Although The Magicians Season 1 Episode 5 is evidence that the show continues to improve, there are still major flaws that hinder this show from becoming a hallmark of fantasy.
Once again, Quentin spends the entire episode moping around, this time about his father's terminal disease. As far as reasons to mope go, that's a pretty good one, but Quentin's character development takes a backward step because of it.
Magic can't be used to fix all problems, and it seems like we see Dean Fogg attempting to drill that notion into the students' minds again and again in almost every episode so far.
Quentin: What is the point of magic if we can't fix real problems?
Dean Fogg: We can fix some things. So we fix what we can.
I understand that the limitations of magic is a recurring theme here, but the way we're hit over the head with it so early in the series is truly a lesson in how not to convey themes in storytelling.
Subtlety and subtext are thrown out the window, and it's honestly disappointing that the writers don't trust the audience enough to understand the message without spelling it out for us every single time.
As for the characters themselves, it's frustrating to see them repeat mistakes over and over, with little understanding gained from the consequences.
I mean, didn't we get this exact same lesson when Alice tried to contact her dead brother Charlie, and it backfired horribly? Or when Emily Greenstreet tried to make herself prettier, and it backfired horribly? Or how about that time Alice tried to resurrect Charlie, and it backfired horribly?
It was Quentin himself who had to save Alice from her misguided use of magic, and now he's doing the exact same thing to try and solve his own problems.
I wonder how many times we're going to cycle through characters misusing magic before they finally realize that they are students. At a school. Which, perhaps implies that they shouldn't act like huge know-it-alls, and maybe try to, I don't know, learn something?
Now, I understand that the characters are flawed and somewhat immature, and the world of The Magicians isn't a neat and tidy fairy tale filled with perfect people. This world is messy, and there isn't often an easy way out. These characters must make mistakes in order to learn.
But there's a difference between being naive or ill-informed and being thick-headed, and unfortunately Quentin is leaning towards the latter.
Julia, on the other hand, falls into neither of those categories. Her mistakes are driven not by stupidity or naivety, but by desperation, and that's what makes her all the more compelling.
That's not to say Julia is likeable. Far from it, in fact. The fact that she was entirely too willing and eager to have sex with Pete (who, let's not forget, assaulted her in the series premiere) was pretty despicable, and made her declaration of her love for James seem pathetic and insincere.
But given her circumstances, it's entirely believable that Julia, having been cut off from all avenues of magic, will do anything to get it back. Now that she no longer has James as an anchor, I can only imagine what extreme she'll be pushed to in the future.
Besides Quentin and Julia, the supporting characters are still not given much material to work with, making it hard to really invest in any of their scenes. Eliot and Margo are the biggest victims, relegated to prancing around campus while making frothy quips at each other.
Every time Margo speaks, I roll my eyes. Is there any human out there who actually talks like that?
Alice is okay when given meaty storylines about her brother, but other than that, her uptight personality is too much of a cliche to believe. Penny is starting to grow on me, and that's because he's shedding his superficial "tough guy" persona and is beginning to integrate himself with the rest of the cast.
In general, the show suffers from its self-awareness, constantly winking at the audience with its pop culture references like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. The continual mentions of these fantasy classics only serves to remind us that what we're watching is far from those literary greats.
The Magicians would fare much better if it concentrated on establishing its own mythos before alluding to other fantasies.
The Fillory and Moth Man mystery continues to be the best part of The Magicians. I'm glad that Penny is being pulled into this storyline, so Quentin doesn't have to carry the burden of being the only one who believes in Fillory. And the comedic moments are definitely improving. The line delivery whenever anyone said "Cancer Puppy" was perfection.
You killed Cancer Puppy?Dean Fogg
What did you all think of this episode? Are you warming up to Quentin and Alice? Who's your favorite character so far? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Remember, you can watch The Magicians online at any time right here via TV Fanatic!