The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 9: “The Writing Room”

The Magicians – Season 1, Episode 9: “The Writing Room”
Grade: B+

After the incredible previous episode, I found episode nine, “The Writing Room,” to be a great continuation in keeping Fillory and the books that Quentin has been obsessed with since he was a kid at the forefront of what’s going on in the show. The Beast and Fillory is the most interesting part about the show—the reason I became hooked watching was the final scene with the Beast in the first episode. Although I don’t love everything about episode nine, it did its job and worked just right to lead us to more.

As Quentin and Alice search for the missing manuscript of the sixth Fillory book Quentin had lost, they find that Penny had taken it, read it, spilled beer on it, and threw it away. After initial anger and some funny back and forth between Penny and Quentin, he reluctantly tells Quentin and Alice what he’d read: Jane had wished for a magical button inside of Fillory to give to her brother Martin so he could go to Fillory again. Quentin knows of a button having been mentioned in the books, online forums about filled with theories, but all it says is that it’s magical. Quentin believes that the button is a key to get into Fillory—or out of—and they need to find it before the Beast can.

They go to England—along with Eliot who is drinking heavily after having to kill Mike—to visit the house of Christopher Plover (which I kept hearing as Plummer, confusing me) who is the author of the Fillory books. They go on a tour of the house, Quentin going full on know-it-all fangirl, correcting the tour guide. Afterward, they return at night to find the button and, from a letter in a safe inside Plover’s writing room, learns that he’d never been dead, only missing. They also learn that Plover had been studying magic, finding some of their own textbooks in the room. The tour guide comes in and yells at them for being their at night, but is noticably more fearful than angry. Eliot uses magic to threaten him to tell them what he knows, and the moment he tries to tell them about what’s happening, a ghost of a woman appears, the lights go out, and the tour guide ends up dead, lips sewn shut.

Being shown the past by two children who had lived in the house, the housekeeper’s children, Quentin, Alice, Eliot, and Penny are split up. Eliot and Alice are tied up playing a tea party, eventually realizing that the girl is being drugged by the housekeeper to keep them quiet and good while Plover works, eventually killing the girl with an overdose. Quentin is shown, by the young boy, that Jane and Martin Chatwin attempt to go to Fillory but Martin is again left behind. Plover comforts him, bringing him into his office. After Jane returns with the button, Martin goes with her and tells the young boy to hide it, the boy putting it in his pocket. Back in the writing room, Plover drugs Jane unconscious, and talks about learning magic to get to Fillory. He then begins taking photographs of Martin, telling him to undress and it’s implied that he is to further sexually abuse him.

Quentin is obviously revolted, especially because the man he’d worshipped for writing the Fillory books turns out to be an awful, terrible person. The housekeeper catches the boy, pulling him and pushing him around in the hall, eventually bashing his head so hard into the corner of a wall, he dies. She seems mostly unfazed, carrying him down to the cellar to bury him. Because they know where the boy had been buried, and know that the button had been in his pocket, they dig him up in the cellar and retrieve the button, horrified by the entire events of being at the house.

Alice wants to be able to do something, helping the children’s ghosts from having to relive the moments of their deaths over and over, they can’t fix what’s happened and leave. After a few drinks, clearly disturbed by what they’d had to witness and do, Penny goes to touch the button, feeling the magic coming off of it, and after cockily saying that he’s not going anywhere if he doesn’t want to because Mayakovsky had trained him, he disappears the moment his finger touches the button.

As for Julia’s side of the episode, she and the rehab magician, Richard, go to see a patient who’s been in a coma-like state after a spell gone wrong. Richard has Julia do what she’d done with Quentin, get inside her head. Once there, she bonds with Kira, the patient, writing down the spell she’d been working on, memorizing it as she goes, and Richard later informs her that he’s going to let Kira go. Julia is there for her just before her final moment, then they leave. Though not as disturbing as the other side of this episode with the Brakebills crew, it was equally emotional. I usually love Julia’s storyline, but think it’s too often a part of the show where it shouldn’t be, this time it was the opposite: I didn’t care for what happened in this episode, but it needed the story of Kira and Julia helping her to break up the dark-sadness of the rest of the episode, making it more of a light-sadness, one of peace.


HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve never had more Fillory,
than in this episode, which makes me excited. It seems as though the focus of the season has refocused to being about the Beast and about Fillory, something it’s been lacking for a while since episode two, though still being great on its own.

An appropriate amount of comic relief,
especially when it came to Quentin and Penny, constantly arguing and throwing digs at one another. It was definitely needed during the dark storyline that was this episode, emotional and disturbing to witness. A few of the funnier moments between them:

Penny: “What the hell is that?”
Quentin: “This house is haunted as balls, that’s what that is.”

(Upon realizing they’re being shown back in time.)
Penny: “Yeah, a time slip.”
Quentin: “You say it like, ‘yeah, a sunrise.’”

MIDTONE

Julia’s story,
while needed and it worked well within the episode, didn’t make me care enough about what was happening for me to love it. We really don’t know why she needs the spell Kira was working on, and while emotional, it just sort of happened and that’s that. Time to move on.

LOWLIGHTS

The haunted house
aspect killed it for me—pun intended. I’m just over that whole ghost story type of episode randomly thrown in in shows. Are they actual ghosts? Do we know anything about ghosts being real? We know magic is real but that doesn’t mean everything is, are ghosts? I just didn’t really care for the ghosts interacting with the Brakebills crew. I think I’d like it more if they were just seeing things throughout the episode, sort of like a magical flashback and couldn’t interact with anyone, only watching and observing and finding the button that way.

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