The Ardent Eccentric: The Magicians Review & Recap – Episode 8 -The Strangled Heart

This week’s The Magicians addressed some of the mythology of Fillory, and went dark…very dark at times.  Strangled the hearts of viewers as well as the gang.  This week was all about vulnerability, but it pulled it off better with some of the characters more than others.  Of course, spoilers abound, so turn back now if you haven’t watched this past week’s episode.



I’m going to start with Julia because her story again ran parallel to everything and didn’t really impact what was going on at Brakebills; while I’m interested in her journey, I’m not as invested in her overall story arc yet and how it ties back into Quentin and the others.  Julia is currently at a rehab center, and is ready to give up magic altogether.  She meets, however, a more spiritual Magician, Richard, who serves as the center’s Chaplain.  Obviously he doesn’t make it known to everyone he’s a Magician, but he see’s Julia’s tattoos and tries to get her to open herself up to the idea that magic doesn’t have to be bad.  In his perception, magic is simply a set of tools left over after creation, and the Creator has left them for humanity to use.  He pointed out that she treats magic like a drug because that’s the only way anyone has ever showed it to her and offers to show her the more spiritual side of magic.

Here's my should totally trust me...because magic hasn't burned you in the past at all.

Here’s my should totally trust me…because magic hasn’t burned you in the past at all


Mike and Eliot

Mike is still filling in for Margo while she’s away at Spring Break, and Eliot treats him like his goddess – fixing him exquisitely mixed cocktails, exotic meals, and worrying about wearing the same thing twice in front of him.  But Mike is a beer and hamburger kind of guy, and Eliot realizes he needs to make a confession about himself to keep Mike interested.  We find out that Eliot’s parents are farmers…in Indiana. As Eliot described it, “becoming me was the greatest creative project I’ve ever done.” And now only Mike and Margo knew his secret.  I was a little surprised that he opened up so quickly when Quentin didn’t even know this about Eliot, but he must have been really falling for Mike.

Mike and Eliot

Love them!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ I was Team Queliot, but you could persuade me to be Team Meliot with this

Unfortunately, things were not going to stay so snuggly for long.  Because that blue moth that is the mark of The Beast keeps hanging around their bed at night, and making things weird for Mike.  Like weird in that at one point, his eyes turn the neon blue of the moth, he goes out in the hallway outside of Eliot’s room to find a small white bunny hopping down the hall towards him, and then…(seriously, stop reading now if you are slightly squeamish, I’ll wait).




Mike with bunny

Mike decides he’s into Eliot’s exotic delicacies after all

Like, WTF, The Magicians??? As the story went on, I understood why it came in the form of a bunny, since the knife was from Fillory (I guess cute animals are their mail delivery system), but still – he could have waited for the adorable bunny to poop it out or something.  That would have been equally uncomfortable for the bunny and would have fulfilled The Beast’s sadistic need for torture.  Of course, the show runners probably would have made the sound effects of a rabbit shitting out a knife as horrible as the tiny squeal it made and the enhanced neck bone crushing, so maybe the original murder was best – it was over more quickly.

In any case, a Beast possessed Mike now has an enchanted knife from a dead bunny and is out for blood on the Brakebills campus.  The Beast is still after Quentin, but we don’t know why anymore than we did in Episode One.


Quentin, Alice, and Penny

Meanwhile, Quentin, Alice and Penny have returned from their Brakebills South adventure.  Penny sullenly skulks off rather quickly, leaving Quentin and Alice to catch up with Eliot and Mike.  Eliot quickly deduces that they broke that friend barrier, much to his delight.  Embarrassed, the two scamper off – Quentin thinks to have sex, Alice to get him to back off.  She can still smell fox on him, and just thinks they are getting together from animal instinct, rather than because they truly care for one another.

They take a break from their relationship, which is good, because in the second semester, their course load has increased dramatically, and study groups are mandatory.  Penny, Quentin and Alice end up together, with Penny and Quentin snarking at one another constantly in their love/hate way, since Penny is still broken hearted over Kady (although he doesn’t want to admit it, and was upset enough to make a Mrs. Robinson style pass at Professor Sunderland to boost his own ego) and Quentin is still frustrated with Alice because he doesn’t know what to say to convince her that he cares about her.

