Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Magicians: “Escape From the Happy Place”

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Your weekly dose of magic is here with The Magicians.  As the official synopsis describes; “Alice and Quentin confront a dog; there are some flashbacks”.  Well, that synopsis is correct, but wait until you hear what actually went down.


Last week we learned that while the Monster insists to everyone that Eliot (Hale Appleman) is dead, he is actually still very much alive.  In fact, we now know that Eliot has been hiding in his happy place – The Physical Cottage. Inside the Monster’s cage, Eliot has been hiding out with his memory’s version of Margo (Summer Bishil) and Todd (whose real name is apparently also Eliot).  He learns the truth about his predicament, and the existence of the monsters waiting to destroy him outside the cottage, from none other than Charlton – the host body of the Monster whom Eliot shot.  Charlton relays to Eliot a piece of good news though.  Somewhere hidden in Eliot’s most terrible memory is a door that will allow him a moment to inhabit his body again and tell his friends that he is still alive.

While Eliot comes to terms with searching his memories, Margo returns to Fillory and tells Fen (Brittany Curran) and the rest of her subjects of Eliot’s passing.  As Fen mourns, Margo retrieves her birthright box.  Fen asks Margo why she isn’t mourning and sobbing as she is, but very telling of Margo is how she responds.  She claims that if she starts crying the sadness out, she’ll never stop.  And she’s got a mother f’ing kingdom to run.  Eventually, she opens her box (insert well-timed joke here) to reveal a talking lizard of the dunes.  Only, the talking animals have all gone silent.

On Earth, Julia (Stella Maeve) is visited by her old goddess pal, Iris.  Iris isn’t too happy that the Monster has been let out of his jail and threatens to kill Julia if she doesn’t help her.  Iris explains that Julia is the worst parts of god-hood and humanity – weak like a human but with a goddess’ immortality.  In order to trap the Monster, Iris gives Julia a stone from Castle Blackspire, explaining that the blood from the stone will render him weak long enough for Iris to return him to the prison.

Only one of these two likes books.

Hoping to distract the Monster long enough for Quentin to bleed the stone, Julia and Shoshanna bring the Monster to the Brakebills Library under the guise of deciphering the runes that have shown themselves on Bacchus’ stolen organ.

Quentin isn’t alone in the apartment for long, however, as Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) arrives as an unwelcome guest.  Before Q can turn her away, however, Alice explains that she knows that Quentin’s book ends in two days.  She claims that his plan won’t work – oh and that she sent Christopher Plover to the Poison World.  Quentin refuses to run away as Alice suggests; he won’t let Julia die.  He only allows Alice to stay long enough to bleed the stone.  And because she’s Alice, she bleeds it in a fraction of the time that Quentin would have.  As planned, they meet up with Julia, Shoshanna, and the Monster at a park.

Somewhere inside of the Monster, Eliot drags Charlton around his memories in search of the elusive door.  Many of the memories Eliot calls out as terrible are ones we’ve seen so far, such as when he sends Margo to prison and when he has a threesome with Margo and Quentin.  Other memories are new ones, ones from his childhood.  The less terrible memories give way to harder ones, or as Eliot puts it, “it’s Daddy issues and dicks from here on out.”  As a kid, Eliot was ruthlessly bullied, but he had one friend.  In one of his worst memories, Eliot literally kicks this one friend when he’s down.  Eliot spends the episode chasing these memories in search of the door, all while running from the monsters trying to kill him.

When a memory version of Quentin tells Eliot “you sacrifice for people you love,” Eliot finally realizes where his door will be.  Again, we are brought back to a moment from a previous episode.  This moment happens at the end of last season’s “A Day in the Life,” where Q and Eliot literally grow old together before being brought back to their previous selves.

