We're about halfway through The Magicians fourth season, and The Magicians Season 4 Episode 6 is serving as the perfect middle ground letting the characters rest and breathe and take in their current situation.
The Magicians has always worked well with multiple timelines and stories, but each of these plotlines feels much more separate than any that came before. It's showing some stunning character growth, but there is also a lot for the audience to keep track of.
Still, the writers do pull together some terrific character development on some fronts while setting up for future episodes in others.
Like the name of the episode, "A Timeline and Place" suggests, most of these stories have some place or setting component that they are tied to.
For example, Alice, who was told to go Modesto, California by the World Map. Alice is willing to do her penance and let this be her life, but going to Modesto changes Alice.
Alice has had a complicated relationship with magic. Her entire family is made up of magicians so it's always been her life and she's always pursued magical knowledge. It's what led to her actions as a niffen and we know she was working on a Grand Unified Theory of Magic before she returned.
Yet, the magical drought from The Magicians Season 3 has given her pause and now she sees magic as the problem to the point where at the end of The Magicians Season 3 Episode 13 she was willing to keep the magic off, blaming it for everything that was wrong in her life.
Meeting Sheila, a woman who has struggled with addiction but who now genuinely cares for her community is another balm that Alice needed. Sheila's amazement when she sees Alice purify the water is so childlike and infectious, and her enthusiasm for her recently discovered magic reminds Alice that magic can do good.
Although Alice is originally hesitant to try to pull off some big magic to purify all the water in Modesto, seeing the joy on the children's face as they play in the broken fire hydrant feels like the turning point that Alice needs to get back in touch with her magic.
It's quite a shame that it's precipitated by the other hedgewitches using the magic to blow up the library, but until we get there it's a beautiful image to end on.
If Plover was correct when he said that The World Map showed you where you should be, then where Alice should be is in Modesto with Sheila. While she's there she can help Sheila understand her gifts and figuring out her relationship to magic.
In Fillory, Margo's understanding of herself is also growing. The Magicians Season 4 is the first time we see Margo have to be High King knowing that Eliot isn't there to back her up. Margo is also realizing that she was elected for being herself, it makes her a little insecure when she can't figure out how to negotiate for the beets that will make the talking animals talk again.
It gives her and Josh a chance to connect and develop a partnership, but it's also very un-Margo to see her taking orders like that and broaching the topic so diplomatically. This episode proves that she can do it, but it also gives her this sobering realization that she is very much like Eliot and could replace him.
On some level, I think that she's also afraid that leaning on Josh means that she's replacing Eliot. Her reaction to Josh saying that she out-Eliot-ed Eliot, is that of a person who is experiencing some deep grief.
Why? Because I like fettuccine and I hate rose, you think you know me? You don't Hoberman, because if you did, you would know. I don't need a partner in crime.Margo
On The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5 we saw her talking to Fen about how she couldn't cry for Eliot because if she did she would never stop. This episode makes me wonder if Margo knows that Eliot is still alive within The Beast.
With the talking animals struck dumb, they can't communicate between worlds so it's unlikely that anyone has gotten a message to Margo, but it's easy to imagine the relief she'll feel when she ultimately finds out that he's okay.
Speaking of Eliot, The Monster is growing impatient when it comes to finding the gods and hunting for the organs. Julia and Quentin have reached the conclusion that it makes the most sense to help The Monster because when he ultimately gets his new body maybe he will leave Eliot alone.
Trying to find the "yellow fruit god" is a plot point that doesn't have much movement, but its strength lies in the quieter, emotional moments that come about between Eliot and Quentin.
The Monster is not taking good care of Eliot's body, at this point, it's just a vessel that he's in until he finds another one. It's heartbreaking to watch Quentin see another entity use his friend like that, but it's also good that the Monster has developed a strong attachment to Quentin.
Otherwise, Quentin's ultimatum wouldn't have worked. In past episodes, the Monster has hated the idea that Quentin is just helping because he wants Eliot back, but realizing that destroying Eliot means losing Quentin's help entirely might be too much for The Monster to bear.
Loss is another prominent theme in this episode. Marina and Penny's storyline is steeped in it when they're sent back to timeline twenty-three by a horromancer who is trying to save his mom.
Buying that this plot had to happen now is a bit of a stretch. While Penny was out being a DJ at the start of the season, Marina was living her usual life. How was it that she wasn't tracked down before?
While this storyline does give us some great Marina moments and some of her usual snark, the strongest scene is the one between the two Pennys.
The Penny in the underworld seemed to fizzle out and having that moment where he acknowledges that Timeline 40 isn't his home anymore and that Penny 23 belongs there seems like a good way to bring closure to that character.
Of course, this is The Magicians and there have already been a couple of resurrections after some very poignant goodbyes.
However, I am still dying for Kady and Penny 23 to work things out. We haven't seen much of her in these last three episodes and it's time for her to get back into the action.
What did you think of this episode of The Magicians? Is there any particular story you're particularly invested in? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget to watch The Magicians online.
Lauren Busser is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.