TV Recap: The Magicians – Mr. Cellophane!

The Magicians
“Be the Penny”
January 31, 2018

If you have seen tonight’s episode, I think you can agree this was some of Arjun Gupta’s best work in this entire series and this is a Top 3 episode of The Magicians overall.  The narrative device they use, alone, will make it a fan favorite.

Without giving away spoilers (that’s after the jump), most of the scenes tonight feature a device I described in my own head as a “Play within a Play” mechanic. We are watching someone watching others. And both layers are important to the story, specifically and generally.  The device holds together really well throughout every transition and serves to connect all the characters’ threads into one storyline. The last few weeks, we have seen some connectivity between the different characters (e.g., Eliot and Q via Bunny Text) but overall, everyone has been off doing their own thing.  Tonight, through Penny, everyone is connected in a coherent way that reminds you (if you even needed reminding), why you love this show … and that’s no small magic trick .

Read the recap for “Be the Penny” (spoilers!!!! You’ve been Warned) … after the jump!

(Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

“Shit.” That’s where we left off last week as astrally-projected Penny looked down on Kady and Julia who themselves were looking down on his very dead body. And that’s right where pick up, Penny trying to get Kady to hear and see him, to let her know he’s right there. But no luck pal. Maybe you’re not “dead” Penny, but you’re certainly not exactly “alive” anymore either.  Whelp.

As he will for most of this episode, Penny spends the cold open trying to establish the exact state of his existence and also, taking offense to the lack of outward emotion at his demise.

Dean Fogg, having gathered in the cottage with Q, Julia and Kady for Penny’s  Requiem, suggests someone say something versus sitting in the awkward silence currently enveloping them all.  “He was complicated. He probably hated me …,” Quentin ineloquently begins the couch-side eulogy when Kady chimes in, “none of us really knew him, not even me. That’s how he wanted it. So all I can really say is, uh …” Kady finishes her thought with a swig of her brown liquid and stalks off. Penny, realizing he is living a Dickensian level nightmare of his own making breaks it down proper, “I am so screwed.”

Title Card.

Library. When we return, Penny has traveled to the Library to find it looking like LA after the riots, and only a smattering of books left on the shelves.  The only people present appear to be some squatters, Bodhi and Shep, who are looting the remaining books to … do something, I dunno. Bodhi is very excited how the soft cover of one of the books feels on his hands.   Bodhi and Shep? Super creepy and weird. Also? Cannibals! Turns out they ate a Librarian which … not cool. I hope it wasn’t Zelda.  I shipped her and Penny.

The Neitherlands.   We follow Penny, who is following Bodhi and Shep, “upstairs” from the Library into the Neitherlands. Hey! Its the Royal Family! Remember last week how we didn’t see Eliot, Fen or Fray again after the Golden Key provided them a magic emergency exit from the Muntjac? Yep, it dropped them off here and … they don’t look great.  Eliot asks the Cannibals if they can warm themselves by the fire and if they have any food to spare (I already don’t like where this is going, neither does Penny) as they haven’t eaten in days.  Penny, who no one can see or hear, is trying to warn him off cause, you’re about to eat “a dude.” “Fuck this place” and he bounces back to the Cottage before we have to watch anymore of the Cannibal show.   Excuse me while I go vomit.

Back. Feeling better, thanks!  Penny apparates into the middle of a conversation Alice is having with Quentin about how she can’t believe “he’s gone” and she “loved him.” FINALLY, Penny looks relieve to be getting some love from someone, that is until Alice continues on about how she used to ride around on his shoulders. Wait, what?

Oooh, yeah, she’s talking about her dad, not Penny.  Penny is having the worst day ever and only partly because he’s dead.

The conversation continues.  For his part, Q’s dad is doing great. When magic stopped, whatever cancer was destroying his father stopped too … so, upside!  As these two are wont to do these days, they have an awkward discussion about their relationship status, Quentin didn’t think he’d see her again.  She says can’t be around her mom (not surprising, Stephanie was throwing eye daggers at Alice in the foyer when dad dropped dead from the whole cattle prodding incident) since they buried her father (remember time is wonky when traveling in and out of the Neitherlands – 1 hour there is about 1 week on Earth so, some time has passed since Penny and Alice’s dad each, respectively, bit it) so she had to come back to the Cottage at least temporarily.