This particular scene, however, extends past what we previously saw.  We now get to watch as Eliot and Quentin discuss the implications of having lived a full life together.  Q declares this “proof of concept,” meaning that they would actually work as a couple.  Quentin speaks from a place of pure optimism, but memory-Eliot shuts him down.  And this is Eliot’s biggest trauma, turning away happiness when it was in his grasp.  And in a tender moment, Eliot kisses the memory version of Quentin.  “When I’m braver it’s because of you,” he claims.  Then the door opens.

Just as Alice prepares to throw the stone blood onto the Monster, Eliot surfaces in his body.  He speaks directly to Quentin, but Quentin is unsure at first.  But then, there is no denying the truth.  “Peaches and Plums motherf*ckers, I’m alive in here,” Eliot says, and Q knows immediately that it’s him.  He pushes Eliot out of Alice’s path and the blood hits him instead.

The Monster resurfaces then, just as Iris arrives.  Enraged, Iris goes to kill Julia, but Shoshanna steps in front of her – accepting her fate.  The Monster then takes another organ, this time from Iris.  The Monster claims that he was set up, but with some quick-thinking Alice proclaims that they’d actually been planning to bring Iris to the Monster, so he could kill her.

We cap this week’s episode with Quentin telling Alice to leave them, but not before Julia can give her the finger. Oh yeah, and did I mention that between all that went down in this episode, Penny was kidnapped?


I went into this episode expecting it to have a similar feel to last season’s “Be the Penny,” where we finally see the flip side of a supposedly-dead character.  And while there were some obvious similarities in that regard, it was oh so different.  And oh, so beautiful.  I could talk forever about some of the things that happened in this episode, but I’ll limit to two major points.

Firstly – Alice.  I know, Alice.  Look, I’m not Alice’s biggest fan.  She totally screwed over everyone last season, and I mean everyone, but she still exists.  I don’t see Alice saving Q’s life as her redeeming herself, any normal human would do so, but I think her storyline this week was an important one.  After waiting for it for seasons now, I think Alice and Quentin finally have closure.  They’ve both wronged one-another and they’ve come to terms with the fact that they can never repair their relationship.

After cheating on her, Q went to the ends of the Earth for Alice.  He even went so far as to bring her back to her human form after she turned into a niffin.  But when Quentin tells Alice to go where the book wanted her to at the end of the episode, we finally close the chapter on what was their relationship.  Maybe now Alice can move onto doing something else other than moping about how shitty she made everything for everyone.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Eliot.  Eliot freakin’ Waugh.  This episode down memory lane was one for the books.  I could ramble on about what we saw (and notably didn’t see – his father) of Eliot’s childhood, but let’s talk about that scene.  Yes, that scene.  The one where Eliot’s biggest trauma comes from not taking the leap.  After gaining fifty years of memories in an instant, Quentin’s instinct is to be optimistic.  He sees his future with Eliot as a sure one, proof of concept – right?  Faced with the same memories, Eliot reacts with fear.  What if they only worked because they were each other’s only option?  Eliot is so terrified of accepting Quentin that he retreats in full force.

There are two sides to this Queliot relationship, and this scene tells a lot about each side.  We get to see Eliot and how fearful he is about giving in to Quentin in his memory.  We also see Eliot looking back on this memory though, and this Eliot realizes his mistake.  Not only that, he knows that this is the moment that matters the most in his entire life.  Like what?! That’s some big stuff there.  He also tells us that it is Quentin that makes him brave. I think that’s what will keep him sane inside the Monster’s prison.

On the other side, this short scene informs so much more of what we know of Quentin.  We’ve watched Quentin mourn his friend this whole season.  We knew, of course, that the two had a strong relationship, but Q’s devastation of previous episodes is magnified by the knowledge that Quentin wanted so much more from Eliot.  This short scene was one that maybe we could’ve filled in in our heads, but seeing it magnifies the importance of the Quentin and Eliot relationship.  It’s one of the cornerstones of this show.

Peaches and plums, motherf*ckers.

Images courtesy of SyFy

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