The two guys are on the verge of actually talking to one another, rather than just passive aggressively insulting one another, when Mike approaches, looking more than a little deranged.  A knife fight ensues, and Quentin, being the skilled master fighter and magician that he is (ha), manages to do nothing but get in the way when Penny tries to step in to defend him, thus getting Penny stabbed pretty severely in the stomach.

Mike with knife

Why does this feel like a scene from Twilight 4?


The Aftermath

There is then a weird series of events in which Penny is saved by the Brakebills doctors, Mike is interrogated by Dean Fogg in a “clean room,” in which no magic can be performed, and in which he denies everything, and in which Penny’s wound gets stranger, with vines beginning to grow out of it.  It is then that Quentin recognizes that Penny has been stabbed with the Virgo Blade, a cursed knife that Jane Chatwin was stabbed with by The Beast in Fillory.  It would cause rose vines to grow from the wound until they wrapped around and strangled her heart, unless she sacrificed something meaningful to appease the curse.

Penny's weird stomach wound

Quentin and Alice have the weirdest romantic moments

Which was not going to be easy with Penny-no family, no close friends, just Kady – and she was gone.  While Quentin and Alice search his room for anything that might be an acceptable sacrifice, Dean Fogg consults with paramedic/specialist Eliza (the red haired woman who would appear occasionally in previous episodes with random things to share about Fillory with Quentin).

Quentin and Alice find the wrapper from the candy bar that Kady gave to Penny at Brakebills South, and figure this is the closest thing they are going to get to something meaningful to him.  Burning it at his bedside as a sacrifice, the vines retreat and the curse is appeased.  Hooray! End of story! All is well! No strangled heart!

Candy wrapper

Again, weird romantic moment

But while that was going on, Eliza went to speak to Mike, and we find out (shocker) she is the adult Jane Chatwin! I say “shocker” because even being a viewer who has not read the books, it was kind of obvious that she was Jane from the way she kept trying to give Quentin not so subtle hints about magic, her intense knowledge of Fillory, and her need to defeat The Beast.  Sooo…yeah…she goes to confront The Beast in Mike’s body, alone, which the minute you see her doing it, you know that it’s not going to end well.  When she asks him why he hasn’t done more damage up to this point, because she knows he can, he tells her he was waiting for her.

And then all hell breaks loose, and Jane gets the bunny treatment (thankfully off screen, although not without sound effects and a great deal of blood splattering all over Mike’s face), and Mike/The Beast is now free to go kill anyone else he wants.  He starts to leave the clean room and when Dean Fogg, who is still regaining the use of his hands from the first attack by The Beast tries to stop him by casting a spell, Mike/The Beast easily knocks him in a wall with a hand flick and makes his escape.

Jane and Mike

Sigh…really Eliza/Jane, we thought you were smarter than this

And here is where my heart and my family’s heart got strangled watching.  Hale Appleman should be commended for this because he did a tremendous job with displaying exactly what was going through Eliot’s mind with just his facial expressions and the hand motion to cast the spell.  Eliot steps in front of Mike as he storms down the hall to escape and with a slashing motion with his hand, proceeds to break his lover’s neck with a spell, thus killing the host for The Beast.  Then, as Eliot fully realizes what he’s done, he breaks down sobbing in the most private, but open way.  I realize that sounds strange -it was as if we, the viewers, were witnessing a grief so personal it felt voyeuristic to be watching it. I am really hoping that by next week’s episode Eliot isn’t fine and has pushed all this behind him.  Actually, I would suspect that is exactly what the character will try to do, but I hope they let Appleman have all of that emotion brewing just below the surface, because a vulnerable Eliot is an even richer character than before.

eliot really happy

I have a picture of Eliot sobbing, but I’m not putting it here, because you know…voyeuristic.  So just enjoy Eliot in happier times.

