DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Magicians episode “All That Hard, Glossy Armor” contains more spoilers than the number of snarky catchphrases Margo has in her verbal arsenal. She’s the King of Snark, and don’t you forget it. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Fillorians! The Magicians blessed us with the long awaited and much anticipated musical episode this week. Finally! Margo embarked on her quest through the desert post-Fillory banishment. She hallucinated Eliot while tripping on lizard water, as one does. Our former High King stole the Foremost’s famous black axes amid a whirlwind of ’80s tunes, demonic spirits and keeping male egos in check. My hope is she’ll name them Sorrow and Sorrow as a nice nod to the books. Did this musical installment top the last two? I say yes – Summer Bishil doled out her best performance yet, and that’s saying a lot.
Alright, ready to delve into “All That Hard, Glossy Armor?” Just be sure to put on your dancin’ shoes. You can’t help but dance if you’re fully blitzed out on lizard water.
We open right where we left off: Penny (Arjun Gupta) reveals the Monster’s true objective to Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve). The Monster isn’t collecting the stone organs to construct a body for himself – it’s for his sister. Penny surmises that she must be ten times worse than the Monster, seeing that she was executed. That’s a fair assumption. Our trio assumes that the Monster will most likely track down Anulias for the final stone organ.
Meanwhile, Eliot Monster (Hale Appleman) is hanging around a bar, which is the least “Eliot” thing one can do. He encounters a young woman battling a lengthy illness. Her jaded, jagged pain draws him in. Methinks he wants to use her body as a vessel for his sister.
Later, we see Margo (Summer Bishil) strolling through the sun-soaked desert. She’s listening to the iPod Josh gave her as she was being ejected from Fillory. After thousands and thousands of steps (presumably surpassing her daily step goal), the sweltering heat becomes too much for Margo. She realizes her canteen is bereft of water. However, her birthright lizard is inexplicably producing drops of water. She pulls it from her bag and…licks it. Thus begins one crazy trip in the desert. Suddenly, Eliot appears. He’s dancing and singing. Initially, Margo thinks it’s the real Eliot. But after a few moments she believes she’s merely hallucinating courtesy of her lizard. Tripping on lizard…not something you hear everyday.
After being serenaded by Eliot, Margo encounters a small encampment. The Foremost himself (Devan Long) steps forward to greet her. Well, more like chastise her for trespassing. However, another woman notices Margo’s brand on her wrist, one that signifies her eternal banishment from Fillory. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Margo passes out before they can question her further.
Then, we see Eliot Monster continuing his conversation with mystery woman at the bar. She touches his face, and the sensation awakens a bout of memories within him. Eliot Monster mentions that she reminds him of his sister. Before the woman can fully absorb the creepiness of that statement, the two vanish into thin air. Uh oh. I don’t think she’s going to live much longer.
Later, Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and Kady (Jade Tailor) return from their Harriett extraction at Brakebills. Quentin warily eyes Alice. However, it’s Julia that Alice wishes to speak with. She gifts Julia with the Binder book she found in the mirror realm. Julia eagerly takes the book, hoping that it contains the answers she seeks. Penny, Julia and Quentin continue to brainstorm on how to track down Anulias. Penny mentions that Anulias was donning an emerald ring in the Monster’s flashback. This clue leads to another, and our trio discovers that Anulias is a pseudonym of sorts. His real name is Angus, and he’s an Irish trickster god akin to Reynard the Fox. Julia reveals that they’ll need to pinpoint a leprechaun if they’re going to find Angus. Leprechauns? Only on The Magicians…
Meanwhile, Margo wakes up refreshed inside a tent. She learns that the Foremost’s twin black axes are used to expel spirits that possess women in the village. Apparently, said spirits come calling if a woman displays even a modicum of emotion. Margo and mind Eliot, who is currently a symbol of her conscience, observe a spirit possess a young man after he flings himself in front of his “hysterical” wife. The Foremost utilizes his axes to draw the spirit out of the man’s body while one of the villagers traps it in a jar. They must go through a lot of jars.
Next, Zelda (Mageina Tovah) asks Everett (Brian Markinson) if the Library has unveiled the identities of the Serpent group. Everett reveals that another Librarian is on the case. Zelda offers to assist, but Everett believes she has enough on her plate as it is. Fishy fishy.
Then, we see Margo schmoozing with the Foremost in his tent. He can’t believe that she was a king, especially since his village is utterly patriarchal in every sense of the word. The Foremost has every intention of horizontally tangoing with Margo. Margo acquiesces after some initial hesitation, especially when Josh (Trevor Einhorn) appears as her conscience alongside Eliot. However, if this gets her closer to snagging the black axes, then perhaps this is the right route to take. Eliot, Josh and Fen (Brittany Curran), who inexplicably appears in Margo’s hallucination, belt out “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake as the tangoing begins. The scene is fun, feisty and brash. It encapsulates the very essence of The Magicians.
Later, Zelda meets with Alice and Kady at the latter’s apartment. Alice and Kady present their research to Zelda. Apparently, the amount of ambient magic doesn’t match the amount that’s flowing through the Library’s filtration system. Zelda is now more convinced that something is most certainly afoot as far as the Library is concerned.
Next, Margo asks the Foremost if he’ll give her his axes. He laughs, citing that he’s the only one who can properly wield them. Margo inquires as to how she can get her own pair. He reveals that she must dig through the desert sand, searching for tiny black grains – enough to fill a large sack. Once she brings forth a sack rife with black sand, then the axes can be forged. Margo takes on the task like the champ she is. The Foremost warns that the spirits could possess her if she gets even the slightest bit emotional.
