The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4 Review: Magicians Anonymous

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Holy Chatwin.

Even five seasons in, this show still finds ways to surprise me, and The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4 was no exception.

I'm going to offer you a little bit of warning here if you haven't seen the episode. Read forward at your own peril! a

Dark King - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Merritt was revealed to be Plum Merritt Chatwin.

Fans of Lev Grossman's trilogy will recognize the name. In the last book of the series, "The Magician's Land," a character named Plum Purchas is introduced.

Without getting too much into the details, Plum is revealed to be Rupert Chatwin's great-granddaughter.

Merritt: This happened … this is because of me. I didn’t see it coming, and I never thought it would get this bad.
Penny: Merritt what could you have done?
Merritt: I should have told you the truth. My name – my real name – is Plum, Plum Merritt Chatwin.
Penny: Wait.
Julia: You’re a Chatwin?
Lipson: Wait, what do you mean? Like the kid’s books? I missed an episode.
Merritt: I am so sorry. I was terrified and alone and being here, it was the first time I felt safe, but I’m not. The thing with being a Chatwin is, it’s like a curse. It’s like there are things coming after you that you don’t understand. I don’t know what this signal is, but I know why it’s targeting me, and I’m going to figure out how to fix it.

While it's unclear who Plum is a direct descendant of, it's highly unlikely her progenitor is Rupert in the TV series, seeing as he died decades ago.

It's also improbable that her ancestor is Martin, also known as The Beast. I can't really imagine a homicidal psychopath such as The Beast settling down and starting a family.

Merritt - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

By default, that just leaves Jane, unless there are some other long-lost Chatwins out there.

Regardless of her lineage, it was a great twist while still honoring the source material.

Margo: Give me a phaser and a red shirt.
Male centurion: What?
Margo: Yeah, just don’t.

When Merritt was first introduced, I thought she was just a way to establish the mystery of the signal with the added benefit of being one of Penny's students, meaning he felt obligated to help her.

While she somehow ties into that mystery, I never could have guessed how deeply intertwined she would be with the show's DNA.

Penny - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 3

But as far as the signal goes, very little is known about it still. 

Besides forcing travelers to unwillingly travel; it's more dangerous than that.

Penny: I feel better, so why do I feel like something really shitty went down? Maybe because you’re here.
The Binder: Like all humans, 23 saw little and knew less. What strange, sad, angry, narrow, little lives these humans stumbled.
Penny: OK, just tell me what you did to me.
Clarion: I helped you and now you’re gonna help me.
The Binder: The Binder reminded the goddess he couldn’t be forced to do anything he didn’t wish to.
Clarion: Ah, honey, I don’t force anyone. I just get what I want. Good-bye Julia, and for what it’s worth, I feel like you made the right decision.
Julia: For what it’s worth, go fuck yourself.

I'm not sure if that was due to repeated exposure, so to speak, or the signal was so strong it just scrambles one's brain from the inside out. 

Whatever it is, it almost killed Penny. 

Penny - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Killing off Penny -- again -- would have been overkill, so magic was used, of course, to save his life.

I'd criticize the show's over-reliance on magic to solve all of our characters' problems, except magic usually makes things worse, not better.

Clarion: You have one thing to trade Julia for one miracle. So your miracle can be to save your boyfriend or your world.
Julia: But you could save both.
Clarion: You know humans have exploited gods since you staggered upright. The deals that we make need to be strict, so this deal – one book, one miracle.
Julia: You’re really gonna make me choose? The planet or him?
Clarion: Yeah, I know it’s total bullshit, right? You see why I want to be human, like I can’t feel the melodies I’m goddess of, can’t bend the rules I didn’t make.
Julia: Don’t put this on your kind. This is you choosing.
Clarion: But the one who has to choose is you.

In this case, saving Penny's life came with a cost: He lost his ability to travel, or more accurately, he can still travel but doing so would mean certain death.

Julia - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

I'm glad Penny pointed out to Julia the irony of the situation.

In The Magicians Season 4 Episode 13, Penny was forced to make a choice to save her life, which came with a cost -- Julia lost her ability to do magic. 

Julia: Oh, fucking hell.
Clarion: Oh sorry. Did you want Hades? I could get word to him, but what a dick.

In a not unexpected twist, he also faced a similar consequence when Julia was forced to make a choice to save his life.

In a somewhat karmic way, this makes them even.

Penny + Julia - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

And it's not like Penny can begrudge Julia for her actions, as he essentially did the same thing for her.

If anything, I think Julia better understands the position Penny was put in when he made such a monumental decision without consulting her.

