Friday, February 17, 2017

Magicians, Season 2, Episode 4: The Flying Forest

Quentin gets patched up by some centaur doctors but this is going to take a while to put him together after the beast gave him a mauling.

That means Elliot and Margot can’t really hang around since they’re the last monarchs standing. They head back to the capital only to be reminded that Fillory is pretty much falling apart and being monarch is no fun at all.

This involves Elliot falling apart into a mopey, useless mess, as per usual. While Margot grows spikes and is vicious, ruthless leader and, probably, actually quite effective in an iron-fisted despot kind of way. She knows what needs to be done, is willing to get it done and isn’t going to be distracted by sentimentality.

Including not being interested in building a monument to Alice because she wasn’t actually their friend. She was a “package deal who came with Qunetin” She’s brutal, but I almost have to respect her adherence to a vicious honesty rather than claiming a relationship they didn’t actually have.

The problem with Fillory is that, while the Beast isn’t draining the wellspring any more, apparently gods taking a shit in it isn’t great either

This is also a problem back in Brakebills where Henry and his professor notice magic acting up.

Margot has little patience for Elliot’s moping, making the excellent point “my crown is as heavy as yours.” She’d be an evil ruler but damned if I’m not respecting her.

Elliot bemoans the awfulness of him having grown up and Margot starts looking for a loop hole for him

She finds a way to create him a golem which he can move his mind into so he can stay in Fillory while his brain is happily running around in his body and partying in Brakebills, making drinks and finding a hot guy to have sex with.

Except while having sex in golem body with his man, his “sexually aggressive wife” (who has already made comments that makes it clear they’ve had sex and while he didn’t enjoy it, she’s a definite fan) approaches his real body in Fillory, pursuing sex. And Elliot says yes to her while saying yes to the hot guy he just met

Have you noticed how every time Elliot, a gay man, has sex, a woman is involved? Seriously, that’s an issue with this damn show.

Having partied, Elliot ends up being interviewed by Dean Henry about how very very very over his head he is. Henry, rightly, points out that Elliot has to choose between his two lives: Fillory or Brakebills which is basically no choice because he can’t leave Fillory. So he has to step up and accept he has actual responsibilities – at least Henry decides he’s going to help because the whole idea of Earth students going to Fillory and sort of conquer the place. (Sort of).

This feels like an attempt at a social justice message on colonism but is so weird and clumsy and with such a kind of ludicrous context that it’s all so very very bizarre.

We also really need to discuss the really horrendously homophobic depiction of Elliot. Elliot is the flighty, emotional, impractical one while Margot has it together. But more than that – he seeks an escape, but there’s a clear dichotomy between the two lives: in one he is responsible, has duties, an adult (he even talks about is as growing up) and is married (without the choice of anything but monogamy) to a woman. In the other life he’s free, partying, irresponsible, sex and alcohol driven and free to be the gay man he actually is

Elliot, the gay man is childlike, immature, debauched, hedonistic, irresponsible and emotionally weak. Elliot putting on the mantle of straightness is an adult, he has responsibilities. Gay is childish. Straight is mature. This is an ongoing problem with the utter hot mess of Elliot’s portrayal. I’d honestly prefer no representation to this.

Also, can we not treat his “sexually aggressive” queen as a joke, damn it – this is vile.

Over to Julia – she manages to find Kady and together they work on their own plan to bring down Reynard. Together they rebuild their friendship – well acquaintance – and work some tricks with Marina’s body to get her to come back briefly to tell them a) the afterlife sucks and b) a woman banished Reynard in the past. Of course Julia can do this again because Julia is determined and dangerous and this show should certainly be about her.

Along the way Julia meets Margot and both of them unleash their most vicious insults which makes me cringe. I think Margot probably had the harsher insults – but it’s Margot who is clearly more injured. She recognises the lack of complete connections she has, how a lot of her “friends” are just afraid of her and want to be on her side

This prompts Margot to back Elliot’s expensive Alice statue – because they weren’t Alice’s friends so they owe her this much

On to Quentin and Penny. Quentin wakes up in a Centaur hospital which involves disturbing shitting (and a nurse who scoops it up and is more than a little disturbingly subservient) and wooden prosthetics. Penny also shows up because he wants some treatment for his cursed hands. Also he and Quentin continue to snarl at each other a lot (with Quentin being terrible).

Penny doesn’t get much help on account that the River Watcher is a very scary man and the Centaurs are duly terrified of his curses. That leaves Penny with one choice when his hands try to kill him: a lot of booze and Quentin with an axe

He now has no hands and there was a whole lot of screaming.

In the aftermath of that horribleness Quentin has spotted the White Beast which is one of Fillory’s questy creatures. Basically you hunt it down, shoot it and lo you get wishes. With the help of Penny’s magical coaching and a quick trip through the flying forest (Quenting thought this was a forest where the trees actually flied – but it’s really a forest that makes everyone completely stoned and is absolutely hilarious).

This is also something a bonding experience between the two and eventually, maybe, they won’t hate each other. There also follows a lot of comments from Penny about how “hunting a white woman” has terrible connotations for a man of colour like himself which…. Yes is on point but this throw away joke is hardly commentary or noteworthy

Surprisingly they do actually find and shoot the White Beast and get 2 wishes and a whole lot of snark (turns out wishing creatures don’t like being shot). Penny gets his hands back. And Quentin… doesn’t get Alice back. Because magic can’t raise the dead. (The genie on Aladdin told us so).

So the beast asks what Quentin wants. And Magicians hits that darkness it actually does occasionally well when it’s not trying for scatological humour and rape: the bleakness of magic not being that wonderful

Because Quentin has everything he ever wished for. Magic is real. He met an amazing woman who loved him. He went to Fillory as he always dreamed ad now lives there

And it’s all terrible. Everything is awful. So he makes a wish –to go home. Back to the real world; no magic, just safe mundanity. At least he was wise enough not to wish to be happy by having his memories of Alice taken: because, as the White Beast tells him, eventually he would return to sadness. Because BLEAK.

Oh and am I the only one who finds it bizarre that a show that has at least some nudity and a whole lot of rape and violence draws the line at saying the word "fuck"?