Wednesday, January 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Everyone Adjusts to Their New Lives of Bliss and No Awareness of the Past in 'A Flock of Lost Birds'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 4.01 "A Flock of Lost Birds"

Brian takes a friend out for ice cream. Sam is one week away from retirement.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Syfy's The Magicians.

"A Flock of Lost Birds" was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Chris Fisher

The audience has to be very trusting of the creative team at the start of the fourth season. This premiere features many of the characters suddenly trapped in new personalities with no awareness that magic exists. Moreover, this hour includes many bits that may even confuse the audience as to how they are possible. Ember and Marina appear even though those characters had been previously killed. Meanwhile, all of the characters trapped under identity spells present as different people entirely. They don't naturally appear as the actors who have been playing these roles for four seasons now. That takes a moment to get used to. Of course, the show also makes it easy for the audience by allowing us to recognize these characters as the same as they have always been even though they are incredibly confused about what's going on. That could be a frustrating quality. But it's also a pointed statement about how one organization believes they know best even though they aren't monitoring and dealing with the ongoing repercussions of their actions. The Order of the Library believes they have the power and wisdom to responsibly handle all magic. They will only offer it to those they deem worthy. They want to ensure that there is never another dark period in which the entire world is threatened and no one has the power to defend it. They don't trust the group of humans who turned magic back on either. They see them as the complications that caused this entire mess to begin with. And so, Alice is a prisoner in the Library while everyone else is back on Earth as someone else entirely. The Librarians believe that nothing can break this spell. No one has powerful enough magic to see what is truly going on here. However, that's not true at all. The Old Gods can still see all. They know that Margo is the High King of Fillory. Of course, they are very cavalier in their approach to her as well because they just assume that she can fix the problem they have become aware of without offering any details whatsoever. They don't strive to understand what's going on with her. They just reach out because she is the person with this title. Ember doesn't see that Margo is confused about everything. This connection is still real though. She ends the hour back in Fillory. However, that's absolutely terrifying for her because none of her allies who are going through this as well are also in Fillory. Of course, Fen and the other Fillorians will likely help her get adjusted to this world once more. Meanwhile, it's Kady who puts all of the pieces together that magic exists and something was done to this group of apparent strangers. She discovers that the Library just used an old graphic novel to come up with their new identities as well. That may prove just how unimaginative the Library can be. Sure, it highlights their love of books. But they didn't think it would be a problem to have one of them now appear as a detective. They just trust that the magical hold that will keep the magicians from learning anything about their true identities will keep any complications from developing. That's not true in the slightest even though Marina and Dean Fogg are incapable of seeing these strangers as who they naturally are.

All of this is incredibly telling when it comes to Julia. She has always been special amongst the magicians. She made a devastating choice to abandon her powers and responsibilities as a goddess in order to help her friends. She was just as devoted to restoring magic as everyone else. She forged the new keys that allowed the well to open. And now, she's essentially repeating her story as a new student to Brakebills. She is admitted to the school even though she fails every single aspect of the entrance exam. Dean Fogg can sense that there is something special and important about her. He just doesn't associate this woman with being Julia. He is certainly reminded of her and the mistakes he has made in the past. But he doesn't see it as the exact same person. Julia still being in a world of magic though will probably remain very important. It establishes that she may continue to be breaking the rules established by this world even if she's not fully aware of them. Meanwhile, Alice is in such a dangerous situation as a prisoner of the Library. Zelda is trying to get her to conform to this line of work. She believes that Alice can be rehabilitated. That may be the direction the show will pursue at some point based on that alternate version of Alice seen in the previous season. Right now though, Alice is very worried about her friends because she is the only person who takes the threat from the Monster seriously. Sure, the Old Gods do as well. They understand that there is some disturbance that must be dealt with. The Librarians just have their own individual contractors looking into it. They don't see any reason to trust the magicians who have solved so many of the problems in the universe so far. They don't believe that they are in danger either. The audience knows that not to be true. Quentin has already been taken by the Monster. It's so chilling to see Eliot appear as the new beast. The Monster immediately presents himself as a lethal antagonist here as well simply because it doesn't understand the normalities of life on Earth. That's absolutely devastating while hinting that Quentin and his friends will only continue to be in danger this season. It's just going to be very fascinating to see how long this spell holds in which they all don't know who they are - and if Santa Claus is going to help them after providing Alice with a new sense of strength here.