Great, Q says, as they could really use her help for this whole “Bring Magic Back Epic Quest” but she’s not down for that. She doesn’t think they should bring it back; look at the mess they have made of things when they had magic. She just wants to be young and carefree (she also plays the “what will it do to your father” card to Q which is kinda shitty but also, kinda true).  Quentin can’t even with that attitude right now as he’s remembered he still hasn’t told Margo and Eliot about Penny.  Get me a rabbit! Watching Penny being amused at watching Quentin send a Bunny Text is one of the several highlights of this episode. There is an infectious quality about the mildly amused, yet sarcastic, yet totally over it “chuckle” voice Arjun Gupta uses while wondering at what Quentin is doing; its the best version of Penny there is.  And we get to see it tonight several times.

Anyway, curious at what exactly is happening with this Bunny, Penny follows it … to the Muntjac.  A new experience for even the experienced traveler! He grouses about missing all the cool shit like them getting a sweet boat.  He (and the Text Bunny) drop into Margo telling Tick they have to head to Castle Whitespire or else Faerie Queen will come kill them all.  Which, truth girl!  “Penny’s Dead. Sorrrry,” the now familiar hoarse voice of the Bunny Text intones. Benedict takes this news particularly hard, saying they were besties (Penny appreciates the sentiment but … Benedict seems to have over estimated the worth of their friendship).  Of our main crew, Margo is by far the most outwardly emotional (in a sad way I mean, Kady is the most emotional … in a very Kady-like angry way) at the dead Penny news and she muses that she always thought they’d have a chance to “bang.” Penny also regrets this missed opportunity, “me too girl, me too,” he says solemnly.

Cottage. Penny is monologuing to Kady about how he imagined they’d have normal relationship problems but that’s not their lot.  Kady, for her part, is searching her room for drug paraphernalia; we watch her tie off her arm in preparation of a heroin fix. Penny won’t sit by and watch her destroy herself so says goodbye and goes in search of a fix of his own … a fix to his “dead” problem.  See what I did there?!?

Downstairs, Penny spies Julia get another message from the beyond. Whereas last week, a possessed homeless lady scolded Julia in a vague and general way for moving too slow, this week, a possessed Todd wakes Julia to specifically instruct her that Kady needs her help. Like now. Like right now.  Julia runs upstairs and busts into Kady’s locked room to find her in mid-overdose seizure.  Using her spark of magic, she is able to bring Kady back.  Seems her limited magic is useful, afterall.  Penny has watched this whole scene unfold but he’s not alone. A goofball in a Brakebills blazer is also in the room watching and he and Penny can see each other. Dun dun dunnnn. Commercials.

(Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

Meet Hyman Cooper (Dustin Ingram), the “pervert ghost of Brakebills,” you haven’t heard of me he asks? Penny isn’t past the name yet, “Hyman? Did that mean something different when you were born?” HA! (to be fair though, they do spell it differently than the female body part).  Hyman was a Brakebills student in the 1920’s, a traveler like Penny who, unlike Penny, used his gifts to spy on girls in showers and such. As a prank, someone moved his body while he was off astrally projecting himself (pervertedly). When he couldn’t find his body, it must have died at some point.  He’s been spying on generations of Brakebills students since then, like Penny and his friends.  If you think about it, this is literally the best possible life situation for Hyman … he’s been given the gift to be immortally perverted.  “All peepin, all the time.”

Important Point of Exposition Alert: Hyman refers to himself as a ghost but Penny sets that shit straight, ghosts relive their death over and over again? Are you doing that, Hyman? (no). Ghosts can touch things, can you do that Hyman? (no) Hyman counters with “okay, then why can I sit in a chair?” and the important question this type of existence always raises to viewers (like me) who over think things … how are they standing on the floor and not falling through? Penny says he doesn’t make the rules, “maybe your ass just knows” HA! You know what? I’ll allow it as a valid answer. I appreciate that they raised the question, acknowledged the necessity of the incongruence in order to tell the story.  And anyway, Penny asks, its been like 100 years, haven’t you figured any shit out? Hyman says he tried but it didn’t end well. Penny would like some clarification on this but shhhhhh, Hyman says, his favorite TV show is starting: The Soap Opera of Quentin and Julia.

