The Magicians – Season 1 Ep 8
The Strangled Heart is the eighth episode of season one, which means that we’re more than halfway through the 13 episode first season of The Magicians. Finally things start to really kick into motion in regards to the season’s endgame; all of the players are in place, we know them, and we’ve seen them at both high and low points. We’ve been introduced to characters like Mike and Eliza whose parts are relatively sidelined, but the roles they play are bigger than the screentime they command. I think this episode is one of the most action packed of the season so far, and by now The Magicians has its footing in terms of tone, character development, and pacing. This episode moves, and that’s a very good thing, as far as show itself is concerned we’re full speed ahead in regards to the story it’s trying to tell, so let’s dive into the story they’re telling this episode.
Eliot is very much enjoying his decision to pass up Ibiza with Margo in favor of playing house with Mike. He takes his time to mix drinks and actually finds it endearing that despite all of his efforts, Mike is a simple man with simple tastes who would prefer a beer over a cocktail. They’re outside grilling when Quentin and Alice arrive back from Brakebills south. Eliot, picking up Margo’s the slack as reigning gossip queen in her absence almost immediately picks up on the fact that the two of them hooked up. Alice is uncomfortable while Quentin is all about it. Q is eager to pick up where they left off as foxes, but Alice thinks they should cool it and curves him, asking for space until they can separate what feelings are real vs. what’s induced by lingering animal instincts.
Penny, since leaving Siberia has been throwing himself into travelling, and a lot of that most likely has to do with the fact that it gives him something to focus on other than the fact that Kady left him. Penny was already guarded and abrasive before he knew any of the core four, but now that he’d let one of them in and got his heart broken (twice) he’s on a whole new level of defensive. No doubt another means of distracting himself, Penny also flirts with one of the professors who struggles with shooting him down, but ultimately does. She is, however invested in helping him out so all hope is not lost for our boy.
The end of their tenure at Brakebills south also means the beginning of their second semester, which is double the course load and has more emphasis on applying the fundamentals and tools of magic they’ve been given thus far. Study groups become mandatory for everyone and Quentin decides to take advantage of the situation instead of respecting Alice’s wishes for space. He bribes a fellow student into switching groups with him so he can be near her. It’s creepy for sure, but props to the show for not glorifying stalker behavior and calling Quentin out later via Penny, who along with Margo is most often used when the show feels like being meta.
Mike gets woken up in the middle of the night by a moth, his eyes turn white walker blue and he’s led into the hallway. This show has a wonderful way of mixing the absurd with the serious or even terrifying. This hallway scene is the latter and gives off straight horror movie vibes as Mike finds a bunny who he doesn’t hesitate to literally pry open (it’s as gross as it sounds thanks to some major blood splatter and sound effects) and pull a knife out of, — so he seems like a totally cool guy, you can really see why Eliot is so into him.
Julia seems to be settling into rehab. We see her writing an amends letter to Quentin, the most beautiful part being that she manages to include a go screw yourself in it. Mistakes were made on both ends of their friendship, so it’s not like Q doesn’t deserve it.
Marina saunters in as if straight up murdering someone actually put a pep in her step. Rehab or not, Julia doesn’t take any crap off of her, even as Marina taunts her for giving up magic, encourages her not to, and threatens her to not retaliate for what happened to Hannah almost all at the same time. Marina is deplorable and cold hearted, but she, especially with Julia always manage to steal the show when on screen.
Richard, a chaplain at the rehab is introduced, and Julia being Julia wastes no time getting into a verbal sparring match with him. Julia’s pessimistic while Richard is the opposite, but it’s obvious that they connect, and I’m here for any scene that lets Julia be Julia, who even after hitting rock bottom, losing friends and lovers, and seeing someone die, she still has no qualms about speaking her mind with a confidence that refuses to be shaken.
