“All That Josh”
March 7, 2018
The Magicians, a show that has made a name for itself by producing strong, emotionally charged stories delivered in unpredictable and unconventional ways sets a new bar for itself tonight with multiple in show performances of songs featuring the entire cast.
Some shows would do this and it comes off gimmicky. When The Magicians does something like this, it feels organic and you think, “yes, of course, that makes sense to me” because that is just how well done this show is created, written, and acted.
Enjoy our deep dive recap and review … after the jump!!
The Cottage. We pick up right after the events of last week with Q and Kady returning to the Cottage with the newly (re)acquired Fourth (Depression) Key. Kady is pretty sure both mirrors shattered while Harriet and Victoria were on the Mirror Bridge (they did) which means they’re dead. Using Alice’s “OMG OMG OMG Sad Face” as confirmation of her theory, Kady requests the Truth Key to see if Penny made it back. When Quentin retrieves the Key (which they are keeping in a locked drawer along with the Quest Book), the Quest Book is all shaky shaky, open me up. Quentin does and it reveals a single long line of coded language on a tri-part fold out page. Kady goes off with the Truth Key to try and find Penny while Alice wants to work on the code. “No,” Q tells her. Not until she tells spills about what she’s doing for the Library.
She (truthfully) tells him that she needed information to finish her Grand Unified Theory of Magic but he’s all dubious and skeptical because, that’s who Q is now with Alice. Nevermind that Quentin, Alice already knows what the Code is, its music … medieval music if we’re being specific. Kady returns and hands the Key off … its interesting how, like Julia, the Truth Key really takes it out of her.
At the Cottage Upright Piano (every Cottage should have one), Alice is plunking out the notes but nothing magical is happening. Kady realizes she’s a modern transposition of the notes and corrects her on what medieval timers used. Which is a very specific, and odd, piece of information to have readily available. I do did a woman who knows musical theory, though!
Backstory: Kady’s mom was a stripper of sorts but its cool, she was good at it and it paid for piano lessons. Win Win!! Kady sits down at the upright and plunks at the couple of measures of music and presto, changeo … shit just got real.
For starters, the piano she was just playing is gone. For seconders, there is a room full of people in the Cottage now dancing to off screen playing music. For thirders, the 2 keys that had just been sitting on the little table have vanished. And last, its super bright now in the Cottage which we have learned means, Magic is Back!!
Todd jumps up on a coffee table and announces its time for the King of Party-O-Clock. Cut to the staircase where a hip and fresh looking Josh is taking a nice hit off a staff bong before he breaks into Clooney’s poppy song, “Wham Bam” and HE.KILLS.IT! He proceeds to dance throughout the entire room and he’s got this party jumping, the crowd is eating out of his hands (which is actually a line in the song). Here is the clip of him singing (ignore the subtitles).
Josh finishes the song, the dancers all finish their mid-90’s teen movie choreograph scene and Todd gives enthusiastic applause. Quentin, “I think we found hell.” Title Card! The outro music of Wham Bam plays all through the title card …
And when we return to the party, the party of which Kady wants nothing to do with. She turns to leave but, nope, no door. Also, every painting in the Cottage is a take on a famous painting but has Josh’s face. Also, the TADA sign that hangs in the background is fully lit (normally, the D is hanging down, broken). ALSO, all of the clocks are set to 4:20 … this is definitely a Josh Event!
As the trio look around confused, Josh formally welcomes his friends to the Party (“it’s been too long” he says) and tells them there is but one rule – Be the Vibe and Throw No Shade. Which I think is actually two rules but we’ll let him have it because the point is, if you do something to mess up the party vibe, the Dancers all stop instantly and turn around in unison and stomp their feet. If you don’t fix your tude, they’ll turn violent. Unfortunately, Alice harshes the buzz almost immediately and we get to see the foot stomp in action (everyone except Josh I’ll note). I referred to this oft repeated movement tonight as the Rhythm Nation move.
