Welcome back to Magicians Monday, fellow Fillorians! If you eat, sleep and breathe The Magicians like I do, then this is the column for you. Each week, we’ll delve deeper into our favorite show about magic. Be sure to keep a glass of wine handy and your spell-casting fingers at the ready. We’ll be reveling in all things The Magicians until the season four premiere on January 23rd!
Now, below I’ve constructed a list of my personal top 10 episodes of The Magicians. This was not an easy task, considering each installment of this beloved SyFy darling is a unique creature in and of itself. Every episode contains moments that ignite the magical spark within us, whether it’s Margo and Eliot partaking in a “coded” discussion sprinkled with pop culture references or Quentin and Eliot receiving a contact high in the Flying Forest. Remember that time when Josh was briefly the acting High King of Fillory and introduced his staff to the wondrous substance known as weed? Eliot and company’s brief stint as the triple threat ensemble cast of Les Miserables?
These are the moments we live for, the moments that make The Magicians, well, The Magicians. And, without further adieu, you may peruse the following episodes below at your leisure. Enjoy!
1. “Unauthorized Magic” Season 1 Episode 1
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the episode that started it all – the one that caught me hook, line and sinker. Most television series fail to arrest my attention with its first installment, but The Magicians is one of the few exceptions. “Unauthorized Magic” establishes intricate mythology and world-building at its finest. We’re introduced to a core cast that, while not fully fleshed out in the pilot, we want as friends. We can identify with them. As Margo later informs Quentin, “magic comes from pain.” Our main cast is flawed, with deep-seated fears and tangible grief. Not to mention, Brakebills is the adult Hogwarts. Who doesn’t want to live in a world filled to the brim with magic? And the introduction to the Beast (a.k.a. Martin Chatwin) is pure, spine-tingling perfection.
2. “The Mayakovksy Circumstance” Season 1 Episode 7
“The Mayakovksy Circumstance” is an episode I’d recommend to someone who’s never seen The Magicians. It contains the heart and wit this series is known for. Oh, and the plethora of spell work! A surly drunken Russian mentor! Fox intercourse! Regular intercourse! This episode has it all. Naturally, it’s also the tipping point in the Quentin/Alice romance. If you’re like me, you screamed “Finally!” at your TV when these two inevitably hooked up. Of course, as a reader of the book trilogy, I was anxiously awaiting our crew’s trek to Brakebills South. Mayakovksy’s brazen approach to magic is intriguing, and Brían O’Byrne‘s portrayal of him is exactly how I imagined the professor.
3. “The Writing Room” Season 1 Episode 9
Now, this episode is a game changer in a sense that Quentin’s view of Fillory is rocked to its core. Well, his view of author Christopher Plover, that is. Quentin incessantly puts Plover on a pedestal, but “The Writing Room” knocks the latter off said pedestal. Not to mention, our Brakebills crew stumbles upon the famous button, the one that grants humans access to Fillory without the need of a grandfather clock. Quick and easy world traveling!
This episode serves as a catalyst to our magicians’ discovery of Fillory. They learn of Plover’s true whereabouts and what he did to poor Martin Chatwin. While it may appear to be a “filler” episode, its purpose in the grand scheme of things is vital. And the time loop is something out of a horror movie. Enough to make your skin crawl. If you’re a horror fan, I suggest you add this episode to your queue.
4. “Divine Elimination” Season 2 Episode 3
If “Divine Elimination” doesn’t make your eyes leak with that salty substance we love to hate, then you may have lost your Shade. You might want to get that checked out. Anyway, The Magicians invoked plenty of shock and awe when it managed to kill off one of its main characters. Alice’s ultimate sacrifice is downright depressing, especially since it’s on the heels of a subtly nuanced Quentin/Alice scene. Said scene makes us hope for a potential Quentin/Alice reunion, and Q’s desire to craft the perfect sundae for Alice is sickeningly sweet. Of course, this episode also puts the Martin Chatwin/the Beast chapter to bed. Oh, and Marina’s death shouldn’t be swept under the rug. She’s my sass factory! And that poor cat! What is it with The Magicians and cats?