While working out in the woods, Mike comes across Quentin along with Penny, and Mike attacks him with the dagger from earlier. Penny, in an effort to save Quentin gets cut and it becomes apparent quickly that the dagger was cursed. Quentin suspects that the attack has something to do with The Beast, which is a bit of a leap, but a smart one. He’s not wrong.
It doesn’t take long for Mike to be captured, and he doesn’t remember anything about attacking Quentin, or why he’s in Brakebills at all for that matter. A few scenes later Eliot realizes that Mike doesn’t even know who he is. Penny’s condition gets worse and Quentin and Alice figure out that the knife is from Fillory. Quentin takes a page from Jane Chatwin when something similiar happened to her in one of the books. After a false start, they deduce with help from Eliza that they need to use Penny’s most prized possession as a sort of sacrifice to break the curse and save him, but by the time they do he isn’t even conscious and they have to figure out what that possession is on their own.
Eliza confirms for Quentin that Fillory is real, but that the version in the books is a sanitized one, like a child’s drawing. She also tells him what The Beast wants — control of Fillory and for some reason he’s going after Quentin because he sees him as a threat. Why that is for now is still a mystery. Though she does help him in figuring out how to break the curse, she insists on staying cryptic and tells Quentin she’ll answer more of his questions after he saves Penny’s life.
Richard, who is a magician himself recognizes that Julia is as well. He brings up some interesting arguments about how magic itself isn’t a vice, but a gift. He tells her that she treats it like a drug because people who taught her acted like dealers. He gives her a spell to try before he leaves her alone. Later on, Julia tries the spell out. It’s more of a prayer than a spell, but in any case it works and Julia levitates. She describes what happened to Richard as something she’d never felt before when casting and likens it to touching a bare wire. Julia’s rock bottom with watching Hannah die and her entering rehab is pretty much the ending of the magic = drugs allegory that the show used well if not a little too on the nose at times. This episode ushers in something so much bigger and life altering for her in it’s place that I guarantee will leave you shook once it happens.
Penny’s most prized possession turns out to be a wrapper from a candy bar that Kady had given him before she left (as if that storyline wasn’t enough of a punch in the gut) and they perform the spell in time so the blade’s curse doesn’t kill him.
Eliza goes into the dungeon where Mike is being kept and talks to him, only it’s not Mike she’s talking to… it’s The Beast, who she knows well considering that Eliza is actually Jane Chatwin from the books. Jane gloats, telling The Beast that his plan didn’t work but in all actuality she walked right into his trap and after they sass each other for a bit, he delivers a triple combo of strangling her, snapping her neck, and popping her head open. It’s a real Scanners situation in that dungeon once The Beast is done with her. He tries to make his escape covered in blood, but dean Fogg tries and fails to stop him. Before The Beast can kill the dean, Eliot casts a spell that snaps Mike’s neck, killing him. It’s a stand out scene in an episode filled with a lot of fantastic ones if only to see the gambit of emotions that Eliot runs through in about 20 seconds after killing a person who he’d thought he could find real love with.
At the end of the episode, Dean Fogg has nothing to offer Quentin but acceptance that they are all doomed to die at the hands of The Beast. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions, it’s obvious that Jane/Eliza being dead isn’t good for Team Brakebills, but we still don’t exactly know the why yet.
Phew, and we made it through another episode, and what an episode it was. This was probably my favorite thus far as it’s definitely a game changer for both team Brakebills and Julia. On Julia’s side of things, we’re getting introduced to some new concepts about magic and bringing deities into the mix. And at Brakebills, even if we haven’t actually seen him yet, The Beast was at his most intimidating here. His control of Mike, not to mention both the rabbit and Eliza’s death scene proved to be effective in giving us some scope of how powerful he is while reminding us as an audience why we should be afraid of him.
But what did you think about this episode, Fanbros? Are you still watching? Being as how we’re more than half way through the season, have your opinions on any characters changed drastically? Let’s talk about it in the comments down below, and check out my recaps for older episodes if you’re not caught up here on Fanbros.com.