Okay, there are 2 conversations going on here — its like watching someone watch a play and both things are worth tracking.  Let’s tackle the Epic Quest-relevant storyline first …

Julia finds Quentin knee deep in research on the second key. Chapter 2 in the Tale of the Seven Keys says the Knight’s Daughter found the second golden key in a Sentient Cave that kept asking her riddles WHICH is identical to a story in The World in the Walls (the first Fillory book), in which Rupert Chatwin finds a mountain of treasure in a cave. He only takes a Golden Key to give to his friend he met during the war.  Quentin  hypothesizes that if the Rupert story is true, then the Second Golden Key will be here, on Earth.

Penny and Hyman watch this whole interaction. For Hyman, this is his favorite pairing – he loves the tension between them, the idea that they’ve been friends for years but Quentin has secretly always loved her.  Penny isn’t impressed with what he sees (really Penny? These two are peas in a pod – I’m with the Pervert Ghost of Brakebills on this one) and Hyman defends himself: he likes the “Penny and Kady” pairing, he ships it (nope, negative). Alice is … okay, a real “Mrs. Grundy type” (Penny doesn’t get the reference), and Josh, Josh is Hyman’s idol (surprising exactly no one). He calls Josh, a “vagician” which is hysterical and gross all at once.  Back to Quentin, Hyman identifies with his struggle as he too is a white, heterosexual male.  Basically, Quentin is the “duck’s nuts.”

Through this entire rundown of our gang, Penny is giving Hyman a withering, “what the fuck is happening” stare, which I find  just delightful.

Quentin wraps the scene by saying he should send a Bunny Text to Eliot to let him know what they’ve found. Eliot! Penny remembers he hasn’t checked in on him and …

The Neitherlands.  We come back to the Royal Family running for their lives. Seems, they have figured out the Cannibals are cannibals (Penny can’t resist an “I told you so”). Fray wants to negotiate with the Cannibals, maybe even give them what the want (“you’re grounded!” Eliot scolds). Also, Fray picks this time to protest about them lying about the Golden Key and the whole reason for their quest.  What is the Key for, she demands.  Nothing, Eliot snipes back, if they can’t figure out how to get out of the Neitherlands.  They need to figure out how to get to the portals in the Library.

Dean Fogg’s Office.  Penny finds Hyman and cannot figure out why he gives a shit about helping Q and Julia figure out the riddle of the Second Golden Key.  If they find all 7 keys … something good … happens? He missed a bit but he knows its important. Dean Fogg, summarizing what he’s just learned from Q and Julia, helpfully fills in the blank – they can bring magic back if they get all 7 keys.

Quentin and Julia have done some digging and think Rupert gave the key to a Lance Morrison who, after the war, enrolled at Brakebills.  They’d like access to his files. Sure thing but before they can leave his office, Gavin (Daniel Nemes) of the Order of the Library (formerly headquartered in the Neitherlands). “We need to talk about Penny,” he says ominously (everything with the Library is ominous, amiright?!!).

The Infirmary. Dean Fogg, in his wisdom, has directed all Penny death questions to Kady, who Ian the infirmary, after attempting suicide following the death of the man she loved, so maybe not Dean Fogg’s best idea?!?! “Did Penny die a traumatic death” is Gavin’s opening question. This can only get better from here.  “Yes, it was traumatic” she says through gritted teeth.  This seems to satisfy Gavin’s query.  Remember the Worst Employment Contract Ever Negotiated that Penny signed with the Library? It said that he had to work for the Order in this life … and beyond.  His soul hasn’t reported for duty to the “Underworld Branch” which begs the question, where is he?  “Likely in the process of becoming a vengeful spirit” so best they destroy his body while they can.  Kady, “come se dice what?” Gavin help-splains that the soul is tethered to the body for 7 days following death so buy eating his body, they can yank his soul back from wherever it is and send it on its proper way (i.e., to work for the Underworld Branch). Gavin clarifies that he won’t be eating Penny, he’s a pescatarian; no, the Order has a corpse-eater on retainer for such occasions. She’ll arrive before sundown tomorrow.  “You’re welcome,” he says and leaves. Gavin is your basic Library douchebag.  Penny looks pretty horrified at the thought of his body being eaten cause, from his point of view, he’s not done using his body yet. Commercials.

