Friday, February 24, 2017

The Magicians, Season 2, Episode 5: Cheat Day

Oh my god that rabbit

I can’t even begin this review, I’m just crying with laughter. I don’t even know why but the creepy pregnancy test rabbit?

Ok I can focus


*snerk* I don’t even know why this is funny to me.

Since I’ve mentioned pregnancy rabbit, let’s start with Elliot in Fillory who is reigning over the wrecked kingdom and completely obsessed over alcohol. Because of course he is. Then Fenn, his wife, arrives to announce she’s pregnant with his child (told by said rabbit). He pretends to be thrilled before someone tries to assassinate him. He’s part of a rebellion group, the Foo-Fighters who want Fillorian people on the throne and no more people from Earth. He kind of… has a point, to be honest. The country has been completely wrecked and is always ruled by clueless foreigners? Yup, vive la resistance!

It’s a terrible assassination attempt and Margot is quick to intervene. His courtiers decide that the assassin absolutely must be executed – including a psychotic sloth who is quite creative. Margot also notes their contempt for the peasantry with an awesome “if we’re the least snobby people in the room, there’s something wrong with the room”. So they hit the books and decide to do some research on how to deal with rebellions, eventually coming up with execution. Elliot decides to be all dramatic and insist on doing it himself – which Margot duly rocks in perfect Margot style

Y’know, every ruler needs a Margot to deflate their heads, stop them getting up themselves and occasionally advocate brutal practicality

Elliot changes his mind and instead decides to ask the Foo Fighter exactly how he would fix Fillory. A mature, compassionate choice, albeit rather naïve, since it acknowledges he doesn’t know a damn thing about the country or ruling and these people may actually have a clue. Of course this also means overruling Margot revealing that she may be High Queen but he’s still boss because of bullshit patriarchy. Which Margot also points out and hopefully she will point out more and more.

I also need to skewer the homophobic nonsense of Elliot’s “growth”. Left to his own devices? He obsesses about wine and ignores his kingdom. This is gay/immature/useless Elliot. Elliot + straight wife and new baby, Elliot in his forced straight life and straight family, MATURE Elliot is making hard choices and worrying about the kingdom and trying to make a better world – and this continues constantly through every episode and it’s toxic for all the reasons I’ve mentioned before

This may get more complex because it turns out Fenn knows the assassin and used to be a member – they assumed she was just trying to get close to the king but she’s thoroughly on team Elliot, father of her child now and has plenty of threats should he act up. But he threatens to tell Elliot of her former loyalties – especially since it’s well known the king is emotional and sensitive.

Because Magicans is subtle about its stereotypes guys.

Anyway, let’s move to Penny – his hands are still not producing magic and Henry, despite healing his own hands, can’t really do anything for Penny. But he knows someone who may help: Mayakovsky: our drunken, world hating Russian teacher who I always kind of loved.

He can help Penny, but not before being unpleasant and making him perform arduous, apparently pointless and tedious tasks. And vodka, lots of vodka

Mayakovsky has also noticed that magic is going odd due to Ember’s defecating in the wellspring. And he asks if Penny actually wants to get his magic back? After all, Penny first went to Brakebills to stop the voice in his head – but that was just the Beast and they’re gone now. With magic disappearing life is going to get most unpleasant for magicians shortly; this could be Penny’s chance to leave. Penny isn’t like Quentin who dreamed of magic – he’s entirely utilitarian about it. Ultimately Penny wants his magic – and that’s the same choice Mayakovsky made: he was given a choice between accepting banishment to the cold place he lives now despite him absolutely hating it. Accept banishment or give up his magic

And why was he punished with this? He slept with a student. Well he slept with several students and then slept with the wrong one

He also admits that the pointless tasks he’s making Penny perform are actually to create a magic battery should magic actually fail. In exchange, he shows Penny the plant in Fillory he can use to heal his hands and maybe actually get a plot line other than “I mouthed off to one guy and now constantly have to deal with it”.

Over to Quentin – who is now living a very normal life thanks to Henry getting him a very dull human normal life far from magic. This is apparently a thing Brakebills does. I think we’re supposed to feel vaguely sorry for Quentin but his office is absolutely huge and positively heavenly to anyone who has worked in cubicle hell. He also has a decent coffee maker. This is office heaven. It does come with colleagues who seem to have a habit of masturbating at their desks and telling their fellow workers about this. Inappropriately sharing masturbators, you’re the reason everyone has cubicles now!

It also comes with Emily Greenstreet – a previous student from Brakesbill we’ve met before, she also gave up magic because of a terrible experience (this involved having sex with a professor – hey remember Mayakovsky being banished? Yup, him). She bonds with Quentin over how magic is terrible, how it ruined their lives and how using it just creates problems which then need magic to fix which in turn creates more problems.

They talk about this until she spills some wine and he uses magic to fix it. D’oh Quentin, what did she just say?!

She’s angry. He’s apologetic – but eventually she forgives him and decides to have a “cheat day”, a day where they can both have fun and use magic for smoke rings and hallucination sex and… it’s all quite fun and light but it all gets vaguely sinister at the end. When she uses magic to make Quentin look like Mayakovsky so she can hold him and, I won’t say deal with her unresolved issues because it’s more like wallowing in them. The same applies when Quentin makes her look like Alice so he can say a tearful goodbye and have sex. Neither of these acts are presented as helping them – but more really shows that both of them are desperately running and in denial from their personal issues, trauma and pain – not from magic. Especially since they do this after a whole lot of booze

The next day Quentin runs as politely as he can. What they did may have stirred up issues he needed stirring up but also was fake and unpleasant and generally just dragged up everything he’s been burying. While Emily? She wants to extend her cheat day for, basically, forever – living in happy denial and revelling unhealthily in her issues.

This whole interaction is subtle but really well done – the whole sense of almost addiction, of clear denial and repression and two deeply unhappy, hurt people, running from their lives and pretty much scapegoating magic when their problems are much much deeper than this. It’s an impressive bit of acting and directing.

And to Julia and Kady – looking for a way to defeat Reynard when Julia hits with morning sickness. Yes she’s pregnant and the baby could be Richard’s – or it could be Reynard’s. Yes it’s Reynard’s because Julia’s entire life is one long suffering awfulness.

Kady and Julia discuss the dreaded A word. I swear American television would rather show someone eating a baby in a marinara sauce than a woman having an abortion. So, even with Kady supporting Julia all the way, talking about her own abortion and in no way shape or form every judging, criticising or otherwise hurting Julia for deciding on an abortion. There is no shame here, not for one second

Of course the demon baby still brutally murders the doctor performing the procedure (isn’t she just a few weeks along? Isn’t the procedure basically pills at this point?) with woo-woo. I say again, no way this was going to be depicted on television. But points for lack of shaming or judgement or raging fury.

Points off for Julia’s life being one long shit show