DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Magicians episode “Garden Variety Homicide” contains more spoilers than the number of sweet treats Josh can bake in one day. Give a man an oven, and he can elevate the blood sugar for countless folks. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Fillorians! The Magicians took an unexpected turn this week. I’ve found myself “flying blind” when it comes to watching Season 5. Perhaps Quentin’s death propagated this – eliminating him as the focal point has made the overarching story more unpredictable. Julia, I assume, is now the central character. However, this season has been fairly Margo/Eliot heavy, which is A-OK in my book. Summer Bishil and Hale Appleman are the true MVPs for Season 5 thus far. Not to mention, that Freaky Friday swap in “Garden Variety Homicide” may be one of my favorite moments from The Magicians ever. Appleman especially took me by surprise – his mannerisms for Margo were pitch perfect.
Alright, ready to delve into “Garden Variety Homicide”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with an elderly Fillorian woman chasing a horde of kids around her garden. Suddenly, said kids are snatched up by, presumably, the Takers. Our heroes are stowed away in Castle Whitespire hard at work. Margo (Bishil) believes it’s time to demolish the Dark King. Eliot (Appleman) is conflicted due to his burgeoning feelings for the aforementioned. Josh (Trevor Einhorn), Julia (Stella Maeve) and Fen (Brittany Curran) all seem to side with Margo. But how do they kill an immortal magician, a man who’s lorded over Fillory for 300 years? Margo suggests that Eliot manipulate his position on the Dark King’s payroll and continue to get closer to him. However, when the time comes to do the deed, Margo vows to shoulder the burden. She’d bloody her own hands to ensure Eliot’s peace of mind. We love a pair of soulmates.
Later, we see Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) has nicked the Circumstances control panel from Brakebills’ campus greenhouse. Hamish Bax (Aaron Jennings), her best botany boy, is helping her maintain a consistent atmospheric magical flow in the classrooms. Hamish spots the page Alice found in Quentin’s belongings – the one with a hand drawn plant and scribbles in an unfamiliar language. Apparently, he knows someone who could potentially translate said page. Success! Penny (Arjun Gupta) is still acting dean, and he forbids granting Hamish’s friend access to Brakebills. This dude was banned from campus because of his exposure to several magical infections from traveling between worlds. Alice reminds Penny that she’s working tooth and nail to alleviate the magical surges, and that he essentially owes her one.
Meanwhile, Julia confides in Fen. A talking bunny confirms Julia’s worst suspicions – she’s pregnant! I love that The Magicians Powers That Be are incorporating Maeve’s real-life pregnancy into the show. Especially since she’s spent the majority of the season sporting loose clothing and in camera shots from the shoulders up. Julia wants to keep this a secret from Penny, but we see Fen is bursting with excitement. She just loves babies so much!
Next, Eliot and the Dark King, A.K.A. Seb (Sean Maguire), are having some alone time in the latter’s bedchambers. Seb is distraught over the missing children and his inability to stop the Takers. You know, the very ones he summoned in the last episode. Suddenly, the pair are snogging and it’s glorious. Eliot suggests they run away – leave Fillory in the dust. Seb declines, citing that he must put Fillory first and maintain rule over his people. He also thinks the duo should stop interacting altogether. Well, that crashed and burned.
Then, Penny begrudgingly agrees to allow Hamish’s friend inside the campus. His friend is brusque and overtly sexist, which rubs Alice the wrong way. Rightfully so. However, he recognizes the plant in question on the page and sounds as if he’d be willing to translate it… for a price. There’s always a price.
Meanwhile, Eliot returns to the crew with new information – well, besides Seb’s suggestion that they refrain from seeing each other. The Dark King is sporting an intriguing chest tattoo, which consists of a willow tree of sorts. Seb even let slip that he may be connected to a conduit, which explains his longevity. Fen is able to identify the tree, and the group agree that the best way to sever Seb’s connection to said conduit is to chop the tree down. Then, Margo can deliver the final blow. That should be enough to eliminate the Dark King for good. Fen also makes up a slipshod excuse for why Julia can’t venture out into the forest – something about toe worms. Girl’s gotta hone her lying skills.
Next, Margo concocts a potion concealed in a flask that both her and Eliot consume. It’s a potion meant to switch their souls. Think Freaky Friday. So which one will be Jamie Lee Curtis? Lindsay Lohan? (Hey, I’m a ’90s kid, so this is the only version I know.)
Now, Alice notices something’s off with Hamish’s arrogant friend. One of his eyes keeps suspiciously twitching. Alice launches a magical blast at him, and he responds in kind. Suddenly, she throws him against a door, which knocks the man unconscious. Actually…it killed him. His body opens up and we see a slew of moth-like spores fly heavenward. That can’t be good. Everyone flees the scene.
Meanwhile, Margo and Eliot are dealing with the aftermath of potion consumption. Margo’s essence is housed within Eliot, and vice versa. Seriously – these two are so talented it’s frightening. And hilarious. El-argo is scampering off to aid the Dark King/kill him, while Marg-liot will accompany Josh in locating the magical conduit tree. That way Eliot doesn’t actually have to kill Seb, nor be present when the act is carried out. Smart thinking!
