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Even without their memories, the Magicians gang has plenty to offer



Image: Eric Milner / SYFY

How to keep a show fresh, season after season ? One
Method: Wipe the memories of all of your core characters. The Magicians starts its fourth season off having given our
favorite misfit magic practitioners a hard reboot.

Yes, thanks to their efforts to bring back magic last year, they've been rewarded with fake memories, new personas, and no magical ability. They are themselves in a range of very earth-bound situations,
all of which feel very broad-the spacey DJ, the mean magazine editor, the goofy
About driver, etc.-until it's revealed that they are all based on characters in a
pulpy comic book. This is The Magicians so they are going to be trapped in some kind of pop culture reference.

As a standalone episode, it's a lot of fun. As a reentry
into the world of the show
entries. Throughout the duration of
the show, a quick reminder of the specifics of their beef with Irene
McAllistair might have helped. Or, say, a bit more information on Marina's
deal is. There's a lot of world-building on this show at this point! Even the
most loyal of us could use the occasional refresher.

Even so, as things roll along, it's easy to get swept back
into this world. As befits a premiere, we do not spend too much time
with the current Big Bad, which has put on Eliot's suit for the time being.
His scenes with Quentin are enough to get a sense of how to get around, as well as the fact that
Quentin's pals are in danger. At this point, that's all we need to know about it-with plenty of time to explore its evil plans later, the show smartly recognizes that the really entertaining thing here is everyone's efforts to get out of their various predicaments, whether they understand what's happened or not.

Kady has been dropped into a cheesy police procedural, but
unfortunately for the people trying to keep their memory suppressed, that
involves bumping into some misbehaving hedge witches. And she's looking to track down whatever mystery she finds, which Kady promptly does. Another side effect of the
Lack of focus on Quentin and Eliot, who tend to occupy the very rare Kady / Margo team-up. These two have almost
nothing in common (other than their dislike of most other people), and their plotlines have only occasionally crossed paths,
the reboot provides the opportunity to try the two of them try to
figure something out together.

Alice, meanwhile, is stuck with a functional memory in
next door to literal Santa. He's in trouble for trying to find
Alice, she's needed desperately
to hear for a long time: that various her betrayals and missteps, she's
still a good person. Whether you agree with Santa on this one may vary (normal
sentence to write), but for now, he's given the motivation to … store a
beetle in her mouth for a painfully long time as part of an effort to break
them out of there.

And Julia, generally the most tragedy-prone of the gang, has
an unexpected protector: the Dean, whose overwhelming guilt about what happened
to her in the past has led him to drag her into Brakebills
eye on her. Sure, young Kimber D'Antoni wants to do magic, but she's just like that
gosh darn bad at it for some reason.

It's all a solid enough blend of tongue-in-cheek humor and
forward motion to prove that, four seasons in, the writers have a
firm grasp on their wandering plot and slowly evolving characters. These people have come a long way from a bunch of spoiled kids going to magic graduate school, but the show remains as creative as ever at moving its various pieces of music in new and exciting ways.

Plus, what's
terrible for Margo is good news for us, the vignettes: She may be trapped,
Powerless and memory-free at Fillory, but since Summer Bishil was the show's
undisputed rock star last year, it's exciting to see you get the chance to be Fillory's hero. All hail High King Margo! Even Ember, who seems a bit confused about
the concept.


Stray observations

  • Penny is not going to be happy when he learns about his
    Taylor Swift remix.
  • At last, a small helpless animal survived this show! Did
    Anyone else getting nervous about Ember handling all those kittens?
  • Are we officially moving forward with NewPenny exclusively?
    I have enough faith in this show to assume they are not going to drop the thread
    of what's happening to OldPenny completely, but it has been frustrating to see
  • Kudos to Olivia Taylor Dudley for not overplaying the "Alice
    Secretly has a live beetle in her mouth for this excruciatingly long scene. "
    You never forget that it's happening during Zelda the Librarian's long, slightly
    Menacing speech, but Dudley keeps it subtle enough that they believe the librarian would not notice something is up.
  • Really makes her look more like herself at this point.

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