Gamble unfortunately did this in Supernatural with Sam Winchester – not letting the character experience his trauma thoroughly, having us believe that Sam was the one pushing it all below the surface.  Sam was literally tormented by Lucifer himself in his dreams and was in a mental institution on the brink of dying because he refused to sleep.  He was saved by his angel friend Castiel, who took away his burden so that now, he, Castiel, was tortured by Lucifer.  That seems like something you might want to process a bit. But Sam was fine on next week’s episode.  Not even a “Hey, I’ve released my burden of Hell itself, but it was still rather traumatizing.” Maybe there are some triggers, some moments that bring back the vulnerability and make us feel the feels for Sam.  Nope, the rest of the season was fighting monsters and really his torture by Satan was barely spoken of again.

If they do this to Eliot, I will be sorely disappointed in The Magicians.  My heart too will be strangled.


Random Observations & Questions

Why didn’t Mike/The Beast try to kill Dean Fogg again when he had the chance? Why did he just knock him out?

Why are the two first year students the only ones who know the story of Fillory and why it’s cursing Penny?  None of those magical doctors knew any of the folklore of Fillory? And if they didn’t, when Quentin told them about it, they left it up to the two of them to perform the healing ritual with the candy bar? That seems like a magical medical malpractice suit waiting to happen.

There’s little beautiful cinematic moments that really enhance this show. The best one in this episode was the striking contrast between the tiny sparkle of light Eliot uses to break Mike’s neck and the sheer violence of the act. It definitely adds to the horror of the moment.

After Quentin tries to get advice from Dean Fogg about what’s next following Eliza’s/Jane’s death, he returns to the Physical Kids house and has sex with Alice.  OK, I understand this – in times of great stress, and death, you tend to reaffirm life by holding on to the people you love with abandon.  But did NO ONE, like NONE OF THEM, go check on Eliot? Their first friend, their shelter when they got to Brakebills, just killed someone, his lover no less, and neither Quentin nor Alice thought, “hey, perhaps we should check on Eliot?” Quentin, I could believe, since he has little perception of much around him, but I expected a scene with Eliot and Alice.  The two of them have been taking on a very sweet, brother sister vibe in the past few episodes – it’s as if Eliot has unwittingly stepped in for Charlie in Alice’s life, so I thought she would at least see if he was fine.  Maybe she did-maybe it just wasn’t something we saw on screen.

Quentin and Alice

Inappropes y’all…inappropes


Next Week

Dean Fogg has pretty much lost all hope that they will defeat The Beast now that Eliza/Jane is dead, as he tells Quentin they are all going to die.  This guy is definitely not Dumbledore.  So the gang travels to London to Christopher Plover’s home, author of the Fillory books, for answers (ok, that’s what I’m assuming if I’m following the story correctly).  The Writing Room will give us more back story on this other world and hopefully give us a little more back story on really, why these books mean so much to Quentin, and if finding his place in Fillory can help him find his place in the real world.

2 Comments on "The Ardent Eccentric: The Magicians Review & Recap – Episode 8 -The Strangled Heart"

  1. Because you haven’t read the books, i feel like you missed why this was such a big episode. Julia’s part was actually the most important, and this episode actually sets the framework for the ENTIRE second book. Albeit in the show, Julia is just a whiney little brat. The books actually made her suffer and it would be years still from now before she even casts her first spell. But I will say dabbling with the Gods is never a smart idea, and i assure you, Julia was more right than wrong when she challenged Richard’s Tools of the Gods Theory.

    I hope we get through this Brakebills stuff quickly, because the school was such a small part of the Trilogy, even though Q stayed there for 4 years (the books, all our characters were out of high school into a traditional 4 year college, with very little interference from the Beast), because this is all such a small part of the big picture. Get ready folks, we are just about ready for takeoff. The stage has been set for the first two books.

    • Alize Edeline | March 25, 2016 at 8:03 PM |

      Thanks for that info! It’s still a little murky to me as what Julia’s role is in all of this, so it’s good to know there’s much more development for her in the books. Hopefully as we move into Season 2, they will explore that, since it seems like we are heading towards a confrontation with The Beast by the end of the season.

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