The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 4: “The World in the Walls”

The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 4: “The World in the Walls”
Grade: A-

As great as the first episode, episode four of the Magicians hit it just right.

We start with Quentin back in the mental hospital, thinking he’s dreaming, even mentioning to the doctor something like, “I hate these dreams. It’s like your feet are glued to the floor and you can’t move” after attempting to do magic to prove to her that he’s not crazy, though it doesn’t work. To be honest, those dreams are my least favorite of all dreams—I’ve mentioned before that Julia’s story is my worst nightmare, being left behind, but I think this might be worse. Echoing Julia’s story here in this episode—where some sort of spell is keeping Quentin locked in his own mind in a terrible place where he doesn’t belong and no one believes him—is quite obvious, and the reveal that it is in fact Julia doing the spell with the leader of the hedge witches, Marina, wasn’t entirely surprising in retrospect, but the transition to get from only in Quentin’s head to there was well done. And to be honest, Quentin deserved it and Julia needed to mess with him a little, though she didn’t know Marina had an ulterior motive.

One of the best parts of this was showing that Quentin may actually be crazy with the moths appearing but the doctor can’t see them—a brilliant reference to The Beast, which was needed here, to anchor the overall arc of the show that’s clearly being defined in this episode. After not having much of The Beast, it was perfect to have that scene, hinting that it might have been The Beast’s doing all along, though it wasn’t, brought it back to the first episode and is starting to create a nice season-long arc with The Beast. This episode did a fantastic job of slowing the pace down (the previous episodes seemed to just be rushing through plot) and start to get to a larger story since we first met The Beast in episode one, which honestly made this episode nearly the best yet.

One of the best parts about this show is that it’s not taking itself too seriously and doesn’t shy from comedic moments, even in episodes like this that could have steered entirely too intense. Having Quentin start singing Taylor Swift (a brilliant reference to the previous episode; it made me laugh out loud) to get Penny’s attention outside of his head was incredible. The entire room of patients launched into almost a musical number (shout out to Eliot and Alice for being hilarious in this alternate universe in Q’s head, by the way) and it was honestly the best part of the episode. And later, when Penny storms in to find his alternate self having an Indian accent, his response to Quentin was another laugh-out-loud moment: “You racist. Mother. Fucker.” I do have to add, however, that for being one of my favorite characters, and being the main character, Quentin is both incredibly annoying but has moments that are funny or work just right, that I can’t be annoyed for long—a great success by the actor Jason Ralph. Him singing and dancing to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off was one of those perfect moments.

Though there were a few things I didn’t care for. I think introducing Quentin’s father was unnecessary. It didn’t provide any real backstory for him, other than a fake one that didn’t actually happen. I wish more of their actual relationship had been played out. Though, something must have happened in their past for Quentin to use his dad in his head like that, to be horrified at the idea of hurting him in such a way, and that would make him imagine his dad being the one to lobotomize him. I think there’s more there, but I could be wrong.

I think an episode like this was a bit too early in the season/series. I still want to know more about the world/worlds and Brakebills, and this felt like a self-contained episode (that did expand a bit more, but really only advanced Julia’s story). This is one reason I take issue with Penny learning about himself being a Traveler in the previous episode, which made that episode too condensed. He used his psychic ability to get into Quentin’s head and used no Traveling whatsoever. Finding out he was a Traveler didn’t need to happen last week. I feel like they’re not distributing storylines well, though I think it might be getting better.

“Welcome back to Brakebills. Let’s go steal their shit.”

Marina is starting to get more interesting, using this entire thing to break into Brakebills for her memories back so that she can relearn all the things Brakebills stole from her before she could graduate. I did like that Julia, despite being in the right in her fight with Quentin (or at least to me, she is) showed that she still cares for him and wishes she could fix what she’s done, since Quentin might never wake up again. And after she rats out Marina, the leader of the hedge witches cuts off Julia. Now she’s been ousted from the magical world twice. Ouch.

All in all, a fantastic episode that was on par with the first. I can’t wait for more. And GOOD NEWS, I just learned that Syfy picked it up for a second season, too!


HIGHLIGHTS

Eliot at the mental hospital
was hilarious and perfect. Eliot in real life suddenly became serious and more intense about Quentin being in peril, and I liked that. He also wore a new outfit that I loved. Him yelling out “Me three! Me three,” after crazy-Alice tells Quentin she would still mate with him was just one Eliot highlight this episode.

Quentin singing and dancing
to the Taylor Swift song was genius. I LOST it. I want this to be a running joke throughout the rest of the show forever.

“You racist. Mother. Fucker.”

Referencing the Beast
again, even if it wasn’t actually about him and only in Quentin’s head, it felt like there was more there. It started to fit into a greater arc of the season, which is a fantastic.

LOWLIGHTS

Lame climax
with the chess game in the black abyss. Other guy was creepy as hell—more of a positive, than negative. (Bring the creepy, The Magicians, you do it well.)

Felt too soon
for an episode like that. Later in the season, it would have worked better, but the overall concept and the episode itself was spot on perfection.

Just when Margo
was starting to get interesting, she vanishes. Is she and Kady taking turns? Syfy knows they can have more than five women in one show at a time, right?

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