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The Magicians - Knight Of Crowns - Review: "The Kings and Queens of Fillory"

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The Magicians Season 2 Episode Guide
2.01 "Knight of Crowns" - Review
2.02 "Hotel Spa Potions" - Airs February 1
2.03 "Divine Elimination" - Airs February 8
2.04 "The Flying Forest" - Airs February 15
2.05 "Cheat Day" - Airs February 22
2.06 "The Clock Barrens" - (TBA)
2.07 "Plan B" - (TBA)

The Magicians 2.01 "Knight of Crowns" - Review:
Directed by Chris Fisher & Written by Sera Gamble

The cliffhanger at the end of The Magicians' first season was one of the best that I've seen in a while, essentially opting to kill off most of its main characters in a bloodbath that left Season 2 with plenty to resolve, especially when it looked like Julia had betrayed the group in order to work with The Beast. Not knowing the true fate of the rest of the cast, We opened this new season with Quentin, apparently the only survivor of the bloodbath, running through magical woods and looking for help. He ends up stumbling across a house full of candy straight out of the Hansel and Gretel fairy-tale myth, and manages to solicit the help of its owner in exchange for a vial of blood. Unfortunately for Quentin he doesn't need the woman's help after all, because Alice was able to use her godlike powers to revive their friends, and they're reunited. But the odds are still against them, and they don't have the knife that they need to kill The Beast. So the search for an alternative artefact begins, and now Quentin no doubt has something that will come back to haunt him in further down the line.

The stakes are definitely raised from the previous season in this premiere and now it's certainly going to be interesting to see how the characters struggle not only with stopping The Beast but also Reynard the Fox, a trickster God. Julia is currently in possession of the knife and she's come up with a deal to offer The Beast. If he kills Reynard, Julia will give the knife to him. It's certainly an interesting side story that gives Julia's character an arc where she's battling to do do the right thing, resisting temptation from The Beast over the course of the episode, and even though her path may be a separate one from that of the rest of the main characters, we did get some really impressive moments between these two characters this episode, and as a whole this story benefits from having a much clearer sense of direction and purpose than the storyline with the other group which is admittedly, also still in its early stages. Good shows can create some great character dynamics out of somewhat unexpected places (The 100 for example is a show that's good at this), and it'll be interesting to see where Julia and The Beast go from here after the initial set-up in this episode. One particular scene that I did like that we got to see here was The Beast's taste in television shows, as it turns out he's a fan of Rick and Morty.

It's also quickly worth mentioning Penny and Margo's story this episode as well as Penny struggled with the lack of both his hands after they were removed from his body by The Beast. Thankfully they are able to find a magic river and reattach his hands with the help of a hermit, but the hermit expects payment in return, something that Penny isn't willing to give him. He settles for performing a spell on Penny's hands, which leave Penny unable to control the spells that he does, so he's forced to return to the river to beg for the man's help. The man however tells Penny that actions have consequences and like Quentin's vial of blood, this is a decision that will no doubt have further repercussions.

Returning to the main characters we got plenty of great scenes this season with some fantastic moments of comic relief that it's great to see that the show has still kept despite raising the stakes. The group need to search Castle Whitespire's Armory for a spell that Rupert Chatwin has used but in order to do that they have to be crowned Kings and Queens of Fillory. Their search takes them over the Rainbow Bridge towards the Knight of Crowns, where we get one of my highlights of not just the episode but the entire week in television in the form of an amusing exchange between The Knight of Crowns and the team, where the group are surprised to find out the Knight is not as dead as he first appeared to be, and likewise, The Knight is surprised to learn that it's no longer the '90s on Earth anymore. That doesn't stop them from getting a test on '90s pop culture and whilst ultimately this only serves to drag out the episode further and not really add anything to the speed or momentum of the plot, it was pretty funny and really worked. It did give the Kings and Queens their Crowns which also earned another highlight in the ceremony scene, as Quentin was given the title of "the Moderately Socially Maladjusted" whilst Alice was "the Wise", Eliot "The Spectacular" and Margo "The Destroyer".

The episode itself suffers from the same problem of most season premieres, not just this show. It's largely focused on setting up the season to come so as a result there's plenty of exposition throughout to get us back on track and catch up with all the characters. However that does mean that once the exposition is out of the way we will be thrust right back into the action so there's nothing too much to worry about there. The decision to set this episode largely on Fillory also worked in the show's favour, and hopefully we'll be returning to this magical world sooner rather than later as it has plenty of untapped potential. The show itself also didn't waste any time in dealing with Alice and Quentin's relationship after Quentin's drug-induced threesome with Eliot and Margo last season, as Alice opened up her main reasons behind being so mad at Quentin, for destroying the trust between them. They ended up kissing even though Alice insisted that they're still not back together.

Unfortunately for the Kings and Queens, despite the fact that they can now get to the armory there isn't much there, as there are no useful battle magic spells left. There is however a workbook that contains the Brakebills seal, and this gives the group a clue to their next destination. There is however a problem in that Eliot cannot leave Fillory and is forced to remain behind. He plans to introduce champagne to Fillory in order to be known as the Champagne King, viewing it as an adventure. There is a risk in that like Narnia, time doesn't run the same on Earth as it does in Fillory, meaning that Eliot could grow old without ever seeing his friends again. Either way, the group can't remain in Fillory forever and as a result is separated, forcing them on their own respective paths.

It's an interesting end to an episode that sets the stage for season two and establishes plenty of questions that will no doubt be answered over the course of the rest of the season. Despite its flaws Knight of Crowns was actually a really solid episode of the show that was one of the more enjoyable series from last year (alongside SyFy's equally excellent The Expanse) so hopefully things can only get better from here.

What did you think of Knight of Crowns? Did you enjoy it or were you left underwhelmed? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned for the next episode of The Magicians at 9pm next Wednesday on SyFy.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, The Magicians, Narcos, Preacher, Star Trek Discovery, Star Wars Rebels, The Shannara Chronicles, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV. He also occasionaly writes book reviews at his own site, The Fictional Hangout and ontributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 250 favourite movies here.
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