Two words come to mind at the end of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 4: love and death. It is an episode that rests on quiet and intimate moments, focusing on specific relationships instead of an overarching adventure; and it works.
The main storyline on The Magicians Season 4 Episode 4 though is Josh experiencing The Quickening. We've known that The Quickening was coming and connected to his sexually transmitted lycanthropy, but not when or what it is. It turns out that Josh either has to sleep with someone else who is L-negative or kill them.
Understandably, Josh isn't sold on the fact that he is either going to have to become a rapist or a murderer to satisfy the urge.
Writing about Josh's sexually-transmitted lycanthropy soon turns into a story about sexual consent and responsibility. Josh is extremely careful about his L-Positive status, knowing that it isn't curable.
Trevor Einhorn's performance on this episode is brilliant, and the writing for his character manages to deliver an earnest message while maintaining the tone the audience has come to expect from Josh.
You can tell that this inevitable realization is pulling at Josh, and yet, there's also a dose of humor in it, and I think that's partly in how he plays off of Summer Bishil's Margo.
Josh takes the implications of what he might have to do seriously, and he is dead set against it. He even feels responsibility for Issac's actions while they were under the glamours.
Even when he concludes that the only solution is to lock himself in a cage as he goes mad, he isn't willing to take on any of the desperate solutions Margo is offering.
Even when Margo steps into the cage an offers her consent, he is responsible, and he makes sure she understands exactly what she's signing up for. But, Margo also isn't willing to lose another friend, which is understandable because she and Eliot have been joined at the hip since The Magicians Season 1.
Plus, Margo has been through a lot, but she's continuously proven that she can handle herself. Seeing her trying to push down her grief for Eliot this episode was another side to her to her -- a side we saw before when Eliot married Fen, and they found out that he was going to have to stay in Fillory.
Loss weighs on people, and although Margo deflects, she's no exception. She does care under her bravado.
Speaking of Eliot, his quest to kill gods is on the back burner this episode in favor of exploring The Monster's relationship with Quentin.
Hale Appleman's performance as The Monster is so intriguing because in so many ways it feels like the monster is just a hair off from Eliot. There's a cadence in Appleman's voice with this version of Eliot that comes out so beautifully and carries the beast's confusion.
The writers really pulled a fast one though. When The Monster starts throwing the model planes and convinces Quentin to do the same because it may make him feel better, it made me empathize with this new version of Eliot. Of course, then it also came out of left field with the announcement that Eliot's dead.
Back with the Order, Alice is now that she's out of her cell and roaming through the library, she's getting a little more attention from the writers. She finds an unlikely ally in Christopher Plover who the audience hasn't seen for several seasons.
Plover feels like the most unlikely character to come back, but it works in this case. Alice needs a writer in this instance, and -- as much as I loathe the idea -- Plover's automatic writing spell is just the thing to get them in and out of the revision room.
It does come at a price and a moral quandary, and the ensuing conversation between Plover and Alice is a very poignant one. Plover is a pedophile who says he's reformed. He's looking for a world where he can be happy and do no harm.
I am not sure how much time the writers plan on spending on this plot point, but when Plover's crimes are compared to Alice's time as a niffen, it feels like it might be worth teasing out over a few more episodes. Especially, when you consider the route Alice took last season, and how the Manta Ray is responsible for her father's passing.
I don't know that Alice will ever forgive herself, but this storyline is forcing her to examine what she's done and move onwards.
Speaking of moving on, Julia and Penny-23 have their moment as they perform a diagnostic ritual in Fillory that should determine why Julia is now indestructible.
It's been such a short thread that I sometimes forget that this isn't the original Penny from this timeline.
We also don't know a whole lot about Julia and Penny relationship from the twenty-third timeline, but the camera work as they perform the ritual is very intimate. I want to assume that the angles were a conscious choice to reflect Penny's gaze, and it's a very tasteful sequence.
It makes me very curious about his Julia and what their relationship looked like. There's a bit of reverence in there too when you remember that his Julia died.
The biggest takeaway from this thread, though, are the results of the ritual. Julia is concerned that she was a god but now can't do magic, and Soshana, the maenad, offers some insight into magic vs. power.
Magic and power were two things that seemed exclusively linked in The Magicians Season 3, but Soshana is offering this idea that Julia can still be powerful and not do magic. It's an interesting choice for Julia, and I like that it's getting explored.
What were your favorite plot points in the newest episode of The Magicians? Are you excited to see where it goes next? What do you think the final scenes mean for Eliot?
Let us know in the comments below and be sure to watch The Magicians online.
Lauren Busser is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.