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The Magicians - A Life In The Day - Review: “A Life Long Quest” + POLL

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The sign of a truly special show is one that manages to deliver episodes that exceed their epic predecessors week after week. The Magicians has been on a roll this season and just when it seems like they have hit the ceiling of their epic potential they demolish that ceiling and keep soaring higher. This quest storyline has ironically made the series an even more powerful show even in the absence of most magical power. This particular episode was surprisingly very fulfilling. The whole time warp trope has been so overdone and can be so tedious to watch, but The Magicians made it compelling and executed this storyline with brilliant precision. This was one of the very best executions of time warp storytelling. The fact that they made it canonical really made it all the more impressive. This isn’t something that will be forgotten and never talked about again. Such a spectacular hour for this show.

To start things off they explain what is going on with Penny. The key that Julia found is a truth key. It allows the beholder to see the truth in things. After an awkward encounter with Quentin, Alice takes the key to Kady. After last week’s near-death overdose Kady has been sent off to a shady rehab facility. It’s not really explained why Alice is so eager to help Penny, but she does, however, it doesn’t go very well for him. Kady was understandably shocked and pissed off over the whole situation. She nearly died because of her guilt over not being able to save him only to learn he was alive on the astral plane the whole time. Now, to be fair to Penny, he did try everything possible to communicate with her. But when you look at things from Kady’s perspective it’s easy to understand why she is so pissed.

Thanks to Penny things don’t really go much better for her as the episode draws to an end. Her little chat with him was caught on cameras and it looked like she was having a bit of a mental break. Unfortunately for her, she is on her own in there with people who don't understand magic. Even though Kady put up one hell of a fight it wasn’t enough to escape the facility security. The last we see of Kady in the episode is of her being drugged unconscious. She’s in a seriously precarious position at the moment. Hopefully, her friends will realize there is something wrong with her rehab stint and bust down the doors to rescue her. Julia has magic and has clearly displayed that when it comes to Kady she can draw some serious magical juice. She might be able to conjure up enough power to find a way to get Kady out. However, this is Kady, and she might also find a way to rescue herself before any of the others show up.

The show did a great job of showing Kady’s drug problems last season, but they are doing an even more spectacular job with it this season. Jade Tailor has been a powerhouse as she has taken Kady through this journey. The writers are writing a beautifully realistic and complex journey for the character and Tailor isn’t pulling any punches in her portrayal of Kady's struggle. She is such a compelling character to watch because of how rich her story is and it looks like the writers have some big plans for her. As a powerful badass with or without magic she’s an important part of the quest, so when she gets back into the fight it should be fun to watch her kick butt. But before she can get there she has to deal with her Penny issues and getting free of the current predicament she has found herself in.

She’s not the only one in a precarious position. Margo finds herself forcibly betrothed to Prince Micah (Markian Tarasiuk), the son of The Stone Queen (Dina Meyer). Margo has a surprising connection with him and he is very polite to her and seems to genuinely care. But just when things were looking up for Margo she suddenly finds herself in a horrible position when Micah is murdered by his jealous younger brother, Prince Fomar (Nicholas Coombe). Margo is forced by the Fairy Queen to marry Fomar. Clearly, Fomar was the Fairy Queen’s ultimate goal for Margo. What is even worse is that Eliot and Quentin aren’t there with her and she’s left with only a few trusted allies leaving her few options but to marry him. With Tink’s attempts to collect enough shavings to poison the Fairy Queen on hold due to their visitors, Margo is left with very few options. She is married to a wayward murderous teenager and dealing with a Fairy invasion. She has definitely had better days.

Things get even worse when Margo discovers a letter in her wedding gifts from Quentin which tells of their wayward quest. Most critically is the fact that by the time Margo got the letter both Quentin and Eliot are long dead. At least Quentin did manage to get the message to her so that she would know where to find the key they had been searching for. He sent her to see Jane Chatwin in the clock barrens to get the key that Quentin told her that she’d have. After telling Margo of the great future she’ll have she then tells Margo where to find the key in the linear plane. It involved being sent back to Brakebills and digging up Jane's corpse, but a small price to pay to save her friends. She does accomplish the task and ends up stopping Eliot and Quentin just in time. But it's almost a full-on guarantee that she'll never let either of them live down what she had to go through to save them.

Summer Bishil is on a roll this season. With each passing episode, she is exposing new layers to Margo. It has always been obvious that there is a lot to Margo, but the show is really diving deep into her this year. This exploration of the character as a leader in her own right has given Bishil a lot to work with and she is delivering some spectacular performances. It was interesting to hear Margo talk about how Quentin and Eliot are the ones to make the big moves when she has been making some pretty big plays all on her own this season. She is a lot fiercer than she realizes. The fierceness has given Bishil a lot to work with and she is doing proud by the material the writers are giving her. Margo is on a heck of a journey this season and she is growing immensely as a character because of it.

