The Magicians – Season 1 Ep 6
As I sat re-watching ‘Impractical Applications’ for the sake of this recap I remember thinking that the whole Brakebills storyline was nothing but filler. Cool filler that was fun to watch, but filler all the same. Having seen every episode of the show, I know already what’s going to happen to every character and to be honest the trials they are put through in this episode isn’t something that sticks out in my mind. There’s so many wild twists and turns this show takes throughout the course of a season that the Brakebills shenanigans rank low on the list of standout moments for our main crew. However, looking at this episode again, I have to admit I take back my stance on the trials being filler because they are so important, you guys. The Magicians is a show with an ensemble cast and this ragtag group is just that; a group. It’s in this episode that it’s stressed upon how much the crew can accomplish when they work together, something we haven’t really seen since they beat The Beast back into the mirror world in episode 1.
We pick up the episode exactly where the last one left off — Penny’s revelation that the dungeon he was in with the girl and The Beast was located in Fillory. Of course Quentin’s brain practically short circuits trying to process what he’s just learned, while Penny isn’t here for it. Alice tries to convince him to stay and listen to Quentin, the resident Fillory expert, and he does for a short time until it’s clear Q has no real answers since Beasty isn’t mentioned in any of the books.
I feel like every Julia portion of my recaps so far can be summed up with the phrase ‘Julia is desperate for magic’, because it’s totally accurate,and this week is no different. Her desperation leads her back to that hedgewitch safe house she wasn’t at all feeling last episode. She wants answers about why they’re freezing her out knowing it’s Marina’s doing. The people at the safehouse don’t want any problems, but two things happen: Julia gets herself noticed by a mysterious woman, and the bartender at the safehouse gives her an address to another one that could possibly have what she’s looking for.
Penny rightfully doesn’t want anything to do with The Beast so he has Kady tattoo the spell on to him that will stop him from travelling. He tries to find out more about Kady and while she has the elusive bad girl thing down to a science, she does let him in on a few things, like how her mom died young and how her dad is a hippie, but he loves her unconditionally. Out of all of the main characters, Kady is the one that we spend the least amount of time with, and when we do it’s in service of another character, so it’s nice when we’re able to get more insight into who she is and what her character is all about.That’s another plus for this episode, it features the most Kady content thus far.
Julia goes to the address for the safe house, but when she gets there it’s abandoned, run down, and more like a crack house than anything. The mysterious woman from the bar followed her there, something Julia is well aware of and confronts her asking her what she wants. Turns out Hannah, like Julia was also a hedgewitch kicked out of Marina’s good graces and cut off from magic. She tells Julia that she can feel that she’s the real deal, and all she really wants is to share her spells with someone who knows what they’re doing. She shares the spells she has with Julia and it’s all good until they run out.
While studying, Quentin gets kidnapped by two masked figures and ushered into the episode’s A plot — The Trials. What are the trials you ask? Basically an organized, authorized version of magical hazing led by the upperclassmen. The trials are designed to thin out the herd at Brakebills even more because if you fail or tap out, you’re out of the school. Eliot and Margo, as upperclassmen are living the best versions of their lives throughout the entirety of the trials, and as always, the two are so much fun to watch, and they have some of the best lines this episode. Quentin gets put on a team with Penny and a third student and they’re tasked with casting a spell, that is supposed to be nearly impossible to do as the spell needs to be decoded first. They’re on a time crunch and it doesn’t look too good for them, then Quentin gets the idea to cheat off of Alice by having Penny project himself inside of consciousness and write down what she figured out. The plan works, but the third member of their team bails on them before Eliot can tell them that they’re advancing.
I really dig the dynamic between Julia and Hannah, not because they’re great together by any means (it’s the opposite really) but because they’re so similar. From their first encounter with one another it doesn’t take long to realize that Hannah is basically what Julia is on her way to becoming. Hannah too chases after magic, and like any addict, she’s constantly chasing the feeling of her old high. Julia has only recently been introduced to the drug that is magic, while Hannah at best is a functioning junkie. The two aren’t at all good for one another, something that becomes blatantly apparent when they come up with the insane idea of stealing spells from Marina.
