The Magicians - Poached Eggs - Review: “Quest For Power” + POLL By Aimee Hicks (February 22, 2018, 3:01 am)
It has become pretty obvious at this point that the reason magic was stripped away from The Magicians isn’t because Quentin killed a God, but because the writers stole it all for themselves. It’s either that or the more realistic option where these writers are just the most phenomenal dream team of writers on SyFy at the moment. They haven’t put a word wrong all season. Then there is this cast, they must have stolen a bit of the magic for themselves as well because what they are doing in each episode can only be described as magical. Statistically speaking, this far into a season, the production team or cast should have slipped up at some point. They should have done something wrong by now. Perfect just isn’t a thing that happens all that often in television yet that seems to be what they are striving for - and succeeding at - this season. This episode continued the unbroken streak of top-notch episodes.
There were three very big storylines this week and they ebbed and flowed around each other like a smooth running river. Despite the big differences in the storylines, they were the perfect match for this hour. Each one moved individual storylines forward and together they made monumental steps forward in the overarching story for the season. The three storylines consisted of Eliot and Margo making their stand against the Fairy Queen, Kady’s mental hospital escape, and Julia helping Alice. A lot went down in each storyline, so let’s get this epic-sized review started with Fillory first since it opened and closed the episode.
his entire season so far, Eliot and Margo have been playing offense just trying to stay alive in the wake of the fairy invasion. Now with leverage, it looked like they had a slam dunk way to save their kingdom. But, as with all things in Fillory, it wasn’t nearly that simple. After storing the eggs in Brakebills, Eliot and Margo worked to negotiate with the Fairy Queen. They actually had the upper hand until Frey figured out what was going on and ran back to her Queen. It felt like the ultimate betrayal when what she did was revealed. Frey turned on the people who had accepted her in as their own. Sadly, as it was revealed, Frey was not their daughter. If Frey and the Fairy Queen are to be believed Eliot and Fen’s daughter died during childbirth. Sadly, the honesty of the story might have been confirmed by Fen who revealed that she never heard her daughter cry after she was born. It turned out that the girl they had gotten close to was no more than just some common human.
The fact that Frey wasn’t their daughter wasn’t all that surprising. The storyline was set into place the moment Frey arrived. What was so interesting is that in the end, Frey realized the mistake she had made and tried to make amends. The girl is likely an orphan and only knew the Fairy Queen as any sort of parental figure. That was until she met Eliot and Fen. With his kingdom at stake, Eliot was willing to put his supposed daughter above all else even after she betrayed them. Seeing how Eliot reacted versus how the Fairy Queen treated her did seem to give Frey a healthy dose of reality. She had chosen the wrong side and chose to try and make it right by revealing the truth regarding her identity. Frey both destroyed their plan and strengthened it in the span of a single scene.
While she tried to do good, in the end, she shattered Fen’s heart. This heartbreaking storyline gave Brittany Curran some incredible material to work with. Fen, by design, is a bit of a quirky character, but in moments of seriousness her incredible strength shines through. Even when Fen was left to mourn the daughter she never knew she was still trying to be stoic and strong for her husband. Curran held Fen in a strong pose even while the purest form of maternal pain boiled in her eyes. It was a profound scene and Curran delivered on the real world emotions behind the loss of a child. When Fen did finally break down in Eliot’s arms it was so real that it felt wrong to be watching it. Watching it felt like watching a private moment between two mourning parents. Curran’s performance was so raw it almost felt intrusive to be watching it play out. That right there is the sign of the purest form of acting when it so closely mirrors real-world emotions that it is hard for the audience to watch.
The whole situation was made worse by the fact that Fen was also left to mourn the loss of the girl she had come to love like a daughter. No matter Frey’s final betrayal, she was with Eliot and Fen long enough for them to care for her like a daughter. Frey might be gone for now, but she is quite literally all alone, she is no longer in her Queen’s good graces and she betrayed her fellow humans. Fen and Eliot may have lost the daughter that shared their blood, but somewhere out there is the girl that they seem to still harbor familial bonds with. Frey still might just be the one to help lessen some of the pain in Fen’s heart.