While Margo was able to save the guys she wasn’t able to save her own future. When they return to Fillory she is still married to Fomar. So, while her present is sadly still the same, Quentin and Eliot are on a different path now. What is truly unique to this story is that once they are back in Fillory they remember all about their past lives. In the alternate timeline, they went through the portal only to find themselves in Fillory decades before the Chatwin’s discover it. Stuck there they are left with no real option other than to work on the mosaic that holds another key. It is an interesting story full of love, heartache, and loss. Hale Appleman and Jason Ralph do some of their finest work so far this season. This was a terrific storyline for them and really tapped into their natural chemistry.

In that timeline, Quentin and Eliot act on the chemistry they have long shared as they share a loving kiss and it's implied that they went much further than that. Their relationship is put on hold when Quentin meets and falls in love with Arielle (Kylee Bush). He has a son with Arielle, but not many years later she passes. Quentin is left to raise his son with Eliot as they form a lovely little family. It is clear that the two of them immensely love one another and they go on to live very full lives together all the while still trying to solve the mosaic. Eliot dies before Quentin, but his passing inspires Quentin to finally solve the mosaic just in time for Jane to show up in search of the key herself. Knowing how the story goes he gives her the key. Their story came full circle just as Quentin had predicted it would.

This is the point where most shows would have been done with this alternate timeline. It would just be a vague memory that fans would never really remember. But these writers are so much more thoughtful than that. They found some way for Eliot and Quentin to remember everything that happened. What does that mean? Honestly, who really knows, almost anything can happen at this point. This hasn’t really been done before, so what comes next is really near impossible to predict. Will Quentin and Eliot be closer because of their shared memories? Will Quentin’s son appear later in the story? His grandchildren? Whatever happens next, it was a brilliant twist that is now an integral part of these two characters. This was very smart writing.

Elsewhere, while all of this was happening, Julia and Alice were experiencing their own interesting journey. When Alice returns the key to Julia she is overtaken by the mysterious spirit that led Julia to save Kady in the prior episode. This time it’s Alice that Julia needs to help. When the spirit left her, Alice seemed to be quite aware of what had just happened to her. She was justifiably freaked out and confused by it. Given everything going on Julia invites her to go out for a drink, because they are at the stage of things where alcohol is warranted in copious amounts.

It is interesting because Julia was guided to help Alice, but it seemed more like Alice actually ended up helping Julia. Through their conversations, Alice convinces Julia to use the key to get answers regarding the true nature of her mysterious ability to still channel magic. Reluctantly Julia gave in and came face to face with Our Lady Underground. Julia’s hunch that the goddess left something inside of her was accurate. Unfortunately, what she left was a part of Reynard. After everything Julia went through to get his evil spawn out of her it is devastating to her to realize that his mother put a part of him back into her. Granted it appears that the goddess did it in order to repay Julia for her kindness in sparing her son, still, it wasn't her place to force something on Julia without her consent. Like Julia said, these gods really do need to learn the concept of consent.

At least the mystery of Julia’s power has finally been revealed. Having the power hasn’t been all that bad. In fact, without that power, they wouldn't have the second key and Kady wouldn’t be alive. It would have been good to find out why Our Lady Underground is sending Julia all these messages to help others. Helping Kady makes sense since Reynard wronged her too so Our Lady Underground may carry a bit of guilt regarding Kady as well, but why she wants Julia to help Alice is a bit of a mystery. Given Julia’s raw and fearful reaction to seeing Reynard’s eyes reflecting back at her in the mirror, it’s likely that she’s not going to want much to do with the magic inside of her. Though let’s be real, the moment one of her friends is in need she’ll whip the power back out in an instant to help.

The one thing Julia should absolutely not do is give her power to Alice. That would be the worst possible things she could do right now. The team is at the point where Julia is actually the most stable of all of them. She is currently the best one to be the protector of the power. Of all people to even contemplate giving it to Alice should be very near the bottom of that list. She is quite unstable at the present moment. Julia will likely help her complete some task, but giving her power to Alice should not happen.

This storyline confirmed that the writers need to give Alice and Julia more stuff together. Stella Maeve and Olivia Taylor Dudley are a fun pair with a great dynamic energy. This season is really letting the characters dive into different pairings and it has been fun to watch so far. Though, honestly, it will be nice to see some of the core pairings team up again soon. Julia and Kady have a lot of things they still need to deal with in regards to their friendship. And Alice and Quentin have a lot of things they need to work on. But drawing those stories out a bit will make their follow-ups even more fun.

Nothing bad can be said about this hour. It was an exceptional hour of the show, which means, according to the track record of this season, the next episode should be mind-blowing. They set up a lot of things in this hour. Quentin and Eliot lived out an alternate timeline. Kady is locked away. Julia now knows the source of her magic. Alice has some plan to try to get Julia’s magic. Margo has been royally screwed over and has to deal with her marital situation. And all of that happened in just a single hour. It was a lot, but it didn’t feel rushed or disjointed. The hour was perfectly paced and the acting was stellar by the whole cast. The show can go so many different directions after this hour, so it’ll be great fun to see what comes next.

Don’t miss the next episode when it airs next Wednesday, February 14th at 9/8c on SyFy.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Did you like the alternate timeline story? Will Julia give up her magic to Alice? Can they save Kady? What will happen with Margo’s new marriage?

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