5. “Lesser Evils” Season 2 Episode 9
Now, who can forget The Magicians‘ inaugural musical episode? That cherry has been popped, and there’s no going back from a popped cherry. Fortunately, in a world built on magic, having a group of people break out into song and dance isn’t that far-fetched. Any excuse to listen to Hale Appleman serenade our eardrums, right? This episode reinvigorated my love for The Magicians, injecting oodles and oodles of heart into every note. “One Day More,” the number Eliot and co. performs, is tweaked a bit to adhere to our heroes’ current predicament. Thankfully, it works. The B story follows Quentin’s rapid deterioration no thanks to niffin Alice’s entrapment inside his body. He refuses to let her go. Finally, he releases the niffin version of his former love into the wild, on the latter’s vow that she will do no harm. We knew better, of course.
6. “Plan B” Season 2 Episode 7
Who doesn’t love a good bank heist? “Plan B” is not just a clever play on words, but an episode rife with Ocean’s Eleven vibes. Margo leads the charge as our magicians rob a bank so Julia can get a magical abortion. Summer Bishil is a force to be reckoned with, and The Magicians‘ ace up their sleeve. Margo’s razor blade humor drives this episode. Not to mention, “Plan B” is packed with whimsy. Ember may hate whimsy, but we love it. There’s spell-casting galore, and nifty little magical devices straight out of a steampunk novel. Robbing a bank may be tough stuff, but these magicians make it look like a cakewalk.
7. “Be The Penny” Season 3 Episode 4
It’s about time Arjun Gupta was given his time in the sun, and he did not disappoint in “Be The Penny.” If you’ll recall, Penny is lost in the astral plane and none of his friends can see him. Everyone believes he’s dead. However, while skulking around the Physical Kids’ house, he spots a fellow astral plane resident. Penny attempts to catch the attention of his friends by moving inanimate objects – like a penny. Penny moving a penny. Gupta shines in this episode, giving us more of the sardonic, cynical Penny we know and love. Meanwhile, Julia discovers the fairies’ plight and takes up their cause, working toward freeing the creatures once and for all. We love us a morally sound martyr.
8. “All That Josh” Season 3 Episode 9
More musical shenanigans ensue in “All That Josh.” In the series’ second annual musical extravaganza, the remainder of the non-Fillorian crew partakes in the song and dance craze. As per usual, The Magicians knocks it out of the park…and then some. The best part? Our magicians’ ensemble performance in their show-stopping rendition of “Under Pressure.”Appleman displaying his vocal chops by belting out David Bowie‘s part in the aforementioned song is pure perfection. Talk about a case of the goosebumps. Here’s hoping Season 4’s musical episode is just as extraordinary as this one.
9. “A Life in the Day” Season 3 Episode 5
Praise be to Queliot. “A Life in the Day” is a televised masterpiece, and a treat for Quentin/Eliot fans. Jason Ralph and Appleman give beautiful, simple yet incredibly nuanced performances. We get to see these two live out their lives in another timeline in Fillory, a time before even the Chatwins forged ahead through that grandfather clock. It’s simultaneously touching and heart wrenching. After they return to their own timeline, their memories are eradicated of the whole experience. But we know that Queliot lives on. And on. And on. Here’s hoping we get to see Queliot come to fruition in the current timeline…
10. “Six Short Stories About Magic” Season 3 Episode 8
“Six Short Stories About Magic” is another brilliant episode of The Magicians, showcasing the series’ ingenuity. Penny arrives in the Underworld and meets Cassandra, the woman who writes the book of every being that ever existed. She sees the future. Penny, who’s missed quite a bit of what’s been going on with his friends, is given the rundown on them courtesy of Cassandra. We see Quentin and co. working on the mirror bridge spell so they can infiltrate the library in the hopes of obtaining one of the golden keys that can unlock magic.
Out of six “stories,” the best segment is one of Harriet with her mother Zelda, the Librarian. Marlee Matlin and Mageina Tovah give heart wrenching performances, the mere physicality from their usage of American Sign Language speaks volumes more than words ever could. I really dig the formatting of this episode – it makes The Magicians stand out as a fantasy juggernaut, one that can’t be topped.
Be sure to stick around, Fillorians, as we continue chugging along on The Magicians train! Next week for Magicians Monday, we’ll explore what it means to be a magician and if you fit the bill. So, don’t forget that glass of wine, your best b***h and your wittiest of one-liners. I solemnly swear Mondays will be magical. Here’s to no longer dreading the start of the week, Fillorians.
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