The Magicians - The Tales Of The Seven Keys - Review: “The Great Quest” + POLL By Aimee Hicks (January 11, 2018, 3:00 am)
The Magicians returned with a very strong season premiere. After the tragic loss of magic at the end of last season everyone is struggling to cope with living their lives as normal everyday people. Some are all in trying to restore magic, others are on the verge of giving up, and others are simply just trying to survive. Friendships are challenged and relationships are in turmoil. The tone of the season has been set and if this season premiere is any indication, some big things are on their way to dazzle and thrill the audience.
Even though magic is gone the show isn’t devoid of magic entirely. Thanks to Julia there is still a tiny bit of magic left. Her little spark of magic was enough to give Quentin a serious amount of motivation to push forward to try and get magic back. In fact, it would be an acceptable description to say he has perhaps become obsessed with it. He’s even gone to the point of wanting to summon another God to try and make things right. What’s interesting, after all, Julia went through last season, she was willing to go along with Quentin’s plan. Though, to be fair, she was extremely hesitant to help him. It seems like she’s simply going along with him to try and ensure that nothing bad happens to him like happened to her. However, as Reynard proved, when it comes to a crazed God, strength in numbers doesn’t really apply. Julia and Kady are powerful magicians and they both suffered greatly the last time anyone tried to summon a God and that was with magic at full strength. Still, Julia agreed to go along with him on his find a God quest.
Thanks to a little help from Josh they were actually able to find a low-level God. That led to a rather interesting party scene that provided some interesting insights into what both Quentin and Julia have been going through. It also gave Stella Maeve and Jason Ralph some truly hilarious scenes to play as they had to show their characters nearly completely uninhibited. There stuff together in the stairwell was pure genius comedic acting. While Julia and Quentin are longtime friends their storylines often times carry them in different directions. It was a nice change of pace to see them working together on this quest. Really, in all truth, after the fallout with Kady, Quentin is really all Julia has left at this point.
Still, each of these characters has unresolved issues stemming from last season that will have to be dealt with sooner than later. Quentin still has to deal with the Alice situation and Julia has a long way to go to get Kady back as a friend. It was interesting how the writers chose to show what happened between Alice and Quentin via these little quick drug and alcohol-induced flashback snippets. Alcohol also played a big part in Julia’s adventure through the party. Her lack of inhibitions led her to reveal to Josh that she still has a tiny bit of magic that she can access. Lucky for her Quentin came to his senses in time to drag her away from revealing too much. But the damage might have already been done on that part. If word gets out that she still has magic she’ll be the target of every desperate being around that wants to control magic. That also includes Julia’s on-again-off-again best friend Kady.
Given that magic is exactly what Kady needs to save Penny it’ll be interesting to see how she reacts when she finds out about Julia. Will the prospect of using her former best friend to save the man she loves force Kady to reconcile her friendship with Julia? One can only hope so. Kady and Julia’s friendship was a major highlight last season. These two are a serious force to be reckoned with regardless of whether they have magic or not. That makes them a powerful team and a serious danger to each other if they find themselves on opposite sides of a fight. Kady is desperate and a bit of a mess at the moment so it’s really anyone’s guess what she’ll do at this point, but losing Penny is certainly not an option she is willing to entertain. Now that she has the book that Harriet gave her she’s a step closer and just needs magic. A big unknown factor here is Julia. If it comes to it, will she help Kady out of a sense of duty to her friend or will she just turn her back setting up these two as foes? Their storyline can really go so many different directions and that’s a great testament to the writers as well as Stella Maeve and Jade Tailor who have built up a really dynamic energy between these two. It was a real shame that they didn’t share the screen this episode, but it was actually best for the story. We, as the audience, need to see how far they’ve all fallen and how each magician is surviving a world void of magic on their own. Perhaps Kady finding rock bottom (again) will help her find her way back to her friends and her place in the quest.
The show did a fantastic job of showing the despair that has set in over the loss of magic. Even Dean Fogg is left in a lurch as he finds out that Brakebills is essentially going to be sold out from under all of them in the wake of having nothing to teach with no magic in existence. Now, again, someone knowing about Julia’s magic could help, but again, doing so could force Julia into a bad position. It really is a lose-lose situation for Julia all around. Being the only person with magic might seem cool if it wasn’t for all the major issues that come with it.
