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Molly Templeton

Do You Hear the Magicians Sing? “Lesser Evils”

Previously on The Magicians: Everything is terrible. Currently on The Magicians: Everything is still—or possibly more—terrible, but at least we can burst into song!

“Lesser Evils” is an hour of heavy choices. What will you give up to save the world? To save a friend? To get revenge? What will you sing to fortify yourself before you go into battle?

Don’t we all consider that last question from time to time?

Spoilers for the show so far!

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Beast and Bone: Magic From the Darkness

You might’ve heard that this month was the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s television debut As a result, I’ve had Buffy, and her famous intro, on the mind even more than usual—particularly the part that says, “She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness.” It’s been the driving force of many a story since then: the lone young woman, the only one who can save us all.

But what if that young woman controls the forces of darkness?

Twin girls, raised in the woods by a mother whose husband cast her out for witchcraft, grow to be something other than just children. A girl in a land full of various magics discovers her own when she raises her brother from the dead. A child who encounters a hated and feared Beast finds that she has a connection with it. These young women all have something in common with Buffy: her power originally came from darkness, too. In The Bone Witch and The Beast Is an Animal, that connection—the strength of the dark, what its power can do, where it leads—is at the forefront.

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“Listen to High King Bambi.” The Magicians, “Word As Bond”

For a while now, there’s been some disagreement among Magicians watchers about Julia: Are her choices and actions justified? Is she doing what she needs to, or just being a jerk?

The argument’s a little different now that the complication from her demigod exorcism is clear. Julia isn’t who she used to be—and not just because she’s picked up Martin Chatwin’s annoying musical habits. She watches her semi-friends like they’re a strange experiment she doesn’t fully comprehend. Stella Maeve does an amazing job with Julia’s new take on the world. What does it look like when you don’t have a shade?

[“No offense, Q—I didn’t actually ask your opinion.”]

The Best Thing About Logan is Comic Books

The best thing about Logan is Patrick Stewart. No, it’s Dafne Keen. No, probably it’s Hugh Jackman, haggard and worn, playing this character with immense physicality and a strange grace.

You can make an argument for so many things being the highlight of Logan, from the atmosphere to that breathtaking scene with the train (aka James Mangold’s stellar audition to direct the next Fast and/or Furious film). But when the credits rolled, what struck me most was a different aspect of the film—a part unexpectedly both meta and moving.

The best thing about Logan is comic books.

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Heists and Complications: The Magicians, “Plan B”

“We’re emotionally advanced. We can hold resentment and sympathy for a person at the same time.”

“Emotionally advanced” might be a stretch, but the second part of this Eliot line is absolutely applicable to our ragtag band of magicians, who have learned, to some degree, to compromise—and to cooperate. Imagine what they might’ve done if they’d figure this out a bit sooner! But now, Fillory needs money almost as much as Julia does, so everyone’s on the same side.

Sort of.

Spoilers for the season so far below!

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The Greatest Journalists in Live-Action Superhero Fiction, Ranked

The current superhero landscape is filled out by a group of people who are deeply committed to keeping the public smart and safe—journalists. These are the vigilant men and women responsible for reporting on the world’s new status quo now that folks with powers, enhancements, and ridiculous amounts of money are taking to the streets to uphold justice and… counter the ever-growing threats coming from outer space. And the criminal underground. And the criminal overground.

But some of these tireless reporters come off more authentically than others. Some of them can clearly write, or are being mentored to that end. Some of them work at papers and magazines that operate in a realistic fashion and hold them accountable. So who is the most believable journalist chasing down superpowered leads? Let’s take a look at our current crop.

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“One life-altering crisis at a time.” The Magicians, “The Cock Barrens”

The jokey name for this week’s episode is something of a misdirect: There’s very little joking around (except about geology), and little fun to be had in Fillory, or in our world. We’re just about halfway through The Magicians’ second season, and there’s still some groundwork to lay in order to get wherever it is we’re going. After last week, it’s hard to blame the show for chilling out a bit, even if this episode isn’t its best.

