The Magicians Review: Save the Moon, Save the World

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Don't you just hate it when you save the wrong world? That's the worst. You go through all this trouble and put in so much effort, yet another apocalypse is nigh. 

It's a never-ending job being the hero as The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5 and The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6 proved.

It's a thankless job, but someone has to do it.

All hands - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

The real hero of the two hours ended up being Eliot. 

Like Eliot, you could argue that Margo was the hero, putting the pieces together about how to stop the lunapocalypse.

Eliot: So you’re right; I have been pushing you away.
Margo: Yeah, no shit.
Eliot: It’s just, I do remember the Monster. It was bad and bloody, and those memories are right here, and maybe, I do really need that drink.
Margo: I don’t get why you feel you have to go it alone.
Eliot: I don’t either. My logical brain knows without a doubt I am better with you.
Margo: Yes and same. Tell your coping mechanisms to back off. I’ll punch them in the dick.
Eliot: In the loops, we were in it together, and then you were gone. Shocking revelation: I am absolutely miserable when you’re not around.
Margo: Yeah, I know.
Eliot: I don’t know if that’s fair to you.
Margo: What are you talking about?
Eliot: The other thing I learned being with you in the loops for so long: You’re not exactly who you used to be. You …
Margo: Please don’t say aged.
Eliot: You’ve evolved Margo Hanson. You’ve become more of your true self. You’ve earned it. I don’t want to ask you to take a step back just so I can try and catch up.
Margo: El …
Eliot: I was a mess you had to untangle in there just so you could soldier on, and once you did, you figured out how to fix all of this.
Margo: Then you picked up the baton and actually did the thing.
Eliot: I got lucky.
Margo: No. It’s ‘cuz you understand me better than anyone. Quit acting like you’re the screw up and get on my level El. You did it. You did it when the world was on the line and now do it for yourself.

While Margo did play a key role in saving the world, Eliot saw it through to the end.

His actions are even more impressive when you to take into account his mental state.

Eliot stares - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

Eliot has been dealing with his grief and guilt over Quentin's death. 

That loss has been all-consuming, and he hasn't had time to deal with the trauma of the Monster taking over his body and watching it do all those heinous actions.

Julia: Here’s the deal: When the sister was in me, I remember everything, every bloody second of it. And usually, I’m good at pushing it away, but right now, it is like a constant slideshow in the background. Not fun. El, the monster was in you for months.
Eliot: Well, it was different. People have different experiences. All that time was just one big nap to me, which sounds so good right now.
Julia: I don’t know why you’re lying to me or anyone.
Eliot: I don’t know why you’re accusing me of lying.
Julia: OK, neither of us have the bandwidth for this right now, and I don’t trust you. I don’t. But if you ever do decide to talk, open door.

He's pushed it as far down as he could, even claiming not to remember anything from that time, but it all came rushing back.

He's finally forced to confront his inner demons, literally, when he thought a piece of the Monster lived inside him.

Eliot - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5

Things got worse when Margo, the person he's closest with in the world, was booted from the time loop.

It's easier to face your fears with someone by your side. Alone, it's a daunting task, harder to keep the voices at bay.

Margo: I was happy to give you space to tell your Monster secrets in your own time, but we’re stuck in the Jean-Paul Sartre bullshit, you get worse fast.
Eliot: I told you this isn’t important right now.
Margo: Whatever it is you remember, it’s not your fault, OK.
Eliot: Can we just stop the moon first please?
Margo: Not if your liver falls out of your twat first. Let’s talk about it.
Eliot: No.
Margo: Seems like we have to. It’s me. Don’t be a coward.
Eliot: Stop. It’s still in me, OK. I am seeing what I am seeing. Some piece of it must have held on.
Margo: The Monster’s gone. I exorcised it and Q threw it into the Seam. The only thing here is you medicating instead of facing your memories and feelings, and I empathize, I do, but I think you’re forgetting you can tell me anything.
Eliot: I just told you, and you didn’t believe me.