Todd comes over to the gang to clarify that you either be cool or adios but doesn’t actually tell them how to adios when Kady asks. Josh and Todd show the trio that Magic Is In Fact Back and that’s why they are living it up. He then makes joints appear in each of their hands as the music queues back up. As to test out magic for themselves, Alice and Kady make smoke magic and then Q unites it all into a Smoke Muntjac which floats over the party goers’ approving heads. Odd Todd also nods approvingly.
Back in the Cottage of No Magic, Julia and Fen enter and discuss what to do about the Sad Faeries. Just to be clear, you know its the no magic Cottage because the color has gone out, the D is broken in TADA, the Piano is back (with the Quest Book open on it) as are the 2 Keys Quentin left on the desk.
The ladies have a discussion about next steps and though Fen feels bad about what happened to Skye, they cannot help because FAERIES ARE EVIL! Plus, they can’t be slaves, they can do magic. Julia counters that may be true on Fillory but obviously something is different here on Earth. Having done a lot of Faerie Coke, Julia is feeling very guilty and needs to help! Also, spotting the Truth Key on the desk, Julia realizes she can see the Faeries without making a deal. But that will have to wait because …
Fillory. In Castle Whitespire, the High King and Queen are being led by Tick through an angry mob of Fillorians shouting for their death presumably. Its very angry mobbish. Tick explains that they have been found guiltu and soo… but Eliot cuts him off to reiterate they were found guilty by a marsupial in a wig and robe. That’s the trial by Wombat you asked for, Tick explains. Trial By Combat, Margo hisses, and Eliot says that is why they brought Bingle the mute swordsman with them, dummy. Seems that GOT lore hasn’t reached Fillory – Trial By Combat isn’t a thing here, Tick explains.
Tick explains that they are free to choose their manner of execution, an honor reserved only for the greatest of deposed monarch. Tick is selling this hard. He lists off the options: death by serrated spoon; steep climb up fire ant mountain; the infinite waterfall; the stone crush, at which point Margo interrupts him and has him back up to the “infinite waterfall.” That sounds like the longest death to her. Tick isn’t catching on so Margo and Eliot both speak in “code” about how it’ll give them … time, to plan …. how best to meet death and think about repenting. Tick, being Tick, explains that the death will have them “plummet through freezing waters against walls of razor rocks so you bleed out or drown or if you’re lucky, starve to death.” Eliot is pleased, “I don’t think we could have picked a better death.” I love Margo and Eliot when they’re on the same side.
The Alt Cottage. Kady is increasingly losing her cool as the trio realize they can only do party trick magic; nothing substantive. Kady also accuses Alice of being behind all of this – some work for her “Library buddies” to try and slow them all down. When Q offers her a big glass of brown, she smacks it out of his hand, shattering it against the wall. The problem with losing your cool .. yep, there the Party Goers go. Stomp Stomp. #PartyFoul
The Party Goers move on Quentin and Kady, subduing them and holding them down as Alice stares on in paralyzed horror. Odd Todd doesn’t do anything to help either. Commercials.
When we return, Alice launches into a pitchy rendition of Happy Birthday, which Kady and Q join in, mollifying the Party Goers and returning the Party to the status quo. Back on mission, Alice points out someone needs to say with the Party so they don’t pick up on any bad vibes while the other 2 go deal with Josh. Kady volunteers — she’s got this. Using that sweet party magic, she presto changes herself into …
You can thank mom for her mad burlesque skills. But, you have to wait because …
McCallister’s Office. Julia breaks in to Irene’s office where she sees a pegleg Skye struggling to lift some books. Julia tries to convince Skye that its Irene and her ilk that are the ones really hurting her but Skye’s brainwashing is good and she’s sticking to “Miss Irene protects us” which we heard her tell Fen last week. Julia asks about Skye’s ability to do magic as that’s something Faeries can do … Julia tells Skye that if she can prove Skye can do magic, it’ll prove everything else she’s said about the McCallisters. She tells Skye to meet her in the lab as soon as possible.
The Alt Cottage. Downstairs, Kady begins to sing but is quickly interrupted by Odd Todd who tells her they prefer the song sung in the Key of E (instead of A as its supposed to be). In a rare demonstration of restraint, Kady grits that its a wonderful suggestion.
