The Magicians Season 4 Episode 11: The 4-1-1-Review and Recap
The past and future mingle to produce a complex and poignant trip down memory lane.
What starts out as an epic fishing tale told by a triumphant Margo quickly turns into an emotional episode with as many highs as lows. All the pieces are coming together just as we knew they would. This is where The Magicians always excels. The last half of each season has been one aha moment after another and season four is no exception. In the 4-1-1, finally, the many confusing plot points came together to give us a clear picture of what must be done and who should do it.
Alice and Quentin are forced to work together to pry information from the drunk Russian bear known as Mayakovsky. It’s been too long since we saw this vodka swilling smart ass, and the fact that he managed to mind swap with his future self who is suffering from dementia is an interesting although tragic character development for this hyper-smart magician. It is easy to chalk it up to convenience. A necessary plot point to force Q to revisit his past self in season one, a time that featured simpler problems, longer hair, and sexy times with Alice. This is The Magician, however, and details matter. The writers could simply have made Mayakovsky dead in the future forcing the Back To The Future sequence. What they chose to do instead is far more nuanced and likely will resurface three seasons from now if we are so lucky to get that many more seasons. Each moment, each decision, each spell affects those around them, sometimes years later in completely unpredictable ways. Quentin the “B minus” student with no discipline found a purpose this week. His humble natural ability to fix small objects is both a metaphor for his and Alice’s failed relationship and a promise that Margo’s demon jars might need fixing someday soon. If all the Incorporate Spell musing got a little convoluted, I’ll forgive them for delivering such a weighty episode with such smart nods to the past mixed with coalescing ideas left hanging for too long earlier in the season.
The Binder is activated by blood, and in typical Magicians fashion, that blood comes from an unexpected source. The writers never shy away from destroying social constructs and highlighting just how hung up on our bodies Americans are. A very normal part of Margo’s bodily function is put to good use as a subtle lesson in female acceptance is learned. Even after The Binder, the always fantastic sci-fi mainstay Matt Frewer(Max Headroom, Orphan Black) pops out of the book courtesy of Margo’s uhm….contribution, a form of magical dyslexia takes hold. Due to the first of many ghosts from The Magicians past returning and stealing pages of the book in an attempt to help Penny 23 and Julia hook up. Despite the fact that Hyman Cooper, everyone’s favorite Yenta(Menta?) is a next level lurker and seriously passive racist, he isn’t wrong about P23 and Julia. They will always sacrifice their own happiness for the greater good. Likely with how events unfolded at the end of the episode, Julia will be forced to give up her Goddessness. That may not be all bad news though as it paves the way for a potentially successful relationship with Penny 23. It turns out I was right about Julia. She is the only one strong enough to survive both housing The Monster’s sister and the exorcism axes.
The Binder’s cautionary tale while cleverly conveyed through shadow puppets, it was a reminder just how dangerous fascism can be. Everett, The Library and The Order are in a power grab. Everett, in particular, wants to be a God because just as Alice always thinks she is the solution to every problem, Everett believes his control of power is the solution to the world’s safety. A cruel memory of Penny 40’s death forced Kady to enter the Poison Room for Everett’s book. Thanks to a handy speed reading talent all Librarians possess, Zelda is able to determine Everett has been hoarding the magic to become a God. The key-stealing caper and hilarious banana phone call from a delectably deadpan Dean Fogg along with the ant swallowing were funny and absolutely necessary to inject a small amount of levity in this terrible situation. The ants also provided a literal ticking mint flavored clock.
Now that Zelda and Kady are locked in the room, ironically just as Penny 40 was, the jig is up. As awesome as Kady looks as a Librarian I would hate to see her die in the same way as Penny 40. They are great together but to relegate Kady to another wayward dead Librarian so she can be with her man cheapens her character and the importance she has to the Hedge witch rebellion. As for who locked the women in, I need only one guess. Everett is anything but dumb. With God powers within his grasp, his paranoia is at an all-time high. Just how far he is willing to go to protect what he sees as his “duty” remains to be seen. Most tyrants don’t know they are dictators especially if they think the ends justify the means. Maybe the Hedge witch rebellion will have a Big Bad in Everett next season. The writers sure seem to be headed in that direction.
The only off note struck this week was the quest for the Thirsty Thirteenth courtesy of a childhood nursery rhyme and bizarre game of “bear skipping”. Josh is at his best when he is allowed to skirt the line between humor and emotional vulnerability. He did not achieve that balance this week as the trio of Tick, Fen, and Josh was tasked with a seemingly frivolous job. For such an important plot point to be boiled down to a joke was one of the least cohesive parts of the episode. It is a fairly minor squabble though. Knowing what we know about Everett and his Buried Alive, magical tendencies, it’s a sly turn of fate that has made a giant reservoir of magic under The High King’s castle. All of the weird animal behaviors and even weirder events in Fillory this season can be attributed to the massive amount of energy pulsing underground. Assuming Everett put it there, it should be interesting to see how he thinks he’s going to waltz out with it when the time comes. Regardless, as any ego-maniacal leader will tell you, bluster and loudness can overcome just about anything, even climate change.
Forever looking towards the future, The Magicians4-1-1 ended on a heartfelt and heartbreaking moment as Julia is taken hostage by The Monster right after connecting with Penny 23, and Quentin describing fixing the mug as “helping it wake up and remember what it was before.” What a lovely way to describe his discipline. Please let Quentin be able to mend all that ails his friends and cure The Monster and his sister’s madness before it is too late. With only two episodes left answers are already being revealed, but as with every season before loose ends get tied into frayed knots that unravel just as the next season begins.