Kady: So I’ve been clean a year. Thanks, but maybe hold that because I’ve been jonesing hard. Well, uh, I’m a hedge. You know, before we saved magic we got a shit deal. There was a blood worm scare, so the Library gave a lot of hedges the Reed’s Mark. Well, get a mark, you’re magically castrated until they take it off. And the Library’s imploding, and they can’t fix it, and the marked ones are looking at me like, ‘Hey, bossy pants, you rallied us to save magic. How ‘bout saving us?’ And, I found a spell to remove the marks in a depository. Only, all of a second, it’s gone, but I know the only way to move something that warded is to move it through the etheric realm.
Female magician: Cool, I’ve heard it’s awesome there. What’s the prob?
Kady: The prob is there’s only one way into the realm. Anybody heard of RCH? Nickname ‘Archie.’ Yep, they way to save every marked hedge is to drop acid. A true 12 step conundrum.

After all, it was the only to save her life, just like removing Penny's psychic ability was the only way to save his life this episode.

This experience will either bring them closer together or drive them apart further.

For now, they're on the same page: stopping the harmonic convergence.

Julia pray - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Presumably when that happens, there may be a long conversation about their future. 

Penny wants to settle down with Julia, but does Julia want the same thing?

Margo: What are we looking at here?
Male centurion: His Majesty wants the kingdom to witness him saving subjects from the Takers. These are in almost every room in the castle, most of the taverns, and …
Margo: It’s fucking Fox News.
Male centurion: Fox is all lies. No one would ever believe their news.

Can Julia even stop being Julia, especially after losing Quentin? 

Only time will tell.

Clarion asks - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Speaking of time, there's even less time to stop the harmonic convergence.

Clarion, the goddess of melody, ended up being a bust. The Binder was right: Julia really needs to stop trusting deities. 

The Binder: The Binder stared at Julia, wondering if she’d learned nothing from her interactions with deities.
Julia: I don’t have a lot of choice here. If you can’t do this the earth is doomed.
The Binder: ‘Again,’ the Binder asked, bored. Still the Binder wondered why on earth would Julia trust this Clarion.
Julia: I don’t, but the options here are narrowing.
The Binder: As a book, the Binder enjoyed any opportunity to teach and here was a word Julia desperately needed to understand: no.

The Library was also a dead end after all the books were either destroyed in the blaze or taken by the Visigoths.

Things are looking pretty bleak with the only option being to move the moon. Yes, you read that right. 

Zelda - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

For one, how do you even go about moving the moon? 

It can't be as simple as telekinetically moving it a few inches in space, right? A summoning spell probably won't work either. 

Penny: So what do we do now? We try and trade with the Visigoths? What do we have that they want?
Alice: I mean, the overload kind of liked me.
Julia: Off the table.
Zelda: I read most of the books on the convergence, enough to know it can be stopped. It’s almost impossible but not complicated.
Alice: Zelda, please help.
Zelda: Of course. Well, all you have to do is move that?
Julia: Move?
Penny: The fucking moon.
Alice: At least we know where it is.

It'll also probably require a lot of magic, and with magic being unpredictable right now, our heroes' jobs probably get a whole lot harder.

I have no idea how this would be explained or if it can even be possible, but I'm sure the solution will be pretty crazy.

I guess for the show's next episode, the tagline should be: Save the moon, save the world.

Alice - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Over on the other side of the world multiverse, things weren't much better in Fillory, but then again it's Fillory; it's always frakked.

Margo: Ugh, please.
Eliot: What?
Margo: If you say his gorgeous eyes see into your soul, I’m going to puke all over your new leggings, which are quite sharp by the way. Legs for days.
Eliot: Thank you, but I never said his eyes were gorgeous or that he sees into my soul, but weirdly he might.
Margo: Or he’s sucking the soul out of you because he doesn’t have one.
Eliot: Um, he did save my life.
Margo: He’s called the Dark King.
Eliot: You’re called Margo the Destroyer.
Margo: I was a woman ruling a patriarchy; my brand had to be overkill. Bottom line: He likes you. Use that to find out what he’s really about. I’ll see if my fellow centurions like to gossip, then we regroup and decide: benevolent dictator by necessity or psychopathic despot by choice.

While Margo is willing to cast the Dark King Sebastian, as the "Big Bad," I'm sort of with Eliot on this one.

I have no idea whether he's a "benevolent dictator by necessity or a psychopathic despot by choice," as Margo put it.

Margo - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

His list of atrocities -- overthrowing Josh and Fen and then executing them -- seem to contradict his actions over the past two episodes.

Along with saving Alice and Eliot, at the time random strangers, from the Takers, he continued to risk his life as he battled the Takers again.

We seek only those works that transcend appetite and avarice, that touch upon the immutable. That’s why we spend so little time on earth anymore. What’s left to raid – Tent-pole franchises, Jeff Koons, hoodie?

Overlord Terrence

Sebastian supposedly put his life in danger -- he's immortal, so was his life ever really in danger? -- to save his subjects, something which seems very noble on the surface.

However, broadcasting his heroics throughout Fillory is a little suspicious.