Upstairs, Josh is telling Alice he always felt a connection between them, especially when she was being repelled by his annoying personality. He calls that his “power move” but his face falls when he follows her into a bedroom and Q is waiting there with rope. Whelp. Commercials.
When we return, Kady launches into a fully choreographed song and dance burlesque-y version of “All I Need Is The Girl” (a song by Stephen Sondheim from the musical, Gypsy, which EP John McNamara knew had alternate lyrics for when sung by a female – that’s the version they are using here). It culminates with her setting up a white screen that we see her silhouette dancing behind sexily. She magics the silhouette to keep singing and dancing while she slips upstairs to see how things are going with the Josh-ervention.
Upstairs, Josh asks if the rope is just some mild kink Q and Alice are into or what? They spot the piano but the Quest Book isn’t there which makes sense since this isn’t their real world. Josh interrupts their mumblings to air his grievances. He moved the piano from downstairs into his room … Alice stops him and lets him know that this isn’t his room. Q pitches in that this isn’t even his house, as he’s a naturalist (which is a change from the books). Josh reveals the true nature of his butt-hurtness. They don’t know anything about Josh — where is he from, where’d he go to school, when did they even last see each other (Bacchus’ Party!! I knew that answer!). Q doesn’t really have a good answer to any of this which is Josh’s point exactly. He called and texted, a lot and got no response. He wanted to help out with the Quest. But he got nothing, except for one response from Julia.
Kady has now joined them upstairs by this point and Quentin confirms that he did get a lot of messages from Josh. He counters that Josh bailed on them in Fillory but that was different, Josh explains — “that was cowardice, not indifference.” But, fine, okay, whatever Josh says in a way that makes it clear it is neither fine nor okay because the quest is over and Magic is Back! Quentin says, great! Magic yourself out of the ropes. But, Josh can’t, obviously, because that is more than a party trick.
Alice takes the role of compassionate enforcer and tries to convince Josh that this isn’t real and the longer he stays here, the less he’ll want to leave. Kady, ever being Kady, says that she doesn’t care if Josh wants to stay in La La Land but just tell them how to get out …
Fillory. On the Muntjac, Eliot and Margo are down below deck, bound and shackled to the floor. Alone with Tick, Eliot asks if he palmed the key and Tick says, “I did … not.” That old gag! *Groan* Tick would like Eliot and Marog to know that he will not be helping them any longer because they are the worst rules ever in Fillory (“c’mon, Martin Chatwin” Margo retorts) but Tick means all Children of Earth. No, you see, Tick ran Fillory for years and it was good and now that there is no magic, he doesn’t think they need to follow the rules of the Rams – he’s going to rule again. This is Tick’s Fillorian Coup!! Eliot tries to find some compromise but nothing doing. Tick turns to the Muntjac and informs her that when they get to the Infinite Waterfall, he’d like to stop and put Eliot and Margo onto a liferaft and send them over the falls. Then we can have “Free Fillory, Of, For and By Fillorians like us, what do you say? Allies?” Well, nothing, the Muntjac doesn’t speak using words but Tick is satisfied anyway. Margo cant believe it, and wonders if everyone hates them?!? Eliot tries to convince Tick to at least free their hand restraints and Tick says, “he will … not.”
“The ‘Not’ thing is kind of ‘arch’,” an annoyed Margo informs him. Ha! LOVE HER! Commercials.
Brakebills Lab. Quick cut to Fen, again, pronouncing this a bad idea but before Julia can get into another full blow defense, Skye arrives. Back to them in a second.
The Alt Cottage. By way of explaining how he got to this Alt Cottage, Josh is filling in his backstory on where he has been see we last saw him at Bacchus’ party. He throws in a couple of asides to the story about how his life has been riddled with being left behind, such as when his brother decided to take Ann Posner instead of him to David Bowie’s “A Reality Tour” concert, which turned out to be Bowie’s last concert tour before he passed away (which is a True Story!). This comes up because a now freed Josh walks over to the concert poster hanging in his (not) room. Kady saw him on that tour, which, doesn’t make Josh feel any better. Alice refocuses Josh back to the story (which is funny because it really just reinforces Josh’s point).
