Wednesday, March 13, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Quentin and Julia Deal with a Dragon While Fen Believes in Herself in 'Home Improvement'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 4.08 "Home Improvement"

Penny licks an egg. Alice is jealous of a flower.

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.

"Home Improvement" was written by Jay Gard & Alex Raiman and directed by Joshua Butler

The Napster asks Fen if she believes in herself. It's such a pointed and poignant question. She absolutely should believe in herself because she has been such an active character who fights on the behalf of Fillory no matter what. She was the one leading the story with the Fairy Queen in the previous season. She had a personal investment in that and made sure that her reactions to every development were valued by everyone else. And so, it's awkward that the show is once again positioning her in a passive position just to incite her to a surprising action. She is desperate to figure out what's going on with her prophetic dreams. Margo sees them as all being about her and the next thing she needs to do to heal Fillory and continue her rule as High King. She's the one who can see through the charade of the woman pretending to tell fortunes. Fen is more gullible in that way. As such, the audience may also be left a little suspicious about the episode-ending declaration that Fen needs to kill Margo in order to stand up as her own unique individual in this world. Fillory may be better off with Fen as its ruler. However, Margo tapped into a constituency no one else felt important to engage. Plus, Fillory didn't fair so well when Tick was in charge as someone native to this land. The fair and free election gave Margo this power. She should be respected as such until the next election. Instead, everything seems to be implying that Margo is the one who shows up in the Underworld to reunite with the original Penny once more. Sure, that may just be a guess at this point. It's still a little unclear how all of this will come together. But there is a fair amount of excitement and amusement to all of this as well. Margo will be disappointed to learn that Fen didn't use this moment to learn more about the birthright. Instead, she took the opportunity to learn more about her own destiny. That too is very understandable. It's the decision Margo would make in this exact same situation. There may be an inherent selfishness to it. However, the lives of these characters are improved dramatically when they learn to see beyond themselves and look at the story of the overall world. The dynamics between people are so complex. Alice believes she knows exactly what her mother is capable of doing. She doesn't want to see her in order to help Zelda. But that's the only way to secure Sheila's release from the Library. That is a priority for her because Sheila was the person who showed her that magic could be used for good. It didn't always need to carry a negative connotation. And yet, that impulse is still there for Alice. She sees the harm and damage done because of magic. She can craft a deal here. But it's more important for her to see her mother in a new light. Stephanie is someone who would never betray Alice because she is the only family she has left. That's honorable as well. It's meaningful and allows the spell to finally work. That's what only makes it more devastating when Alice learns that Sheila has joined the Library. She is able to excuse all of the heinous acts taken by this organization because of the amount of good that she personally is able to do now. She has a renewed sense of purpose. It's just so drastic for Alice because she and her friends have long seen the Library as the enemy that truly doesn't understand the world and its problems in the same way that they do.

Meanwhile, everyone else is trying to keep the hope alive that they can still save Eliot. He doesn't have to be lost to the Monster forever. A deal has been struck that will keep the Monster from ruining Eliot's body. That means it's suffering through withdrawal and even more temperamental than usual. That's very scary and dangerous. However, it remains an abstract threat here. Everyone else is mostly trying to track down this other artifact that could be connected to yet another god with a missing piece of the puzzle. They are helping the Monster to save Eliot. It sucks and has already carried a grave cost to it. And yet, it is still enriching their lives as well. Kady is fighting passionately for the Hedge Witches now even though she advocates for turning the people responsible for the bombing into the Library. It's not a popular decision but she sees it as the best one to protect all of them from persecution. She is worried about their safety. She does so because she doesn't know how to process the message that Penny23 gives to her from the Penny she loves. He isn't coming back. She has to find a new purpose. She is doing so even though it's scary and difficult. Elsewhere, everyone else is caught up in a wild plot that once again involves Poppy causing problems with dragons. She has fertilized an egg that has created a new dragon hybrid baby. That egg carries the magic to make anyone who touches it immediately protective. That is a fun change-up to the dynamics. It also proves that Julia remains immune to so many magical qualities in the world. Sure, she still has no fundamental understanding of who she is. She believes she's destined to be all alone in the world. Of course, that is forging a new bond between her and Penny23 because he feels the exact same way as a traveler from another timeline. That is significant. However, most of this story is played for the comedy relief of Kady holding an egg at gunpoint while Poppy, Quentin and Penny23 plead with her to keep it safe. They ultimately succeed in getting the magical artifact they were after. Plus, it allows Poppy to come to some realizations about her own maternal instincts. She didn't believe she had any until this experience. She may still be a complicated and unusual parent. That child may be destined to be raised by Quentin, who will serve as the godfather. That's special because it too harkens back to the alternate life in which he had a child with Eliot. It's painful for him to admit he has never felt these emotions before. But it all also means that Julia gets another vague clue as to how to regain her power as well as a direction for everyone to pursue.