this manifestation is forcing him to confront his feelings about his role in what happened to Julia and Alice. Now, he's not completely to blame for what happened to them. But these are still the thoughts that linger in the back of his mind. They are prominent and dangerous. They almost force him to kill himself. He refuses to pass the key along. And yet, that's what happens after Benedict picks it up for his king once Poppy tries to escape to a different realm. He immediately succumbs to these dark thoughts. It's startling to watch. It again proves just how dark this show is capable of being. Benedict walks right off the ship and into the dragon's mouth. It's so devastating. And then, it comes with the intriguing tease of dragon's mouths actually being portals to the underworld. That's where Quentin will need to go to once more to retrieve this key.

Meanwhile, Eliot and Margo are trying to find a way to be alone together to plot their next move against the Fairy Queen. Right now, the Fairy Queen and the Stone Queen are eager to make this new marriage official. They need Margo to have sex with her young, murderous husband. At first, the Stone Queen presents herself as a potential ally. She has become aware of Margo's efforts to kill the Fairy Queen and says that she has her own strategy to defeat their mutual friend. But that may just be to fool Margo long enough to trap her in the dungeon. It proves just how vicious and cunning this new queen actually is. She'll be a compelling complication throughout this adventure in Fillory. It's nice to see some added context to this world this season. Margo and Eliot are dealing with different societies of people and the rulers of this world. It's Prince Ess who tips them off to the fact that the inedible mushrooms are changing the local environment. He does that because he truly is an ally to Eliot and Margo - even though it's been a long time since Eliot has seen his husband. That leads to the discovery that the fairies are terraforming the countryside. More than that though, they are actually growing fairy babies in the ground. That's a huge realization for Margo and Eliot. It proves that they need to take action now. The Fairy Queen has already achieved so much through her rule of Fillory. And now, it seems like she is growing her own army. What she plans on doing with that is still a mystery. But she's certainly amassing quite a number of soldiers at the moment. Right now, all Margo and Eliot can do is offer the illusion that Margo has consummated her marriage while stealing a few of these fairies as leverage.

Finally, Julia and Alice are successful in transferring Julia's magical powers to Alice. They succeed thanks to help from Dean Fogg and Penny. Fogg is the one who created the spell they can use while Penny is the one offering warnings whenever it has the potential to end in destruction. But mostly, it's just a great story because of the Julia-Alice pairing. They have had such separate but equally destructive stories across the series. They've been forever changed because of magic and what has happened to them in this story. It's made Julia desperate to get rid of it while Alice craves more of it. That's a sensible reaction for both of them to have. It also proves how much they care about others. Despite all of the tragedies they've experienced, they still have empathy and a willingness to help others in their time of need. So that means helping Dean Fogg see again. It's only a temporary solution. But it's enough to make this shitty world a little less shitty for him - though he still has a drinking problem to deal with. And then, Alice promises to build Penny a new body. He's growing sick of trying to communicate with his friends only for no one to hear him. He continues to say that he doesn't care about any of these people. And yet, he still chooses to stay and watch their story because he is invested. He doesn't understand why Julia is willing to throw away the one thing that makes her special in this world. Julia just wants to be rid of magic for a little while and see what the rest of the world has to offer her. As such, it's so tragic that she'll never be able to escape it. She'll always be haunted by magic. Whether that is all in her head or a physical side effect of giving away her powers is yet to be seen. She is haunted by Reynard once more while Alice has a seizure while trying to use too much magic. That proves just how dangerous this transition actually was. The magic was given to Julia even though she didn't want it. And now, it's making both Julia and Alice sick because the power is out of place in this world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Do You Like Teeth?" was written by Noga Landau and directed by Carol Banker.
  • It's easy to understand why Benedict was so susceptible to the dark thoughts from the key as well. It's all foretold through that brief moment where he shares that his parents raised him to repress all of his emotions. He has channeled all of that energy into making maps. It's a skill that has proven quite useful to Quentin, Eliot and Margo. That's what makes it so tragic to see him jump off the ship after warning Quentin not to.
  • Of course, there's still the possibility of Quentin being able to save Benedict from the Underworld. It seems unlikely because it was such a dangerous and precarious mission getting Julia's shade out of there last season. They ultimately needed help with that mission. But it also makes it interesting to see what the place will look like once Quentin returns and who will be there to assist him in finding the key.
  • It's very amusing to see Margo try to use sex education to scare her new husband out of having it. She produces a book detailing just how gross and horrifying it can be. And yet, blood is a turn on to this guy. So instead, Margo has to exaggerate that vaginas actually have teeth within them. That idea then pays off wonderfully well later on in the ruse created to fool this guy after Margo and Eliot drug him.
  • It's a smart idea to have that talking fish hanging on the wall. It's an easy object for Penny to become and communicate loudly with whomever is in the house. It's a way for him to show that he needs to tell them something important. Of course, that only adds to the tragedy that no matter how loud he can get with this object it's not enough for someone to come save Alice as she seizes.
  • It's surprising that this episode doesn't revisit Kady at all. Her story ended on such an ominous cliffhanger last week. She was being committed against her will in this medical facility because they believe she was hearing voices. That wasn't true. And now, her journey of self discovery is probably happening offscreen. That makes it likely that she'll return as a surprisingly different person once she pops up again.