Anyway, back into Josh’s flashback – while sitting on the stairwell outside Bacchus’ party checking his phone with no messages, Josh is visited by Odd Todd who whispers something in his ear. Whatever he offered Josh must be pretty good because Josh is instantly in for whatever he’s promised. At the bottom of the stairs is a doorway through which is … The Alt Cottage. Inside the well lit party room, Odd Todd reveals that Josh isn’t tripping, the people who need to know about this know, and boom, Odd Todd has the Fifth Key! He does not answer Josh’s other question about keeping a Molly drip going. “Wait, Todd has the Fifth Key,” Quentin interrupts the flashback to ask? Josh funnily replies that its a Key, hes not sure of the Number. Which, good point.
Back in the Flashback, Odd Todd vanishes the Key but Josh has some thoughts and questions: that Key is pretty important so he needs to tell his friends about; where are his friends AND how can magic be back if you have the Key, Odd Todd?!? At this last, the Party Goer’s do their turn stomp stomp thing. #PartyFoul! Q again interrupts the flashback to say he knows how the story plays from there and Kady asks if that wasn’t a clue that this is all fake?!? “Its not fake, Josh insists, its just different.” He calls it an evolution of magic with its return. Someone’s rationalization is showing.
Downstairs, the ventriloquist magic show is still going but Odd Todd has grown suspicious … he walks around the White Screen and when he realizes Kady is not really there, the music ends abruptly. Uh Oh. (What would he have done if she was still back there – not cool creepy Odd Todd, not cool!).
Back in Josh’s (not) room, the trio is firing questions at him about whether he’s actually seen anyone else he knows besides Odd Todd or, gone outside? THIS IS NOT REAL, they all tell him again. Which is when they realize the music downstairs has stopped. Uh Oh! Kady runs to the door, throwing on the deadbolt as feet are heard gathering up the stairs. Quentin speaks to Josh with some urgency that they have been shitty to him and they will fix that but right now, the Quest sent them there for the Key and they need Josh to buy them some time so they can figure it all out. Josh agrees but tells them that if this IS his own “Private Idaho,” he wants them gone. Commercials!
When we return, the barbarians are still at the gate but when Josh busts into the hallway with the promise of a hustle, the Party Goers happily follow him downstairs.
Brakebills Lab. Julia is trying to lead Skye through some Magicians spell casting but no magic is happening. Fen helpfully suggests that Julia might be teaching it wrong – Faeries don’t need to use their hands to cast magic, They Are Magic. Trying a different tack, Julia has Skye focus her energy on producing a flower coming out of the palm of her hand. Before we see if it works, we cut back to …
The Alt Cottage. Josh is leading a conga line of Party Goer through the downstairs while singing Rose Royce’s 70’s classic, “Car Wash.”
Upstairs, Alice has put it all together. Odd Todd is a Charmeiser (spelling may not be correct here), a demon from German folklore that grants all your wishes in a pocket world and then feeds of your happiness. Its all a Shapeshifter which is why it looks like Todd. Alice assures them its not malevolent … for a demon anyway. Q reasons that the Quest brought them here so the Key must still be here. Kady gets distracted from the music downstairs, wincing at the use of the Key of E again which makes them realize the Upright Piano is still in Josh’s (not) room. They head over an when they strike one of the E keys, it makes a discordant note. Inside the upright case, they find the Fifth Key just laying there. Silly, Joy Junkie Demon, you were being cute! Q grabs it out by his shirtsleeve (“no fingers!”) and lays it on a table. He tells them they should give it a second and see if it reveals itself. Its pretty funny watching them stare at a key.
Fillory. As the Muntjac approaches the Infinite Waterfall, we join Margo trying to convince the ship she can do her own thing. Eliot is musing if Tick wasn’t a little correct about them not having any right to rule and maybe also being shit rulers?!? But Margo isn’t having it, for a hot minute, one time, things were awesome and that was because of them! They devolve into a fit of giggles as they talk about being able to do it again. After dancing around the divide between them, in this, their final minutes, Eliot is happy that they can finally speak with no bullshit and he tells her he loves her. “I know,” is her perfect response.
