The Magicians - Do You Like Teeth? - Review: “A Dark Quest” + POLL By Aimee Hicks (February 15, 2018, 3:01 am)
The Magicians delivered yet another perfectly scripted and expertly acted episode. This is starting to sound repetitive, but this season really is easily on track to be the best on what is already a very strong overall run for the series. Each episode is beautifully building up and adding to the overall arc for the season. There is never a dull moment as every single moment either advances the story or aids in character growth. This is already easily SyFy’s strongest current show and each episode only further cements the validity of that statement.
This season has seen many of the characters divided off into new pairings which have aided in crafting some really unique and dynamic storylines. The latter half of the first season and most of the second season saw Kady and Julia’s storylines heavily entangled. In many ways, they will always share a connected storyline given all they have endured together. With that said, each character has a lot of stories to tell separate from one another. Kady’s story is sidelined this week, but that only means she’ll likely be back and fiercer than ever next week. This week focused on a lot of other things going on including follow-up to Alice’s claim that she knew a way for Julia to transfer her power to someone else. This allowed the writers to further build on the interesting friendship that has begun forming between Julia and Alice.
After learning where her power came from Julia was desperate to be rid of it. Anything to deal with Reynard causes serious PTSD and this is certainly no exception. Even worse is that in this moment in time she is separated from the two people who know her the best of anyone. Kady is taking some much needed time to handle her own emotional trauma left by Reynard. And Quentin is off trying to undo the damage he did to magic. That left a void for Julia that Alice has filled. They are both wayward souls and they actually have a bit of a shared past already allowing for a very natural bond to form. That’s perhaps why Julia was so willing to entertain Alice’s idea of the power transfer. To Julia, it likely seemed like a way to finally be rid of Reynard for good and for Alice it was an opportunity for her to finally feel whole again. In their minds, it seemed like a win-win plan.
In most other shows a storyline like this would have likely devolved into some sort of catfight or someone would prove to have sinister intent. The writers took a very refreshing take on this story by having Alice having genuinely good intentions. There was every reason to theorize that Alice was going to become power hungry after getting Julia’s power, but she didn’t, at least not yet. In fact, she uses her newly acquired power in very mature ways. She helps Fogg see through his enchanted glasses and even puts up a good effort to try and build Penny a new body. For the first time this season Alice actually seems happy and content. The same might even be able to be said regarding Julia. The writers made this a very mature storyline that worked exceptionally well for both characters.
Stella Maeve and Olivia Taylor Dudley haven’t worked together nearly enough over the seasons. They have quite a strong onscreen chemistry. Thanks to that chemistry, Julia and Alice might just end up being another power duo. Nothing will be able to replace the friendship between Julia and Kady, but it is nice to see Julia being more accepted by others this season. After all that Julia did to help bring Alice back it’s quite fitting to see them bonding this season. With Maeve and Dudley headlining this storyline it should be fun to watch the writers and actresses further flesh out this new friendship. It’s highly unlike to become another Best Bitches scenario, but it could still be an epic friendship.
They weren’t alone in their whole magic transfer escapades. They had some hesitant guidance from Dean Fogg. Thankfully they got even more useful help from Penny who kept them from quite literally frying themselves. He has proven himself very useful even while stranded on the astral plane. He has been surprisingly quite involved in events even after his body was destroyed, which is why it was so odd that he was prepared to just up and leave. He has even managed to figure out how to use the talking fish to communicate with the others when he needs to talk to them. Surprisingly he has even managed to bond with more people than he ever did when he had a body. Granted he and Julia aren’t likely to be best buddies anytime soon, but it seemed like he believed Julia’s sincerity when she said she didn’t want him to leave. Alice probably did the best of anyone to try and convince him to hang around. She did seem to really care about helping him and trying to do good with her newly received magic. It’s a darn good thing Alice befriended him because he might very well be her only chance at surviving the seizure that consumed her at the end of the hour.
Unexpectedly, the power transfer did seemingly have some nasty side effects beyond anything Penny warned them about. Julia is now being haunted by Reynard while Alice ended the hour in the midst of the previously mentioned seizure. Could Our Lady Underground be punishing them both? How will Julia cope if she has to take back the magic from Alice? How will Alice react to losing the magic again? That is, assuming, that someone finds Alice in time to help her. Since it seems like this storyline between Alice and Julia is far from over its very likely that Alice will be just fine. There is too much rich storytelling potential left in this storyline. Plus, it’s not likely that the writers will kill off another character so soon after the demise of Penny’s body. Add in the fact that they've already gone that sort of dead route with Alice before it seems unlikely they'll go that route again. There is a lot more to come from these characters and the antics going on at Brakebills.
