Saturday, March 17, 2018

Magicians, Season 3, Episode 9: All That Josh

Musical episode. Well kind of. I mean it’s an episode with maybe one or two songs? I kind of feel if you’re going to do a musical episode you should go for it.

And I know a lot of people hate these things but I have to admit to a secret joy in them.

So last episode things didn’t end well: Margot and Elliot are on trial, Penny is missing, stuck in the underworld and no-one knows where he is: and Harriet and Victoria are presumed dead via mirror bridge.

This is only mentioned in passing before everyone is forced into the next stage of the quest. But it’s important to remember because I think the characters, especially Kady, do a really good job of maintaining the pain and grief of this even as they are distracted by the singing.

Quentin and Kady are also not thrilled with Alice as she was in the Library and they don’t know why and haven’t ruled out that she’s working for the Library.

The book shoots out the next clue for the next key - and it’s some code with Alice rightfully identifies as Medieval sheet music. She is sure she’s playing it right but thankfully Kady knows more about music than Alice does (because her mother was a stripper, danced to music but also loved her work, loved music, gave Kady piano lessons and no-one better judge her). She plays the music and everything changes

Physical House is now full of people partying led by Josh (supported by Todd) who joins the party with a musical number and he’s pretty decent. Quentin is duly horrified. More concerning is the paintings of various famous people through history repainted as Josh - oh and there’s no door.

Josh and Todd arrive, celebrating because magic is back! Yes, they can all use magic to perform several really shiny party tricks which is a great fun and a massive relief to the magicians who have been without magic for so long. And the only rule is keep having fun

Which is a problem because Alice, Kady and Quentin quickly realise that magic outside of party tricks doesn’t work, they can’t leave and, Kady especially, is super on edge and upset after the disasters that have afflicated them. She’s not in a partying mood, but every time they stop partying the crowd of partiers all turn on them and move like an ominous cloned army. Only by singing and partying can they placate the crowd.

Josh and Todd are unaffected.

They decide to question Josh but first they need to distract the crowd - so it’s time for Kady’s musical number along with a Burlesque strip show, a shadow performance and using magic to keep it going while she joins the rest of them in questioning Josh

Except first they need to dredge through a lot of his complaints. The man who once abandoned them in Fillory because of cowardice is super upset that they ditched him at Bacchus’s party. He’s been texting and calling and they haven’t responded to him and he feels super neglected and left out. He also pouts how none of them really know anything about him. They try to point out to him the obvious flaws of his party world - that other magic doesn’t work etc but he’s determined to recite his whole history of being ditched and badly done to. He does reveal that it was Todd who led him to the party - and he went along with it because they did the same hostile clone army thing whenever he didn’t party. And then because he loves to party and they sort of have magic back. Despite this wanting to keep it going, he does admit there are flaws

He wants rid of them and since the clone army has realised Kady’s trick, he agrees to distract everyone with the music and partying while they figure out a way out. Of course that’s to Alice using her massive brain to identify a German demon that creates pocket party realms and then feeding on everyone’s joy - generally fairly benign as far as demons go.

They do follow some musical cues to find the next key and after much much much paranoia about touching it, kady grabs it and a door appears: literally marked “questers

But we need to catch up with everyone else before continuing this storyline:

Elliot and Margot have been on trial and the wombat has found them guilty. Margot had wanted trial by combat (and had a swordsman ready) but was misheard because trial by combat isn’t actually a thing that Fillory has.

Trick grants them the honour of choosing which of many really really terrible methods of execution they want. They’re all horrific. But being cunning Margot and Elliot opt for the method of execution that will take the longest - which involves falling over an endless waterfall

That means a long sea voyage in the sentient Muntjack ship during which Elliot and Margot try to get Trick to free them - and he says no. Yes, loyal, subservient Trick hates them. Not only does he hate them for all the things that have gone wrong (and he does consider them to be the worst monarchs Fillory has ever had) but because before they arrived, he ruled Fillory. And presumably didn’t do too bad a job. With magic gone Fillory is finally free from the terrible Umber/Ember rules that forced them to have Earth rulers and they can go back to ruling themselves. Trick can be in charge again and no he didn’t say anything before because he refused to beg them for what he could seize - his kingdom

They’re also pretty universally hatred and even the Muntjack seems willing to kill them.

Elliot falls into a depression, wondering if the Filorians are right - after all, what gave them the right to rule? Margot is more positive and determined because she’s Margot - and she points out they never made the rules just followed them and they did make things better. For a minute. When Elliot made a deal with Idri seconds before he was turned into a rat. So yeah, a minute

But to be fair to them it does kind of emphasise that yes their reign has been a disaster: but most of it has been not their doing. Ember was the one who turned Idri into a rat, he was the one who destroyed the source of magic for so long; and when he backed off the fairies came into make things far worse. Elliot and Margot, Margot especially, truly tried to make Fillory a kingdom that worked.