For their heist plan to work, Julia and Hannah need an inside man who has access to Marina’s safe house. Julia didn’t exactly leave on the best terms, but Hannah says she has someone. It turns out that someone is Kady, who just so happens to be her daughter. On my first viewing of the show I can honestly say that this twist had me shook. It probably should have been obvious, but I did not see it coming. As I understand it, Kady was in the books, but dies during The Beast’s attack in the classroom pretty early on, so basically her entire character is a creation of the show. Like I’ve said in a past recap, the ‘magic as an allegory for drug use’ isn’t some original idea The Magicians came up with, but the inclusion of a character affected by their parent’s addiction to magic use is pretty dope. When Kady meets her mom at a restaurant with Julia, she already knows she’s in for some BS, her defenses are up so high she even shrugs off affection from Hannah and it’s easy to tell she’s been here before with her mom on multiple occasions. Kady of course refuses to go along with their plan, and she drops the final pieces into place about why she steals for Marina.
Back in the day, Hannah planned another spell heist, only it didn’t go as planned and two people got killed. Marina swooped in and cleaned up her mess, and in return Kady basically has to be Marina’s indentured servant. Let that sink in for a minute, because the more you do, the more messed up it becomes.
During what is supposed to be a celebration for passing the first trials, Quentin mopes in his room, which isn’t ideal to watch, but this is more than made up for when for the second episode in a row we are graced with a certified Margo Hanson pep talk. Q’s mind is on Fillory and the fact that he can’t even be happy that it’s real if something as terrible as The Beast lives there. Margo, who herself is a closet Fillory and Further stan hands him a bottle of champagne and encourages him to enjoy the world he’s in and not dwell on a place he’s never even been to. Quentin all the while periodically sips from the champagne bottle. When he decides that she’s right and gets up to join the party he quickly finds out that she roofied him.
Q wakes up in a forest where he is unable to do magic. Eliot tells him that his next task in the trials is to catch a fish using a bow and arrow. Elsewhere in the forest, Penny, Kady, and Alice have similar tasks; Penny has to wrangle a horse with an axe, Kady has to catch a pheasant with a butterfly net, and Alice has to chop down a tree with rope. Needless to say, none of them are succeeding at their tasks. Penny doesn’t take things too seriously when he runs into Kady, but she’s hyper serious about catching the bird, so much so that when Penny tries to get her to stop a minute and talk to him she gets hysterical telling him how her staying at Brakebills is a matter of life and death, and she hits him in the nose, though that part was an accident. After he calms her down, Penny is the one who devises a plan on how to complete their tasks. The core four assemble and trade off weapons and tasks based on one another’s strengths. It’s cheesy in an almost Saturday morning cartoon kind of way, but it’s so satisfying to see them all working together again that I don’t even care.
They all make it to the final trial, which is them getting paired up with another magician and literally laying themselves bare by getting naked, binding their wrists together with rope and the only way to get the ropes off is to reveal to their partners the utmost truth about themselves. Kady and Penny of course pair up, as do Quentin and Alice. None of them are exactly thrilled that there isn’t any trick or loophole for this one.
Julia cut Hannah out of the heist plan after she learned what happened before, but when Hannah shows up to her makeshift safe house, Julia agrees to let her help, mostly because the spell she’s using to break into Marina’s safe house requires two people, and trying to do it alone could kill her. They succeed in transporting Marina’s cabinets full of spells to them, but when Hannah pulls out some of the pages they find out Marina was one step ahead of them. The scene goes from zero to a horror movie real quick as she cursed the cabinets and Hannah warns Julia to run as she dies brutally with blood coming out of what looks like every orifice of her body.
Alice and Quentin drink before they get naked in front of one another and start their task. Penny tells Kady that he’s falling in love with her and Kady tells him that she’s been using him the entire time. Both of their ropes untie, which means they were telling the truth and they’ve completed the trial successfully, but the cost is steep. Quentin and Alice miss the deadline and as a result think they’re kicked out, but in their miserable state they tell each other their deepest truths. Alice’s is that she holds herself back from what she’s fully capable of, while Quentin’s is that he runs constantly because he hates himself. Both of their ropes untie and the episode ends with all of them morphing into geese, and yes That is not a typo. There is a television show out in the world where after an emotionally gut wrenching scene the main characters turn into geese and fly away. The real question here is if you’re not watching it yet, why aren’t you?
Did you enjoy this episode of The Magicians? Or did you think it was trash? Let me know in the comments.