Wednesday, March 25, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Marina Leads the Team Through a Hotel Heist to Build a New World in 'The Balls'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 5.12 "The Balls"

Margo sees a purse she hates. Alice writes a letter. We couldn't get Prince.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Balls" was written by John McNamara, Elle Lipson & Joseph Mireles and directed by Meera Menon

It's always a joy whenever this talented cast gets to sing. The musical episode has become an annual tradition for the series. This episode will be the last one barring any kind of unexpected but emotional moment in the series finale. It actually does quite a stellar job in combining the musical ambitions with the heist genre for its central premise. Stealing the World Seed from the Couple is a mission that requires a level head. But this musical connection is the only way that the entire team can communicate with each other throughout the hotel. As such, everyone is trying to cut down on the impulse to burst into song. They can't feel any emotions or risk this exploding out of them. Of course, that turns out to be beneficial in the end. Singing is the only way to disarm the bellhops who serve as the lethal guards for the Couple. In the end, the Couple are more terrorizing as a general concept than as multi-dimensional antagonists. This season is all about the goals and motivation of the Dark King. The obstacles that stand in the way of the protagonists stopping him are secondary to that. That also includes Fogg27, whose motivation shifts mostly because the Couple promises to gift him an entire continent to control on their new world if he protects them now. That makes him feel like a servant to another adversary when he was fairly intimidating himself. He never gets to have that lethal confrontation with Penny23 over imprisoning him at Brakebills. In fact, Penny23 and Julia are off on their own mini adventure. It's not bad that there are these personal moments throughout the hour that show how these characters aren't entirely coping well with their current circumstances. Penny23 fears that Julia will become just like his mother. She may be unable to mother their child because her connection with the baby could drive her mad with schizophrenia. That's tragic. Penny's mother doesn't want to endure that pain again even if it may spark a connection with her son for the first time ever. He is disappointed about that but is still determined to save Julia. Again, this is very tangential to the overall plot concerns of this specific episode. The same extends to Alice having to talk about the trauma she has endured when her fingers were severed and reattached. She fears that she can no longer conduct magic the same way as before. Eliot is there for her. He reminds her that she has friends she can always count on for support. She is still an asset on the heist. Her voice exposes the bellhop's weakness. She secures their escape route by reaching out to her friend Santa Claus. That's just such a miraculous and joyous conclusion to this story. Hopefully, it remains resolute as well with no lingering consequences for whatever the team has to do next to save Fillory. The Couple and Fogg27 simply don't match up with the threat that currently comes from the Dark King. His mission is personal to the emotional struggles all of the main characters have been going through this season. Meanwhile, the Couple are just monstrous beings who want to become parents. It's a premise to knock the audience off what is expected. But the musical moments really liven this story up. It probably peaks with Marina and Zelda having to perform every number alongside the team despite being trapped in the apartment. They have such drastically different reactions to it as well. Marina is annoyed that she has to do it while Zelda is overjoyed. It's also funny to watch Kady jump through a luggage cart only for Josh to fail to do the same move. These characters are so specific in that way. It will be sad to say goodbye to them. That ending is inevitable though. This mission could end life as they know it. They have to rally together to secure the future full of promise and prosperity. That may not be guaranteed for any of them. Some may have to make crucial sacrifices akin to Quentin dying so his friends could live. Life will change if they succeed. Magic is temperamental in that way. It has brought so many opportunities to the protagonists. It has a cost to it too. One that they have paid over and over again throughout the series. Some moments are full of joy and excitement. Others are filled with dread and horror. Hopefully, there is an uplifting and rewarding ending despite the task that now presents itself to the protagonists to once again save the world from destruction.