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The Magicians - Divine Elimination - Review: "Alice"

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The Magicians Season 2 Episode Guide
2.01 "Knight of Crowns" - Review
2.02 "Hotel Spa Potions" - Review
2.03 "Divine Elimination" - Review
2.04 "The Flying Forest" - Airs February 15
2.05 "Cheat Day" - Airs February 22
2.06 "The Clock Barrens" - Airs March 2

The Magicians 2.03 "Divine Elimination" - Review:
Directed by John Scott & Written by Henry Alonso Myers

Wow! What an episode. The first two episodes of season two may not have been the most exciting but it didn't take long for the show to get out of set-up stage and now almost immediately we're seeing the results of what happens when the writers aren't holding anything back. The episode itself was so jam-packed full of content that it's still hard to believe that so much of this happened so quickly in the season, as only three episodes in, Divine Elimination had so much going on that it could have served as not only a midseason but also a season finale in its own right. This episode also really benefited from having so much content and dealing with it so successfully that it quickly emerged as one of the best, not just of this season, but also the entire series, as it served as an incredible game-changer for the entire series going forward.

We didn't have to wait long to see the Chekov's Gun moment employed when the Beast talked about putting a curse on the Throne Room in Fillory and soon everyone falls victim to the curse when they sit down on the Thrones intended for the Kings and Queens. Only Penny, who isn't a royal, is spared from the curse that consumes Quentin, Alice, Eliot and Margo who immediately become so paranoid that they believe the only way they can survive is if they kill the other Kings and Queens off. So naturally this resulted in some great sequences where we got to see Margo and Quentin go head to head and this was a conflict where the possessed Margo decided to use her Cacodemon on Quentin. The only way to stop Margo killing Quentin was for Penny to use his own Cacodemon on Margo, meaning that they were now down two demons for the fight against the Beast. And then on top of that Alice also admitted once freed from the curse that she too had used her Cacodemon, having freed it if only because she wasn't happy with it being imprisoned. This now leaves them down to just Quentin's, and given how it's pretty much a running joke by this point that Quentin is so useless at pretty much everything, things aren't looking too great. But at least Penny and Fen, Eliot's new wife, were able to save the day, by seeing the curse to the point of completion by essentially killing all the Royals and reviving them through Potassium Chloride and then kickstarting their hearts back to life.

Now that the Royals are back on friendly terms with one another they soon find themselves deciding that they need to come up with a plan to defeat The Beast once and for all. In order to distract the Beast long enough for Alice to unleash her Rynaman Ultra spell the group have to keep The Beast distracted through other means in the form of first year shield spells. On paper it looks like a suicide plan but according to Quentin they don't have to use them to win the battle, just long enough for Alice to get the spell ready and kill the Beast. There's just one problem with this approach however and that's Julia and Marina are planning to use The Beast for their own ends to stop a greater threat than them both, Reynard the Fox.

The plan to use Marina as the bait for Reynard initially doesn't go off as planned. Marina tries to summon Reynard without The Beast and Julia in the building and is apparently unsuccessful, but The Beast knows that it wasn't always going to show up at the point of summoning, which is something he kept from Marina, who decides to head home, frustrated, and wards the building from enemy threats. There's just one problem. She's just locked herself out of her only chance of escape, because Reynard is there inside waiting for her, and isn't happy with what he sees. The Beast and Julia are both waiting outside, and now it's a race against time to disable the wards. They do, but just before they can kill Reynard, Penny shows up and teleports both The Beast and Julia out of Marina's apartment, moments before The Beast could stop Reynard. Had Penny been even a few minutes later things could have been an entirely different story, but because he showed up when he did, things were headed to a spectacular showdown.

Unfortunately for Alice, despite casting the spell, she misses killing The Beast completely, only wounding him heavily on his side despite the best efforts of the Royals to distract him. The Beast leaves, and Julia is understandably, incredibly frustrated at the group for screwing everything up when she was on course to complete their plan. Penny meanwhile decides to stop the current argument and teleports Julia back to New York, but Julia, in anger, rips off his wrist chains. It's bad news for Penny, who now finds himself teleporting pretty much everywhere, unable to control himself as things go from bad to worse.

Luckily for the Royals, The Beast isn't having everything his own way either as he decides to head to the magical Wellspring in order to heal himself only to find out that Ember has essentially made that no longer an option by thwarting his plans. However, Ember is equally unwilling to help Margo and Eliot, sending them back to the scene where Quentin and Alice have just engaged The Beast in battle. The Beast nearly kills Alice but Quentin throws himself in front of her to protect her, taking him out of the fight. Alice then decides to unleash hell on The Beast with the Rynaman Ultra again but there's a big problem that suddenly presents itself. She's not in control of her emotions and doesn't have anything to protect her, meaning that the magic consumed herself in the blast, burning her alive in a ball of blue flame. Seconds later she comes back, catching The Beast by surprise and telling him that she did that on purpose, but there's something different about her, and Alice is no longer Alice anymore.

The new Alice is able to easily defeat the Beast as though it was nothing. However, there is a problem with that and it definitely counts as a pyrrhic victory for the team because now she's emotionless, cold and calculative, and wants to kill everybody in sight including her former friends. It's a chilling moment and I just wondered for a brief second there whether this Alice was going to be the real villain of Season 2 rather than Reynard the Fox (or for that matter, The Beast), but Alice doesn't last long in her new form thanks to Quentin, who used his Cacodemon, and the group's last, to kill her, and with nothing else to do, cries as he's comforted by Eliot. They certainly didn't have to wait long to use all the Cacodemons, and now things are looking increasingly more uncertain for the group's future.

And to make things even worse, the God-Killing Knife is no longer in Julia's possession, because Marina is now dead, and Reynard has escaped with the Knife. Things escalated incredibly quickly over the course of the episode, taking a dramatic turn from what could have been a fairly light hearted episode resolved in the knick of time if it had just decided to focus on the possessed Royals trying to take each other out, but the decision to make that only the first part of the episode made sure that things got dark, very quickly, and this certainly made for an interesting tonal shift that you don't always see pulled off as well as shows like this, with the impact coming hard and fast. It was certainly an episode that left me stunned.

Given that Alice is now dead, and properly killed off, she got an excellent send off and one of the more memorable character deaths that I've seen on TV in a while, in a bombastic, epic fashion that also happened to be one of the best magical fights that we've seen on the show so far. It'll no doubt be interesting to see what happens next and how the characters handle this loss going forward, Quentin in particular. There's also multiple cliffhangers that need resolving as well, and as a result, I'm really looking forward to the next episode, which certainly has a lot to live up to given how awesome this one was.

What Did You Think of Divine Elimination? Let me know in the comments section below and check out the next episode of The Magicians next Wednesday at 9pm on SyFy.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The Wire, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 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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