The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1: Do Something Crazy-Review and Recap
The Magicians season 5 is back and the fact that Quentin will not be returning is becoming a reality for everyone, fans included.
Tonally the first episode of season five leans hard into everything that worked about the past four seasons. The series has succeeded because Sera Gamble and John Mcnamara know exactly who and what The Magicians is. They never shy away from dealing with horrific trauma, crippling mental illness, or garden variety personality deficits that most series gloss over. The Magicians hits hard and doesn’t apologize. All while mingling in dashes of unicorns, fascist libraries, and horny Gods. It’s a geek’s artistic orgasm.
Never afraid to rock the boat the series has shown us love in many forms among many genders. It has given us strong, independent women of agency as well as men who love them for it. Best friends who become soul mates after a lifetime together and terrible mistakes with life-altering consequences are given equal time. The first four seasons were Q’s story to tell. The fifth season will be the ladies and they are stepping up.
What becomes obvious early is Julia has become the new Quentin. She is the glue to pull the others together. She will be the unifying force as the season progresses and it will be her voice that Q’s life philosophy will be heard through. Magic comes from pain and his loss gave her more than enough to get her mojo back. She now wants to use that magic for good in his honor. She just doesn’t know how. A form of survivor’s guilt plagues her. She doesn’t understand how she is worthy of living when he died.
Each of the remaining group members is coming to terms with what life without Quentin will be like. For long-time friend Julia, it means loneliness and a continuation of playing second fiddle to him. When a swine God comes looking for help it is Julia he finds. Pointedly sarcastic, the writers of The Magicians make a chauvinistic pig and actual pigman. Sir Effingham(I’m snorting) can’t imagine choosing a woman having come looking for Q. Julia has finally found her purpose and she’s not waiting to be chosen to stop the apocalypse with or without Benjapig Franklin.
Penny23 whom Julia is now dating is lighter in spirit than Penny40, but less aware of the emotional mind field the group has walked through. He wasn’t around for Julia’s rape or magical pregnancy. Nor was he present for Niffin Alice or Kady’s Mother’s death. He has heard the stories but until he has have lived them he can’t fully comprehend. In the same way that Q and Eliot fell in love in the tremendously powerful season three great, “A Life In The Day”. Penny23 is going to need time to understand this Julia.
What makes The Magicians so special is the ability to take a bizarre conversation about magical do-gooding and make it remind the viewer of common conversations that women have in everyday life. We aren’t running around worried about our magic, but we do feel guilty for working when we want to be home with kids or staying home with kids and not using our talents. It’s frustrating to be a woman sometimes and The Magicians find a way to give voice to that all too real predicament.
Dean Fogg is recruiting Penny to Brakebills which is overrun with students. With the magical flood gates open everyone is a magician. Basically, it’s a god damn state school. There are so many students even the rare Travelers have seen a bump in numbers. Knowing the danger traveling presents Penny wants nothing to do with instructing them. When Dean Fogg points out that in all timelines Penny fails to read the fine print he realizes he is legally bound to teach.
Unfortunately one of his new students is receiving a signal Penny can’t control. The force of the signal causes him to jump away so he can put his shields back up. He couldn’t control himself. What is he hearing? With Fillory and Earth being out of time with one another the sound does make me think of Castle Rock’s Schisma. Maybe the universe is trying to right itself?
Margo and Eliot get the most fun and emotional elements of the episode. The Unshackling play is a singularly creative expo-dump that lept the plot ahead 300 years. The Dark King came to save Fillory when the Children of Earth(namely Fresh Prince Josh and High King Fen) failed to protect them from the Takers. After the Dark King ascended he killed Fen and Josh who evidently went through a mustache period. A side trip to meet the clockmaker via a tube slide to the center of the world only presented more bad news. There is no turning back time or resynching the clocks without a catastrophic event.
Eliot is masking his pain with booze, medication, and snark but in typical Margo fashion, she calls him on his bullshit. Margo is right, he has a lot to unpack from season four. She overestimates his ability to do so though because she doesn’t know how deeply he came to care for Q. He didn’t just lose a best friend, he lost his potential partner in life.
Hale Appleman perfectly downplays Eliot’s pain. Nothing but a chin quiver is given away but the grief he feels comes off him in waves of ever-increasing intensity. His portrayal is beautiful and sadder than I could bear. Kudos to Appleman for taking a less is more approach. Dealing with her own loss Margo fails to maintain spacial awareness and finds herself imprisoned with Josh’s ghost. Watching Margo interact briefly with his terrified ghost is powerful. We still don’t know who imprisoned her and why but hopefully Eliot can find her before it is too late
Kady perhaps has the most agency in the group. As the head of the Hedge Witches, she looks out for them. The Library never kept their promise and removed all the Reed’s Marks. She is done waiting for them to get there shit together. It is nice to see kady taking an active role in the action. For too long she was an afterthought. A secondary character. In fact, she was featured in season four episode seven The side effect. The entire premise of that episode was that sometimes smaller characters are just as important as the main characters. While I agree, it’s about time Kady got some respect.
A former librarian knows where to retrieve a book that will remove the mark from all the Hedges. The most interesting thing to come out of this conversation is the news that contracts with the Library are voided when it collapsed. He has a secret stash of books that could be very valuable if he can get his hands on them. Kady may be able to retrieve her book and more making their partnership lucrative for both of them. Someone stole the building that Kady was looking for meaning she has competition. Why they stole the building and where it is will likely lead to the seasonal heist episode(a personal favorite).
Sad Alice is having the most obvious trouble coping. Julia goes to visit Alice hoping to perform a seance. Being the uncommon voice of reason Alice discourages it as too dangerous. She does eventually agree to help Jewel Staite’s hilariously raunchy Phyllis in the Library. She has ulterior motives of course and ends up stealing a book.
Alice is still doing what she does best, make bad decisions. A conversation with her mother confirms Alice is her mother’s daughter. Her Mom tells her grief is very personal. No one gets to tell you how to do it. If you need to do something crazy to get through, do something crazy. Little did she know just how crazy Alice was thinking. As the episode ended and the camera pulls back a Living Clay body is shown. Alice is trying to make a Gollum of Quentin.
Last season there was way too little magic. Now that magic has been restored there is no control and that is just as disastrous. It’s hard to see Q in everyone’s memories and in the recap. His presence looms like when you bite your lip and just keeps biting it over and over again. It’s a wound that doesn’t heal no matter how much time has passed. His influence is everywhere Season five will be a sentimental masterpiece. Now if I can remember to purchase extra tissues from Amazon.
- Ever clever Pete has the best line of the night, “One-armed beggars can’t be one-armed choosers”.
- Runner up for best line is, of course, shared between Margo and Eliot, “Oh grow a clit will ya. “Bitch, I would if I could”
- Please God let the grieving process hurry up. I thought I was over Quentin’s death but I’m really not.
- The Children of Earth run around doing things like chewing loudly and texting. I had some terrible dates who did exactly the same thing.
- Everyone had time to see Avengers: End Game.
- The Hog Sweats- I’m just going to leave that there.
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.