The Cottage. When we return, Kady is talking things over with Alice. She wonders aloud if he’s a ghost (“I’m not a ghost” he repeats, again, for like the 3rd time), why isn’t he haunting them. Maybe something else happened?  Yes, Penny likes this thinking, brainstorm girl! Alice thinks that if the Library has a legit corpse eater (not some sicko), Kady should use it – she doesn’t want Penny’s spirit to turn malevolent. Kady isn’t convinced, what if they can bring him back somehow, using Julia’s (albeit small amount of) magic. Alice rolls her eyes so hard she’s looking behind her but Kady continues, she can’t accept sending Penny to work for the Library for a billion years.  Alice counters that the Underworld has a bowling alley and a billion years surrounded by books, not too shabby.  Penny can’t even with this betrayal (“I thought we were bros” he says to her).

(Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

Penny drags Hyman from his Julia bath time watching (it reveals … character, he defends).  Hyman needs to help Penny communicate with Kady.  Hyman tells him that its possible to cast himself into objects, become the object.  His entire tutorial is to “Be the Penny” (episode title mention – drink!) and after 3 hours elapses, its become “Just Be the Goddamn Penny” which really, is the same instruction.  You ever say the same word over and over and over again and eventually, you forget what the word even is? What it means? That’s where Penny is at right now. Maybe the Penny thing confused Penny, “Be the nickel” he switches.  He starts to call Penny worthless, a dullard, their mutual angers rises and then … poof. Penny has entered the penny.  He even manages to flip the Penny, which, really impresses Hyman.  Emerging from the penny has left the taste in his mouth (gross, I hate how pennies even smell on my hands afterwards, I couldn’t deal with the taste) and he wonders maybe he should just try to re-enter his body – he knows how to be himself.  Hyman counters that he’d just be entering a dead corpse and would be, dead.  He also warns against entering things with brains, it can be much harder.

Muntjac. Penny is trying to be the Bunny while Margo is slowly coming unglued. The “jockey twat” won’t get out of her tub at the castle, the Bunny Text she sent to Eliot was returned to sender and she imagines, he’s probably dead and him and Penny are probably blowing each other in Heaven, right now.  Which, is probably something Eliot wouldn’t mind, Penny turns his head, not so into it.  Margo is having a sad but steels herself and launches a plan. When they get back to Castle Whitespire, Benedict will round up all the guards while Tick will scrape off part of the wall from the faerie repellent hallway and drop the shavings into the Faerie Queen’s bath.  And when she is on her ass, Margo will cut out her heart and eat it in front every “goddamn Faerie asshole in the kingdom.”

Benedict is excited, Tick looks like he might vomit.  Penny is turned on, “Girl, you get shit done.”

The Cottage.  Penny finds the Margolem in Todd’s closet (creepy) and is able to “Be the Margolem.” However, when he comes downstairs, unable to vocalize inside the clay beast, Quentin does the natural thing you do when a Margo-Frankenstein stumbles towards you; you bash its fucking head in, over and over again.

(Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

We cut to Penny sitting on the pool table holding his head and Hyman “I told you so”-ing. “You know, I wish you weren’t dead. So I could kill you” Penny laments to his perverted compatriot. On the other side of the room, Dean Fogg has popped back into the Cottage to talk Margolems.  Either some residual magic, he says, or the clay itself was a magical creature, Julia ventures.  Whatevs. Anyway, while we have you, Lance Morrison was only a student at Brakebills for a semester but was also has a Code 7 in his record. Dean Fogg says that means student suicide or magically exploded, unclear why the code is the same for both.  Oooooookay, moving on. Anyway, he died on Campus  and is buried in the West Dorm but there is no West Dorm?  Fogg tells them the West Dorm was buried because of a ghost that was haunting it – back in the day, ghosts were frowned upon, now, they would put it in the School’s Goddamn Brochure. Dean Fogg is kind of unhinged lately, right?  Anyway, the Dean at that time had the whole dorm buried and magically hidden so students couldn’t find it.  But, with the loss of magic, the spell should be broken and they should be able to enter.   Hyman, who has been watching this along with Penny, says that the Ghost of the West Dorm used to terrorize him.  Penny sees a plan – the ghost can be the conduit to let his friends know he’s still around.

