The Magicians continues apace, as we’re onto episode 5: A Life in the Day, with the search for the keys started by ‘The Tales of the Seven Keys’ book in full flight! As usual, please heed a SPOILERS warning!
This episode is effectively in two parts, with the continuing plots involving Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Julia (Stella Maeve), Margo (Summer Bishil), Kady (Jade Tailor) and Penny (Arjun Gupta), running alongside a mini-‘bottle show’.
This ‘bottle show’ is along the lines of a common tv trope we’ve seen many times before, the most well-known probably being the Star Trek TNG episode ‘The inner Light’, but also utilised in various forms in Farscape, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Supernatural and Eureka, amongst many others. In this bottle show, Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Q (Jason Ralph) end up in Fillory several decades in the past, where they have gone to solve the ‘mosaic puzzle’. With the problem being a difficult one, and thus will take some time, they end up living a whole life there, which is well handled and used to show some good Eliot/Q dynamics and development.
While this could have been a cheap and shoddy device, the fact that it all fits in with the overall chronology and narrative laid out by Plover in his Fillory books, makes this a really quite engaging story element. Some questions do come to mind about exactly how it all resolves and various memories carried over, but generally it is handled well and satisfactorily enough; the charm and general solidness wave away any concerns.
Of the other storylines, Margo’s is the richest, with a lot of good one liners and humour. The show continues to run with the humour element, and Margo gets a lot of the good lines. It is good to see the self-awareness though, in the scene with Jane Chatwin (Esmé Bianco), that Margo hasn’t always been used as well as she might, so I look forward to an even more expansive storyline. Summer Bishil must relish going into work and being able to ham it up in a fantastic manner!
In the Kady storyline it is nice to see some evidence of the clash between the magical and ‘normal’ worlds once again, as she finds herself in a situation where an explanation of the truth would cause more trouble for herself. There hasn’t been any of this kind of interaction between the worlds for a while, and especially in this point where we’re only hearing some vague mentions of the impact of losing magic, it would be nice to explore that.
With the other main storyline, a great opportunity is taken in this episode to see a pairing we don’t see much of, namely Julia and Alice. Like the Kady and Julia pairing last season, this could provide a lot of interesting storylines and give a new dynamic we haven’t seen before; as long as it continues to pass the Bechtel Test and doesn’t descend into a scenario where they put Q in the middle.
This series continues to be very well done, and is able to dodge the biggest pitfalls, knowingly pointing out tropes with good humour, and handling them well when not directly referenced with a nod, but used sincerely. There’s much more to come and I’m impatient to see it!