Television

The Magicians Season 4, Episode 3: The Bad News Bear-Recap and Review

A bank heist, prison break, rounder session, and death of a God; It was a high stakes episode!

The Magicians Season 4 Episode 3
Courtesy of SYFY

Last night’s episode of The Magicians, The Bad News Bear showcased everything that is so great about this SYFY show.  The magic, or the secret sauce as Frankie, the forger, would say is the push and pull.  For everything good there is just as much bad that happens to this lovely ensemble.  It is a recurring theme with these long-suffering heroes, but tonight it was highlighted in a breathtaking and heart-wrenching way.  A manifestation of that bad luck came in the form of the cutest tennis shoe wearing stuffed bear.  All who hold it while Frankie is casting his forgeries experiences bad luck to balance out the good luck generated by his magic.  The yin to his yang.  It came as a surprise to no one that that bad luck landed firmly in the lap of Q.

Poor Quentin just can’t catch a break.  Even when someone else tries to give him one. He continues to be the Eeyore of the group.  His cross to bear(pun intended) has always been his crippling depression that he somehow manages to work through.  It is fair to say that maybe his emotional state is more a product of just one tough blow after another.  His Dad likely is dead, his best friend is currently being hijacked by a monster, and he can’t even get a decent bowl of soup.  On a side note, turns out he is one hell of a Push player.  This “play the player, not the cards” game was very cool to see unfold.  More strategy than luck suits Quentin just fine.  He is not above out-thinking, outlasting and outplaying his opponents, and if that isn’t enough a little sleight of hand comes in handy too.  Nice callbacks to his card skills are the types of things the writers do so well.  No personality trait or skill is frivolous.  Everything is tightly woven into the fabric of each character and the world of The Magicians.  The writers are efficient storytellers.  Everything matters even if you don’t know exactly how right away.

Keeping the Julia is still a Goddess theory alive, her selfless act to absorb the bad luck bear’s results comes up snake eyes because something is interfering with the magic.  She has absolutely no magic of her own, not even a spark, but she was changed somehow by her turn as a Goddess last year. She appears to be immortal.  That is a handy skill, but if I’m being honest, I want the magical Julia back.  I want Julia to get her powers back. 

What I don’t want though, is her distancing herself from the group.  Last year before she sacrificed her power to remake the keys, she was being asked to leave the group.  She was beginning to understand that as a Goddess her life no longer belonged to her.  She was a part of the greater good and what she wanted for her friends may not matter as much as it once did to her.  For Julia who had literally been to Hell and back and only survived with her indomitable spirit and the help of her friends, this was bittersweet.  It could spell doom for this series that relies heavily on the chemistry each member of the group share.  I have no doubt the writers have already solved this dilemma and have a surprising and emotional resolution.

The characters all have their own hidden talents and abilities.  Alice is brilliant but insecure and unbelievably fearful.  She would rather betray her friends to save their lives than run the risk that they won’t succeed.  It is this very fear that led to the mess in last season’s finale.  That sounds suspiciously like Dean Fogg as well.  Margo is tough as nails.  She cuts through the bullshit better than anyone else and makes the tough decisions necessary.  Knocking out the Eliot Monster does not accomplish anything.  They could run, but from him, they can not hide.  At least with her plan, they have a chance.  With time comes opportunity.  The opportunity to save Eliot and themselves.  Josh, both the odd moral compass and comic relief makes a mean margarita.  Coupled with his extreme likability and his role this week becomes the trap for Bacchus.  They all have their part to play, even manipulative Marina.  It is her heavily warded apartment they all are hiding out in at the moment, and it is her Ambrosia, meth for Gods, that they use to ensnare Bacchus.

Speaking of Bacchus, the mystery of what was taken from his chest is a cool one.  Why it aggravates Margo’s fairy eye so much is intriguing.  Perhaps when all of the God’s are tracked down, we will discover what is being taken from them and how they combine to create what was taken from the Monster.  Alice and Nick’s story continued separate from the larger group but still very carefully crafted.  Alice’s decision to find her friend’s life books combined with our knowledge that Dean Fogg has them led to a redemption moment for Alice.  She is a character that just can’t fight her true nature.  She makes terrible decisions out of fear, but ultimately her ingenuity and love for her friends always win out.  Who else would be clever enough to use the anti-magic paint her jail cell was painted with against her captors?  I am dying to know what the Great Blank Spot is that is being filled in in the Revisions Room.  I would not be surprised in the slightest to find out two seasons from now this is the new Big Bad of season six.

The bank caper was much-needed fun.  From the pain of Julia and Q’s discussion about loss, and Josh’s betrayal of his friend Bacchus, the hilarious pick-pocketing and horrendous disguising of Penny and Kady’s contribution was important to balance the emotional weight of everything else going on.  You can’t wallow in sadness forever, and these two furthered the story while giving us something to focus on that was as entertaining as the other moments were poignant.

When all is said and done, they have the deweys(the magical currency needed to do magic), their identities, and something from Bacchus’ chest.  Thanks to some good luck and quick thinking by Kady they also have Marina’s apartment for good and a super cute puppy.  In keeping with the authenticity, you wouldn’t expect to find in a show about magical millennials, fairies, and fantasy lands everyone’s phones have been reset to their true selves.  I’ll leave you with Margo’s words to Josh that perfectly encapsulate all that is superior about The Magicians;  “Start acting like a real pussy, and take one for the team”.

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