When we begin episode 6 of The Magicians, Quentin is both excited and horrified to find out that Penny has been to the land of Fillory. However, Penny is quick to point out that this isn’t a land of talking animals, but of a fellow Traveler being tortured in a dungeon. No one is taking it well. Meanwhile, Julia is still on her quest to find another Hedge to take her in. She returns to the bar from episode 5, only to find that no one will acknowledge her. After she makes a mess, the bartender threatens to call the cops and Julia leaves. He rushes after her with a piece of paper, and admits that Marina has forbidden them from speaking with Julia. Julia goes to the new Hedge, only to find the building abandoned and another barred witch hiding in the shadows. The two begin to work together to find a way back to the world of being a Magician. Back at Brakebills, Quentin, Alice, Penny and Katie are all kidnapped in the middle of the night and forced to participate in “The Trials.” Used to weed out first-year students, these trials are not simple spells, and require intense thought and partnerships. While the Brakebill’s kids undergo their scripted work, Julia learns that her new friend is not everything she thought and begins to attempt magic herself. Everyone in this episode learns the importance of working together, even if it has horrific consequences for some.
The reason I personally love Quentin is that he is every single one of us that, however briefly, wanted desperately to go to Hogwarts, live in the Shire. or run through Narnia. He just happens to be the one who finds out his dream is a reality. He also has some of the best lines in this episode including “we’ve been Kobayashi Maru’d.” For non-Star Trek geeks, the Kobayashi Maru trial is an impossible test scenario meant to judge a Captain’s meddle in moments of crisis. SyFy Channel and the show’s producers, especially Sera Gamble, know the audience they are playing to.
Despite all of my complaints about Alice, I can almost overlook the casting choice due to pretty much everyone else. Hale Appleman IS Elliot. Katie is a fantastic edition and I’m even loving Penny. Stella Maeve is capturing Julia’s desperation to perfection. It’s just, Alice; Olivia Taylor Dudley is trying very hard to embody the role, but her portrayal is akin to when you meet and fall in love with someone online, and then meet them in person and have nothing in common.
If you didn’t need more reasons to watch this episode, Quentin, Penny, Alice and Katie all end up naked at some point. It’s tasteful, important to the plot, and pause worthy a few times for those of us obsessed with Jason Ralph.
For fans of the book, make sure to watch the episode all the way to the end; the producers are following a very important story line.