Tick arrives and tells the Muntjac they’ve reached the Point of No Return so please stop so he can cast off the dethroned rulers. But … the Muntjac has other ideas. As Eliot and Margo stare in wide eyed silent interest, Tick begins to beg and plead for her to stop but she’s not listening to what Tick has to say. He runs off.
Brakebills Lab. A quick cut back to Julia, Fen and Skye. Following Julia’s advice, Skye slowly conjure a rose in her hand.
Fillory. When we return to the Muntjac, we see Tick and the crew on a life raft of their own and Tick vowing to scuttle all sentient ships when he gets back to the castle. “WRITE THAT DOWN,” he orders a minion (though they are all rowing I think) Below decks, Margo, desperation creeping into her voice for the first time asks if the Muntjac would stop for her?!?! When there is no change, she buries herself in Eliot’s chest with a whimper. Its one of the few times we’ve ever seen fear in Margo and I Do NOT LIKE IT!
The Alt Cottage. The trio is still string but Kady has enough. With an enthusiastic, “Fuck This,” she grabs the Key and a new door appears in the room complete with neon sign instructing “Questers Exit Here.”
Brakebills Lab. The groups surprise and joy turns to horror as Skye begins to bleed from her eyes and nose and we cut to commercials.
When we return, Julia’s eyes glow yellow and Skye freezes in mid-bleed out. Julia realizes (too late) that the necklace Skye wears is magicked to kill her if she does magic. But Fen wants to talk about the whole eye glow thing and how she did magic without using her hands. Julia (quite calmly I’ll note) remarks, “I think I’m leveling up.”
The Alt Cottage. Car Wash is still going but something has changed and Josh isn’t so into it anymore. Upstairs, we hear Penny’s voice broadcasting from the Underworld Branch (turns out Penny doesn’t know where the coffee is, he’s new here dude). Its not just us that can hear him, everyone in the Trio can hear him too. And he can hear them. Not only that but Josh, Julia, Eliot and Margo on the supernatural teleconference line too.
Quentin reasons out that the power of the Fifth Key is to link them all up. Julia chimes in that she’s sure its important but she almost just killed a Faerie and did some eye ball magic to freeze her in time soooooo she’s going to need a moment to process some stuff. Over on the Muntjac, Eliot and Margo fill the gang in on their predicament of impending death complete with lacerating rocks and if the magic can’t help, well enjoy their death screams at least. Josh, for his part, just wants them all out of his head. Quentin realizes that its Josh, the Key is unity to make sure that they rescue the Quester who always feels left behind. Downstairs, Josh calls, “Bullshit.” #PartyFoul Stomp Stomp.
“Everything was perfect until you got here so just go,” Josh implores them angrily. “Wait, who is that” Penny asks … which HA! Proving Josh’s point again. Josh has had enough and fucks the rules and gives Odd Todd a good “Fuck You.” Quentin is trying to tell him to chill but the Party Goers are already bearing down on Josh. They begin to thoroughly kick his ass. Its pretty brutal to watch actually.
Upstairs, Quentin puts hi s plan together. They need to save Josh and convince him to come back with them. They need to sing a song to do it. They are all going to need to sing. Yes, they are all fucked in their own way but if they don’t all do this now, the Quest Is Over. Bowie, Bowie will be the inspiration for the song and Quentin magics it so they all know the words …
Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Led by Eliot’s and Kady’s strong voices, the entire cast (save Fen, poor Fen), the entire core 8 launch into David Bowie and Queen’s classic song, “Under Pressure.” And its amazing. Syfy is taking down all the internet postings of the video but try and find it, its worth the watch. As the Trio work their way down stairs, the song begins with them and the Party Goers cease their beat down of Josh. As the Muntjac races to the edge of the Infinite Waterfall Margo and Eliot join in with Eliot getting very into an impassioned performance. Julia chimes in for her line as she continues looking at the Faerie (and Fen staring at her in a hysterical, “What the Fuck Are You Doing” kind of way)?
