The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5: Escape From The Happy Place-Recap and Review
2 Eliots, a massive amount of introspection, and hope for Queliot made for a powerful episode.
Think back to your worst memories. Some of them are things done to you, but the worst are probably those things you did to others. Those memories you buried deep within your psyche. Anything that conflicts with our self-identity gets pushed down and hidden away less we are forced to face the fact we are not as kind, generous, or evolved as we pretend to be. Eliot has to face his demons this week in the hopes of one moment to break free and tell his friends he is not a lost cause and is still in there. Oddly enough, it is Eliot Todd or just Todd as we know him that greets him in the Happy Place.
All of Eliot’s humiliations big or small were on display this week. If anything, all his failings like knowing he had turned on his childhood friend Taylor, stolen so many boyfriends, and killed his childhood bully with a bus and a pocketful of magic made him even more likable. The writers have created a real person who isn’t all perfect hair and clever snark, but frailty and imperfection. Those imperfections were stuck under the microscope this week as it was time to examine his life. It wasn’t all moping though as some of our favorite moments of past Magicians’ episodes were examined. Tough Fen, generous and loving Q, and spit-fire Margo were reveries from a different place and time. With the help of Charlton, whom I’m not convinced is actually a helper, Eliot found one moment so wrought with emotion and regret he could break free from his mind palace and let Quentin know he is still alive.
The mind palace is an interesting place. In much the same way Jonesy hides away from Mr. Gray in Dreamcatcher, Eliot is hiding from the Monster and a flock of disturbing seagulls. Between all the misuses of fuck(lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverb here), Lost references, and “daddy issues and dicks” or dicks with daddy issues(you can never be too sure) old wounds were healed. If and when(let’s face facts there is no Magicians without Eliot) Eliot is freed, Queliot has a lifetime of love to catch up on. Just one of the many things The Magicians does so flawlessly. It shows love, in all its forms without judgment and without needing approval. To love and be loved unconditionally is the greatest lesson Brakebills never taught. Our crew has learned it themselves, the hard way.
For Alice and Eliot it is a time of self-discovery and for making amends, even if those that should be amended don’t want it. That’s the tricky thing about apologies and forgiveness, it should not be for the one who did the wrong. Forgiveness can only be given by the aggrieved, and no amount of apologizing can take back the deed. Alice who has always believed she knows best, and is most like the Library in that way, has betrayed her friends one too many times. Her character arc is the most predictable and has shown the least amount of growth. She is still the same Alice that died and was turned into a Niffin all because she always believes she is the smartest person in the room.
In her mind, she is sacrificing herself for the good of her friends, but in reality, it is about control. By contrast, Q’s sacrifices were always made because he believed himself to be the most expendable. Her decision to send Christopher Plover to the poison world instead of somewhere less poisony shows just how little she has grown. It’s the age-old question, “Would you kill Hitler as a baby if you had the chance?”. Most people struggle with this because as a baby he would still be innocent and who are we to play God. Alice has no such doubts and would take matters into her own hands without thought or discussion. Alice may finally be realizing that just because she thinks she’s right doesn’t mean anyone else should. As Quentin puts it, “you can save my life 50 times; it’s not going to change anything between us.” He’s right, you always remember the one betrayal more than the thousands of good moments. Quentin sends her away, and Julia flips her the bird because it is the least she can do to the person that cost her her Goddessness.
Even with all the icy tension, Alice’s help was needed to extract blood from the living stone. Since Eliot managed to alert Q to his existence the plan was stopped. It’s unfortunate that Shoshanna lost her life to Isis before yet another God’s heart was removed by Dark Eliot. The real issue is what was Isis’s real play, and would she have been able to actually hurt Julia if Shoshanna had not stepped in? Shoshanna said Bacchus thought Isis was super sketch, but why? Was the living stone caper going to create a whole other problem if it had succeeded? Since she is now missing a major body part, we can’t ask her, and Shoshanna can’t be pumped for more information either in her current state. At least they were able to convince dark Eliot it was all a ruse to lure Isis to him. The bad news is he now has building plans and another heart. The good news -we now know he is vulnerable. That vulnerability gives us the hope we need to carry on. If for nothing else, we must have Queliot.
Back in Fillory, Margo has resumed her High King duties. The brittle death grip she has on her composure it tough to watch. Her explanation to Fen that she can’t start crying because she won’t be able to stop and it won’t be enough is heart-wrenching. Summer Bishil’s ability to be so strong and so broken at the same time is nothing short of amazing. She has always been a fan favorite for her one-liners, but now that her emotional gravity is allowed to take center stage she is the sun from which all the characters rotate. Her plot was not furthered much this week, but just a hint of non-talking animal trouble is enough to keep our ears to the door. I do hope someone manages to let her in on Eliot’s status soon.
One final bank of questions. Who kidnapped Penny23 and why? Where the hell is Kady? She has been absent for several episodes now. At least Josh gets a mention, and we know he’s with Margo whipping up some tasty concoction and keeping her satisfied, but no one even says boo about Kady. I get she is not instrumental to the current plot, but maybe it is a chicken and the egg thing. Kady isn’t essential to the plot because she hasn’t been written into the plot. She could provide some much-needed perspective if given the chance. I’m not suggesting less screen time for anyone else, maybe episodes that are 90 minutes long would be better? That way everyone gets their due. I can dream, right?
Once again The Magicians mix the perfect cocktail of pain and poignancy. Always complex, but never bitter, just bittersweet. Escape From Your Happy Place was as tragic as any episode. How do the writers still manage to drag us to the edge of despair only to pull us back time and time again with just a promise? It must be magic. Next week Penny40 is back to help Penny23 find his place in time. It also looks like the return of Marina which is always a jolt of delightful nastiness. Until then be generous with your friends and learn to love.
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.