The Magicians Season 3 Episode 8 Musings
There is a veritable butt load or leg load if you prefer of fairy blow to digest this week. We get huge glimpses into origin stories and better ideas of characters motivations and weaknesses. With so much to unpack I thought I would take a deeper look at some of the themes and story arcs we have going on. Some of the book themes and specific character arcs revolve around mental illness and trauma. This is not my supposition- it is contained in the character dialogue and book events. I am in no way mental illness shaming or belittling real people suffering from these illnesses. This is simple compilation of things we see from our characters both on screen and in the books.
To Thy Own Self Be True– This is something that comes up often in the books but we are really getting an in your face lesson from our television characters. Poppy is truly the “accept yourself hero” this week. I take it back: I don’t think she is evil or wish she gets eaten by a dragon. She is exactly what Q needs. He needs a bad ass chic to grab him by the balls and tell him to quit wallowing and get shit done. Embrace your inner demons and true nature and start kicking some ass. I have such a fangirl crush on Felicia Day. You go girl. I do think that her intense ability to just do any damn thing she wants without regard will probably bite everyone in the butt. After all she all but said she’s out for herself first and possibly only. Q watch your back but enjoy the ride. The quest the gang is on is one for magic but it is also for their self esteem. Many need to find their purpose and still others need to embrace who or what they are, warts and all.
Mental Illness- This is something the book deals with brilliantly. It gives the characters real true voices that anyone can relate to. These are emotions and problems many people have to deal with regularly. Here are several characters grappling with various forms of mental illness. Julia has PTSD from her brutal attack and rape at the hands of Reynard the Fox and has just begun to take back her power. She is very strong and I think very few people would be able to bounce back like she has. Fen had postpartum depression that has now turned into grief over the loss of her daughter. Poor girl went a little coo coo for coco puffs for a while, but she is also learning to deal. I can’t blame her. I would be a mess if anything ever happened to my kids. I am concerned she is coping by avoiding however. What happened to Alice after losing her Niffen could probably be correlated to Alzheimer’s disease. It is literally like a large portion of her intelligence and knowledge was lost. She get’s a lot of shit for being self absorbed and selfish, which she appears to be sometimes, however it would be very difficult to lose whole portions of yourself. Kady is struggling with addiction and the loss of Penny is not helping. Only Margo and Eliot do not seem to have any ill effects from their forced exile in Fillory and subsequent enormous responsibility. The pressure alone would crush most people. These two have remained steadfast to one another and stalwart in their strength.
The Unheard Hero or Cassandra trope– I see what clever thing you did there The Magicians. Cassandra/Alice is named after this famous trope. Cassandra is forever weaving stories that are unheard or not believed. This poor character is doomed to tell truths and declare calamities but is consistently ignored or worse yet ridiculed. If you don’t know what the Cassandra trope is or would like to learn more check out our deep dive TTT on Cassandra from several weeks ago. It details exactly what this poor character always goes through. This Rapunzel/Cassandra/Alice incarnation is the epitome of story-telling with no true ability for change making. I would posit it is this impotence that makes Cassandra not want to see the people she writes about. The frustration must be terrible. She wants desperately to be able to effect real change yet all she can do is watch things happen around her and record those events. It is possible this incarnation of Alice is future Alice who has gotten exactly what she wished for and is now all knowing. As parents we often are Cassandra’s as well. We know from experience when things will have poor outcomes yet either purposely allowing our kids to learn from failure or being ignored because we are “so old and out of touch”.
The Toughest Job is that of Parent- Man parents have it rough on this show. Fen and Eliot lost their child not once but twice. I think they had to endure that pain the first time their baby was kidnapped or still born depending on who you believe and then again when it was declared Fray wasn’t their child. The grief must be crippling. Fen is clearly struggling under the weight of what could have been. Eliot is handling things better but I think that is simply because he has been sightly removed from the events in general. He shows obvious concern for Fray and conveys his allegiance to her when the Fairy Queen threatens her life in the episode prior. Harriet and her mother The Head Librarian have a complex but oh so common child/parent relationship. Harriet wants to explore the world and allow others the knowledge she has had access to her whole life. Her mother believes to release this information would be disastrous. The dynamic between Head Librarian Mom and Harriet is typical of any child/parent relationship even if the circumstances are much more fantastical and world ending. In addition it is interesting that in the Head Librarian/Harriet relationship if Harriet should stay at the library she would never age thus being a child forever. For some parents this would be a great thing. For many empty nesters there is a definite since of loss when the child leaves the house.
Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover– With Irene enslaving and going all Channel Zero Butcher’s Block on the slave fairies in her charge this does raise a few questions about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Last week I read an interesting take on The Fairy Queen. It was floated she was actually trying to help the humans. I said at the time I thought it was more likely she was neutral and was simply out to protect her own interests. I think in all likelihood that is the most reasonable explanation for her behavior. She knows her people have been or are being converted to fairy dust to be snorted for magical purposes. She likely would like for humans to get magic back and leave her fairies alone. I would want revenge if someone ate my kin’s leg though. That seems like a hard line for most people. This platitude applies to Margo and Eliot as well who appeared to be completely superficial and selfish. At this point they have both proven they will go to extreme lengths to help their kingdom and friends. They are at first glance entitled turds but have proven their considerable meddle. In terms of Penny and Stephanie he clearly made a poor choice trusting her. What a bitch!
A great deal happened emotionally with our characters last week and I anticipate it will continue to have long standing ripples throughout the season. There are a few questions that are left unanswered and I sincerely hope we get those answers soon. I’m still working on the recap for now because I found this episode so fascinating I need to get these ideas down. Watch for it tomorrow but right now you can check out some of our crazy theories for Season Three. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up to date on all of Signal Horizon’s news, reviews, and analysis of your favorite genre shows make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Until next week let magic reign supreme. Happy casting everyone!
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.