Suddenly, Eliot, Josh and Fen join Margo in another rendition of “Here I Go Again” as the latter marches outside the Foremost’s tent. Kady and Fogg (Rick Worthy) even join in on the fun. Kady cites that her four octave range is the reason Margo is hallucinating her. Essentially, Kady represents Margo’s vanity. Tailor can sing! I was impressed last season, but hearing her belt those stratosphere notes has raised the bar.
Meanwhile, Penny, Q and Jules waltz into a store in Ireland. Berry (Elyse Maloway) introduces herself as a leprechaun in service to Angus. She leads them into a fun house of sorts, and informs our trio that they must first retrieve a key to gain access to Angus. It’s all very trickster-esque for sure.
Then, we see Margo hard at work digging for the black grains of sand. She’s found some but definitely has a long way to go. She scolds mind Eliot after he analyzes her, asserting dominance over her own conscience.
Next, Zelda goes snooping through the Head of Circulation’s office. She finds records that claim the ambient levels of magic in the outside world are relatively high. Zelda performs a spell to, presumably, break the ward protecting the records. In fact, the ambient levels are incredibly low, proving Harriett’s point – the Library is hording magic for themselves. Zelda is shocked.
Later, Q and co. are attempting to find the correct key. Julia reveals that the fun house is more akin to an escape room, but one with deadlier consequences. Julia proves her indestructibility in the face of knives, with not even a scratch cracking the surface of her skin . Berry is awestruck, and believes that Angus will very much want to see Julia for himself.
Meanwhile, Margo takes a break from sand picking, crawling into a tent to have a heart-to-heart with mind Eliot. Margo hears him sing “Beautiful Dreamer,” and it reminds her of her father. She launches into a monologue about how her father instilled in her a sense of self-motivation. She could accomplish anything she set out to do because she’s Margo f**king Hanson.
However, Margo’s bravery and strength outgrew her father, and the latter distanced himself from his own creation. Margo hits the nail on the head regarding how strong women are viewed through a societal lens. If a woman takes leadership, she’s viewed as “bossy.” If she gets mad, she’s too “emotional” to make any pragmatic decisions. Margo’s inner turmoil and struggle to maintain an aura of strength brims to the surface in the most beautiful and real way. As I woman, I feel for her. Bishil is truly a tour de force. She’s in a league of her own. Suddenly, Margo lets out a brutal, gut-wrenching scream. A spirit emerges, and although it appears to be heading Margo’s way it suddenly retreats. Interesting.
Now, Margo and Eliot find a willowy, tree-like spirit dressed in red (Stephanie Lavigne) towering above them. She doesn’t verbally communicate but Margo and Eliot can read her thoughts, and apparently it’s quite an interesting conversation.
Meanwhile, Penny finds a key to Angus’ office situated above the door. It’s Angus’ version of sticking a spare key under a porch rock. They waltz inside the trickster god’s office. Angus (Gethin Anthony) plays yet another trick on the trio. However, it’s business time. Julia urges Angus to leave since the Monster is after him. Angus reveals that he has a “safe house,” and we see it materialize out of thin air. Now, he needs to remember his password. Angus offers Julia a chance to join him, to suss out her powers and learn who she is.
Later, Margo boldly marches inside the Foremost’s tent and presents her very full sack of black grains. But the Foremost reveals that it was all a ruse. She’s a woman, and women can’t have special spirit expelling axes. Well, fork that. Margo reveals that she knows the Foremost uses the spirits thing as a way to keep the village women in line. Never underestimate Margo Hanson, dude. She reminds him that she’s a magician and she casts a spell that knocks him aside. The rest of gang performs another musical number as Margo unleashes the red spirits from their jar prisons. Margo snatches the Foremost’s axes. She coerces the spirits into all the village men. Even Quentin, Alice and Julia join in on Margo’s musical hallucination. The gang’s all here! This montage is another example of how The Magicians is in a class of its own.
Suddenly, Eliot Monster appears at Angus’ door brandishing Berry’s head. He flits to Angus’ side and removes his heart/stone organ. Angus drops dead, and before Eliot Monster can turn on our trio Penny zaps them out.
Next, Margo informs the village women that the spirits are, in actuality, protectors. They protect women. If a woman is in distress or angry, the spirits will do whatever it takes to remedy the issue – including possessing the men. Margo urges the women to order the spirits to leave their husbands’ bodies. Women are in control now, and the patriarchal system is no more all thanks to Margo. All hail the King. She leaves the village victorious with her new twin axes in hand.
Meanwhile, Quentin is enveloped in despair, ready to wave the white flag as far as saving Eliot is concerned. Julia encourages him to not give up the fight. Zelda shows up at Kady’s doorstep asking for the latter’s help. Time to take down the Library!
Later, Margo is meandering through the desert once again. She makes peace with mind Eliot, vowing that she will save him. Suddenly, he disappears. Margo’s birthright lizard is nestled inside her satchel once more, signifying the end of one wacky trip. She softly sings “Beautiful Dreamer” and goes on her merry way.
The Magicians delivered its best musical episode to date, in my humble opinion. Although last year’s performance of “Under Pressure” is near and dear to my heart, I thought “All That Hard, Glossy Armor” was better overall. Margo’s quest is relatable to every woman. It signifies triumph in the face of adversity, and Ember knows we’ve faced our share of adversity in this patriarchal society. Margo’s journey is a message of strength – be who you are and never be afraid to exhibit strength. Live your truth, loud and proud. We are women, hear us roar. Hear us belt out some Whitesnake.
Do you think Eliot Monster will use bar woman’s body for his sister? How will Zelda contribute to the fight against the Library? Will Margo name her axes Sorrow and Sorrow like I hope? Join me next week as I continue recapping The Magicians, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9pm on your SyFy affiliate.