‘The Magicians’ Season 4, Episode 4 Review: “Marry … Kill”

Jason Ralph and Hale Appleman as Quentin and Eliot/Monster in "The Magicians"

Before last night’s episode of The Magicians, I was worried the show was going to leave the Eliot situation untouched since nothing has really happened in four episodes with trying to get the monster out of Eliot. And at first, “Marry … Kill” seemed to forget about Eliot/Monster completely when the Monster blinks away from Margo out of boredom.

Boy, was I wrong

Jason Ralph as Quentin in “The Magicians” | SYFY

This week’s episode continues with Quentin’s personal sidebar, the death of his father. Ted Coldwater, though only appearing in three episodes of the show, always seemed to show up at the right times. His conversations with Quentin were some of the best emotionally engaging scenes of the show, as Q’s father accepts that magic exists and will ultimately be the cause of his death. So, of course, it makes sense that Ted dies during the months Quentin is living the life of Brian, completely oblivious of the people that occupy his real one. Tragedy seems to follow Quentin, and this one is pretty killer.

As he goes through the old model airplanes his father used to build, Quentin also is left to deal with the resentment he believes his mother has always felt about him. He thinks he’s broken, his one true destiny in the universe is to break other things — magic, Alice, his father. All of this self-reflection is great (in that a character is admitting all of this, not that Quentin feels these things, obviously), but the added tension to these scenes is Eliot/Monster, who’s come to visit Quentin, out of boredom. The Monster gets Q to talk about his feelings, creating a very cathartic moment in which the two smash all the planes together. It’s such a great scene, and for just a brief moment, you can believe that it’s just Eliot and Quentin.

Then the Monster says Eliot is dead. Cue more damaged heartstrings.

But this is where The Magicians proves, once again, how much it subverts the typical fantasy tropes it always starts in. Another show would have ended the scene on Quentin’s dawning horror, but instead, the camera zooms into the Monster’s eye immediately to a space in the back of Eliot’s mind in which Eliot is still alive. He doesn’t seem to realize what’s happened to him, only that he’s surrounded by a crumbling Brakebills. In this way, Eliot’s journey will take on early season 3 Penny, attempting to communicate with his friends that he’s still kicking. Even still, there are many different circumstances than Penny was ever in.

Hale Appleman as Eliot in “The Magicians” | SYFY

Josh is having a bit of a werewolf problem. “The Quickening” Josh23 told him about is happening to him. The only way to stop it is to pass on lycanthropy by sleeping with someone else. It’s basically a magical STD, but if Josh doesn’t quell the urges, he’ll die. This is all pretty much played out as comedy, but there’s some serious shit underneath all this, not the least of which he basically has to rape someone in order to live.

Margo is having a bit of an Eliot problem. Her friend is gone, and in a moment of rare vulnerability, she admits to Josh she believes Eliot’s dead. This leads her to sleep with Josh, in turn saving Josh and also creating the most unexpected ship of the show.

This all works because of last week’s episode. In “Bad News Bears,” Margo forced Josh to betray his friend, the god Baccus. It was the only way to try to save Eliot — if they help the Monster with what it wants, then maybe it will let Eliot go. This isn’t the case, which leads to Margo’s impulsive decision-making this episode. But it works because of that previous tension, which isn’t left dangling for episodes to come. Instead, the show finds a surprising and consequence-inducing way to deal with it.

The show always finds amazing ways to add more depth to Julia. She wasn’t accepted into Brakebills in season one, which makes her constant changes in magical power so interesting. Of course, we know that she was supposed to be in Brakebills, but it still makes discovering what else she can do always so dynamic. Because she’s different from everyone else. When all of the magic disappeared, she was the only one who still had it. When magic came back, she lost hers in the effort to bring it back. But as we discovered earlier this season, she’s indestructible.

Her and Penny23 go to Fillory to consult some magical nurses. Through a very intimate spell that fuels fire to another ship, Julia learns she has so much power that the nurse that was diagnosing her immediately pledges to follow her.

Stella Maeve as Julia in “The Magicians” | SYFY

Alice is still in the Library, but she’s lost Santa Claus has her ally. Now she has Christopher Plover, the child-molesting author of the Fillory books, who seems to be in a much better helping mood than he ever was before.

With Plover’s help, Alice finds Quentin’s book, the end of which says he’s going to die. I wrote about all of these events in the wrong order, but I want to mention the sequence in which this information is revealed. It’s around the time the Quentin is sharing his feelings with Eliot/Monster, followed by the plane destroying scene, which had a very uplifting feel to it (except for Monster). It’s odd to see such information revealed while the character in question is currently going through some separate emotional baggage, but it’s really quite engaging.

Next week, Eliot attempts to contact his friends from inside his mind. Hopefully, Kady comes back, as she was totally absent from this week’s events. See you then!

The Magicians season 4 continues on SYFY at 8 p.m. CST Wednesday nights. Follow along here at thefilmera.com.

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