The Magicians Explained, Part 4
In this little Diddy we go over episodes 11 through 13 of the first season.
Penned 10 months ago.
It was 78°F in San Diego, CA and hazy.
I Dreamt We Spoke Again by Death Cab for Cutie was playing.
Hey everyone, it is Chris. This is episode 4 of my Magicians season 01 overview. You can find the previous reviews here.
If this is your first time here, I take shows and movies based on books, and compare and contrast them to the source material.
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I’m going to quickly go each episode and highlight key moments and characters that are different in the show than the book. In this video we’ll cover episodes 4 - 7.
Striking a Deal
Yeah, this wasn’t in the books either, there was never an argument and vote like this. It was pretty much always, we need to kill the Beast. That being said, I dug this moment in the show. The idea of doing a probability spell, and seeing their futures was rad.
One of the odd things that I found in the books was that they really didn’t do a lot of interesting, bigger magic in the first books. It would seem to me that if your whole life is bathed in magic, that you would be using magic to solve your problems.
Penny and Joe
Since Joe wasn’t in any of the books, this, and the storyline with Penny and The Beast were additions for the show. It was really great though. Any moment I can get that adds to Penny’s character is great to me.
It also served to elevate the stakes where it came to The Beast. Having be a more active participant in the story in this way really made his character more interesting and more menacing.
Bottling Your Emotions
This was also new for the show and really great, as it was a way better explanation for the events between Margot, Eliot and Q that happen later. It also gives us a plausible way for the fine guys and gals of Brakebills to learn the skills they need to survive the coming conflict.
It was also beautiful to see the divide between Penny and Alice and the rest of the scooby gang. In the novels the battle magic was a mix of things they learned and a couple of spells that were created by Alice and Penny, since they were the two smartest kids.
This was a nice way of showing that in the show, since events have been accelerated so much. Oh and the “magic missle?” That was created by Penny.
Our Lady of the Underground
This wasn’t in the novels either, the bits with the milk and coins happened, but in a different way, and there was never a vision of The Lady. I really dig they changed this up for the show, giving them bits that lead them along towards their appointed moment with destiny.
In the narrative of the novels, this moment they they are building to is one of the most important things to happen to any of the characters, and has lasting consequences that aren’t fully understood until the very last chapters of the very last book.
We still haven’t seen the payoff of this in the show yet, but I am hoping that they don’t let us down on this front.
Q, Margot and Eliot
While this moment was in the books, it was much, much different. It was a real “not a hero” moment for Quentin. In the novels they are just drunk and stupid when it happens, and Q chose to go after Margot. He makes the decision at dinner for pete’s sake.
It never really made any sense to me, other than a way to split up Quentin and Alice. In the show, you can maybe understand a bit what happened and why, a combination of drunkenness and the screwed up metal state that is left after the spell to bottle up your emotions led to a moment that none of them would have opted in for otherwise.
What’s really interesting to me is that this changes the dynamic of what happens next 180 degrees. The obvious fallout between Alice and Q is much more complicated, and where the ultimate blame for how things turn out has shifted greatly.
And I’m not sure I like it, what it says about Alice’s character, her motivations and her strength as a woman. But we’ll talk about that in a bit!
Meeting Our Lady’s Emissary
Yeah this was… different than in the novels. They find a “saint” hermit hiding alone in a cave in the hills, who gives them the information on how to call Our Lady. This was an interesting change to the story, for many reasons.
Julia wasn’t involved in this part of the story, another of the, coven, I guess we’ll say, is the one to find the hermit saint. Since we’ve gone whole hog on the hero's journey angle with the show, I like that they are basically doing parallel journey’s between Quentin and Julia.
Julia had her own journey in the novels, but as I have said before, they filled us in with flashbacks, since the main story was seen through the eyes of Quentin, Janet/Margo
I love how Penny is the voice of reason here, trying to rally the troops after the night before. As I have mentioned before, Penny isn’t really around much in the novels and when he is he’s an ass and not very social.
