The Magicians (Syfy, Wednesdays, 9/8C) continues to delight with an episode that our protagonists back on their heels in light of new revelations. Meanwhile, The Beast sings – really, really well (and quite annoyingly).
Hotel Spa Potions opens with a shot of what looks like sugar-frosted Cheerios drifting through space, suggesting that no matter what we might be expecting, that’s not what we’re going to get.
Our not-so-heroic foursome – Quentin (Jason Ralph), Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Penny Arjun Gupta) and Margo (Summer Bishil) – have learned of a powerful battle magic spell called the Rhinemann Ultra, created by a Professor Bigby, and ask Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) is he can help them with it.
Meanwhile, The Beast (Charles Mesure) finds a particularly irksome way – singing! – to bother Julia (Stella Maeve) as she tries to create a summoning to lure Reynard The Fox into a trap without giving herself away. Intriguingly, during their exchange, The Beast makes a teensy mistake – which Julia is quick to pounce on.
In Fillory, High King Eliot (Hale Appleman) is discovering something wrong in the castle. Bodies – wearing crowns! Also, starving Fillorians – and magic is the problem. Cue the horrid secret from Eliot’s past…
Written by John McNamara and directed by Chris Fisher Hotel Spa Potions features so many juicy bits (adding up to a supremely fascinating and satisfying whole) that it’s really hard to know where to begin – as in: Eliot’s successor as party king at Brakebill’s; Professor Sunderland (Anne ‘Cutthroat Bitch’ Dudek) learning that Fillory is real – and that four students will be learning battle magic, or the reappearance of Marina (Kacey Rohl). Even the library sequences are as thrilling as they are crucial!
What makes this episode as good as the season premiere is that it continues to layer in unexpected delights as it develops its main characters. Despite their stunningly obvious differences in intelligence, temperament and social skills, The Magicians’ main characters find unusual ways to function as a team – occasionally despite their best/worst efforts.
Leavening the process are other regular and recurring characters plus a series of new and intriguing ones – like Professor Sunderland and the aforementioned Professor Bigby (who is definitely not what she seems).
Then there are the plot points that lead to character growth – like The Beast’s curse, or the reason for Marina’s return – which play out over differing lengths of time. Puzzles, it seems, build character.
Wit and humor also play their part – Eliot’s big secret, for instance, and the development of relationships in unexpected directions – Quentin and Alice, Eliot and Fen (Brittany Curran), Penny and…?
As a matter of course, The Magicians also deals with ethics and morals in every character arc (Julia and The Beast’s recruiting; bringing back battle magic; arranged marriage, and so much more) – which adds spice to what could easily be just a series about some magic-wielding young adults, their friends and teachers.
Several episodes of season two were made available for review, so I can promise that – unlike season one (with its too much, too soon episode in a mental hospital) – every episode I’ve seen (six, so far) is of comparable quality. So brace yourselves, the fun is just getting started.
Final Grade: A+