Wednesday, April 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Quentin and Alice Revisit Their Past in Order to Prepare for the Future in 'The 4-1-1'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 4.11 "The 4-1-1"

The gang talks to a book. Tick threatens to drink some water.

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 4-1-1" was written by Henry Alonso Myers & Christina Strain and directed by Meera Menon

It has been a long time since the show has mentioned that magicians have certain specialities that are inherent to them and the magic that they can practice. It is a part of the curriculum at Brakebills. The students were tasked with figuring out what made them unique and strong as magicians. Then, they would be taught how to be the best in their given field. However, the show has largely moved away from the main characters continuing their education at Brakebills. Sure, it's still an important location for the series. Dean Fogg is still a major character who continues to present as an ally who has the skills to create some of the most powerful and necessary spells the team needs from time to time. But this hour takes Quentin and Alice back to the world of the first season. That is a dramatically different reality. One in which they were still openly lusting after each other. In the present day, there has been nothing but angst between them because of the actions Alice took that betrayed the entire group. She has been trying to earn back their trust. And yet, Quentin told her he doesn't know if he could ever forgive her completely. Yes, that means the show has also moved away from the romantic pairing of Quentin and Alice. It's no longer like the days where Mayakovsky was waiting for the two of them to have sex already. So much has changed. Dramatic and life-changing things have happened in this timeline. Even Mayakovsky has been transformed into a bear and is currently trapped in the memories of a senile version of himself from the future. He's a man who is so brilliant but so cruel as well. He presents as nothing more than a mean-spirited drunk. He is only necessary now in that he also happens to know a great deal about powerful spells. Quentin and Alice need him to find a way to cast a trap big enough to contain the Monster. That is their ultimate goal this season. They succeed in obtaining the spell here. But the episode also presents all of this as Quentin finally learning what his magical speciality is. The tests always came back inconclusive with him. That set up some kind of longterm mystery over his place in this world. And now, he has the answer. He can repair small objects. That's his speciality. Mayakovsky and Alice get him to see the clarity and importance in that skill. But the show introducing all of this now mostly ensures that at some point the entire plot will hinge on whether or not a small object can be fixed and Quentin having to step up to the plate in order to do so. That seems a little inevitable. So hopefully, the show can still surprise the audience by taking a different path in the pursuit of a more entertaining and surprising story.

Elsewhere, Julia is faced with a major choice as well. The Binder actually summons a former librarian who was studying the power of the gods. He was actually responsible for cutting the Monster's sister into four distinct pieces. These mistakes by the old gods have immense power that can be harnessed by anyone with the strength to wield it. That would include Julia if she wants to become a goddess once more. It would come with the hope that she would be better than the previous people who wielded this power. She already proved herself as using this power for good in the previous season. She gave up everything in order to save magic and the world. She has felt powerless because she can't perform magic like her friends. But becoming a goddess once more could also make her feel incredibly lonely too. She would be destined to stay immortal and out last all of her friends. If she were to become human again, she wouldn't be indestructible or all powerful. But she would have the same opportunities as the people she cares so much about. She also gives in to her burgeoning romance with Penny23 here as well. Of course, they only share a kiss before the Monster whisks Julia away to serve as the host for the sister it is bringing back to life. That is absolutely terrifying and creates a fair sense of energy moving forward. The same is also true of the predicament Zelda and Kady are currently in. They enter the Poison Room in order to read Everett's book to confirm all the actions he has taken as of late. They also want to know why he is doing all of this. He is hurting the world and seemingly stockpiling magic for himself. And now, it comes with the understanding that he aspires to become a god. He may actually succeed in that endeavor too according to his book. Plus, he may have just eliminated the two people who know what he's up to by trapping Zelda and Kady in the Poison Room with the clock quickly counting down on how long they have left to survive. That is very precarious. And finally, Fillory continues to present as a source of great importance in this narrative. The show is putting in the work to prove that Fen and Josh are just as important as the rest of their friends. They are the rulers of Fillory now. But they also come to the realization that there is a stockpile of magic underneath the castle that is messing up the ecosystem. That too is bound to carry some major consequences while possibly giving everyone the power they need to face off with the antagonists who seemingly have an endless supply themselves.