Friday, February 15, 2019

The Magicians: Season 4, Episode 4: Marry... Kill

Oh I’m torn

On the one side, everyone has their own storyline and it’s all separate and that always frustrate me

Except all the storylines are awesome. In fact can I say again how utterly amazing Magicians has turned things round

So first up we have Josh, now back from Fillory after the death of Bacchus, yes the Monster brought him home and Penny is rather surprised. And Josh is surprisingly mellow about the death of Bacchus - oh he’s not a fan of the whole killing but that phone call for Quentin was exactly what he feared -his dad is dead so Josh is putting a pin in that.

Elliot monster is also around and Margot is giving him shit because it’s what she does in perfect fashion - stylish, sassy, perfect fashion. She tries to convince the Monster to jump to a new non-Elliot body but he’s not into that and wants to kill more gods - so he’s off to Quentin. More on that later

So Josh has another problem - he’s having horrible bloodthirsty nightmares and when he wakes up there’s a bloody hunk of flesh in his bed. He tries to cover it up but Penny notices. Soooo between the time lines it’s hard to follow but Josh is a kind of werewolf. A sexually transmitted lycanthropy. And he is now going through the Quickening which means he either has to have sex and pass it on or brutally murder someone. He confirms this with Helen, a teacher in Brakebills who infected him and she fills in the blanks. She also makes it clear that locking yourself in a cage will only make you go mad and kill yourself.

She suggests using Tinder and infecting someone - just like she does. But on the plus side being a werewolf is generally harmless except for that once a 30 year quickening thing. Of course Josh refuses because he’s not going to infect an innocent with this.

In despair he tells Margo. Margo doesn’t do despair. Margo refuses the very concept of despair. Margo is absolutely not giving up and decides to find a cure for the curse - while Josh remembers someone else was infected and rushes to warn her. Only to find the dismembered corpse in her bed which doesn’t help her despair (Margo is completely unimpressed and decides since she slept with an uber driver she probably had a death wish. Did I mention how Margo completely rules this show?)

They pursue and Indonesian ritual to cure the curse that uses the heart of a Komodo dragon they steal from Kanye (because… Magicians. Oh and Margo is fine with killing it because it’s only vulnerable not endangered). Which all looks good… except it doesn’t work

In despair, Josh locks himself in a cage to give up and embrace death and Margo is furious and berates him for doing just that - because she’s Margo and Margo never ever gives up. Why if he has to kill someone she knows at least a dozen people who deserve it! Josh says no. And adds that her refusing to give up is just making his sacrifice so much harder

But under that determination is also the deeply sad vulnerability that she doesn’t want to lose another friend (and she has no time for men and their noble sacrifices because she’s Margo and skewering pretentious masculinity is her thing)

She gets in the cage - and removes her underwear. Josh protests but she points out she can’t cure him, doesn’t want him to die, she can’t make him kill someone but she can offer him one thing: consent. And she does like him (which is mutual)

Ok there’s definitely an argument about whether this is consent since Margo is presented with only one way to save her friend - there’s definitely pressure here. But at the same time Margo is an adult and it’s patronising to say that pressure removes her ability to make an informed decision (especially since we know Margo isn’t sexual reserved or reticent and may quite happily see sex as a useful tool in these circumstances). Also, it’s Margo - she’s equally capable of finding someone she doesn’t like and throwing them in the cage to be murdered. Oh yes she would.

They have sex, which saves Josh and they snuggle afterwards (and it’s cute and I think helps with the above semi-conflict in making it clear Margo does like him. Also he’s the one who calls it casual but she makes a semi-joke about it being far from casual since she saved his life). She is infected with the werewolf STD now but she kind of shrugs it off - it’s only communicable through penis-in-the-vagina sex which she doesn’t see as the pinnacle of sex: it’s not even in her top 10. And if she lives 30 years (which she doubts and is likely not wrong) she has people who owes her favours

They also both think that Elliot may be dead

Speaking of - Quentin says goodbye to Julia (and they have an awesome dynamic including Quentin teasing her because this Penny is clearly into her) before he heads off to handle his dad’s estate. There he meets his mother and things are… tense as he makes up various excuses for being away

She leaves and Monster Elliot arrives. He doesn’t understand grief or sadness or losing family and stares at Quentin with all the creepiness… but he does provide some odd insight. He asks why Quentin is clearing everything up and Quentin drags up some complex, layered childhood issues about him being the kid who breaks things - and his mother will never see him as different from that and even he sometimes believes it. The monster has a simple suggestion to that - break stuff. On purpose. Own it. It’s cathartic and powerful and for a moment we see shades of Elliot and Quentin again

Until the Monster tells him Elliot is dead… which may be a lie, because in his eyes another Elliot wanders an empty vision of Brakebills.

Julia has another problem - she’s immortal (apparently) but can’t do magic. So they need to find someone who can do god stuff and Josh suggests one of Bacchus’s maenads since they treated the hungover god. Penny, eager to please, teleports them to Fillory where they find the… disturbingly sticky party ground

And the Maenad Shoshonna about to commit suicide. They intervene, and have a drink of awful and coax her away so they can ask her. Shoshonna knows a ritual but it’s both intimate and can only be performed by someone who worships you - which isn’t Shoshonna

Penny, oh lovesick one, step up. Except the ritual involves anointing Julia’s naked body in oil which he is super uncomfortable about as he thinks it will be “painful” for her. On the one hand it’s nice he remembers Julia has suffered rape and may find intimate touch painful - but Julia is the one initiating and she doesn’t need someone else to make that choice to protect her. She reminds him she’s a person, not a delicate object - and people can and do heal. I like the biplay of acknowledging her trauma and why this may be difficult for her, but ultimately having Julia be the one who makes the decision: because trauma doesn’t overrule agency

Ritual complete and Shoshonna is vague - but impressed. Whatever Julia is is full of power - and Shoshonna isn’t suicidal any more as she has a new deity to worship

And lastly we have Alice in the Library who has been grabbed by Christopher Pullover - the man who wrote the Fillory books. And the child molestor who created the Beast. Alice is not a fan and makes her loathing of him very clearly known

But he knows where her and her friend’s books are and knows a spell to write a false narrative in them so the Librarians won’t be able to track them down. But it means Alice reluctantly working with a loathsome paedophile. In exchange he wants her help using a magic book to find a world where he can belong and be happy

She doesn’t think he deserves happiness. But then she doesn’t she does either since self-hate and guilt now live forever in Alice’s head. He gives her some advice which would be awesome if it didn’t come out of the mouth of a child molestor: “what you are and what you’ve done are not the same thing - and when they don’t match you hate yourself”. It just sounds extremely self-serving and self-forgiving from this man. He also tells her to stop torturing herself which she tells him he needs to torture himself more.

She does find the books… but stops because Quentin’s book ends in a week. With his death

I just have to say again how amazed I am how much this series has grown from the first two seasons.