This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 5 Episodes 5 & 6
It’s clear why there needed to be a double episode of The Magicians this week. “Apocalypse? Now?!” was the perfect set-up for the magnificence that was “Oops!… I Did It Again” even though the caper plot of the first half was entertaining in its own right like similar heist episodes from previous seasons, such as season two’s “Plan B.” Much of the credit for the five stars in this review goes to the expertly handled time travel shenanigans, but a large percentage of the praise must also be reserved for the performances of Summer Bishil and Hale Appleman, the latter of whom has not had an episode this good since the season three favorite, “A Life in the Day.”
There was a lot happening around the periphery of this all-important apocalyptic midpoint to the season, too. Penny’s lack of Traveling skill, for example, kept him from being a convenient solution to the disaster, but the fact that acting dean Lipson is enforcing his professorship contract with Brakebills will surely come into play later. And with Fen as the “maid on the outside” being called upon by the fairies, her role will no doubt be pivotal in the move to Fillory for the second half of The Magicians season 5. Even Kady’s presumed success in ridding the hedges of their marks is referenced in the first unsuccessful attempt to save the world while simultaneously hinting at what’s to come. No mean feat for a story this packed!
But, of course, as a double feature, this super-sized night of The Magicians was able to bring all of the characters back together for a delightfully sleep deprived moon rock adventure. The concept of “lunatics” fit right into the story an was expertly executed, right down to the creepy crescent eye tattoos, and the resulting plan to ask the moon to move to avoid harmonic convergence had equal amounts of desperation and humor as a result of five days without sleep. The meth muffins were a particularly funny recurring joke, and Josh’s return to the magical kitchen tied in nicely with his new situation in Fillory.
If the week had concluded with The Magicians cracking the moon in half, we’d all be speculating for the next seven days about how the inevitable fallout would be avoided, but the series should be applauded for allowing its heroes to fail, especially since the reverse entropy group spell with the hedges would have lazily repeated the exact solution used in the season four finale. Yes, the Groundhog Day formula has been used to death, as Josh the pop culture wizard helpfully pointed out, with varying degrees of success in film and television, but in a brilliant callback to their use of “Permanence” spray in the earlier time travel episode, Margo and Eliot took charge in decisive but humorous way.
Everything about their multiple attempts to fix the group’s mistake was perfect, from exploding Penny in a bloody mess to descending into hedonism in search of a randomly inspired solution. With Eliot thinking he was hearing the voice of the Monster inside him, his confidence was undermined in the most believable and foreboding manner even as Margo admirably gave him his space. Even though we as viewers should have known better than to think that a remnant of the evil god could have been left behind given the magnitude of Quentin’s sacrifice, we still worried alongside Eliot and reveled in his unproductive debauchery.
What a relief, though, to find that the voice in Eliot’s head was just Charlton from last season’s “Escape from the Happy Place.” And the visits from episodes past also benefited greatly from the inclusion of the horomancer from season four’s “A Timeline and Place,” especially given the screwed up Circumstances that made his time machines irrelevant. Perhaps the talking whales were a bit much for some, but the premise that the time loop was a failsafe to prevent the Kraken’s release at world’s end had a certain amount of legendary logic to it. Plus it allowed Eliot to regain his self-confidence and save the day.
Honestly, though, some of Eliot’s best scenes were his dialogues with Josh and Margo. The latter might not be that much of a surprise, although Eliot’s acknowledgement that his best friend has evolved more than he has is so true, but Josh’s depth of understanding was such a pleasant foiling of our expectations. Eliot perhaps felt more free to unburden his worries about the Monster inside him to someone he was less close to, but Josh is not only sure that Eliot should just open the door to the inner voice; he’s also fully confident that Eliot will find a way out of the time loop. An unsung hero, that Josh!
The second half of The Magicians season 5 is going to have a lot to live up to with that amazing lead in, that’s for sure! Sir Effingham the Questing Beast may have been as misguided as Margo was in terms of giving Todd any kind of hero (ahem) stroking, but in retrospect it seems obvious that a creature of Fillory wouldn’t be concerned about the world ending unless it was his own place of residence that was threatened. So no matter what we think of the Dark King and the anti-fairy sentiments of those around him, the new quest to save Fillory is sure to be quite an adventure, if only it can measure up to the one that just concluded.
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