Penny is also actually likeable as a character in the shows, where he was a waste of space in the novels in my opinion. This is what I was talking about during episode 11. Alice in the novels is barely more than a child, so her sleeping with Penny as revenge, while trite and cliche, you could at least sort of believe, pain for pain.
Especially when you factor in that Quentin just got drunk and acted stupidly. When you contrast that with the show, it seems like a betrayal of her character. There were vary real extenuating circumstances for Q’s actions, not that he shouldn’t be held accountable, but you know.
And then having this version of Alice think it would be a good idea to immediately have sex with Penny as revenge, that is a bit much to accept. She always seemed stronger, more mature than that.
This was really great, and another addition to the story that wasn’t in the novels. It was a great way to give us more information about the greater story while being cinematic. They didn’t really talk about the loops that much in the novels, other than they have them.
And in the novels the loops don’t stop until they defeat the beast, at which point Jane destroys the watch on her own, which stops the time loops, since as I said before, Jane is still alive at the end of the story.
The Ladies Visit
This was... interesting, and not how it happened in the novels. Things weren’t rainbows and unicorns after the summoning. It was more like hell on earth. We’ll get more into that later.
I really loved this addition to the story. From the way the magic worked, to how they follow Jane through to Fillory, it was well planned and executed, and brought a lot of depth to the story.
And ending with the shot of Castle Whitespire was really rad as well.
Josh living in the Neitherlands. This was odd, but not completely horrible. As I mentioned Josh is supposed to be part of the Scooby Gang and not ahead of them at the school. It is an interesting twist to his character, which, by the way, is completely different than in the novels.
Fillory and Further
I really loved the idea of this, which was also new for the show. It was a clever way to structure the episode, ties into the overarching narrative of the children of earth writing stories about their adventures in Fillory, and sets an interesting pace.
It was also really cool that our hero’s discover that they were two of the characters from the books, which for a nerd like Quentin was the best day of his life.
I really, really hated this part. Not only was Ember completely different from a design standpoint, I mean he was an actual ram in the novels, not a half man/half goat, and he was not an idiot like he is in the show, and didn’t give anyone his “seed”.
While I wouldn’t say I loved his character in the books, he had the gravity that one expected from a God, not basically a foppish lush. Also, I mean, why on earth is everything so centered around sex in these movies.
High King Eliot
Although he becomes High King in the books, the entire storyline with the marriage, being trapped there once he is married, all of that is new for the show, and in some ways, I dig the changes, and in other ways, they are kind of silly.
In the novels Eliot comes to love being High King, and actually does a good job, after a bit of trying. Adding the character of Fen was really smart here, and allows for some interesting moments coming up, especially around Eliot growing into his role as High King.
The Leo Blade
The Leo blade, existed in the novels as well, but wasn’t created by the Scooby Gang for Beast Killing. It didn’t show up until the last book, and I don’t believe it had a name. It did have the same purpose though, namely it could kill a master magician, or even a God.
In the novels it is finally found by one of the survivors of the ritual to call Our Lady Underground, to be used to kill Renard the Fox, for what he did to the other members of Free Trade Beowulf.
Speaking of Reynard
This was different than in the books, but the outcome was the same, Reynard killing everyone and then violating Julia. The major difference was that Julia never had her memories altered, and she wasn’t part of The Beast attack party.
In the novels he is never seen again after this moment, which as we will see very soon, was changed dramatically for the show.
Facing the Beast
This was completely different for the show, which I think played really well here. In the novels they only face the beast once, they don’t have a magic blade, and no one is really “the hero”. The only thing that happened in these final moments that was also in the novel, was the loss of Penny’s hands, although that was very different in the books.
The beast eats his hands, instead of just cutting them off. But Martin’s actions really in the show fit way better with this version of the character, which I believe I have mentioned, is far superior to the one in the novels.
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