Alice is also in a predicament that only magic could possibly aid her with. She’s left dealing with her past as a niffin with some currently unknown foe targeting her. She was given instructions regarding some sort of totem she needs to obtain to protect herself. Based off of her reaction to the news it must be something that’s either hard to come by or that she’s not fond of. Considering the enemies she must have from her niffin days it might be in her best interest to quickly locate whatever it was she was told to get. Since she chose to drown her sorrows in a plate of bacon it seems like she might have already accepted what she has to do no matter how much she may not like it.
While those on Earth have their own issues things aren’t exactly going all that great in Fillory either. Eliot and Margo have their hands full trying to deal with the fairy invasion in their kingdom. Margo, in particular, has really gotten stuck with the short end of the stick. Not only did she lose her eye, but she’s basically become a glorified servant to the Fairy Queen as well as an unwitting spy. But never count out Margo and Eliot as they were covertly working on a plan. Their scene using cryptic pop culture references to collaborate on a plan was pure gold. Summer Bishil and Hale Appleman executed the perfect verbal dance to deliver a masterpiece of a scene. It was beautifully filmed, terrifically acted, and utterly perfect. It was a great way to transition Eliot away to start his quest to save their kingdom and help bring back magic. While Eliot ran off to begin trying to turn things in their favor Margo was left to keep the fairies occupied. It would all end up being worth it as Eliot encountered a magical being that might have just given them their first shred of hope since magic was taken from them. Enter the Great Cock (Farah Tahir)!
One can only wonder how those discussions went with the network when they revealed that they were going to introduce a character with that name. SyFy already forces them to bleep the “f” word, even though it is such a strong part of the vocabulary of the series, so it’s likely that allowing that character name must have caused some serious conversations. It was really nice to see the name stick as it’s just so ridiculous that it is a perfect name for the fantastical reality of Fillory. And Tahir absolutely nailed the execution of this character. The way he spoke and moved perfectly tapped into the bird-like nature of the character. Props must also be given to Hale Appleman (Eliot) for managing to deliver any usable material in this scene. It could not have been easy to keep a straight face in these scenes. These two performers not only delivered on the fantastical element of the scene but they also perfectly nailed the serious side of it. Their encounter gave the team their mission that is meant to drive them this season. This was a critically important scene and they nailed it.
This encounter gave everyone their first glimmer of hope in the form of the quest. Now they have something to occupy them instead of just drowning under the weight of a mundane life. And, thanks to some igneous thinking and the assistance of some talking rabbits (because, of course, there are talking rabbits in Fillory) Eliot and Margo were able to enlist the help of their friends. Quentin and Julia found the book Eliot was told to locate and just like that the quest began. There is little secret as to whom each of the participants in the quest are. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear the promos for this season cleared that up. Still, it’s a great mission for the season and it’ll be very interesting to watch things progress.
A bigger question here is will everyone survive this quest? Penny is clearly the Traveler mentioned, but he’s not exactly in great shape at the moment. In fact, simply trying to find moments away from the Library to be with Kady has left him in a critically ill condition. It seems like each jump he makes to see Kady severely cuts down her time to save him. They need him for the quest, so surely Kady will find some way to cure him, but then again, this is The Magicians, so one can never truly know what these writers are actually ever going to do. It will be interesting to see Kady fight for the man she loves. For the sake of the quest at hand, she needs to be successful in saving him. That might force her to actually start working with the others. Things also won’t be easy for Margo and Eliot having to do their parts for the quest while under the careful watch of the fairies. This quest seems to come with a lot of perilous possibilities for the team. Not to mention there is a fair amount of tension within the team so it’ll be interesting to see if a common goal of restoring magic can inspire them all to work together.
This episode was a very strong start to the season. It has set the tone for the season ahead and put into place the quest that will drive them all. Relationships, both romantic and friendly, are still in turmoil. The characters are all in more peril than ever with no magic to help them. In many ways, this is a good thing for all of them as it’ll teach them just how strong they are even without magic. The lack of magic should provide for some powerful character moments as they try to get through this quest and restore magic. Penny’s life is on the line. Kady and Julia’s friendship is in disrepair. Alice and Quentin had a falling out. Margo and Eliot are in peril with the fairies. The team is scattered and in many cases people are on their own simply trying to survive. And to top it all off Brakebills is in as much turmoil as its inhabitants. All of this went down in this single episode so now might be a good time to buckle in for one hell of a ride this season. It seems like it’s going to be a fun and intriguing adventure to see the team partake in this quest to restore magic before its lost forever.
Don’t miss the next episode when it airs on Wednesday, January 17th at 9/8c on SyFy.
Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Can Penny be saved? Will Kady chose to reconcile her friendship with Julia to save him? Will they all come together to complete the quest? What do you hope will happen this season?