The Magicians (S04E06) “A Timeline and Place”

We take a couple of trips in season four, episode six. One to Modesto, California, and one to two different timelines. Alice finds a purpose, Marina finds an ex-love, Q and Juls find a mummy, and Penny finds another version of himself.

a visit between 23 and 36

Penny!23 and Marina!23 are the unlikely duo of the episode to go on an inter-dimensional adventure. They’ve been captured by a young horomancer, Stoppard. He wants them to go back to their timeline because they’re creating frequency dissonances and interfering with spells. In particular, the spells that are keeping his sick mom alive. Stoppard’s mother is Sonya, the genius pioneer of horomancy, whose brain has inevitably been fried by her research.

Marina and Penny meet a past version of her in the timeline they accidentally end up in. It’s the dystopian timeline 36, where magic is banned. Sonya explains that she knows what will happen but her research is more important than anything. Even her son having a sane mother. If Penny initially considered listening to Stoppard and going back to 23, Marina was never of that opinion since 23 is even more dystopian and messed up than 36. Penny will soon be convinced to change his mind after a chat with… well, himself.

The inception-like conversation is a highlight of the episode. Arjun Gupta’s double performance as the all-knowing OG Penny and the much confused new Penny is hilarious.

“Didn’t expect that twist with Julia.”

“I could say the same about Kady.”

Underworld!Penny doesn’t give his counterpart a real reason to replace him in timeline 40. He just talks about how he wouldn’t want to lose his friends again. Plus, he’s seen the future and he cryptically adds that when the time comes, he should “do it.” Not very helpful for the time being. These lines broke my heart:

Kady wants you. They all want you.”

“It’s not my timeline anymore. It’s yours.Tell Kady I love her. And that I’m sorry.” (I can’t wait to see how that conversation goes, but I doubt the writers will show that on screen.)

Does somebody actually care?

It’s nice to see any Penny care about the consequences of his actions. He even cares about people he doesn’t know. He apologizes to Stoppard for the pain his presence will cause Sonya, but he needs to go back because there are bigger things at play. Marina, on the other hand, is not so keen on immediately going back to 40. She leaves to find her ex-girlfriend – since she hasn’t been dumped in this timeline – and I’m excited to see who it is. We might even know her.

solving a mystery the magicians - The Magicians (S04E06) “A Timeline and Place”

In the meantime, Julia and Q decipher hieroglyphs to plot against the Monster. The Monster is falling back on Eliot’s self-destructive habits of substance and alcohol abuse, not caring in the slightest what happens to Eliot’s body. Quentin, needing to protect whatever’s left of his friend, threatens him that he’s not going to cooperate anymore if he hurts Eliot. It’s interesting how the monster actually listens to Q, rather than just killing him in bored anger like he would’ve done to anybody else. His care for Quentin is something they can exploit.

magic is good

Alice finds that the place she’s supposed to be in is Modesto. She meets Sheila Cosner (Camryn Manheim) who has been using magic to do good deeds without even realizing it. Alice is filled with fear. But for the first time in a long time, she also feels hope. She is persuaded to teach Sheila some magic.

“I can’t remember the last time Magic wasn’t the problem.”

Together, they repair the water pipes of Modesto, bringing joy to so many people. They also break the magic pipeline and free a lot of magic from the Library’s control. As Alice watches kids play in the clean water, she starts believing that magic can be good. She’s almost happy, definitely at peace. The looming music over this sequence is in stark contrast with the playful and joyful shrieks of the kids, It foreshadows imminent tragedy. Thanks to the leak, two hedge witches burn down the local Library branch. Sheila is wrongfully accused and taken into the Library’s custody.

leave the high king alone!

In Fillory, Margo needs to get her talking lizard to talk. Except it can’t because the animals have been silenced by a new species of flower. The only antidote is in the possession of Lady Pyke of Codswall. She is allied with West Loria, Fillory’s enemy. Everybody expects High King Margo to act like High King Eliot in the negotiation, but she’s only angered by that. She doesn’t listen to what Fen, Josh and her advisors tell her because she’s not Eliot and she doesn’t do diplomacy.

Josh’s “You’re out-Elioting Eliot” is the last straw that breaks Margo’s superficial calm.

“How dare you say I out-Elioted Eliot? Why would I ever want to do anything without him? I don’t need a new partner in crime.” 

She says a lot of hurtful things to Josh that definitely screams breakup (or that they never should’ve tried to make their hookup matter in the first place). I’m glad the writers did a back turn on the romantic direction with these two. However, Margo was way harsher than she should’ve been. She was out of line in calling Josh pathetic in his attempt to matter to anyone. This might be her way of grieving Eliot-it’s the first time she’s snapped since he’d been gone-, but it doesn’t excuse her words.

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