West Dorm.  Julia and Quentin find one magic’d room in the otherwise empty dormitory. This is the lair of Lance Morrison. Lance assumes Q and Julia are from his father, he is not going home, he says.  Before we learn more on that story, Penny storms in and tells Lance “we need to talk.”  Commercials.

When we return, Julia and Quentin are trying to have a conversation with Lance, who is currently more involved with Penny who wants Lance to tell his friends he is in the room.  We switch back to Julia and Q’s POV and hear Lance’s response to a now unseen Penny’s questions (“No, I am not a bitch” is one utterance so you can imagine how things are going from Penny’s end). Quentin presses on and asks if Rupert Chatwin maybe gave him a key?  At Rupert’s name, the lights flicker and Rupert appears.  The friends hug and Rupert hands Lance the Second Golden Key which he brought from Fillory. It won’t hurt him, Rupert says, it just “reveals the honest truth of things, shows them as they truly are.” Which, then they kiss.  Ah, okay, its all starting to come together now, right? Penny doesn’t understand what Hyman’s problem was, just two kids kissing. He calls the absent pervert a “homophobic bastard.”

The lights flicker again and enter Daddy Morrison. He threatens his son to stop sullying the name of his mother’s family, the McCallisters.  Lance blames the key for making him reveal the truth.  When Daddy M takes the key, he sees his son’s homosexuality and man, this just went from bad to worse. He battle magics his son into a chair and then chokes him to death.

Penny forgot his own lesson to Hyman. Ghosts spend their time on this plane reliving their death over and over again; Penny should have known this wouldn’t just be a meet cute kissing session.

Anyway, when Q whispers to Julia that the dad slipped the key in pocket, Daddy Morrison turns to see them for the first time. He moves towards them to attack but Penny jumps in between and begins to beat on the dad.  Getting to him the floor, he continues to demand Daddy M say Penny’s name. Daddy M’s only response is “that’s not a real name.”

So, from Quentin and Julia’s POV, Daddy Morrison has thrown himself on to the floor and denies … something is a real name over and over again.  Thinking they “broke this ride,” Q and Julia bounce.  Foiled again, Penny. Commercials.

NYC. Alice and Kady are meeting Harriet (Marlee Matlin – yay!!) for advice. She says she wouldn’t trust the Library with a book, let alone a soul. Harriet says to the burn the body. Penny – he disagrees.  Alice is confused, that would trap him here for an eternity turning him into a ghost or worse. Better than being a slave to the people that killed you for a billion years, Harriet signs.  Alice, the only one here without some entangled emotional baggage, can’t understand how they don’t realize how much longer eternity is than a billion years.  Which, fair point Alice but Harriet REALLY hates the Library.  Penny’s bad day continues.

The Cottage.  Dean Fogg says the McCallisters (that’s Lance’s mother’s side) are on the Brakebills Board, which explains how lance got into the school.  They’re also one of the oldest magical families in America.  We happened to have met one, Irene McCallister – you’ll recall from the season premiere. she let herself into Henry’s office uninvited and demanded he turn his students loose on trying to fix the magic problem versus teaching theoretical magic. Anyway, she’s continued to call every day for a “lead” on magic returning so yes, the Dean thinks he can get the kids inside her house (where they are guess the Second Golden Key is residing).

Penny explains to Hyman that “he is a hidden thing” and so maybe this Golden Key he keeps hearing them talk about can reveal him. Look who is interested in the Epic Quest now, huh?  Hyman does not say I told you so, but does utter a classic, “Twist!”  The clock is ticking, today is the 7th day after his death so whatever Kady is going to do with his body, she’s going to do soon …

The Neitherlands. Eliot has a plan. Use the first Golden key to summon a shadow bat like the priest did on After Islands and scare away the Cannibals from the Library trap door.  Only problem? The Key summons an apparition of Eliot’s horrible, HORRIBLE father.  “Hi … dad.” Commercials.