When you couple that with Eliot's fear of abandonment and being in a personal purgatory forever, it's a wonder he didn't drink himself into a stupor every chance he got -- oh, wait, he did do that.

However, there's only so much hiding you can do before your past catches up with you.

Margo and Eliot - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

Though the metaphor was a little -- or a lot -- on the nose, it was still an effective character exploration.

Josh was right: There's only so much avoidance and denial you can achieve before you have to face your fears.

Josh: How can we help?
Eliot: Help save the world? Honestly, I don’t know. It might not be possible. This might be it -- me, alone, in this particular 12 hours, eternally.
Josh: OK, that sounds like a lot for you. So, uh, anything I can do to help you?
Eliot: I wish because the longer this goes on the more certain I am that the Monster is inside of me and trying to get out.
Josh: Good metaphor.
Eliot: I’m being literal.
Josh: Oh shit.
Eliot: It’s worse every loop. I hear its voice, I see blood on the walls, I see this door. It wants out.
Josh: Have you tried letting it out?
Eliot: Why in god’s name would I do that?
Josh: I’m just spitballing, but a lot of the time in these movies, the solution to the problem is facing the thing you’re most afraid of.
Eliot: What if I die?
Josh: What if you do?

What I expected was a manifestation of Eliot's thoughts, possibly yelling at his human form to deal with his emotional baggage, or a darker version of himself that he had tucked away.

What we got was Charlton. 

Eliot and Charlton Look Seriously at a Chalkboard - The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5

Oh Charlton, how adorably tone deaf you are.

For someone who once had the Monster inside him, Charlton, who was last seen in Eliot's "happy place" on The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5, completely missed the mark when it came to letting Eliot know he was "trapped" inside Eliot's subconscious.

Eliot: How the hell are you here?
Charlton: I was trapped, wandering your remembrances when mercifully, you decided not to sleep for five days and broke your brain. That gave me an opening to contact you.
Eliot: That voice, that was you?
Charlton: Yes, of course. When all the scary creatures were pulled out, I held on tight as I could in your happy place, and well, here we are. This place was so vivid in your mind, but there’s nothing like the real thing, is there? The sights, the sounds, the smells, oh, I forgot about smells Eliot. They’re overwhelming unpleasant.
Eliot: Those messages, that was you too? ‘I’m still here,’ ‘let me out.’
Charlton: Yes, I wanted you to know I was still here, and I wanted to be let out.
Eliot: In red paint?
Charlton: Right, like strawberries and Santa Claus.
Eliot: And blood, Charlton.
Charlton: Perhaps it was a touch ominous.
Eliot: As was the creepy whisper.
Charlton: I was trying to be polite.

It should have been hard to forgive Charlton for his gross oversight, but he was just so earnest and naive that I found myself rooting for him.

He is just the gift that keeps on giving, and the character we didn't know we needed to see again, but now that we have, must be made a series regular ASAP.

Kraken - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

Charlton was also the kick in the butt Eliot needed to, as Margo would say, "Ovary up."

The whales being responsible for the time loop, and somehow magicians, somewhat came out of left field, but it was still a humorous explanation.

Whales: What is the purpose of this distraction?
Eliot: With whom are we speaking?
Whales: We are the whales.
Eliot: Like all of them?
Whales: Of course.
Eliot: Why do you speak through a TV?
Whales: Why do you? What is the nature of your query?
Eliot: OK, I don’t really know how to explain this. OK, so you probably don’t know this but we are in a time loop.
Whales: We are aware of the disturbance.
Eliot: Oh, huh, whales grok time loops. So do you happen to remember if a woman named Margo came to see you? Brilliant, about yea high, maybe a little brusque.
Whales: A contemptuous creature. We were compelled to wash away her temporal immunity.
Eliot: You took her permanence off.
Whales: Her manner was appalling.
Eliot: That ... does sound like Margo.

