The Magicians has been on a hot streak since it returned for its fourth season; however, tonight’s episode completely bowled me over. Not only did it revisit last season’s “A Life in the Day,” which was an instant classic when it aired, but it featured outstanding performances from Jason Ralph, Hale Appleman, and Summer Bishil. I was so moved by the trio’s work that I felt compelled to recap this episode!
Written by Mike Moore, “Escape from the Happy Place” essentially deals with the dangling thread of Eliot’s death/not-death from last week’s outing. We pick up with the real Eliot, who is hanging out in his memories/the Physical Kids Cottage completely unaware that his body has been possessed by an ancient monster. Well, that is until he meets Charlton, the Monster’s previous host who updates him on the current situation. Apparently, whenever the Monster takes over a new body, it also brings with it the minds/spirits/whatevers of its previous hosts. So right now, Eliot’s mind is both home to Charlton (who doesn’t understand what “f—k” means because he’s been tucked away for so long) and all of the other godly mistakes that the Monster inhabited while he was stuck in Castle Blackspire. Furthermore, those other monsters are pretty murderous and will kill Eliot (and Charlton) if they step outside of the Physical Kid Cottage, a.k.a. Eliot’s happy place.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. Charlton informs Eliot that there’s a secret door that will allow him to take control of the body (at least temporarily). The problem is, though, that it’s tucked away in one of Eliot’s dark, traumatic, and repressed memories. And so begins the tour of Eliot’s most effed up remembrances, which was both funny and heartbreaking in equal measure — a.k.a. classic Magicians.
The funny: we had the times when Eliot failed to get it up in bed and “creating a generation of lushes” at Brakebills. On the sad side of things, we saw the time when Eliot used magic for the first time to kill his school bully; when he joined other kids in bullying another student for being “girly” because he hated himself; and his penchant for sleeping with his friend’s significant others. All along the way, Hale Appleman perfectly conveyed how uncomfortable Eliot felt watching some of his biggest mistakes.
I found Eliot’s trip down memory lane pretty effective because it does tie into the show’s general concern about entering adulthood, and reflecting back on one’s life, especially the mistakes, is a huge part of growing up. In fact, it’s probably even stronger for millennials because most of our lives have been documented on social media. Facebook and apps like Time Hop are always there to remind us of things we did when we were younger that we would rather forget or do-over.
Next: An important Quentin and Eliot moment