The Magicians: The Side Effect   Show Only 
March 6, 2019 7:22 PM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Kady goes to the flea market. What's Zelda been up to? This one's about Fen, you guys.

Den of Geek - The Magicians reminds us that “the most important characters aren’t who you expect,” in this week’s cleverly executed episode.

TV Fanatic recap

-7 minutes in, Zelda's boss tells her she should have taken some time off to grieve for Harriet, ends with the show title card
-29 minutes in, after Fogg tells Zelda "This is your mess, don't drag me into it", ends when the mirror shatters
posted by oh yeah! (9 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If it wasn't clear before, this show is officially better than the books. I'm interested to see how this plays out in the rest of the season (and into next season? Season 5 was confirmed back before this season started!) --

Underworld librarian Penny said: "Zelda doesn't know it yet, but what she just set in motion is going to change the Library forever. Same with Fen and Fillory, Kady and all of magic."

-- those are big stories to tell, potentially. I'm excited.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:41 AM on March 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

OK, recapping how/when the show was better than the books:
- Marlee Matlin was hired for a character who wasn't originally written as deaf, but she made the character her own, and reshaped the stories (recap/spoiler for Season 3 Episode 8 "Six Short Stories About Magic" [FanFare link] )

- S03 E05 "A Life in a Day" [FF] -- yeah, nothing more needs to be said here.

- And by being more inclusive, both through general inclusion of a more diverse (though mostly young) cast, and also specifically calling out shitty behaviors (politically and otherwise).

Perhaps this is one of those instances where being "freed" from the books helped the stories expand, and really utilize the potential of the audio-visual medium.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on March 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have to say, seeing MaturePenny is a treat. I'm also loving all the metaNarrative, like Kady saying she couldn't just abandon her cloaking spell-life once she regained her memories.

I've always thought Fen would be a bigger character than viewers realized and am excited to see more Zelda LibrarianPants. I find her to be such an enigma and want to know more of her backstory whenever possible. That MirrorVerse scene gave me Poison Room feelings, too.

Not sure if book readers can easily predict what's coming with the poisoned Deweys, but I often struggle to keep up with the tangled skein of show-plot points. Even on two viewings, there's usually something I miss that pops up again later on.

Thank you for the tinnitus warnings, Oh Yeah! Selectively mute-pause-activatesubtitles-unpause works beautifully. :)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2019

I have to admit I'm not that interested in Kady compared to the other characters. I like the actress and yet the character's sheer unlikable personality is harsh. That moment where she was following up on the kidnapped girl was a great touch because it echoed Alice's student and the Hedgewitches with their focus on practical magic that actually helps instead of isolating like the Library and Brakebill's magic, epitomised in the awfulness of Alice as Niffin. Watching her at a remove with Penny's tender observations framing her was a lovely piece of work.

The whole episode was a mirror inversion of a sort. You started thinking one set of assumptions, and then they ended up turning on their head at the end of the episode - Fen the dreamer is Fen the adventurer, Kady the outcast is Kady the leader, the Librarian who follows and enforces the rules to track people, is secretly rebelling and almost lost searching herself for her daughter (the mirror daughters were horrific), the dumb junior turns out to be the presumably wiser senior boss.

There used to be a show Medium with Patricia Arquette that was on the surface a standard crime of the week, but as it went on became a weirdly fun narrative risk-taker with TV formulas. Each week, they would take visual or plot narratives in new strange ways through the trope of 'crime solving as a medium' and experiment. Magicians reminds me of that with the same willingness to experiment with narratives and visuals. I hope they go further with visuals - magic can add so much more - the mirror dimension could be such a weirdly interesting place.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:56 PM on March 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Ladies Upstairs are clearly the Fates, yeah?
posted by absalom at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2019

aaah who died??

I love that this show does these almost meta narrative episodes. It's like the later seasons of Supernatural, but with the energy of its sophomore run.

And what a great way to showcase these characters and their stories that really affect the larger world. Every show has these characters, where they are very pivotal to the story as a whole through their actions. But rarely will a show celebrate these characters and dig further into their motivations.
posted by numaner at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My first guess is Zelda, and my second guess is Todd because he's on a Magicians knock off on Netflix, I think? Zelda seems the person most likely a Secret Taken to the Grave.
posted by absalom at 5:01 PM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the tinnitus warnings, Oh Yeah! Selectively mute-pause-activatesubtitles-unpause works beautifully. :)

FYI, I think you might want to avoid Netflix's Magicians knock-off, The Order, they use that same high-pitch effect throughout the season. (I didn't feel drawn in enough to want to do individual episode threads, sorry.)

I have mixed feelings on this episode -- dead-Librarian-Penny-40 just seems so different in personality from his old justifiably-grumpy self, that I found the framing device kind of off-putting. I did enjoy seeing what everyone else was up to, I can't wait to find out who Penny greeted at the elevator to the Underworld, and what could be accomplished with Zelda as an ally. But every now and then I go back and re-watch the "Under Pressure" spell-song sequence, and I miss that Penny.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:28 AM on March 10, 2019

One thing I've liked about The Magicians so far is that it isn't just The Quentin Show With Supporting Characters (as was the case with the books). It's much more of an ensemble piece. Amusingly, one of the characters who I thought was less well drawn and thus less interesting was... Kady. Clearly I am not the only person who thought this and I'm glad someone gave her something to do.

I'm also delighted to see more Fen, because she's wonderfully insane (even by Fillory standards) and I have absolutely no idea where her plot thread is going to take her.

I'm bemused by Penny's personality change (although his "constantly pissed off" persona was wearing thin), but I guess dying (or whatever) has a mellowing effect on people. The framing device was a little heavy handed, but they didn't let it overwhelm things.

I also love Zelda. I smile every time she shows up on screen, so anything that involves her doing good, doing bad, or just doing administrative work is fine by me.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:12 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

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