Multiple enthralling performances from the cast this week (and Kady's back!)
Portrayal of grief and reactions to trauma gritty and realistic.
Too many unfamiliar characters in the throne room scene with Eliot and Margo.
Use of the Eliogolem for a strange menage trois between Javier and Fen felt a bit gratuitous.
Magic brings broken hearts, dreams, and lives in The Magicians 2X04 “The Flying Forest”
Syfy‘s The Magicians broke all our collective hearts again this week with 2X04 “The Flying Forest.” Our magicians are all dealing with a loss of some kind, and we get a peek into how each will have to grow in order to overcome the trauma they have experienced.
Although Quentin’s body has been decently repaired by a centaur surgeon, his heart remains inevitably torn apart. His grief over Alice is additionally compounded by the guilt he feels over his role in her death. After a chance vision of the White Lady, he recruits Penny on his quest to wish his love back to life. Penny goes along with it after learning he would be able to gain the use of his hands, and secretly wishes to alleviate his friend’s suffering. Sadly, only one of them gets their true wish, leaving Quentin disillusioned back on Earth.
Eliot faces his royal curse head-on this week, attempting to thwart fate with Margo’s help by creating a Eliogolem (doesn’t have the same ring as Margolem, does it?) to travel to Brakebills. He seeks out Dean Fogg in hopes of getting sage advice, and gets something almost resembling that. Margo, on the other hand, must deal with the way her vindictive tendencies isolate her, and decides to take the first steps to a new her.
Fresh off the near confrontation with Reynard, Julia goes in search for a new partner. She rehabilitates Kady and they join together to finish off the god. After sneaking Julia into Brakebills to retrieve a necromancy spell, Marina comes back long enough to give them the information they need.
How has losing Alice affected our magicians? Who will go down a dark path, and who will rise to the occasion? The Magicians gives us a sneak preview of what’s to come, so let’s grab a cup of coffee (or tea or martini) and have a look!
Kady’s back, and she’s ready for a fight
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been waiting for this moment to arrive ever since that heartbreaking separation from Penny and the others in season one. Kady (Jade Tailor) is clearly a very talented magician, and we wanted so badly to take away her pain and give her a new beginning. Sadly, just as it looked like Julia (Stella Maeve) and Kady were going to get their second chance, Reynard broke them both all over again. She may not be as experienced as Marina, but with her help and knowledge of Brakebills, they now have one last chance to make him pay.
This partnership is very important to Julia, as we have seen her either lose or push everyone around her this season. Yes, we know that she rescued her partly to help herself, but it’s more than that. Maeve’s softened tone and open expression when they’re in the apartment together shows us that Julia sees some of her own pain reflected in Kady, and genuinely wanted to help her. Tailor plays off this well, expressing the vulnerability and guilt Kady feels for abandoning Julia. We sense that she hid and did the drugs not just to forget, but to punish herself. It’s safe to say we were all happy when Kady came back, because who else can relate to Julia and keep her from going off the brink? The two of them are now each others’ support, and it will certainly set up an interesting reunion with the others sometime in the future, don’t we think?
Now, we are left with two important questions. Will Kady stand and fight this time around? Will she do the same for her former flame Penny?
The White Lady is sassy, but sadly powerless against death
The Magicians has been teasing us with the White Lady since the announcement of the second season, and we finally had our introduction to her. After a hilarious and oddly touching trek through the aptly named flying forest, Penny and Quentin do eventually capture her. Giving them a little grief about their attitudes toward her, she does grant one of the two wishes – to give Penny his hands back. She delivers the tough news that she (and no other creatures, for that matter) cannot break beyond the veil of death, leaving a twice broken Quentin to wish for his return to Earth.
Lead writer David Reed used the quest for the White Lady as an opportunity to show both character growth and plot development while keeping humor in the mix. During their journey through the flying forest, we got some much needed comic relief watching Arjun Gupta and Jason Ralph stumble along in their blazed state.
Quentin: “I must be an adventurer…I have a bow and arrow, a cool questing outfit, and a manservant.”
