Friday, March 1, 2019

The Magicians: Season 4, Episode 6: A Timeline and a Place

Penny has been kidnapped and locked in a magical cage - as has Marina. They’ve been captured by Daniel - a Horomancer. A rare magical talent based on manipulating time. And he’s captured them both because they’re outside their actual timeline. They don’t belong in timeline 40 and their presence there is making time magic futz. He insists it isn’t personal (and Marina is clear that being locked in a cage is always personal).

He doesn’t listen to counter arguments and he uses his time magic to zap them all to timeline 23… except that this timeline has no magic so the cages fall and Penny punches Daniel unconscious. While he has no wish to release Marina since she is made of evilness and has just one overarching goal (be reunited with her girlfriend now she knows enough about now to actually not screw up. And though I really want to see more same-sex relationships I also kind of think this woman need to run, run for the hills!). But Penny releases her because she claims to know how to use the timeline jumping device

She’s lying. She tells Penny that she really should remember to trust his instincts about her in future. She is a terrible person.

They switch time lines but because she doesn’t know what she’s doing they end up in a time line where magic users are hunted down by law - thankfully we don’t delve into this very very tropey storyline. They decide they need advice on how to use this device and go to find this timeline’s Daniel and seek his advice. He is thrilled to see their more developed time magic and calls his mother, the founder of the Horomancy… who then collapses

Penny and Marina flee with his devices to communicate with the past and his mother’s notes and between the two they patch together some information: one of the core elements that Sonia used to develop time magic is a substance that basically causes time related brain damage - which she counters with watches that use time magic to keep their minds safe. Unfortunately Penny and Marina being outside their timeline is disrupting time magic - hence why Sonia collapsed. Her shield is no longer working

Penny realises that this is why Daniel is so eager to get them out of Timeline 40 - because their presence is killing his mother. Penny is horrified and insists that they cannot return. Marina, of course, doesn’t care. But Penny is the Traveller and the one able to zap away… a white room. A room between life and death where he is pulled into a meeting but… Penny 40. Yes the Penny now working for the Library from the original Timeline - a much less fluffy, happy Penny with a whole lot more hard edges. He has a simple message - it’s vital Penny 23 return to Timeline 40: yes Sonia is going to die, but it’s too late, she’ll die anyway. Penny 40 is totally impatient by Penny 23’s emotional sadness and really really wants him to just get on with things. He insists that there’s something much much much bigger at play than just Sonia and Penny 23 must return

He also insists that this is Penny 23’s storyline now, and dismisses his guilt over taking Penny 40’s space. Again, he has no patience for this emotion - and it is really well done how these characters are very similar but fundamentally different. Often when the same actor plays two characters those characters are extremely different from each other (look at the Acting Superhero, Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black) but it’s a brilliant change to see these characters be very similar but still have fundamental differences. Their morality and outlook is very different but they’re both recognisably the same person

Penny returns to his timeline (with Marina)  and waits for Daniel… he realises Daniel will do anything to get rid of them since his mother is on the line… soe he plants dandelion seeds from timeline 23 into timeline 40. Daniel will never find them all… getting rid of Marina and Penny won’t help him.

Next plot line is Julia and Quentin discussing what to do about the Monster. Of course they want to save Elliot - but really at the cost of putting the Monster in his own possibly immortal dangerous body? Julia has misgivings but Quentin is fixated on Elliot. They agree to help te Monster…  but make sure they keep a plan B for taking him down as well.

They do some research and get some clues for the next body part - the Egyptian god Heka, who is dead and his body somewhere… but the main worry here is that the Monster, bored, is not treating Elliot’s body well. Quentin snaps when the Monster starts taking pills and Quentin stops him

And faces down the Monster, willing to die and abandon the monster if he doesn’t take better care of Elliot’s body. It’s an impressive, courageous and powerful scene and my gods am I celebrating more and more as Quentin’s love for Elliot becomes more and more overt.

The Monster backs down. I keep celebrating. This season better not end with one of them dying. Or Quentin and Alice getting back together.

Another person missing Elliot is Margo - High Queen Margo in Fillory is looking for a way to cure the Talking Animals so they can speak again… not for the good of Fillory nor even for the good of the Talking Animals who actually have her the throne in the first place

I get that Margo is famous for Not Giving a Fuck which I generally find magnificent in its awfulness but her complete and utter indifference to the good of Fillory is… highly cringeworthy. There’s a line in Margo’s performative self-centred awful awesomeness and this crosses it

But there may be an intention behind that. As Margo pushes for the cure, realising that neighbouring Loria has now been split by civil war and the only land with the cure has decided to sell to them out of, basically, petty grudges. Josh encourages Margo to practice charm and diplomacy to encourage the stubborn ruler to share the cure. Margo is against this because diplomacy is what Elliot did - but Josh manages to push her into it

And hilariously coach her into it because she just hates it so much. Until Josh congratulates her by saying she out-Ellioted, Elliot

Margo loses it. Not only threatening vicious violence to get her way (which works) but by savagely attacking Josh verbally, tearing into him.

Even she seems to realise she goes too far… and tries to claim she didn’t mean to hurt him. But Josh knows better; she was going for blood… And after last episode with these two bonding that just hurts all the more

The last storyline is Alice

Using her “where I’m meant to be” book and spell she goes to Modesto and rents a room from Sheila. Alice is a bit lost trying to find out what her purpose is until she sees Sheila use magic to find something. Alice decides to reveal she’s a Magician and show magic to Sheila - who knows nothing about magic and her finding-things talent had only recently emerged

Sheila is an interesting character - she’s kind of world weary and cynical and practical, but also hopeful and good and deeply altruistic. She takes a deep and complete joy in discovering her magic which makes Alice super uncomfortable because of all the bad she’s seen magic do. But Sheila has some excellent advice - that magic just is, that ultimately it’s how you handle it that is good or bad. This both kind of absolves magic as being inherently evil and something to worry over but also kind of condemns Alice. But she has good advice on that score as well - yes Alice has done terrible things, but they are things she regrets and because of that she is making changes. Far better advice than from Christopher

Alice is encouraged to teach Sheila because Sheila goes outside to smoke. Even though it’s her own house, because that was her mother’s rule and just because her mother is dead doesn’t seem like a good reason to break the rule. It’s kind of silly but also touching and shows Sheila’s respect, adherence to rules as well as her dedication to being good which we’ve already seen through her charitable impulses. A woman who smokes outside out of respect for a rule from her now dead mother is not a woman who is capricious or selfish.

She’s also sensible - when the Library visits her to offer her a library card as a new Magician she refuses because Alice freaks out. She doesn’t know much about the library, but the fact Alice is deeply traumatised by them convinces her she doesn’t know enough to sign up for their card… I really really really like Sheila. How rare are characters this sensible?

But charity may get them into trouble as well. The water of the town is tainted by lead from old, rotten pipes and she wants to use magic to fix it. Alice can do that but not with the Library restricted magic levels… but Sheila has the power to find things, including one of the Library’s magical pipes with a crack in it… a crack they can break open to allow more magic into the area.

Which allows them to joyous flood magic into the area and purify the water.. But also puts Sheila on the Librarian’s radar

An allows the Hedgewitches to blow up a building which I think belongs to the Librarians...

And lo we have an episode just chock full of character development, compelling characterisations and nuanced emotions and philosophies which really is something The Magicians is extremely good at but doesn’t get praised enough. I do hope Sheila survives this - but i doubt it, alas.