Wednesday, March 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Alice Confronts Her Fear and Anger to Save Harriet From the Mirror World in 'The Serpent'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 4.09 "The Serpent"

Quentin eats a quesadilla. Kady and Zelda share a smoke.

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.

"The Serpent" was written by Sera Gamble & Alex Ritter and directed by Carol Banker

The show is detailing a very fair line between the importance of regulation versus the crushing weight of a totalitarian regime. The Library has served as a focal part for both versions of the system as well. They see the value in controlling magic to limit those who can potentially abuse it. They have the evidence that Hedge Witches will turn this into a bloody conflict the moment that they get any more magic than what is currently being allowed. However, the Library is only increasing the constraints on all magicians. They are now demanding that everyone has a library card in order to use magic while also submitting to monitors that can record every single spell that they perform. Magicians are signing away their privacy in order to have this tool that is so meaningful to their everyday lives. That too is a powerful allegory for the current times we are living in. However, it's absolutely crushing in this world as well. It's enough for Dean Fogg to note where the moral line is that he isn't willing to cross. He has been complicit in the actions taken by the Library. He did so in order to remain in power at Brakebills while ensuring that the school still had a future in the new world order. But now, the Library is asking for a list of students who were rejected and could potentially be dangerous Hedge Witches. He doesn't know anything about the lives these potential students are living. As such, it's just another way in which the Library is trying to control everything. It's brutal to watch because human lives are at stake throughout all of this. The hour opens with a new radical introducing blood worms that will kill whomever tries to use magic while infected with one. There is mystery over who this individual is at first. Then, Harriet makes the chilling reveal that it was actually Everett, the man who saved Zelda after being abandoned by her own mother. That proves that Zelda isn't fully aware of everything that is going on within her own organization. Of course, she still has to be responsible as a willing participant. She still has an equal vote in this enterprise. She could speak up and make change in order to protect the rights of those who practice magic throughout the universe. She wants to protect lives. That's why she is willing to form a bond with Kady. She trusts that Kady will make the right decisions because she has the empathy to reach out to her in the first place. Zelda is in such a vulnerable place because she is desperate to save her daughter. Meanwhile, Alice feels torn because her own guilt is seemingly tearing her apart. It would be so easy for her to lock away a part of her identity for good. And yet, that would be no different than when she was a niffin. She has to reckon with the actions that she made in the past while accepting that her life is complicated. She wants to make amends but it's so much more difficult when her friends actively hate her. She can only continue working with them while proving she is still a valuable asset to the team.

Elsewhere, the show continues to inch the story of the Monster forward just a little bit at a time. Here, it becomes obsessed with the idea that a psychic could help it remember its past life and why the gods felt they needed to condemn it to its current fate. Penny23 is powerful enough to help it achieve that goal. Sure, it's a scary prospect. One that almost gets him killed. However, it also comes with Penny23 having his own interaction with Eliot. In the episodes since he was last seen, Eliot has come to learn a great deal about the Monster. He knows exactly what it is trying to rebuild even though everyone has been in the dark so far. Sure, the show remains very cryptic in this endeavor. Penny23 teases that it's much more powerful than its body could ever be. That's a threat that remains looming. As such, Quentin and Julia can't just continue to aid the Monster on this mission in the hopes of buying enough time to save their friend and learn answers about themselves along the way. Of course, Alice is the one who discovers the Binder that Julia needs in order to move on to the next stage of her godly existence. That may be the key to all of this. It at least presents as a way for the many plot threads to start coming together. Meanwhile, the destiny given to Fen from the Napster isn't as lethal as it initially seemed. She was destined to dethrone Margo as High King of Fillory. However, Margo is completely willing to let it happen. Josh has tracked down someone who has the potential to save individuals from possession. He may be the only person who can save Eliot from the Monster who is now in control of his body. Margo only now learns that Eliot is still alive. That is such an emotional moment for her. She immediately has to have sex with Josh because he's the messenger of the good news. And yet, she is also leaving him and the kingdom. She is leaving Fen and Josh in charge because she knows that they are more than capable of ruling over the country. Sure, all of this may seem fated in an attempt to bring the entire world together. Other leaders weren't too keen on negotiating and working with Margo. They respect her but are also susceptible to this suggestion that she needs to be dethroned by Fen. Margo is now accepting that her destiny may lie elsewhere. The universe expects her to be a part of the mission to save Eliot. That will take her away from her duties in Fillory. That's perfectly alright. It will just remain interesting to see how long this banishment will last and if it can ever be reversed.