The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Source of Magic”

The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Source of Magic”
Grade: B+

NOTE: I’ve watched the first three episodes already and am going on memory here from a week and a half ago.

The beginning of the second episode of The Magicians was promising. With an ending like the first, the following episode needed to have just as much power at the start and I think it did that well. Following The Beast’s attack in the classroom, the episode sort of flashes back to exactly what happened while focusing on the aftermath—Quentin waking to Anne Dudek’s character Professor Sunderland (an amazing introduction to a great character, by the way; I love her) asking questions.

One of the best parts of this show is how the magic is performed. The hand gestures it takes to perform spells. It’s intricate and a great visual for a show like this—not sure how it’s done in the books, but I’d hope something similar. Experiencing what happened with The Beast in short bursts made for a perfectly paced intro to “The Source of Magic.”

Overall, the episode is lesser than the first simply because after that incredible introduction to The Beast in the previous episode and the brilliantly transition to episode two, it fails to go anywhere from it. There’s no real mention of The Beast again, no real interest in him by the protagonist—why doesn’t Quentin care how The Beast knew his name? Or why he came instead of Alice’s brother Charlie? Why does no one seem to care? Instead, all that they care about is being caught—understandable. But if I were them, I’d be equally interested in finding out more about The Beast in the first place. But they really don’t do anything. And the main characters seem to forget about The Beast altogether. (Am I remembering correctly? I know the episode aired only a week and a half ago, but I can’t think that it went anywhere.) Episode two was a great place to introduce an overall arc with The Beast as the villain, but it fell flat a bit. It didn’t come off as strong series-long arc to come, especially because the next episode doesn’t seem to mention The Beast at all.

I’ve read in other reviews about how they seems to be using a lot of plot quickly and, not having read the books, that worries me. They need to slow it down a bit. Make the show focus more on the overall picture as well as the individual episodes (note: this gets worse in the next episode, too). Julia’s storyline, which I loved so much in the first episode, took a turn and isn’t as exciting anymore. I like the intro of the character she’s stuck with in the freezer (who turns out to be the leader of the “hedge witches”; I’m terrible at remembering names, by the way, so I’ll be describing characters a lot until I learn their names properly) and that world, but it seemed slow compared to the rest of the story at Brakebills which is going too fast. Though the added dark of Julia literally having to cut some meat off a dead person who had just been reanimated to attack her before…that was a bright spot of all her scenes.

The characters are starting to get more interesting. Eliot is definitely on the top list, but I think his sidekick Margo needs more time on screen and a story to work with—she gets a little more in the next episode. There’s a lot of good character development and backstory (Alice breaking into the school to find her brother is interesting, giving her more depth as her perfect-straight A type of character; Penny being used by The Beast to become a magician (but again, that goes nowhere); Kady working for the leader of the “hedge witches” and stealing stuff from Brakebills).

Overall, a good episode that started off really strong. A lot of development with the world and magic, and the characters started to become more interesting, but not as great as the first.


HIGHLIGHTS

That opening scene
was fantastic. The flashbacks to the fight with The Beast made for a killer opening and the fight itself looked incredible.

A lot of new information
about the world and magic is given and that brings us into the world more, but I wish it was shown and not told to us through characters.

LOWLIGHTS

Not enough of The Beast
and not enough showing that it will become more of the story later, only hints. I want to know more about him, as should the characters. Their lack of interest baffles me.

Julia’s storyline was
at first a great aspect of the show, but in the second episode felt like it dragged on and didn’t go anywhere. With more interaction between her and Quentin (in the next episode, that improves) it would be more interesting. That’s the relationship that I care about, that is the strength of the show and where it started: them being separated in the first place.

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