As if that wasn’t enough for them to deal with, the final plan to get rid of the Fairy Queen didn’t quite go as Margo or Eliot had hoped. While they got what they wanted from the Fairy Queen, the damage done by the fairy occupation was already too profound. Eliot and Margo became hated monarchs during the fairy invasion and their subjects turned on them. They are in quite a precarious position. Their only hope rests with their friends who are busy back on Earth and their few remaining loyal aids at the castle. While Fen said that she needed some time away she will surely race off to help Eliot when she hears what has happened. It’s also likely that she won’t be alone. This would be a great opportunity for the writers to bring Frey back and have the young girl help to set things right. She has intimate knowledge of the fairies that might be able to help put down the rebellion.
While a ton went down in Fillory there was an equal amount of story unfolding on Earth. There were two big storylines on Earth, but let’s talk about the Alice and Julia one first. The prior episode ended with Alice having a seizure with no one but astral-Penny around. Luckily Quentin and the others arrive back from Fillory in time to get her much needed help. Unfortunately, their help can do nothing to stop her body from rejecting Julia’s magic. The best option seems to be for Alice to give it back to Julia, but that’s not something either seems super keen on. As Alice gets worse Julia comes to accept that there isn’t another choice other than for them to set things back to the way they were or risk Alice’s life. Unfortunately, a scared and uncertain Alice takes off to try and come up with her own solution leaving Julia to make a deal with Irene. An open-ended deal with no expiration date? In the immortal words of Dean Fogg, “what could go wrong”? That one is almost certainly going to come back to bite Julia firmly in the butt at some point.
At least the deal landed Julia in possession of some really shady magical powder that gave her just enough power to do a locator spell to find Alice. She found Alice just in the nick of time too before the other woman allowed herself to be turned into a vampire in order to gain stable magic. By this point, Alice is looking really rough and is dealing with a combination of withdrawal and rejection. The main she was in must have been excruciating. When a person is in that much pain they lose all rationality and that’s exactly what happened with Alice. Julia had to get firm with her friend, but through some tough love, Julia got Alice out of the bad situation she was in. Unfortunately, Alice was still hurting and just like what happens with a cornered hurt animal, she lashed out. Julia was knocked unconscious, but the knock Julia took seemed to knock some sensibility back into Alice. There was immediate and unquestionable regret and fear over what she had done.
What has been so terrific about this entire storyline is that they took these characters that have a sordid past and allowed them to find common ground. Through that commonality, they forged a friendship. The power transfer was treated as consensual and desired by both women. When Julia was forced to retake her power it wasn’t out of malice, but the very pure desire to try and save the life of her friend. The writers could have so easily taken this storyline down a catty bitchy path and they didn’t go there which was quite refreshing. The way this show portrays female friendships is impressive. Even when these characters are angry at one another or annoyed they still show up for each other when they are in trouble. Kady and Julia have displayed that more times than can be counted, Margo helped Julia a few times even while angry at what happened over Alice, and now it’s Alice and Julia’s turn. These friendships are never one-sided either. In all the cases they mutually help one another. Now, that doesn’t mean these characters don’t still bicker and fight, but it’s always done in a truthful and honest way for the story. Two characters aren’t set off to fight for no reason and when the time is right they work out their issues. It’s just so nice to see a series that allows women to be flawed and yet so strong and supportive of each other.
This particular storyline has really dived into that element. It showed a ton of character growth regarding both Alice and Julia. They’ve both been through a lot recently and sort of found an unusual bond through that. These are two characters who just simply shouldn’t work as friends, but thanks to smart writing and impeccable acting by Stella Maeve and Olivia Taylor Dudley they work so well together. This storyline has been about two women who are desperately trying to find peace amongst the chaos. The beautiful irony is that they found their peace by reverting back to where they were before the power transfer. Julia helped Alice see that magic isn’t the cure-all. While Alice helped Julia realize that her magic isn’t tainted by Raynard because it is her magic now and not his. There still seems to be an emptiness within Alice, but she now knows that the way to fill that void isn’t necessarily magic. It’s an interesting twist that Julia was told to help Alice and in the end Alice ended up helping Julia find peace with her newfound power.
