Wednesday, February 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Eliot Confronts His Deepest Memories and Shame in 'Escape From the Happy Place'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 4.05 "Escape From the Happy Place"

Alice and Quentin confront a dog. There are some flashbacks.

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. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Syfy's The Magicians.

"Escape From the Happy Place" was written by Mike Moore and directed by Meera Menon

This hour is so beautiful and incredibly devastating. Those are the predominate emotions felt when it comes to the show expanding on the strong and loving connection between Quentin and Eliot. "A Life in the Day" was one of the most powerful and poignant episodes the show has produced to date. There was always the lingering feeling that the narrative could return to those emotions at some point. And now, the show reveals that there was so much more to that conversation in which Quentin and Eliot could suddenly remember this alternate life that they lived together. In fact, Quentin was willing to give their relationship a chance in the present. That is so huge. It's empowering because of the visuals of it all. In the present, Quentin is dealing with Alice who is trying to win back his trust by saving his life. He has been in love with her for a long time. However, those feelings were completely destroyed by her desire to destroy the keys that could turn on magic once more. There is nothing that she can do that can rectify that situation. Her friends are still angry towards her. It no longer feels like she has a place amongst them. She returns to them after finally escaping the Library. Quentin only agrees to her help with the promise that she will escape to another world and never try to interfere in his life again. Now, it's unlikely that that promise will be kept considering just how intertwined the lives of these characters have always been. But it's also just so powerful to watch as Quentin says he loved Alice while learning that he was willing to make a major commitment with Eliot. That moment is actually the deepest shame that Eliot has experienced in his life. Facing it is the only way he can break free of the Monster's hold over him. The previous episode teased that Eliot was still alive. Here, he is essentially trapped in his memories with no awareness of what the Monster is doing with his body. He has complete control over these memories though. He can go between them at ease and even conjure up visions of his friends. It's all in service of his mission to get a message out to his friends to save him. They never wanted to give up hope. And yet, Margo now informs Fillory that Eliot is dead while Quentin is operating with that certainty as detailed by the Monster. But it's not true at all. Eliot is still powerful. Sure, he spends the hour playfully trying to figure out where this door could be. It's in actually confronting the moment he never wanted to embrace out of fear that he succeeds in this mission. He shut Quentin down because he believed the two of them didn't have to settle for that reality anymore. He did so because it's in his nature to run away and avoid these kinds of emotions. It's the exact wrong reaction to have and he has long regretted it. It's in calling back to that moment though that gives all of this so much power. It allows Quentin to see the difference between Eliot and the Monster. When Eliot breaks free, Quentin listens and stops the attack that could imprison him forever.

Of course, there are some aspects to this hour that are simply moving the pieces around. The gang is given yet another opportunity in which the Monster could be stopped. Julia is given a bleeding rock from Iris who says it's the only way to contain the Monster. She laughs at the choice that Julia made and how she has all of the worst qualities of being a human and a god now. In the end though, Iris is the one who is killed. The Monster gets her too. Quentin and Julia are able to play it all as a trap to ensure that the Monster could ensnare another piece of the mystery he is trying to solve. In fact, there is a huge clue given here that all of these pieces will form together to create a body for him. He will no longer have to jump from human to human. Sure, him having his own body could be just as lethal and dangerous. It's enough for the rest of the gods to fear being found by him. They are trying to put plans into mission to imprison him once more. But that action also runs the risk of them getting killed as well. Iris never presented as a friend to Julia. She always just threatened her with what she needs to do in order to be respected by the gods. Julia forged her own path. She only drew the ire of Iris as well. But now, Iris is dead. The Monster is closer to achieving its goal. Plus, there are new mysteries being introduced elsewhere which are bound to cause some complications. Penny believes that he will continue to be of use to Julia because he's the only person who worships her. However, that's no longer true thanks to Shoshana. And then, Shoshana is killed by the Monster before the cover story is given to him. Plus, Penny is drugged and taken by some mysterious individual. There is no followup to that plot development either which is bound to cause some worry. It may be the Library hunting down someone who has a contract with them. Or it could be someone else entirely. Meanwhile, Margo just wishes to open her birthright box to learn what is so precious inside. She keeps forging ahead because she can't focus too much on the loss of her best friend. She can't bear to lose it at the moment because she would never be able to compose herself again. That's how agonizing all of this has been for her. But she has a new problem with all of the talking animals in Fillory no longer being able to talk. That may be the result of some new god making its influence known in the world. But again, it's mostly just setting up the plot for the next episode.