Next, El-argo is in the throne room with Seb. A sleeping curse, perpetuated by our heroes of course, has taken the castle by storm. Seb wishes to solve the issue. El-argo claims to know a spell, and he’s willing to teach it to the Dark King. This is clearly a stalling tactic, as El-argo has no intention of showing him how to correctly cast said spell.
Oh, and Margo sees Charlton (Spencer Daniels) for the first time. Julia reveals to Fen that she just wants bodily autonomy. Especially since she was previously pregnant with Reynard’s child after enduring rape from the latter. Fen shares her own story involving her child dying amid the birthing process. Curran is also a shining beacon this season, injecting Fen with equal parts gaping vulnerability and genuine charm. Fen also reveals that Julia is pregnant during a month where, in Fillory, pregnancies are expedited. Meaning, she’s about to look like she’s nine months along soon. Uh oh.
Then, we see Josh and Marg-liot wandering through the forest. He notices that something is off about her. Josh brings up the elephant in the room. You know, the previous moment when Margo revealed she was planning to leave him behind in the past. However, Margo refuses to talk about it. Oh, and if Margo or Eliot reveal that they’ve switched bodies, then they’ll stay like that forever. So… no pressure.
So, back at Brakebills, the moth-like spores have infected several students on campus. They all want one thing – that page of Q’s in Alice’s possession. Penny, Alice and Hamish decide to pay Fogg 17 (Rick Worthy) a visit in the Clean Room. Fogg tries to get the upper hand on our heroes and weasel his way into release. However, his conniving methods give him away. He inadvertently reveals that the library has a book on said moth spores. Thus, our gang sets out for the library.
Later, Alice surreptitiously gains access to the library, trying her hardest to avoid detection from the students infected by the spores. She snags the aforementioned book and one of the infected students in one fell swoop. Meanwhile, El-argo is having difficulty getting Seb to responds to his charms. Charlton reveals that the Dark King enjoys the real Eliot’s company for his vulnerability. El-argo decides to try on subtlety and honesty for size. It works… to a point. Seb still believes they need to cool it with the interacting. Margo-liot is not doing a good job of maintaining a neutral stance with Josh in the forest. In fact, she essentially tells him off, royally screwing the real Margo’s relationship with Josh. He saunters off and refuses to lead her to the tree. Josh is also under the impression that Margo may be possessed, and he’s not far off.
Next, Hamish and Margo have a heart-to-heart regarding grief. Hamish also lost his wife, so he can relate to Alice’s heartbreak over the loss of Quentin. He gives her excellent advice on how to handle it all. This whole scene really hit home for me. Also, it brought forth beautifully understated performances from both Dudley and Jennings. Again, this show is doing a remarkable job in conveying the grief process. Back in Fillory, Josh reluctantly points Marg-liot in the direction of the tree and orders her to chop it down.
Meanwhile, El-argo and Seb are in the latter’s chambers once again. It’s clear that the real Margo is struggling to do the deed. Suddenly, the candlelight flickers to green, signifying that the tree has been demolished and it’s time to murder a king. El-argo reticently procures a knife, which catches Seb’s attention. He puts his own blade to El-argo’s throat and demands to know the truth. Julia quietly enters undetected and plunges her own sword through Seb’s chest, effectively killing him. Leave it to Julia to get the job done swiftly.
Now, back at Brakebills, our crew was able to eject the spores from one of the students, only for them to seek refuge inside Penny. Alice lures infected Penny into the dean’s office under the guise of giving up the elusive page. She elicits information from infected Penny. Apparently, they’re a host that seeks knowledge. They need the page because it’s a map to a plant that can essentially build anything and everything.
Well, really they’re just delivery drivers. The Couple are the ones in actual need of the page, and the spores are hellbent on retrieving it for their master. I have a sneaking suspicion I know the pair that constitutes “The Couple.” Thankfully, the spores have spread so thinly by inhabiting multiple people that its influence is scant. Now, those infected truly have autonomy over their own minds and bodies. Success! The real Penny returns to us, and he recalls knowledge only exclusive to the spores.
Later, Eliot and Margo are back inside their respective bodies. Margo reveals that Seb’s apparent kindness and vulnerability swayed her out of her decision to kill him. Now, she understands why Eliot is falling in love with him. Eliot reveals how he botched up Margo’s relationship with Josh. Thankfully, they still have each other.
Suddenly, back in Seb’s chambers, we see the Dark King rise from certain death. Yes, he’s alive. Yes, that conduit tree chopping essentially did nothing. Time for our crew to resort to Plan B, whatever that may entail.
Once again, The Magicians leaves me with more questions than answers. Which I’m perfectly fine with – it gives me food for thought, and plenty to mull over until the next episode.
Firstly, how are they going to eradicate Seb now, since stabbing is off the table? Secondly, who is The Couple? My money is on the Monster siblings: the god-like beings that inhabited Eliot and Julia last season. Perhaps Q throwing them into the Seam didn’t take. Thirdly, where the fork is Kady? Her absence from the past two episodes is disconcerting. Here’s hoping she resurfaces with plenty of action on her plate. If there’s one weak spot in The Magicians, it’s the writers’ inability to give Kady things to do. They seem unsure of how to write her properly. However, I still have faith her season arc will come to fruition in a satisfying manner.
Now, what did you think of this week’s installment? Sound off in the comments, folks! Join me next week as I recap The Magicians here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 10pm on your SyFy affiliate.