Penny: “Oh oh oh, you did not just say that, white boy. Besides, what kind of servant has no f*cking hands?”
Quentin and Penny share a rare moment of camaraderie once they exit, with the latter revealing his heart is in fact, there under the thick layer of sarcasm he employs. Speaking of Quentin, Ralph really shines this week in his portrayal of his agony throughout this process, alternating stoic determination with wrenching sorrow. Despite her prosthetics and minimal talking time on screen, Emma Dumont had us falling for the White Lady almost immediately. In his interaction with her, Quentin showed us just a glimpse into the strong magician he can become. The piano melody that plays during their exchange adds to the sadness between them (kudos to Will Bates), and the twilight hints at the darkness to come. What will happen to Quentin next? Will he truly give up all magic, or will he find his own way back?
Two divas face off, and everyone learns something
With the strong women on The Magicians, it was only a matter of time before a couple of them clashed. Margo (Summer Bishil) has retreated into her ice queen façade after Alice’s death and Julia is on the war path over the quartet’s interference with her plan. When the former finds the latter copying spells out of the library book, an angry confrontation ensues. We might not have gotten a cat fight, but we got the next best thing: a diva battle.
Margo: “Quentin should have left you in your little hedge hole trading rim jobs for spells.”
Julia: “You think just because you went to this bullsh*t school that you’re better than me?”
It doesn’t take long for the two to start playing really dirty and we get to see the pain behind the words.
Julia: “You don’t have friends, you have people that are so afraid of you they’d rather be on your side. There’s a difference.”
Margo: “And you have no one, and you deserve no one.”
They are two peas in the same pod: both hide behind icy exteriors, lash out in anger when in pain, and feel deeply alone. Bishil and Maeve both do an excellent job showing us the fractures in the masks the women wear. The fact that director Carol Banker chose a moment when the house is empty, with no other people or distracting noises, to have the confrontation tells we the audience that this is an important moment. This scene only last a few minutes, but we are left feeling sympathetic for two individuals that have so far made it hard for us to root for them. We relate to their sense of isolation, and it makes us more invested in seeing how they grow individually from here.
Final Verdict: “The Flying Forest” takes the magicians down dark paths, and us along with them
The Magicians kept the blows coming this week. Whether it was bodies, minds, hearts, or lives this week, the episode broke everything in its path. We see how each of our magicians deals with trauma and loss, and the gritty realism of their emotions is almost too much to bear. Nonetheless, there are some sparks of hope mixed in, and even a lit romp through a beautiful but mind-altering forest.
Bishil, Ralph, Appleman, Maeve, Tailor, and Gupta all gave passionate and convincing performances this week, and David Reed’s script hit all the right notes. Jayne Dancose, Jennifer Kaminiki. Jenni Macdonald, and Felix Fox of the makeup department did a phenomenal job bringing the White Lady to life. The cinematography was also gorgeous thanks to Elie Smolkin. Were there a few loose ends that we wished were tied up? Definitely. After all, we still don’t know how to fix Ember’s little toileting mishap. It was also quite rough to see so many of our characters revert back to their old selves.
Perhaps that is the point of this whole ordeal. Maybe showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara want us to wish for Alice’s return as much as Quentin does. Then again, maybe they just enjoy torturing us. Either way, they can count themselves successful, because we cannot wait for next week!
Why are there always so many questions?
The Magicians did what they do best this week, and that’s leave us hanging. Let’s take a look at some of the questions we have, shall we?
- Again, how do we bring Alice back? Because she can’t be dead…she just can’t be.
- Who is this woman who banished Reynard 40 years ago? Is she still alive? If so, how will she be found?
- Is this the last we’ve seen of the White Lady?
- Is Quentin really going to give up magic?
- What will happen when Penny and Kady meet again?
- Will the well-spring ever recover from Ember’s unholy deposit?
- Will the monument Eliot and Margo create actually look like Alice?
- Were Eliot and Margo really not Alice’s friends? (I think they were, but what do you think?)
Syfy’s The Magicians returns next Wednesday February 22nd, 2017 at 9/8c
The Magicians 2X04 “The Flying Forest” Review