Back in the Alt Cottage, the Trio cut their way through the Party Goers and stomp on to the coffee table and literally begin to stare down Odd Todd. Julia, while singing, uses her eye glow power to heal Skye who unfreezes. On the Muntjac, Eliot and Margo hold each other as they sing. Penny, of course, is the last hold out but he eventually lends his voice with the 2 Most Penny Lines of the song that ever were:
Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don’t work
At the climax of the song which Eliot takes lead on, the Muntjac goes over the falls and Margo and Eliot flip and flop all over the ship but Eliot never stops singing:
Why – why – why?
Love love love love love
In the Alt Cottage, Odd Todd smiles and steps aside to allow the Trio to go to Josh. They all take a hold of his battered and bloody face and put him on his feet. In Fillory, the Muntjac soars up through the sky (like the flying car at the end of Grease!). Each of the core 8 gets a line of “give love” in a really nice bit of editing) and Josh finally gets his line:
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
Eliot and Margo, now freed from their shackles, rejoin him in voice as they head to a porthole and look out from the flying ship.
Back in the Alt Cottage, as we head into the final seconds of the song, Josh, now with the group, turns and the trio is now a foursome as they stare out on Odd Todd and the arty Goers. This task is complete but first, the snapping.
On the last snap, the Party Goers disappear and Odd Todd disappears and just the Foursome and the German demon remain (who had been Odd Todd).
Fillory. Quickcut to the Muntjac where Margo turns to the heart tree and says, “Bowie fan?” “Margo fan,” Eliot replies. OMG, these two. Can we stop a second and talk about the UNREAL chemistry that Hale Appleman and Summer Bishil have together because its so so so good.
The German demon says, “he said you’d ace it” but he never reveals who the “He” is. The Demon had his doubts that Josh’s friends would show up and if they did , be worthy, but they did and so his work is done. It was a test. Its always a test, right Penny?, Kady laments but we learn that the supernatural teleconference line has been terminated and they can no longer hear their friends. The profound sadness Q and Kady have is really touching a nice moment for the show. The German demon tells them he needs to detox after living on Josh’s fantasy life for weeks so he throws them out of the Alt Cottage through the door which has reappeared.
And they emerge through the door of the real Cottage. Just as they left it, save for the Truth Key which Julia borrowed but which she returns right now as she walks through the door with Fen. “Josh, you never called me back,” she says.Josh admits that the old him could be a dick. No worries Josh, everyone in that room can be a dick from time to time.
The Quest Book flutters itself to a new chapter. The Quest for the Sixth Key is on! A close look at the first page of the new chapter tells of the Key being in the possession of a Monster who lives deep in the ocean and collects treasure and will only return to the surface when an “Anointed Knight” challenges them.
Alice moves to take the book but a look from Q and she hands it over with a snooty, “Really.” Picking up the Vibe, Josh snarks that he missed a lot. Um, yes. And Scene!
Thoughts. I enjoy The Magicians because it tells great stories in unpredictable ways which leave you changed; the show leaves an indelible mark your soul. But its more than just the crisp writing and pitch perfect acting. The Magicians resonates with me, with most people that enjoy this show I would guess, because of its core message: No matter how nerdy you think you are, how much of an oddball outcast you think you are, no matter how sad and abandoned and hopeless you feel, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Josh is all of us. At some point in our life, everyone feels abandoned, everyone is the forgotten Quester but The Magicians, time and time again teaches us that you are not alone. Someone out that cares if you live or if you die or if you or no longer in their life.
Here are some lines from “Wham Bam,” the first song Josh sings tonight:
“Nobody hears a word I say …
Can’t wait for the time
When I can shed my skin …
Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s
So, that’s pretty spot on for what Josh is feeling as this episode unfolds. Then, we look at some of the lyrics in “Under Pressure” and the entire song is an ode to being stuck in the suck of life and watching your friends go through the same and no be able to help them BUT LOVE. It may be an old fashioned word but its so powerful and it can heal so many wounds and hurts and so many devastations from our past. Its no surprise Quentin suggests this song as a way to reach Josh, to show him that he knows he fucked up as a friend but they’re here now and want him to come home. And Eliot and Margo, very much aware of their impending death, Under Pressure is an expression of their love for each other but also that they know that the other is under the gun and they are here for each other and always will.
Enough from me, but really, thank you for reading these words and remember, you’re not alone.