As much as it would be great to see Kady and Julia’s troubled friendship get some more airtime it has been so nice to watch Julia forge new friendships. Since Alice and Julia’s new friendship ended the episode intact it’s likely that these two aren’t done helping one another through this confusing time they are living in. These two have been really good for one another throughout this storyline which is odd since at the start of this storyline it seemed like a recipe for disaster. No one was really asking for this friendship, but the writers saw the potential and they ran with it, and thankfully they did because it has been an incredible storyline.
In order to set Julia on this path, the writers had to separate her from her best friends. Quentin has been off on his quest and Kady has been off trying to deal with her own Reynard induced issues. Well, to be fair, Reynard can’t be given all the credit for Kady’s recent issues. She’s been a proverbial punching bag for the writers since the start and all those blows have finally caught up to the fierce warrior. That all led her to the overdose which led her to be confined against her will at a mental asylum. And that’s where things pick up for her in this episode. After being absent last week it was almost certain that the writers were going to throw some big things at her this week and they did not disappoint. True to form, Jade Tailor took hold of the material she was given and elevated an already powerful storyline to a whole new level.
Kady has been on a journey of self-discovery this season. She started off the season isolated and rapidly coming apart as Penny got sicker. Then she was slowly integrated back into the group in time to lose Penny and self-destruct with a near-fatal overdose. She hit rock bottom and only had up to go from there. By the time Quentin, Poppy, and Penny broke her out of the mental hospital she was back in fighting form. Well, to be correct, they provided some assistance, but Kady basically broke herself out with a terrific display of her fierceness. After Quentin derailed the original plan by fumbling the execution of the transfer of the security card, Kady was on her own with just the key. Thankfully she had the key because with an assist from Penny she was able to get the opening she needed to make her escape.
At least Quentin’s blunder gave Kady and Penny some much needed alone time to catch up and have a raw and honest chat. Jade Tailor and Arjun Gupta have such intense chemistry that these intimate scenes just between their characters always hit hard and straight to the heart. It’s impossible to not root for this couple despite all the odds stacked against them. Their scene in her room showed that Kady is so done with losing people and to protect her heart she tried really hard to push him away for the simple fact that she’s afraid to keep losing him. Kady is a badass, but she also has a very big heart that causes her even more pain when she loses someone. She’s already had to endure more loss than is entirely fair, so it’s understandable why she was so harsh with Penny. Yet he knows her so well that he was able to sweet talk his way back into her good graces. He even got her to let her guard down a couple times. Despite everything, there is still a shred of hope deep inside Kady holding on desperately to the belief that somehow they will miraculously get Penny back to an actual living body form pending he survives his trip to the underworld. In the meantime, she’s going to preoccupy herself with an extremely dangerous plan that could potentially get them all killed. At least the team seems set on a trajectory to unite to further progress this quest they are all on.
This episode saw the Fillory story take several intense and twists and turns that could prove big game changers. Kady finally escaped and she made some secret pact with Harriet that likely won’t end well for any of them if her mission goes south. It was a very clever editing choice to not give that ASL translation to the audience. There might be a spike in The Magicians fans trying to learn ASL in order to figure out what deal Kady made. This, by the way, would be a terrific thing because ASL is a beautiful language and something that we should all be inspired to learn more about. Julia also made a bargain that could come back to bite them all in the butts. Seriously, if they all manage to survive all that is to come, someone should pull Kady and Julia aside and tell them to stop making dangerous bargains. Elsewhere in the episode Quentin and Poppy appear to be on the path to becoming an item, however, it still doesn’t seem very smart to trust Poppy so Quentin needs to be careful. At least she proved useful when rescuing Kady, but that wasn’t enough to make it safe to drop guard around her yet.
The season is on a roll. The writers and performers, in fact, the entire production team, are hitting one home run after another. They are taking risks, but they are well thought out ones. Every single thing that happens plays a bigger part of the season arc. The writers are hitting on very real subjects and handling them with incredible grace and respect while not losing the brilliant sarcastic tone of the series. What will happen next to this motley crew is anyone’s guess, but it would be fair to say that it’ll be epic.
Be sure to keep following this winning streak of perfect episodes when the next one airs next Wednesday, February 28th at 9/8c on SyFy.
Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. What will Irene ask of Julia? What bargain did Kady make with Harriet? Will Penny survive his trip to the underworld? Will Poppy betray the group?