This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 2 Episode 10
Whether you enjoyed seeing the multiple timeline perception of Dean Fogg, the helpful input of Josh and Todd, or the enjoyable guest appearance by Marlee Matlin, much of the forward motion in this week’s The Magicians came from the intervention of minor characters. Once again, as the various storylines cross over, these details help bind the overall arc into a solid whole. Some deeply touching moments and the promise of important confrontations to come make “The Girl Who Told Time” the best kind of set-up episode.
Dean Fogg’s involvement provides a great illustration of how this series weaves the tapestry thread to thread. Giving us a peek at an alternate Julia who attended Brakebills as a Knowledge student with a meta-composition discipline was an enticing bit of characterization by itself, but it went beyond justifying Fogg’s release of Julia from her cell, saying she’ll always look for the answers that will save her in any timeline. It also served as a reminder that those other 39 iterations happened so that Quentin could speak to a different Alice about shades.
We sort of knew Alice had this penchant based on previous mentions of her seeking help for the spirits in Plover’s home, but the motivation presented by the alternate Alice being the sole survivor of the Beast was wonderfully poignant. The Tesla flexion gave us one of the most emotional scenes in a crowded field of great dialogues between Quentin and Alice. The two can’t touch, but each mourns the passing of the other in separate existences – heartbreaking! Jason Ralph and Olivia Taylor Dudley nailed the scene.
The takeaway from that encounter, of course, is the promise of dealings with dragons, gatekeepers to the Underworld, which would be enticing enough (especially for those who have read the books), but Julia’s surprising assistance added even more intrigue. Kudos to Stella Maeve for being able to play a tortured soul, an emotionless manipulator, and a cold but understanding participant equally well. She genuinely seems to want to be reunited with her shade, even if she can’t feel the regret or guilt that would seem to be necessary in pulling her away from her quest to kill Reynard.
In fact, the visit from Julia’s shade was another clever crossover element, an encounter only made possible by Josh’s “other worlds” pastries. Josh hasn’t always been the most cohesive character, but this week he both inspires Quentin’s mission and helps Eliot with his wedding preparations. Not only that, but Josh earns nymph-shaving rights and possibly the affections of Margo by uncovering and foiling a plot by the FU-fighters (albeit a tad too easily). Whether his devotion potion will help Eliot win in the Fillory polls remains to be seen, but in the meantime, there was that nice Nate Silver nod to explain Eliot’s political canvassing. Unfortunately, Eliot’s attention may soon be redirected to the fairies come to claim his child if Fen’s visitations are any indication.
Maybe Eliot will have someone to carry on his plans like Kady does for Julia. The hunt for Reynard continues with an interesting investigation into the underground magical world of Fuzz Beat (a shockingly heretofore unused spoof of Buzzfeed). Again, the storylines cross over as Penny’s indentured servitude to the Neitherlands Library is a necessary ingredient in Kady’s pursuit of god-killing spells. Who knew that Penny’s grunt work of tracking down overdue books would lead directly to the knowledge Kady sought?
Not that The Ars Deicidium will be easy to retrieve from the so-called Poison Room. The culture of the Order seems to be both noble and harsh at the same time. Not only does Penny have to research his own hand cure, but librarians will kill themselves before releasing dangerous arcane knowledge into the wrong hands. The assistance that Harriet (played with mesmerizing aplomb by Marlee Matlin) gave to Kady likewise was both inspiring and suspicious in equal measure. It’s left to the viewer to decide whose cause is more just, assuming Reynard’s death is seen as a necessary pursuit.
The Magicians continues to impress with these intricately interrelated storylines bridging the worlds of Brakebills, Fillory, and Earth at large. It can’t be easy for the writers to juggle all of these conflicts without jumbling the characters into a mess of distractingly separate motivations. Somehow, the show keeps everything afloat and still manages to make us laugh and cry in the span of a single hour. Where will it end three episodes from now? It’s hard to say, but our eyes are glued to the screen.