It provided the episode with some much needed levity, among Eliot's somber self-reflection.

All of those scenes were so much fun, especially when Eliot asked the whales if they ever wanted to fornicate again.

Group - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

What was also fun was seeing the group execute the heist.

Part of the hilarity was the characters' running on fumes, but also the appearance of Marina. 

Julia: Did you put the guards to sleep?
Marina: Yeah, but I’m a little confused why you aren’t snoozing too. The only thing stronger than that spell is … Oh my god, are you on meth?
Alice: You know it sure as hell seems like it.

I've missed that character dearly, and even though Kacey Rohl didn't appear in enough scenes, she slayed in them.

She's another character that needs to be made a series regular, as Marina is just such fun and makes a compelling villain.

Penny and Marina - The Magicians Season 4 Episode 6

As amazing and fun as the heist was, the bank robbery in The Magicians Season 2 Episode 7 is still the best.

That heist had so much fun and whimsy -- remember the finger swapping, swarm of bees, and the disco "wrecking" ball -- and it was the first time everyone was united and working together.

Margo: Let’s review: Emergency code words if this all goes shit-shaped.
Eliot: Umm …
Margo: Really?
Eliot: Kidding. OK, as follows: credenza, no questions asked; inglenook, tie those fools up and toss them through the Fillory portal; chifforobe, flee to Canada; armoire, shield up stat, kimono …
Together: All hell’s broken loose.

Plus, there a was levity to the bank robbery that wasn't here in these two episodes, as this heist had higher stakes. If our heroes failed this time, it would mean the end of the world.

Also, I'm not sure if this technically counted as a heist as nothing was stolen; Westbrook and his guards just thought it was.

Margo, Josh, Natasha - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5

I will admit the show tricked me with the Natasha glamour.

At first, I was wondering who had given up their shade to secure Natasha's help, but the Kady switcheroo was pretty good, though I probably should have seen it coming.

Natasha: Who the hell are you?
Julia: We’re looking for Mayakovsky.
Natasha: Old, drunk, megalomaniac, fondness for knit caps? Yeah, I’m his daughter.
Alice: Oh, I didn’t realize he …
Natasha: Fucked my mother? Neither did he. Should have seen his face when I came knocking.

She finally played a key role and rejoined the others on their quest to stop the harmonic convergence.

Welcome back to civilization, Kady. We've missed you.

Kady - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

The other good thing involving Kady was the end of her search for the stolen depository is over.

Frequent readers will know the plot never really appealed to me, but it was great to see a Kady and Zelda team up on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5.

Kady: Sometimes I forget you’re a master fucking magician.
Zelda: I try to keep the showboating to a minimum.

For too long, this story arc has kept Kady separate from the rest of the group, so seeing Kady join forces with Zelda was much appreciated.

I also liked that viewers got a little more information on Zelda's backstory. She's always been a character that fascinates me, and I love as the seasons continue, we get to peel back those layers.

Zelda - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

With so much going on in these two episodes, much time wasn't devoted to Sir Effingham tasking Todd with the quest to save Fillory.

All this plot point did was reveal that Julia and co. had saved the wrong world and propel the story forward.

Julia: Why are you here?
Todd: I need your help. Something just happened that feels way above my paygrade, and you were the first person I thought of who could help me handle it. it’s a weird one; just hear me out, OK. So, the pig dude who kinda looked like that one guy Paul Giamatti played in that one show with all the wigs. Told me I’m supposed to do a quest.
Julia: Seriously, that asshole went to you? Wow, he’s extremely committed to finding a dude. Yeah, it’s fine Todd; we fixed it.
Todd: Are you sure?
Julia: Yes, I’m sure. The harmonic convergence isn’t happening anymore.
Todd: The who now?
Julia: The end of the world.
Todd: Uh no. He did say the end of something, but not that. He was talking about Fillory. Remind me, is Fillory real?
Julia: The end of Fillory? So we saved the wrong world? So we’re not done. Of course.

