Is magic worth all the heartache it causes?
It certainly doesn't seem like it after watching the characters struggle with their realities on The Magicians Season 2 Episode 5 "Cheat Day."
But as Quentin discovered, escaping to the real world isn't as easy as he thought it would be.
Not when the pain of losing Alice remains so fresh in his mind and heart.
It was an interesting choice to bring Emily Greenstreet back as Quentin's coworker.
They have a lot in common. Both dropped out of Brakebills. Both lost someone they cared about to magic. Both are having a hard time letting go.
Not just of the magic, but of the people they loved.
Emily: Were you masturbating in your office?
Emily: Whatever. I do.
Quentin: What is this place?
Did anyone else feel a little attacked by all the comments about how dull office jobs are or how much the real world sucks?
It started out amusing, but after the third or fourth joke, it made me as sad as Emily looked when Quentin opted not to have a repeat performance of their cheat day.
Although, I am proud of Quentin for making that choice.
We know he's not thinking clearly. If he were, he'd still be in Fillory, trying to help his friends.
His pain is palpable. The moment when "Alice" stepped out of the shower, Jason Ralph did an incredible job letting us see just how much Quentin's hurting without Alice.
I could have done without seeing Quentin and Emily have sex while pretending to be other people.
But that's just one more layer of grief.
Quentin: Is everybody out here really so lifeless?
Emily: Yes, we are. We are. That's why we drink.
Quentin: Well I drank just fine as a magician.
Emily: Yeah because your world was so overwhelming and scary and you needed a break from it all. Now you're going to drink because each day is so goddamn dull and that takes a lot more booze.
It was nice to see Quentin reaching out to Alice's parents.
Email might not be the best way to let people know another one of their children is dead. But Quentin meant well.
More importantly, Alice is back! Sort of.
Alice, I really fucking miss you.Quentin
Was she a ghost? Is she trapped somewhere?
Please don't just be a figment of Quentin's imagination. She's too important of a character to lose permanently.
The fact that she was mouthing the word "help" is probably not a good sign.
Hopefully, Quentin will head back to the land of magic to launch a rescue mission.
Speaking of missions, Penny braved dealing with Mayakovsky in the hopes of finding a cure for his hands.
It didn't go well because Penny has terrible luck.
But the professor played a larger role in the episode. He served as a reminder that magic is on borrowed time.
Again, it's hard not to wonder if maybe losing magic wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It's not doing anyone any favors at the moment.
Mayakovsky: Do you even like magic?
Penny: Yeah. Like I like money or food or any other useful shit.
It's interesting that Penny doesn't seem to feel that way.
Magic's screwed him again and again, but he didn't want to give it up when Mayakovsky hinted that he should.
Is that a wise choice or just a stubborn one?
Penny's not the type to accept failure. I have to admire him for that. But I'm still wondering when/if we're going to find out what the River Watcher was hinting at on The Magicians Season 2 Episode 1?
He made it sound like Penny would have to face a specific trial.
Could it have something to do with the potential disappearance of magic? Maybe Penny plays a prominent role in making sure that doesn't happen.
Or maybe it's just all of the things he's going through in order to get his hands back.
I hope we see the River Watcher again sooner rather than later.
While we're on the subject of trials and tribulations, when is Julia going to catch a break?
As soon as she threw up, I knew she was pregnant. And because this is a show with supernatural elements, it was obvious she wouldn't simply be able to have an abortion and move on.
I'm curious who, or what, was doing the magic that put a stop to the abortion. I assume we're supposed to think it's Reynard.
But it seems just as likely it could be the baby itself.
I should have known better. I knew the difference between magic and miracles. One is real and one is a lie with sparkles.Julia
The bright side of this horribly depressing storyline is Julia and Kady's friendship.
It's great to see them trusting each other and being there for one another. It's not just a partnership born out of desperation like Julia's original association with the hedge witches.
These two have both been through a lot and like Penny, they're not giving up easily.
But it would be nice to see them get a win for a change.
Finally, we have the Foo Fighters and Fillory.
As much as I love Margo and Eliot, the Fillory storyline is the least interesting part of the show at the moment.
It's not a huge shock to learn there's a rebel group in Fillory. Nor is it surprising to learn Fen's part of it. Or she was part of it before she married Eliot and learned she was pregnant.
We'll have to see where her loyalties lie over the next few episodes.
Margo: Eliot. We said we'd do whatever actually works.
Eliot: Fine. I'll tell the council in the morning. But I'll do it. The man's life is my burden to bear.
Margo: Get over yourself, Ned Stark.
It's not a lot of fun watching Margo and Eliot come down on opposite sides of an argument.
Especially since they're both right.
Eliot's smart to want to find a diplomatic solution. No one wants a leader who goes on constant killing sprees to prove his power.
But wanting to be a better man than his own father might not be the answer here.
Council member: The queen may voice her opinion, but ultimate judgement belongs to the king.
Margo: So this is what the patriarchy smells like? It's not the freshest.
Margo's fears that Eliot might be the one who ends up dead are justified.
Not only are his problem plotting against him, his wife was in on it at one point. I'm guessing the rivalry between Margo and Fen will hit new levels when Margo learns that detail.
In the meantime, it's probably a better bet to at least attempt to present a united front. They need to watch each other's backs.
As children of Earth, they've both got a bullseye on them.
Now, it's your turn! Did Quentin make the right choice in giving up magic? Should Penny do the same? Do you trust Fen?
Share your theories in the comments below!
Miss an episode or just want to relive the magic? You can watch The Magicians online anytime!
Mandy Treccia was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in September 2017. Follow her on Twitter.