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“Nobody ever gives up magic because everything’s peachy.” The Magicians, “Cheat Day”

The farther we get into season two of The Magicians, the more season one feels like the prologue. Finding out magic is real, that magical worlds are real, and that not everything magical is nice and wonderful—that’s the introductory text. The real meat of this story is what happens next: How do you rule the magical kingdom? What do you do when magic fails you and you want it back? And how do you deal with trauma that, while magical in origin, is trauma all the same?

In Quentin’s case, the answer is, essentially, “poorly.” But “Cheat Day” gives us someone who’s even worse at processing grief than Quentin is:

Emily Greenstreet.

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Now We’re Just Grownups: The Magicians, “The Flying Forest”

“Now magic is failing on earth, because of shit. Proving once again that comedy and tragedy can coexist in the same goddamn sentence.”

Dean Fogg with The Magicians’ thesis statement, everybody! This week’s episode is prime Magicians: goofy set pieces involving body doubles and stoner trees mixed with really heavy emotional work. After last week’s wrenching battle, our semi-heroes are in difficult places, each facing hard truths about themselves. “The Flying Forest” is very much about grief, about physical healing, emotional struggle, making dubious choices, maybe getting high to erase all the feelings for a while, and coming back down to face the thing that never goes away: you.

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This Week in the Arrowverse: Racing, Russia, and Revolution

Oliver Queen is always going back to Russia, it feels like—but this time he takes his whole team, with mixed results. On The Flash, Barry and Wally can’t stop arguing about who’s the fastest and the bestest, while the Legends are pretty busy trying to save America. Yep, the whole country. What would Washington do?

The answer is clearly “get a pep talk from Mick Rory.”

Spoilers for all three shows follow!

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The Regicide is the Fun Part: The Magicians, “Divine Elimination”

I can’t even tell you how many feelings I had to eat in order to fortify myself to think about “Divine Elimination.” These are dark times, my friends. How much control does Julia really have over the Beast? How many people have to get hurt while she and Team Fillory power-struggle about which enemy should die first? How much chocolate am I going to cry into over the course of this season?

But before the true darkness, a little regicidal levity.

[“You’re acting like this is your first regicide.”]

This Week in the Arrowverse: New Faces, Old Problems

Team dynamics are so complicated. And so much fun, at least where the bad guys are concerned. Team Flash bickered amongst themselves (welcome, Julian; aren’t you glad you joined?), Team Arrow gained another player, and Team Legends figured a few things out—but Team Evil, camped out in their Evil Lair (you know it’s evil because the light is all that gloomy blue-gray), fought their way through a truly delightful power struggle that’s probably not really over yet.

All that, and Arrow was still the best of the three shows this week. The flashbacks are just about caught up to Oliver Queen’s present-day life, and I just have this feeling there might be … repercussions.

Spoilers for all three shows below!

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Agricultural Tales and New Tats: The Magicians, “Hotel Spa Potions”

What if the start of a show’s second season … was really the end of the show’s first season? “Hotel Spa Potions” has a really specific feeling that I can only describe as “seems like it should be the third-to-last episode of a season, where everyone stocks up on what they need for eventual battle.” A moderate number of intriguing things happen, but mostly, we’re deep in the legwork: For Quentin and the gang at Brakebills, it’s figuring out pixie riddles and how to control Penny’s hands; Julia is coming to terms with the Beast’s endless singing and possibly good ideas; and Eliot, well, he’s got to remember a childhood he’d really rather forget.

Oh, Good King Fertilizer. What would Fillory do without you?

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This Week in the Arrowverse: Save Star Wars, Save the Timeline

While Arrow and The Flash returned from the winter break with perfectly serviceable episodes (with bonus super-fierce Felicity), Legends of Tomorrow came back with laser pistols blazing. This week’s meta-commentary about art, inspiration, and the power of stories to change lives—oh, and the Spear of Destiny, and what a poor villain Vandal Savage was—wasn’t just the show at its best. It was the show at better-than-we-ever-expected.

Spoilers for all three Arrowverse shows follow!

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Kings, Queens, Tricksters, Fools: The Magicians, “Knight of Crowns”

After an intriguing but flawed first season, The Magicians is back and not messing around. Season two doesn’t take even the tiniest breather, but picks right up where we left off: everything is terrible, and everything hurts. We’re far out of book territory here—and so far, that seems to be a good thing.

Spoilers abound in the enchanted forest!

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