Wednesday, April 1, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Alice, Eliot and Their Friends Channel Their Hopes to Build a Better World in 'Fillory and Further'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 5.13 "Fillory and Further"

Christmas comes early.

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 series finale of Syfy's The Magicians.

"Fillory and Further" was written by Sera Gamble & Henry Alonso Myers and directed by Chris Fisher

In the season premiere, Sir Effingham appeared to Julia to bestow her the latest quest to save Fillory from destruction. It was only later revealed that she and her friends were the ones planning the implosion of the planet. Their actions and motivations were misunderstood by a being that appeared as all-knowing and mystical. He wasn't. He was always stuck in traditional ways that no longer belonged in society on either Earth or Fillory. But those misunderstandings came to define this season. Seb never saw himself as the villain who was set to destroy the barrier between the living and the dead. He just refused to say goodbye to Lance, his greatest love. Seb was immortal and could survive anything. The one thing he wanted was gone. He didn't want to accept that. Lance isn't the being that comes out of the door in the end though. Instead, it is Martin Chatwin, the Beast. As such, the finale replaces the apparent antagonist with a blast from the past who has always loomed large over the proceedings. The Chatwin family were essentially the first human travelers to Fillory. It was a land that inspired countless stories. Those tales helped create a sense of belonging for Quentin, Julia, Margo and their friends. Across the series, they have embarked on numerous quests throughout this world. They saw its complexity. It was never capable of living up to the fantasies in their heads. Instead, it was always precarious where one false move could end their lives. Quentin made the ultimate sacrifice for his friends. They are willing to make that same choice too because they can't bear life ending for those they care about when they could have made a difference. The team has a plan to save the multiverse. It is a misunderstood plan because it involves destroying Fillory. As such, the series comes to a close by imploding this world of wonder and imagination. There was always the reassurance that it would be replaced with something magical and new. However, there was never that guarantee. Magic could end throughout the realms. These characters had to have lives outside of the quest in order for it all to mean something. They have questioned just what the future might hold. They don't know if they are best positioned to always save the world. They have grown exhausted and tired. They have strived for more. Julia and Penny23 get that here. Their daughter is born. Sure, this isn't the first show to name a newborn girl Hope because of what the parents symbolize for their future as a family. Her being know as H.Q. though makes her more unique. But it's a happy ending nevertheless. One filled with compromises as Penny23 doesn't get to settle down like he wanted to with Julia. However, they are united as a family providing service to the magicians who are lost out there and in need of assistance. That is the profound journey of this season. Everyone felt lost in the beginning. They didn't know how to move forward following Quentin's death. That only further amplified the mixed feelings they had about themselves. Alice and Eliot didn't feel like heroes. That is the exact place they are positioned in though. They are the saviors Fillory needs in its time of need. Eliot doesn't want Seb to die. He doesn't in the end. He reunites with his other sibling, Jane Chatwin. That may be comforting in its own way. The logistics of this universe are always influx and evolving. One realm dies so that more can live. Zelda makes that ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the magicians and the Library. She can only hold off the Beast for so long while disrupting the accessibility of portals. But Alice appreciates the lessons she got along the way. She rebuked the Library on so many occasions. And now, Zelda is the one who gives her the confidence to fuel the World Seed and create a new destination for the citizens of Fillory. That is the end goal. It's a move of majesty and excitement. Fen is at the forefront to speak about the glory of Fillory while also advocating for a better world. One that isn't riddled with the traumas of the past. That leads to the creation of a world that is a fun mixture of Alice, Fen, Margo and Josh. They may be stranded there but they also feel at home. That is the final resting place for these characters. It doesn't quite feel like the ending the show was always building towards. It does resolve things in a satisfying way for the season though. Eliot and Charlton can always rely on each other's comfort and vulnerability. The Beast has been slain once more. Julia and Penny23 are a family. Fogg can maintain a sane mind to continue warning his students about any peril that's to come. Plus, sacrifices are offered and acted out without having to send these characters through mourning once more. The show could always be trusted to tell stories in a captivating and creative way. Sir Effingham and Santa Claus had different approaches to bestowing quests. One projected his opinion onto the world while the other instinctively understood what each individual person deserved and needed. Santa trusts that the magicians will know what to do with their gifts when they need them. He helped Alice find peace and purpose. The show did the same by offering a unique take on the genre that spoke to so many who haven't been well represented in stories before. That quality will be missed but the series was rewarding and fun until the very end. That makes it a satisfying journey despite this being the impromptu series finale.