The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 6: “Impractical Applications”

The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 6: “Impractical Applications”
Grade: A-

With the sixth episode of The Magicians, “Impractical Applications” finally seems to hit that perfect sweet spot for the show’s pace and character development. Though the show has consistently been great, this episode truly shined as a perfectly executed “classic” episode of The Magicians, as if it found its footing.

At Brakebills, the professors are away and the Trials have begun—a series of magical tests to “thin the herd” as Eliot says. It starts off as a weird cult-like initiation ceremony headed by Eliot and Margo, and continues as a crazy-ass impossible test to succeed. The first test, perfect execution of an impossible spell, causes Quentin and Penny to cheat by looking at Alice’s answers, allowing them to pass because they cheated. The second was them being thrown in woods and needing to accomplish a task (Quentin to catch a fish with a bow and one arrow; Alice to cut down a tree with a rope; Penny to catch a horse with an axe; and Kady to catch a bird with a net) and they figure out that they have to trade tasks/tools and help each other. The final task is to strip naked in pairs, bear their souls to each other with hands bound, and they’ll only be set free by telling the honest truth. Penny tells Kady that he loves her, while she admits that she’s only been using him. Alice and Quentin, uncomfortable, get drunk and miss the deadline only to eventually spill the truth to each other and are unbound. And then everyone turns into geese!

I’m not kidding. They all turn into bird and fly away together.

As strange as the end was, I loved the episode. It had perfect pacing, the Trials were fun, and there was a great mix of humor and drama.

For Julia’s side of the episode, she goes back to the group she went to in the previous episode, begging to be let into their safe house, but they refuse and pretend not to know who she is. Later, the leader comes back and gives her an address of another group. While getting there, a woman is watching her, and follows Julia to the safe house. The woman, Hannah, reveals herself to also be a hedge witch and the two bond, Hannah giving Julia some more spells. But after they run out, the two make a plan to steal Marina’s.

In order to do it, they need someone from the inside, and Julia and Hanna meat up with Kady, who turns out to be Hannah’s daughter. They want to start their own safe house, but Kady doesn’t want to have anything to do with it because Hannah had tried a heist and two hedge witches ended up dead. Because of this, Marina forces Kady to steal stuff from Brakebills in her mother’s place. Julia splits from Hannah only to attempt a spell on her own, before Hannah arrives telling her that she needs help. The two do the spell to steal Marina’s filing cabinet. The spell works, but as Hannah rummages through the blank files, she starts bleeding—from everywhere. She tells Julia to run just before she convulses and dies.

Julia’s story is getting darker and as she becomes more desperate, the worse things get. What I like about her side of the show is telling the darker side of magic, the difficult scrappy side compared to Brakebills.

“Impractical Applications” is a fantastic episode. It hits all the right notes, the pacing is perfect, and the story is moving along nicely. I can’t wait for the next episode, both because I’m loving this show and because I want to know why everyone’s suddenly A GOOSE.


HIGHLIGHTS

Paced well
and has a brilliant story to tell. The Trials came at a perfect time within the first season and Julia’s story seamlessly blended well with the main story and didn’t slow the episode down at all. Kady’s story is deepening and is starting to make for a more rounded, character-strong series.

The Trials
were fun and ridiculous, and to be honest, that end of them all turning into geese, though strange as hell, was just the right kind of end to that episode and instantly made me want to continue watching, just to see what happens.

LOWLIGHTS

The geese,
though a great end, was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. It came out of nowhere and while it worked just enough in the episode, they’re going to have to flawlessly execute the beginning of the next episode for me to feel all right about EVERYONE TURNING INTO A LITERAL GOOSE.

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