When we return, Horrible Dad is berating his son for being everything that Eliot is. Specifically, he calls his outfit an embarrassment, that only Eliot could make a sailor’s suit look gayer. Eliot is trying his best reassure himself this is all just an illusion and Penny acknowledges that even with his own situation, Eliot still might be more fucked than him.  Unfortunately, he’s got to solve his own dead body problems so he can’t really stick around and watch the shit show.  He bounces.

Before we leave this scene, I want to make special note of Madeleine Arthur (Fray); the oblivious delight she exhibits in this scene is fantastic. From her sing song, “Hi grandpa” when everyone else is staring in abject horror, to the gleeful smile as she watches the conversation bounce back and forth from Horrible Dad to Eliot, its beyond funny and like her screen mother, Brittany Curran (Fen), absolutely steals this scene.  It must run in the family.  

McCallister House.  Irene warmly greets Henry and the kids (Penny is here too now).  Even with the loss of magic, things aren’t so bad over on the McCallister’s side of life; she still has magicked objects doing her house work – running off of years of stored magical current.   Sadly, most of the enchantments have already failed and even these remaining ones will fail soon (poor baby!) but in the meantime, martini? Oh yes, please. With an olive?, Quentin requests.

Irene wants to know which one of the kids can do magic. Quentin stands up and launches into a magic trick and a mangled explanation of his pre-Brakebills experience with magic card and coin tricks.  Irene is unimpressed. Julia excuses herself from the table for a moment.  In the bathroom, she lights a fire as part of some sort of location spell which leads her to the house’s Library. After some snooping, she locates the Second Golden Key and as she holds it up to examine, we see in the back of the room, two women staring silently .. who the hell are they?!?  She pockets the key  and when she turns to leave the library, the silent women are gone.  I thought Faeries initially but they are dressed too drabby for the Faeries; it looks like they are wearing upscale potato sacks?!?   I don’t know who they are.   But, at least we know the Key works for it has revealed to us what is hidden; which, now that I write that, makes me think that these 2 are related to the possessed bodies that keep speaking to Julia.  Perhaps they are following her around, keeping tabs on her progress towards … whatever, almost like guardian angels.

Syfy

Penny stuck with Julia’s snooping for a bit but watching the sun go down, he couldn’t afford to waste any more time and cut out of there (he missed her finding the key by about a minute).

The Beach.  Kady has brought Penny’s body to the beach; looks like she is going for the “burn the body” option.  Night has now fallen and Kady is setting candles up around Penny’s corpse while he pleads for her to wait.  Alice shows up, uninvited, and tells Kady its not too late for her to change her mind – the corpse eater will arrive soon but it hasn’t arrived yet.  “Why do you care” Kady asks. Alice says because they were friends but when pressed, admits to not knowing much about Penny. But, she does know what its like to lose control of yourself, to stop being yourself … this way, the corpse eater way, he can still be himself. Penny pleads again (he can’t help himself) that he’s still himself but dude, deaf ears, my man.  Kady says she gave everything she had to try and save Penny’s life and he died anyway, but you know what, she was relieved that it was over. Which, is totally understandable if not a bit harsh for Penny to hear. Which he does. Because he is standing right there.  Alice convinces Kady to not make this decision, to not take on this weight. Alice turns to go get the corpse eater when Penny decides he CAN and WILL take matters into his own hands. He enters the lit candle and it knocks it over, on to his corpse, setting it aflame.  Kady whispers, “Penny” as we cut to commercials.

(Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

The Cottage. Julia and Quentin stare at the Golden Key in its velvety box while Julia reports that she didn’t like holding it, the key made her feel uncomfortable, like she wasn’t herself. Interesting… Quentin lets her know she unlocked Chapter 3 which takes them back to Fillory (next week!!).

(Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

Before they can discuss anymore, a full on day drinking Henry Fogg comes into the Cottage (I don’t know that he’s been to the Cottage this often on the show, combined) to tell them that A. Irene was not convinced by their magic show last night and so B. the Board has decided to close Brakebills and put it up for sale, C. he’s out of a job and D. he doesn’t know who actually owns the Cottage so they may or may not be evicted at some point.  More importantly, is this bottle he’s picked up scotch or rye?  Rum, Quentin replies. Perfect, Henry grabs the bottle and goes for a nap.

Julia finds the upside, at least they’ve both been thrown out of Brakebills, they have that in common now.  Love her.

Just then, Eliot and his family come busting through the front door while, what sounds like a horde of angry people, shout on the other side.  “Thank Christ” he says as Quentin runs to give him a hug. Eliot asks for some water. Sparking please. For their part, Fray and Fen stare at the Earth world, in awe. They.Are.Adorable.

Gather Round Children For Storytime.  This story is called, “Eliot Did Nothing Wrong But Was Chased By Cannibals Through the Befucked Neitherlands Anyway” which is lengthy but fairly on the nose.  Julia needs some more explanation, like who the young woman is? Ah, that’s Fray, “our daughter,” he nonchalants.  Hold your questions to the end, he requests.  Long story short, Eliot told Horrible Dad that the cannibals guarding the trapdoor couldn’t tell a difference between a tractor and backhoe and he should set them straight.  Having met the Horrible Dad illusion earlier, you can see how this would set him off.  Quentin clarifies, you fed your father to cannibals?!? “An illusion of him, yes.” Eliot says it was very cathartic. I bet it was, this could be a new therapy rage in NYC. The distraction worked and they were able to sneak right past. The End.

Julia reveals the “Truth Key.”  “I can handle a little truth,” Eliot says and takes a hold of it. Looking around with the key in his hand, he says, “I don’t know, I don’t see anything. Maybe it doesn’t work on me.” Turning his head slightly, “Oh, hey Penny.”

Syfy

Penny, having been seen, starts to jump to his feet, “Wait …” And Scene!

Thoughts.  What a great ending to the episode, with the beginning of Penny’s reaction into the quick cut off.  This was an outing for Arjun Gupta to show off his chops and he delivered.  Penny is a difficult character; he’s been at conflict with so many characters so often, sometimes its hard to root for him but at the same time, he’s almost always been there to do the right thing when it counted.

Beyond next week (which I have seen already), I don’t know what’s going to happen to Penny but even if, for some reason, they don’t reunite him into a body and he leaves the show, this episode will still go down as a top 3 favorite of mine in the series; Gupta’s work here is that strong.

As a narrative device, watching the action unfold from his point of view was effective for the exact reason I mentioned above – he’s so disconnected from these characters. Whereas Hyman has been following the Quentin and Julia plotline and is queued in on the Keys and the Quest (to some extent anyway), Penny has had no idea, no idea about any keys or that there is a boat or the Bunny Texting; things that even someone slightly dialed into the other characters would know.

So, it allows the audience to view these storylines and the characters from fresh eyes.  Imagine inviting a friend over to watch The magicians for the first time with them only having a slight understanding of the back story of the characters – this is essentially Hyman and Penny tonight.  Granted, Penny’s motivations are from an almost purely selfish point of view, he’s bouncing from storyline to storyline, only for as long as he needs to help solve his own (literal) existential crisis but by the end, he’s invested to an extent.  His body is burnt by the last scene and yet, he’s in the Cottage watching the action unfold. Now maybe you would ask, well where else would he go?!? True enough but there are some options like stalk Kady some more but I think he wanted to know how the whole Key thing worked out.

Its funny, it took his corporeal death for Penny to become an invested member in this gang that, as Kady notes to Alice, he was never really apart of. Its an interesting development in the character’s and I’m interested to see where they take it the rest of this season.

There are some other odds and ends maybe worth touching on, Alice and her continued conflicted nature; a call back to Eliot’s horrendous home life and the damage he carries with him from that; the wonderful bond forming between his little family (though Fray will be circling back to the Key and its really aim), but, another time, friends, for this recap is already too long.

See you next week for what is actually my number one favorite episode of this crazy show.

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