Well that was unexpected! This week’s episode of The Magicians took an unexpected turn when Quentin woke up in a mental institution and it didn’t turn out to be just a short dream sequence to kick off the episode. Last week I was hoping that The Magicians would slow down a little and let us explore this world and these characters a bit more, but this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. The episode still worked well, so let’s talk about it.
We already knew that Quentin had a bit of a history when it came to mental illness, though we have yet to get the details. Instead, this weeks episode found Q in a more extreme version of the hospital he’d been too before, now with the delusion of Brakebills and the Beast fueling his delusions. Fantasy shows taking the “it was all just a dream” approach isn’t new by any stretch, but combined with this particular show’s intensely eerie vibe and all of the world building questions that have yet to be answered, “The World in the Walls” made for an interesting viewing experience. The Hedge Witches had a plan to get into Brakebills, but in order to do it they needed a guinea pig, and as the main character of the show, Quentin got the short straw. He’s now trapped in a “bad collage” of a mental hospital while everyone else is telling him that this has been his life all along. The tip off comes when a visiting Julia mistakenly drops a hint, setting Quentin off on a mission to find his way off.
The most unexpected scene of the episode (probably of the season) award has to go into Quentin leading the music therapy group in a pretty terrible rendition of “Shake It Off” (remember, last week Penny was all too pissed at how loudly Q was singing T-Swift in his head) in order to get his roommates attention. It works, and all pretense of Q actually having imagined all things magical is dropped as Penny goes off in search of Quentin’s body in order to wake him up. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in pretty deep. As for the Hedge Witches, the entire point of this experience was to give Marina the opportunity to steal back her memories from her time at school. She’d been kicked out only a few months before graduation and had every piece of magical knowledge stripped from her mind, and of course she wants them back. Brakebills has some seriously impressive defenses, but they all need to be stripped down if the dean has any hope of waking up Quentin. Of course, the deans plan works, but Marina also gets her memories back, ensuring that she’ll be an even more worth adversary for the school in coming episodes.
As usual, things aren’t going quite so well for Julia. This whole thing started because Julia wanted a little revenge for everything Quentin said to her last week, but she didn’t expect the consequences to be quite this severe. So not only did she betray one of her oldest friends, but in order to try and save him she also betrayed her new mentor, who doesn’t really seem to be the forgiving type. Now Julia has been banished both from Brakebills and the Hedge Witches, and all by episode four. Who knows what kind of trouble she’ll get into from here, but I have to imagine it will be interesting. The upside to a show where none of the characters are all that likeable is that you almost look forward to seeing what new ways they’ll find to ruin their lives.