The Magicians Season 4 Episode 1: A Flock of Lost Birds Recap and Review
Our lovely Magicians are barely recognizable and in a ton of trouble on the season four opener.
How do you keep an emotionally exhausting series like The Magicians fresh? How do you keep people from becoming bored by the spell, rinse, and repeat rhythm of previous seasons? A complete reboot, that’s how. We have the same faces and some of the same personality traits, it’s hard to keep a good High King down, but with new careers and memories.
Everything is topsy-turvy in this new world. Aside from Alice who’s stuck in Library jail(I need to remember to return my books this week) and a few smaller players who have the 411, our magical heroes are pretty much on their own. To make matters worse they have been spelled to both forget their former identities and to trigger booby traps preventing their true selves from being discovered. It’s bad, like really really bad. Such is the world of The Magicians where Gods abuse their powers in the worst Weinstein kind of ways and teachers desperately try to right wrongs out of guilt. It is the hell we willingly put ourselves through week after week. Call it emotional torture porn and we are all addicts.
Season four starts up right where season three ended with our gang none the wiser, Dean Fogg running Brakebills, and the Library firmly in charge of all magic. I almost forgot the child-like monster Want, who has taken up residence in Eliot/Nygel and has kidnapped Quentin/Brian. Quentin’s new self Brian the Professor, is just as bumbling as Quentin but without magic. The Monster wants so desperately to be loved he has not killed Quentin/Brian just a host of servers including one unfortunate ice cream man who made the mistake of calling sprinkles jimmies. In Brakebills, Julia/Kimber is being watched over by a guilt-ridden Dean Fogg who vows not to make the same mistake he made with Julia before. Since she used all her juice remaking the seven keys in last season’s finale she is incapable of magic right now which makes her safe. What happens when her powers start coming back is anyone’s guess? Kady/Sam is a cop naturally, Josh is an Uber driver, and Penny is a zen master DJ. This ragtag team is brought together by Kady/Sam and her detective skills and the always controlling Marina who has managed to hold onto some power of her own despite The Library’s magic rationing.
Alice has hatched a plan to escape The Library with a little sage advice from the prisoner next door, Santa Claus, who is calling himself Nick Asshole right now. This interaction above all else sets the stage for season four. The push and pull of regret and rage are strong within Alice. She has always been a character who wants to think pragmatically but instead reacts more out of fear and anger. This holds true still as she is imprisoned. She was always the book-smartest of the group but doesn’t always make the best decisions. This is still true as she deals with crippling remorse and her own impotence. She manages to hatch an escape plan involving a cockroach in her mouth, and a trip to the infirmary which makes very little sense right now but I’m sure will gel soon. I want to see her escape but I am not ready for her to leave the Library. There is much to be learned from Nick and a world where even Santa can be imprisoned by Librarians is one I want to explore. The idea that even an altruistic being like Santa can have his bad days is what The Magicians is all about. Good and evil is but a shot away from one another.
The world in the hands of The Librarians has gone to fascist shit. It is this complete imbalance that triggers Ghost In The Machine’s, Ember to contact Margo/Janet in a blanket of adorable kittens no less. He has been summoned because something terrible has befallen the world. It is either global pandemic, World War, unauthorized Gods in Fillory, or Zombie Apocalypse. What is especially funny is that zombies are the least feared event what with all their slow-moving and rotting. Margo/Janet is ultimately dropped, unceremoniously in Fillory, patch and all, by Ember in an effort to shake her memories loose and have her “Fix it”.
If last season was about trauma and empowerment than this season’s buzzwords are identity and acceptance. These people have been through some shit and have come out the other side. Alice will have to atone for her betrayal at the end of season three. The others will have to decide who they really are and want to be. Julia who has always had one of the toughest arcs, will have to contend with being a mere mortal again, at least until her Goddess powers return, if they ever return. Until then we are left with a Breakfast Club of characters with no idea who they really are. You can’t keep a good witch down for long and this group has proven themselves strong and capable. I just hope the anticipation doesn’t kill me.