The Magicians Season 4 Episode 8: Home Improvement-Review and Recap
Informative dragon porn, The Napster, magical sex dolls, and a very pregnant Polly cap another quest-heavy episode.
This episode set the season back on track. The pacing problem that plagued the previous episode was improved a bit this week. In large part for two reasons, a return to the tragically comedic ways that so effortlessly weave jokes with tears The Magicians has always done so well, and a brief but important Monster/Eliot sighting. It’s hard to believe that a short scene that lasted less than two minutes could be so crucial to the episode. His presence is powerful for both what we actually hear the Monster say, and the promise the inevitable return of Eliot to his body will fulfill. The Monster is in a word, monstrous. He kills without remorse, has zero conscience about invading Eliot’s body, and is selfish to the extreme. For all the negativity, he is intriguing though. What we know is limited, but the information given paint a picture of an abused child who has never been taught right from wrong. This is as flawed a character as any other to be sure. An easy argument could be made that he is a product of all that has happened to him and been taken from him. The team will have to deal with him once he has reclaimed his own body and is all powerful again, but he has lost as much as any of the other questers.
The second reason Eliot’s appearance was important is it raises serious long term questions about the state his body will be in when the Monster vacates. The Magicians has never shied away from painful subjects like rape, bigotry, and mental illness. With Eliot’s body addicted to drugs, and the psychological implications of invasion he will have a rough go of it. Even when the season ends and he’s back in his body(it’s just a matter of time) he won’t ever be the same. Forever changed just as Julia was by her rape by Reynard. For Julia that change included both the gain and loss of her Goddess powers. If the dragon is to be believed those powers are not gone for good. With a few simple words, Julia is sent searching for a magical trapper keeper. Her magical immunization came in handy again this week as she was able to touch the fertilized dragon egg without succumbing to mind-numbing maternalism. Her intimate conversation with Penny 23 exposed just how lonely Julia feels. She has been through so much.
The search for a stone organ dominated one-third of the episode. Penny 23, Kady, Julia, and Quentin teamed up to capture the magical item. A side quest prompted by the search for dragon splooge brought Poppy back into the path of the quartet. She was as wacky as ever and any time we get Felicia Day on the small screen is a good one. In her free time, she has managed to write a collection of popular dragon porn graphic novels and gotten knocked up. In typical Poppy and Magicians fashion, she lays it all on the table to Quentin. She stole dragon sperm, fertilized a dragon egg and forgot to have an abortion so now she’s very preggers. It would be insane and callous to hear that come from anyone else, but for Poppy, it’s true to form and matter of fact. It is what the writers do best. They know their characters inside and out and never stray from their truth. By the conclusion of the episode, the stone is in hand, and another magical item is in play and Quentin has gained a God child. This endearing little nugget will ensure Poppy will return to The Magicians again. One very valuable lesson was learned though, don’tkink-shame. To each their own, right?
The second storyline extended was Alices’s. She has agreed to help Zelda in order to help Sheila. She needs to help Sheila get away from The Library because she needs to believe in her own redemption. She has done so many things to her friends, family, and magic, in general, it is essential she can claim that. Alice truly believes she is a victim. She has always been an odd mix of hyper-confidence and deep resentment. Every bad decision she has ever made was someone else’s fault. Alice is just now beginning to understand she is responsible for her own choices, and there are always shades of right and wrong. Stephanie(Alice’s Mom) has never been a great mother, but in her own twisted way, she loves Alice. It is up to Alice to choose whether to accept that love however contorted it is. After Alice finally realized this, she was able to do the beacon spell with Stephanie to help Zelda locate Harriet in the mirror world. This is a relationship in progress, and as much as both of these women want to connect, the obstacle of ego still gets in the way. It is what causes Stephanie to rub Alice’s nose in her admission of hindrance. Alice must accept her mom as she is, warts and all.
After all, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Turning her best friend Carol into The Library is something Alice herself would do. Stephanie’s heartfelt words of love to Alice perfectly echo Josh’s words to Margo last week. Acceptance of oneself is only half of the equation. To truly care about someone you must acknowledge and accept their flaws. Maybe even love someone because of their flaws not in spite of. Carol’s voodoo sex dolls ironically help Alice and her escape from the low -evel Librarian paper pushers who arrive with an arsenal of hostage situation tools including the terribly named Screamers. They should have been called the Incessant Talkers or The Naggers, but that’s what made them so humorous. Noise torture through pointless conversation is spectacular. That moment of levity was needed for the dark moment later with Sheila. It wasn’t all that surprising The Order would want her, she is rare, and her finder power could be a game changer. If Sheila’s words were examined from last week, it is clear she needed purpose. She was a rudderless ship lost at sea. The Order provided her direction and inclusion.
The final third of the episode was devoted to Margo and Fen. Brittany Curran(Fen) continues to display such steel vulnerability. Fen is a likable addition to the core group because she is relatable. She doubts herself and struggles with self-worth just as most people do. We can’t all be as stoic as Margo, or confident as Julia. Along with a new found confidence, in herself she has a useful skill. The catboss Napster is omniscient and provides the rallying cry Fen needs to own her worth. Fen must ascend the throne, even if that means Margo must go. With our group splintered so much, it’s not an all bad thing. Margo won’t see it at first, but eventually she will understand. Fen will need her help down the road as Margo has a world-weariness Fen does not possess. Fen has some talents, and premonition and dream-walking are skills to be honed. She might need to develop a bullshit meter however as she is still getting duped by charlatans. The only question that remains involves The Napster. With Fen’s naivete, she could easily be taken advantage of by the fortune telling pussy. If he is tricking her, why?
Episode 8: Home Improvement was funny. Back in rare form, gems like dragon sister wives, “Benedict Cumberdouche”, “voodoo dolls for fucking, are still just fucking voodoo dolls”, and escape by remote nut-thumping made the utter anguish of Julia’s loneliness, Kady’s loss of Penny 40 for good, Quentin loss of his Dad and friend, and Margo’s depression by way of snark more palatable. With difficult questions swirling about the difference between rebellion and terrorism, Kady’s command of the hedge witches and new right-hand man Lovelady will be a plot beat to watch for. I am curious where this plot thread will go. Next week should bring further insight.