They sail to the falls and the Muntjack refuses to stop - so Trick and the crew abandons ship, leaving Elliot and Margot to go over the falls in the ship alone…

Aaaaand over to Julia and Fenn. Fenn absolutely refuses to co-operate in helping Sky the fairy free herself from slavery and having bits of her chopped off and snorted as magical coke fuel (ah, Magicians constantly making me type lines I never imagined I ever would). But Julia realises she can use the key of truth to see the fairy without needing Fenn as a go between.

She goes to Sky, now reliant on a prosthetic leg and tries to convince her she can be free from the Mcalisters, that she’s being abused and that fairies actually have magic - something Skye doesn’t believe. So Julia agrees to meet her later and try to teacher her magic

Which doesn’t work too well as she keeps using magician skills but Fenn points out this isn’t how fairies work. They don’t use hand gestures - they don’t need to access magic. They ARE magic and just have to visualise things to make it so. And they do… except then the necklace around her neck starts to kill her. The Mcallisters are determined here to control their slaves

Then Julia’s eyes shine gold and time… stops. This is not normal Magician magic, it looks like god magic. Julia remarks that she has levelled up which pleases my geeky soul.

And this is where all the storylines come together because Quentin and co have just picked up the key - Unity. Which allows all 8 of them to speak to each other despite distance and realms: Quentin, Alice, Kady, Julia, Josh, Elliot, Margot and Penny. And Quentin decides, because the script tells him and now because of any kind of logic, that they all need to stop what they’re doing and perform a musical number to go forward. This will help Josh fend off the army of partiers now attacking him for not being Jolly, but requires Penny to sing in a library, Elliot and Margot to sing in a ship plunging over a waterfall and Julia to sing in a time loop with a fairy bleeding from her eyes right in front of her.

So they sing. Under Pressure

And Kady and Elliot set it up most awesomely while simultaneously setting up everyone else to be completely underwhelming after that performance. The song cures everything: Josh is spared, the Muntjack can suddenly fly (magic of the ship or the keys or the song or a god who even knows? Elliot puts it down to the ship loving Margot) and the fairy is healed. It is a good song as well, of course

In the aftermath the key’s communication stops working - and the crowd disappears to be replaced by the Germany demon Alice mentioned. He alludes to the fact someone set him up to do this (Our Lady of the Underground/Persephone, perhaps?) before kicking everyone out to return to the actual Physical house.

Oh and Quentin apologised to Josh. The book comes with the next clue but Quentin is still leery of letting Alice near the book… and she’s miffed because of it. So unity isn’t that unified.

I have a feeling I’m supposed to feel sorry for Josh? I mean yes it’s kind of sad that all of these people didn’t pay much attention to you and not responding to multiple texts isn’t great. But hey, they had something going on here, it’s understandable

Also? They’re not friends. Josh complains about their indifference towards him and… so? As he said they know next to nothing about him BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT FRIENDS. It’s not even like they were using or exploiting him - a common theme of “friendships” in the genre - he just happened to be around sometime. The whole idea that Josh is badly done to here kind of starts from the presumption that Quentin, Alice, Kady, Julia et al owe him attention and a place in their friendship circle.

I’m not saying they should be cruel, cold or unfriendly to him: but they haven’t been. But they’re not his best buddies either. And this is a tricky balance to set: because obviously social exclusion and ostracism are cruel and dangerous things but we also can’t ignore that assuming or demanding a level of social intimacy you simply don’t have is a level of entitlement which is not comfortable either. There is a line between demanding basic respect, politeness etc and demanding friendship and closeness.

Yes he’s been around them and they’ve not been overly hostile to them (well, Margot may have been in her hostile-to-everyone-thing) but that doesn’t make him best buds or their priority.

The whole narrative doesn’t really work for me - poor Josh, look what he did because they abandoned him? Well the cast were dealing with Penny’s death and ghostliness, Alice was falling apart and just lost her dad, Julia was falling apart and dealing with PTSD flashbacks, Elliot and Margot are overwhelmed with issues in Fillory, Quentin is midquest and juggling the key-of-suicidal-impulses, Kady collapsed and was in a mental institution and Harriet and Victoria are both presumed dead with everyone feeling that: so sorry Josh, sorry everyone has so much shit to deal with right now and you fell off the radar. Deal with it.

Since it’s a musical episode:
Elliot and Kady: awesome voices. Honestly a little unfair on everyone els.e
Josh: surprisingly not bad - but Under Pressure wasn’t his best moment… or maybe that’s just following on from Elliot and Kady’s opening which is hard to follow
Julia… oh dear. Penny: oh dear oh dear
Alice & Quentin: probably a good thing they kept to backing music and Margot sang duet with Elliot so he can drown her out