It looks the rest of the season with be spent in Fillory, which isn't a bad thing, considering Brakebills is pretty much DOA.

With an absentee Fogg and a missing Merritt, there's not a lot to interest viewers about the university at the moment.

Fogg - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Before all that happens, I want to take a second to dissect Sir Effingham's choice in heroes.

Sir Effingham showed an aversion to choosing Julia in The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1 because of her gender.

Together: We’re in a time loop.
Eliot: Excuse us while we briefly sidebar.
Margo: Why exactly is this happening?
Eliot: ‘Why is anything,’ he asked, still freaked because the last thing he remembers is all of earth ending. It felt so inevitable.
Margo: I know.
Eliot: But why us, now? Time loop?
Margo: Of course, we’re the chosen ones. We’re us.

Now it seems as though in the pig's mind, the hero needs to be a straight white cis-gendered male, most of the boxes that Quentin checked.

Sir Effingham could have tasked Eliot, Penny, or Josh with the quest, all of whom would be better suited for the crusade than Todd.

Penny - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5

However, Penny isn't white and Eliot definitely isn't straight.

By default, that could have left Josh, but I wonder if he was taken out of the running because he has sexually transmitted lycanthropy.

Julia: OK, so we need time magic.
Penny: I know a horomancer who builds machines. Maybe he has something.
Margo: Fantastic. Vamanos.
Penny: One problem: I kinda let his mom die last time I saw him. Oh, come on, like you guys are all saints.

The series has touched on this in the past about Quentin being the "hero" because of his love for Fillory. 

He wasn't the most talented, the most naturally inclined, or the smartest. By all accounts he shouldn't have been the hero -- he was just a depressed 20something magician -- but he kept volunteering because of his pure love for Fillory.

Quentin Coldwater  - The Magicians Season 4 Episode 11

Though the series has refused to do this, the writers theoretically could have gotten away with having a conventional hero while also attempting to circumvent the trope of a white, male hero.

They could have proclaimed Quentin was chosen, not because of his race, gender, or sexuality, but because of his willingness.

Julia: Good, well I hope you have some ideas because we’re striking out.
Zelda: I do; consult the luna-tics.
Julia: The luna-tics?
Zelda: Short for lunar fanatics. In the Middle Ages, people thought insanity was caused by changing phases in the moon. In fact, it was often a lunatic in the throes of worship. They claim to be able to achieve a magical connection with the moon and even under some circumstances move it.
Kady: Hmm, that sounds useful.
Julia: Well, if it’s just branding it means they’re not really crazy, right?
Alice: My dad always said they were bat-shit insane, and he married my mom, so he had a pretty high bar for mental instability.

He was the one who walked into certain death 40 times over because Fillory meant that much to him.

He was the one who chose this, not the one that was chosen.

Quentin - The Magicians Season 4 Episode 13

The writers could have rested on that logic by having Sir Effingham seek out Quentin solely because he was a willing volunteer.

However, in choosing, Todd, a recurring character who wasn't even sure if Fillory is real, the writers continued to deconstruct what society views as a conventional hero: Someone who is chosen not because of their skill, but because of their privilege, physical attributes, and masculinity. 

Eliot: We’re seeing this wrong. We’re missing something. Maybe we need to take a step back, start thinking outside the box.
Margo: What do you suggest?
Eliot: Remember Professor Soto?
Margo: The one with the pants.
Eliot: Yeah, he had that ridiculous test everyone thought was impossible.
Margo: That we solved because we rule.
Eliot: Solved how?
Margo: You want me to remember a solution I came up with at rager doing upside-down shots in a fur bikini?
Eliot: You say rager, I say problem-solving session. That’s how we do. We put our minds on something different. We catch the solution out of the corner of our eye.
Margo: Is this actually a plan or do you want to blow off steam?
Eliot: Two birds Bambi. Besides, we’re stuck in a game that keeps hitting reset. Infinite time, zero consequences, just you and me saving the world through unbridled hedonism.

