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The Magicians - Hotel Spa Potions - Review: "Agriculture, Singing and Tattoos"

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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" - 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 2.02. Hotel Spa Potions - Review:
Directed by Chris Gamble & Written by John McNamara

For the second episode of the season, which was also directed by Chris Gamble, the show began to move away from looking at the aftermath of Season 1 and instead opted to spend most of its time continuing the set-up of Season 2, beginning with the group heading back to Brakebills where they end up getting some help from Dean Fogg, explaining how the only thing that they found in the armoury was the workbook of spells. This is an effective way to lay down the stakes that the group will be facing over the course of the season in that if they fail to stop the Beast, magic dies not just in Fillory, but everywhere. I've only read the first book in the series that The Magicians is based on so much of this is unknown territory for me and it's really interesting to see everything unfold not knowing what's going to happen next, unlike shows like The Expanse and Game of Thrones, where I have read every book in the series.

Either way though, the group have a potential way to kill the Beast in the form of the Rynan Ultra spell that could stop him. Dean Fogg is willing to help find them the spell's teacher, Professor Bigby, who was fired when battle magic was struck from the curriculum. It turns out Bigby hid all the battle magic spells in the library on campus but not the one that they need the most, taking it with her when she left. So the team have to find her to gain access to the magic. They end up finding her and learn that Bigby and Fogg have some history between them, but Bigby is willing to hand over the spell anyway once she recognises how powerful Alice is. However there's a catch. Anyone who uses the spell will be killed.

The episode also spends some time dealing with problems raised by other members of the group, namely Penny and Julia. Penny of course has the problem of trying to fix his hands so he goes to Professor Sunderland who is able to heal him, but warns him that he can only hook up with Penny once he's graduated. There's not much explanation provided behind the method of the healing and it's also worth noting that it's actually been a while since we've seen most of these people in class. They seem to be too busy with the whole saving magic thing at the moment, and that's been very much the focus point for much of these two episodes of Season 2.

Julia herself seems to still be going about the magic saving thing, albeit using a more unconventional method, and is starting to regret making the deal with the Beast as she has to put up with his constant singing. This storyline takes a back seat to the main group's storyline this episode, but we did get a scene where Quentin warned Julia about the dangers that were headed her way. Julia knows that they need to stop the Beast but she has reasons of her own for wanting to keep him alive, Reynard is still the main target and The Beast won't be an effective weapon if he's dead. Julia is also able to inform Quentin about the spell placed on Castle Whitespire, and the Kings and Queens of Fillory may not hold their thrones for long.

It quickly becomes apparent that Eliot is out of his depth as King and it isn't as easy as he first imagined. The crops aren't growing and there's a food shortage so he comes up with a plan to introduce more modern farming methods to the people of Fillory. However there's a problem with Eliot's story at the moment and as well as feeling disconnected from the main events, it doesn't really have much sense of direction or momentum as the rest of the group's, but as it is only the first episode that we've seen Eliot as King, there's plenty of room for it to improve from here now that the foundations have been established.

Marina meanwhile is the bait that Julia and the Beast need to lure Reynard into a trap but she's also experiencing problems of her own when she recognises the threat that both The Beast and Reynard pose. Initially reluctant to work with the Beast she finds herself rejected from Brakebills for her past actions and is forced to return to help Julia once it's made clear she's running out of options. Whilst the Eliot storyline may not be the most direct of the various plots that this show has, Julia's continues to go from strength to strength and it's really interesting to see where it will take us from here.

The group also benefit from new additions to help them in battle in the form of Caco Demons, for emergency only. It makes an interesting addition to their arsenals even as a last resort scenario, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the Demons are employed going forward. This further adds to the growing list of Chekov's gun moments that will no doubt crop up later in the season and no doubt things are only going to get more intense as they progress. Either way, for now it's back to Fillory for the group, who arrive just in time to celebrate Eliot's agricultural achievement.

Hotel Spa Potions may not have been a perfect episode of The Magicians but it was still an effective one that continued setting the stage for what's to come in Season 2. A few storylines may not be as gripping as others at this stage but especially in regards to Eliot's, it's still early, so there's plenty of episodes left for them to step up their game and based on the end of this episode it looks as though he won't remain separated from the rest of the group for long.

What did you think of Hotel Spa Potions? Let me know in the comments below and check out the next episode of The Magicians at 9pm this 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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