Over in Fillory, they had their own slew of problems to deal with. Since Eliot had to stay behind to help Margo, Quentin was forced to go off on the quest for the next key on his own, though, not before sharing a lovely bonding moment with Eliot. It was a clear indication that these two are forever bonded by their shared experiences from the timeline they never actually lived through other than in their memories. The fact these writers pay such great attention to the little moments is what gives this show an extra added element of depth. Quentin’s interaction with Eliot also showed some of his insecurities. It’s that element of his personality that came to haunt him later on in the hour.
With the arrival of Poppy (Felicia Day) things got real scary real fast for Quentin’s quest. It was this dark turn that allowed the show to tackle the topics of depression, mental illness, and suicide in a very honest way. It was portrayed with a unique fantastical fantasy twist, but the conversations had between Quentin, Benedict, and Poppy were very impactful. Just like with Julia’s rape storyline, Kady’s addiction, and Penny’s cancer, the show brings much-needed visibility to these very real topics. They always show the dark side of what the characters are facing then they turn around and show how strong these characters are as they battle back against the darkness trying to consume them. But, much like in real life, not every fight can be won and sometimes the characters can’t defeat what is trying to consume them. What is important is that they always fight and they always do it with someone at their side trying to reassure and encourage them.
Because of the newly discovered key, this episode was able to dive deep into the sinister inner monologue that can occur in the minds of those dealing with some sort of depression or mental illness. Jason Ralph was brilliant in his dual acting in these scenes. He didn’t overplay Quentin’s dark side. In fact, the way he played it, made it very easy to understand why all of Poppy’s former shipmates committed suicide. The dark part of Quentin pulled no punches and dug into some really deep places in his mind. It was a very sensitive subject handled in an interesting and respectful way.
Sadly, to show the full impact of how dangerous depression and mental illness are they had to sacrifice a character. In this case, it was Benedict who seemingly committed suicide by leaping off the ship presumably to his demise. But thankfully it might not be the end for Benedict just yet as it is revealed that he and the key may be able to be saved. Of course, it would require a visit to the Underworld. Though, to be honest, that particular key may not be worth it, but trying to save Benedict is definitely worth the effort. His story about his own battle with depression was sad, but his suicidal jump from the ship was heartbreaking. While the truth key causes the holder discomfort this key is just flat out pure darkness. If they do dare retrieve this key while trying to save Benedict they need to be ultra careful with it.
As long as the Fairy Queen remains they may not have any choice but to recover that sinister key. While Quentin was off on his quest, Margo and Eliot were making their own disturbing discoveries. After getting Margo out of their own dungeon the two of them, along with an unsuspecting Fomar, go in search of answers as to what the Fairy Queen is up to. In the process, Fomar was knocked out and perhaps permanently put off to the idea of sex. While he was out, Eliot and Margo discovered a massive field of the Fairy Queen’s mushrooms growing. The first guess was that the fairies were trying to terraform Fillory. While that appears to be a very accurate observation it also appears that they are literally growing an army. Just under the surface, they discovered that the mushrooms were the incubators for little baby fairies.
It is with that discovery that Margo decides to quite literally rob the cradle. They steal some of the fairy eggs to use as leverage against the Fairy Queen. It is reasonable to gather that this won’t end well for anyone. In the mind of a desperate Queen, it might seem like a good idea, but there is no way it can be this easy to get rid of the fairies. It should, however, make for quite an interesting storyline to play out in the coming episodes. The Fairy Queen is certain to not take this egg-napping well. This egg-napping plan by Margo was yet another example as to why she was wrong to doubt herself as a leader. She has said that Quentin and Eliot make all the big moves, well this one was perhaps the biggest of the big and it was her move. It is great to see Margo really coming into her own as a leader this season.
This episode set up a lot of things and now the wait begins for the next episode to see how they will all play out. Alice is in the throes of a serious seizure with only Penny around to know she is in trouble. Kady is presumably still locked up in the mental asylum. Benedict is either in the gut of that evil dragon or in the underworld. Either way, he’s having a rough go of things right now. Julia is magic-less, but still plagued by Reynard. Eliot and Margo seem poised to make a stand against the Fairy Queen. Fogg is now in the know about there being some magic still out there in the world. Brakebills is under new ownership and it’s yet to be seen how exactly that will play out. Poppy has arrived which means Felicia Day’s arc has begun. No show ever brings in the brilliant Felicia Day for just a tiny part, so expect big things from the mysterious and quirky Poppy. The writers continually manage to cram so much into each episode yet the pacing is so well done that the episodes never feel crowded. A lot of storylines are in progress right now, so expect some even bigger things to happen in the coming weeks.
Don’t miss the next magical episode when it airs on Wednesday, February 21st at 9/8c on SyFy.
Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Should Julia have given her power to Alice? Will Penny be able to get someone to save Alice? Will Quentin be able to locate Benedict and the key? Will Margo and Eliot finally succeed at kicking the Fairy Queen out of the realm?