We see this time and time again in literature, and I applaud the writers for tackling this head-on.

Though sprinkled throughout the series, the clearest example is The Magicians Season 4 Episode 7, as Penny explains to a supposed subordinate the importance of all the characters and their stories.

Girls - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

I love watching the series deconstruct heteronormativity and misogyny and can't wait for the rest of the season's badassery. 

The one thing I don't understand, though, is how the writers portray such strong, empowered characters but Fen is always relegated to comic relief?

Fen: You want me to what?
Eliot: Just find out who in the castle hates fairies, OK, and what they’re doing to them, and why fairies in the first place. And maybe talk to some fairies; get their side of things.
Fen: OK.
Eliot: And while you’re at it, anything else that seems important.
Fen: OK, that seems like a lot of open-ended questions. I got this maid job to be close to you guys, and now you’re deserting me? I want to stop an apocalypse too.
Eliot: Every apocalypse stopping mission needs a maid on the outside. It’s a key staple in earth movies.
Fen: Do you mean ‘Inside Man,’ because that’s more of a heist movie thing.
Eliot: No, that’s different. Everybody knows the secret sexy maid on the outside trope.
Fen: Yeah?
Eliot: Josh has a film club. You should check it out.

Josh also serves that purpose, but he's more like a lovable goofball, as opposed to the former High King of Fillory who gets pushed around and taken for granted by everyone.

Say it with me folks, "Fen deserves so much better."

Josh and Fen 2 - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 2

Fen had some real character growth on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 3

She was a formidable, outspoken competitor, yet she put up little fight when Eliot sidelined her on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5. 

Margo: I’ve been on the inside, and I’m telling you, it’s a god damn goose-stepping, fairy snatching, ethnic cleansing Gestapo.
Eliot: To be fair, the ethnic cleansing happened after the Dark King left, so…
Margo: He’s innocent because delegates?
Eliot: No, that’s not what I’m saying. Someone in this castle ordered the hunt on that fairy. It could have been the Dark King, but if it was someone else, killing Seb might just make things worse. So we have to find out who before we coup.
Margo: I just want to stab someone.
Eliot: I haven’t heard you this bloodthirsty in, well not that long.

She doesn't get to help save the world; instead, she's tasked with finding out about the Dark King's true intentions with the fairies.

While a matter that needs addressing, it wasn't as pressing as the harmonic convergence. The recon could have waited for a few days.

Fen - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5

Worse, is how easily Eliot is able to manipulate her.

It's like Fen sticking up for herself and going off on Margo never happened, and she's just back to being on the junior varsity team.

Julia: Look guys, if you’re looking for some sort of inspiration speech on why you should stay and fight, I can’t help. It’s gonna suck, and even if we do succeed -- which we might not -- it’s not like we’re gonna get any credit. The world ends, I end with it, knowing that I did everything I could because I won’t be able to live with myself otherwise.
Eliot: Julia’s right. She really does suck at inspirational speeches, but also that we should save the world.

Even her position within Whitespire is beneath everyone else's. She gets to be a maid, while Eliot, Margo, and even Josh have more lucrative jobs.

And she only took the job to be close to Eliot, Margo, and Josh, yet they leave her in Fillory while they're off saving the world. Such BS.

Josh - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

Speaking of being mistreated, Josh isn't having much better luck, though tht's mostly on the Margo front.

As Margo told Eliot, she and Josh have yet to talk, and she's been avoiding the conversation, treating Josh just as Eliot treated Fen. 

Margo: Josh, I haven’t had short-term memory in two days. The only things I remember are being worried about Eliot and feeling like shit for trying to leave you in the past.
Josh: Really?
Margo: Fucking moonbrain. Totally spaced out.

