Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Magicians, season 1, Episode 8: The Strangled Heart

Alice and Quinn are back from their foxy sexing in the Antarctic. And it is awkward. Alice kind of wants to know where they’re going with this and how much of their sexy-times was due to what they wanted and magic/pheromones/foxy nonsense and wants some space to get her head around this. Quinn deals with this with all of his expected maturity – mooning after her desperately then jerking back and yelping that he totally wasn’t and YOUR FACE stomp

Penny, thankfully, makes all of this more tolerable by skewering Quinn’s ridiculousness at every time and repeatedly wishing. Y’know, more awful protagonists become tolerable when you have someone constantly threatening stabbings. More shows, take note! Stabbings for everyone!

Of course, Penny still has his issues with Kady (with his “I totally don’t care!” while obviously doing so. But would you open up to Quinn of all people?), his constant struggle against the voices in his head and mastering the dangerous and disruptive art of Travelling coupled with a complete disregard for the actual curriculum.

A far more fascinating character who I want to focus on is Dean Henry – blinded and his hands mangled by the Beast he has now healed enough to be able to use magic again… in theory. His hands still hurt and he’s really struggling using magic to his very clear and visible frustration and rage, especially since we learn he was a magical child prodigy and super talented. Actually struggling with magic is doubly galling.

I also like his moment of calling out Eliza for her poor Blind etiquette in not announcing and identifying her presence to him.

The actual plot has Mike (so much more on this awfulness later), Elliot’s new boyfriend who is controlled by the Beast. He grabs himself a cursed blade (from a rabbit, because where else do you hide knives than in bunnies, obviously?) and tries to stab Quinn (yay!) instead stabbing Penny (booo)

Penny lives – but only because Quinn realises the curse is Fillory based (aided by Alice who has now read the books for “research” and not to get closer to Quinn, honest) and they manage to cure him. Along the way they’re aided by the mysterious Eliza who knows an awful lot about Fillory, including that it’s real, and encourages Quinn to look a little deeper than his childish reading of the books, especially since you have to remember the books are a limited representation of Fillory, missing lots of the nasty bits.

They do save Penny – and we learn who Eliza is. Jane – the character from the Fillory books and the girl who appears semi-regularly in Quinn’s dreams. Also mysteriously we learn that Henry seems to blame her for all the troubles they’re having, calling it “her mess”

A mess she doesn’t get to clean up as the Beasty-Mike, supposedly imprisoned, kills her. Quite why you would imprison a strong, physically violent monster in a magicproof room escapes me.

I’m going to delay a main issue so I can talk about Julia who is now in rehab and trying  to give up magic. After a brief visit from Marina in a combination “we’re not really enemies” and “come at me and I kill you” move (which makes me think Marina is afraid of Julia) she meets Chaplain Richard. He’s also a magician, Brakesbill trained – but he has a while new path for Julia. Rather than dangerous, addictive secrets to be traded as the Hedge Witches treat magic (which is an interesting but potentially fraught analogy: both not entirely accurate but not too far from their desperation, hunger and ruthlessness and hording), he approaches magic from a religious angle, teaching Julia how to tap into magic not through a spell, but through an invocation of a goddess

She is duly intrigued and freaked out by that since it feels more like being used by magic than using it - and she clearly sees the danger. I both want to see this as a potential to empower Julia and help her pull herself out while at the same time being afraid that she’s found another load of pitfalls to plummet in.

I’ve put it off, but it’s time to deal with the absolutely cringeworthy horror that is Elliot and Mike. After a couple of aborted attempts and focusing on Alice and Qunetin instead, Mike and Elliot actually kiss! And they look like they’re actually building a relationship and Elliot is sharing his past as an Indiana farmer and him playing “oh I have nothing to wear” GBF stereotype may just be a construct he’s made of himself. And maybe we’re going to get depth and development and actual love and a real relationship and more of them actually touching occasionally and being sweet…

For a brief second I actually had some hope. But then we get the possession thing, Mike stabbing Penny, Mike being imprisoned and Mike killing Eliza/Jane (we’ll note even at that stage, no-one is thinking of saving Mike). He then escapes and here we really do really take this terrible representation to all new heights of awful As he escapes, he’s confronted by Quentin, who fails. He’s confronted by the injured Dean, who also fails. He is finally stopped by Elliot. Who kills him. Yes, Elliot kills Mike. Elliot, a little while after professing his love and finally being able to care about someone, kills Mike.

There you go, lots of stereotypes, 2 terrible episodes where Elliot tries to develop a love interest with fierce objections of the straight lady he serves, minimal touching, fade to black sex, sucking on a door knob all ending with Elliot killing his lover. GAY INCLUSUION EVERYONE.