This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 2 Episode 7: “Plan B”
Once again proving that it can bring disparate story arcs together under one umbrella, The Magicians gives us the Ocean’s Eleven episode we didn’t know we wanted. Addressing both the expensive nature of Julia’s abortion and the cost of declaring war on Loria is no mean feat, and unlike the somewhat deficient treasure hunt episode, “Hotel Spa Potions,” the bank heist idea in “Plan B” actually works very well on a number of levels, involving not only the aforementioned financial situations but also the imprisoned Alice-niffin and Penny’s magical difficulties.
Margo was the star of the show this week, which is not an unusual circumstance, but she was in particularly rare form as the organizer of the robbery, apparently having pulled a job in her youth. There’s a certain logic to banks being warded against theft, shutting down any potential questions from nitpicky viewers about why stealing isn’t rampant among magicians. Helpfully, bank managers and tellers are mostly “Muggles,” according to Margo (nice Harry Potter nod), and the framework for the difficult job ahead was perfectly established.
Starting with the non-magical staff, “Librarian, Neck Beard, and White Privilege,” also provided levity to the start of the adventure, which has become a trademark ingredient for any episode of The Magicians. How Quentin and Penny acquired their respective enchanted index fingers was skillfully left to the imagination of the viewer, and the laughter shared between Penny and Kady over the visually comical digits punctuated nicely the wonderful reunion of the beloved couple.
This contrasted nicely with Quentin’s difficulty in confronting both the phantom Alice and his lifelong friend Julia. Sometimes Q can come across as self-pitying, but here he expresses beautifully both his resolve in finding a magical solution to Alice’s predicament and his sense of betrayal and hurt surrounding Julia’s part in Alice’s sacrifice. Both relationships have seemingly insurmountable obstacles preventing them from healing, but Quentin’s determination is both noble and admirable.
That’s not to say Julia’s situation hasn’t become urgent despite what one may think about her actions or reactions regarding Reynard. If the Chinatown hedge witches or the Brakebills professors are to be believed, Julia’s pregnancy could be dangerous for everyone. Although the loss of the haxenpaxen was admittedly puzzling (why have her acquire him from Reynard’s other victim only to dispatch him in the next episode?), the repeated attacks from the invisible goblins provided both added tension to the thrilling caper and a reason for Julia to stay behind at Brakebills, viewing things remotely through the “Best Bitches” locket.
This is where The Magicians earns its stripes as a intricately woven narrative tapestry. Recalling the repeating pizza delivery from season 1, Julia finds herself in possession of the only spell that can make the heist successful: a 15-second rewind button. Not only does this allow us to see how nearly impossible a bank robbery really is even for magicians; it also reminds us of the larger attempt by Jane Chatwin to rewind time and repeat the mission against the Beast until the variables could be manipulated to bring about the desired result.
And how perfect that even in success, one of their number was killed! Sure, it was just the Eliot golem, but that didn’t make it any less gruesome. Plus it appears to have had a detrimental effect on the real Eliot back in Fillory. Combined with the deal Quentin made with Alice, giving her control of his body for one hour each day in exchange for her help in cracking the keypad, and we’ve got ourselves quite a darkly enticing bit of foreshadowing for both the High King and his royal peer.
But as great as those set ups were, hinting at future dangers, nothing can equal that ending with Kady and Julia. Anyone who didn’t shout, “WHAT?!” at the TV when the credits rolled after Kady told Julia that “there was a complication” with the abortion spell showed remarkable restraint. After an episode full of worry that Penny might suffocate or Julia might be strangled among other things, we’re left with quite a few cliffhangers that only invite a whisper of speculation.
Fortunately, these hanging threads are more enticing than frustrating, and between our excitement at seeing the whole gang back together and the enjoyment of watching the plan unfold for the gold heist, this week’s episode of The Magicians was an undeniable (except for the poor haxenpaxen) success. As the series enters the second half of its sophomore season, it seems headed for a compelling story that will leave viewers breathless.