And her delirious apology in The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5 doesn't count as "talking" as she doesn't seem to remember it.

She may regret what she did, but she and Josh need to hash things out if they're ever going to move past it.

Margo - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

I'm also not entirely sure what said talk would entail. 

It should include an apology to Josh, but beyond that, what else is there to say? Margo loves Josh, and he feels the same about her but they never DTR'd (defined the relationship).

Josh: You’re busy? I just got promoted to head chef.
Eliot: Oh, congratulations.
Josh: Thank you, but I’m about to bail on a state dinner and leave it to my incompetent sous chef because…
Bunny 1: Apocalypse now.
Eliot: Josh, would you just give it up? He keeps trying to get us join his film club, which I told him would never work on a planet with no electricity or taste.
Josh: Uh no, sorry, this one’s just a little shy. It’s OK buddy.
Bunny 2: Help us stop the…
Bunny 1: Apocalypse now.

They have some sort of ongoing flirtationship, but are they just friends with benefits, allowed to see other people, in a monogamous relationship? 

Also, are they in any way still together at this point, or did Margo leaving Josh in past Fillory end that? 

These are questions we need answers to. 

Julia - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5

As for answers, we did get one satisfactory one this week, as Julia and Kady are still best bitches.

As I mentioned in my review of The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1, I wondered if Julia got the OK from Kady before she started dating Penny 23.

Alice: It may not be enough.
Julia: Well, we make it enough. Today, we are saving the world, and this time, it’s gonna stick.
Kady: Damn right we are.

I'm not sure if that happened offscreen, but Julia asking Kady if there was anything they needed to talk about before their impending death, and Kady telling Julia they were good, was all the clarification we needed about the status of their friendship.

Though it's unclear about Kady's feelings regarding their relationship, she doesn't begrudge Julia. So long story short: Girl code has not been broken.

Girls 2 - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6

Some stray thoughts:

  • How has no one at Whitespire figured out who Josh and Fen's true identities? I know Fillory's lacking in the technology department, but you'd think there would be at least one painting of its former disgraced rulers? A play surrounding their execution is performed every year, and yet no one notices who they actually are?

  • I wonder if the whales, which were tasked with preventing the release of the Kraken, were incorporated just so the line "release the kraken" could appear in the script. It wouldn't surprise me if the writers planned the entirety of The Magicians Season 5 Episode 6 around that one line from "Clash of the Titans."

Fairy - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5
  • Though briefly teased, I wonder how moving the moon will change circumstances. This season has delved into the different circumstances magicians need to take into effect when casting, so moving the moon will probably eff up spellwork. 

  • It should have been obvious Marina stole the book depository. She checks all the boxes: She is a talented magician with the right know-how and self-interest. Well you know what they say, "Hindsight is 20/20."  

So what did you think The Magicians Fanatics?

Can the apocalypse in Fillory be stopped?

Which character's return did you enjoy the most?

What will happen next?

Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the two-hour spectacular, don't fret. You can watch The Magicians online right here at TV Fanatic.

Apocalypse? Now?! Review

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Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.

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The Magicians Season 5 Episode 5 Quotes

Luna-tic: What people don’t understand is there is a skeleton of the universe, but we are the bones.
Alice: That’s good to know.
Luna-tic: I am humorous. You, patella.

Julia: Good, well I hope you have some ideas because we’re striking out.
Zelda: I do; consult the luna-tics.
Julia: The luna-tics?
Zelda: Short for lunar fanatics. In the Middle Ages, people thought insanity was caused by changing phases in the moon. In fact, it was often a lunatic in the throes of worship. They claim to be able to achieve a magical connection with the moon and even under some circumstances move it.
Kady: Hmm, that sounds useful.
Julia: Well, if it’s just branding it means they’re not really crazy, right?
Alice: My dad always said they were bat-shit insane, and he married my mom, so he had a pretty high bar for mental instability.