Dark King 2 - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

His subjects already know he's the only one that can fight the Takers, but repeatedly showing off his heroics ensures they never forget, while also being constantly reminded of his good-naturedness and loyalty to Fillory.

Some have suggested Sebastian created the Takers as a way to seize the throne and ingratiate himself in the eyes of Fillory.


Zelda: If I could do it all again, I’d be a better mother, a truer friend. But I wasn’t. I’m not because I’ve given my life to this. It’s all I am; it’s all I have. I can’t lose everything.
Alice: You can. Believe me, I have.
Zelda: I’m sorry about Quentin, but this is different.
Alice: It’s not because whoever, whatever you loved that gets ripped away from you, it stays alive inside of us, in anyone you share it with.
Zelda: I can’t. I can’t. I’m not strong enough.

That theory certainly seems to become more plausible as the season unfolds.

If that's true, it also means Sebastian may never be overthrown as he is the only one that can stop them.

Eliot - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

If Margo and Eliot want the throne back, they may have to sort out the Taker problem before killing Sebastian. 

Or they could just kill Sebastian and deal with the Taker problem later, assuming he can be killed.

That’s amazing, right. Honestly, fuck Netflix; that is peak television.

Eliot

It's a no-win situation, and neither option is great. 

The people of Fillory won't take kindly to having their dearly beloved Dark King overthrown. If successful, Margo and Eliot could find themselves on the wrong side of an uprising.

All - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Another consequence of Margo and Eliot's plan is that it'll immediately stop the burgeoning romance between Eliot and Sebastian, whose chemistry is off the charts.

I can't quite define what makes their interactions so electric -- apart from the whole handsome dark stranger aspect of it -- but watching them interact is intoxicating.

Kady: You met the nice me. Here’s the real me: Fuck off. What?
Fogg: Well, I take the anonymous part of Magicians Anonymous very seriously.
Kady: So you quit drinking?
Fogg: Thirty-three days, six hours, 19 minutes of skin peeling, soul-searing hell ago, yeah.

Maybe it's because their shared grief allows them to connect on a deeper level. Maybe it's because they're weirdly open and vulnerable with each other. Maybe it's the whole star-crossed lovers aspect of it all.

Whatever that je ne sais quoi is, I could watch them on loop for hours.

Fogg + Kady - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4

Some stray thoughts:

  • Did anyone else not know that the Dark King's name was Sebastian? I'm pretty sure the Dark King never gave Alice or Eliot his name in The Magicians Season 5 Episode 3, but I could be wrong.

    For me, some quick online searching, and the Dark King telling Eliot in private it could be "Seb" confirmed as much. 

  • I don't care how improbable it is, but I want David Anders's Visigoth Overload Terrence in all future episodes. This desire may or may not be predicated by my love for the actor.

    While we're add it, can we see more of the Binder too. He's narration was one of the funniest parts of this episode. 

The Binder - The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4
  • The only thing of interest to come from Kady's plot is that Fogg is stuck in the etheric realm. Does this mean Fogg's out of commission for the time being? Is there some way to rescue him?

    I'm assuming a rescue mission is at the bottom of our heroes' list as you know, the entire world is ending.

  • Does anyone else think Clarion will make a terrible rock star? She'll also make a terrible human, but there are already lots of those, so what's one more. 

  • I loved Margo's dig at Fox News. She is the queen of epic one-liners. 

So what did you think The Magicians Fanatics?

Did you see the twist about Merritt coming?

Do Julia and Penny have what it takes to go the distance?

Is Sebastian good, bad, somewhere in between?

So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, don't worry. You can watch The Magicians online at TV Fanatic.

Magicians Anonymous Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Magicians Season 5 Episode 4 Quotes

Kady: You met the nice me. Here’s the real me: Fuck off. What?
Fogg: Well, I take the anonymous part of Magicians Anonymous very seriously.
Kady: So you quit drinking?
Fogg: Thirty-three days, six hours, 19 minutes of skin peeling, soul-searing hell ago, yeah.

Kady: So I’ve been clean a year. Thanks, but maybe hold that because I’ve been jonesing hard. Well, uh, I’m a hedge. You know, before we saved magic we got a shit deal. There was a blood worm scare, so the Library gave a lot of hedges the Reed’s Mark. Well, get a mark, you’re magically castrated until they take it off. And the Library’s imploding, and they can’t fix it, and the marked ones are looking at me like, ‘Hey, bossy pants, you rallied us to save magic. How ‘bout saving us?’ And, I found a spell to remove the marks in a depository. Only, all of a second, it’s gone, but I know the only way to move something that warded is to move it through the etheric realm.
Female magician: Cool, I’ve heard it’s awesome there. What’s the prob?
Kady: The prob is there’s only one way into the realm. Anybody heard of RCH? Nickname ‘Archie.’ Yep, they way to save every marked hedge is to drop acid. A true 12 step conundrum.