The Magicians – Season 2, Episode 5: “Cheat Day”

The Magicians – Season 2, Episode 5: “Cheat Day”
Grade: A-

The fifth episode of The Magicians’ second season had a beautiful, sad storyline of Quentin, having been sent back to Earth and to a desk job in an office by Dean Fogg, meeting Emily, the woman who Alice and Margo had previously met up with and had known Alice’s brother (and be the reason her turned into a niffin) and discussing magic, getting drunk, and sleeping together, both lonely and missing loved ones. Meanwhile, Julia and Kady deal with Julia learning she’s pregnant with Reynard’s child and try to get an abortion—which goes terribly wrong, Eliot and Margo deal with a man trying to assassinate Eliot, and Penny goes to Mayakovsky to help with his new hands—which won’t allow him to do any magic.

The episode had its faults (the Fillory scenes were surprisingly boring, especially since it was about a group of rebels (called Foo Fighters, hilarious to Margo) trying to assassinate a king) but it mostly great. It’s a hard episode, the heartbreaking sadness of Quentin and the horror that is Julia trying to get an abortion, a deeply disturbing scene that had nothing to do with the procedure itself.


Quentin in the real world
working at an office was really great. It worked well, was both funny and heartbreaking, and watching Quentin’s sadness after Alice’s death and his return to a normal world, back to the way his life had been before Brakebills, was sad. Coupled with Emily’s story of tragically still being in love with the Brakebills teacher (revealed to be Mayakovsky) and watching as they drunkenly use each other to feel better, which obviously doesn’t work, makes for a heavy episode. But having lighter moments and bits of magic made for an incredible episode.

Julia and Kady
dealing with the tough situation of Julia going through an abortion—or attempting to, anyway—was really a strong part of the episode. Though it derailed their plans of finding the girl who was able to trap Reynard 40 years ago, this storyline brought it to a much darker level once realized that Reynard is preventing the abortion by messing with the minds of the clinic staff, so much so that the doctor about to perform the abortion stabs out her eye and bleeds to death before she can perform the procedure, a scene which has become one of the most terrifying of the show. You know what might happen, you see the small things that seem a bit off, then it gets worse and worse. The building tension was like a horror film. Overall, Julia and Kady working together is a perfect pairing for Julia’s storyline, making cutting into time with Fillory and Quentin’s crew way more equal in interest.

helping Penny (by forcing him to untie thousands of knots and sand down an entire wood table) was funny and worked really well for the episode. It brought everything together once it was revealed that the teacher Emily had been in love with had been Mayakovsky, which is why he’d been banished from Brakebills and started Brakebills South.


Fillory drama
was surprisingly boring and out of place. I wouldn’t have minded an episode without Eliot and Margo here to better tell the other stories. Often times, when they have too many storylines, the episode suffers a little and one of them becomes the weakest link. Eliot and Margo ruling in Fillory was the weakest link in this episode. Too many storylines in one episode was a problem the show had last season.


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