Reviews: The Magicians - Episode 5 - Mendings, Major and Minor

Mike reviews episode 5 of The Magicians. 

Would YOU look at the size of that thing?!
Turning a book into a TV series has a unique set of challenges.  Instead of deciding what to leave out of a 400-page book, the dilemma becomes what to add in to the fill the spaces created by stretching a book out to fit even a 13-episode season.  Or perhaps, what and how much to change to keep the book's spirit alive and please the true fans while still giving them something interesting to look forward to.  This week's episode of The Magicians continued what was started last week with regards to the additional stories not in the book, but its final scene hints at what could be a pretty huge variation from the first book's timeline.

The place slows down a bit this week, as Quentin comes to terms with shocking news about his father and how it affects their strained relationship.  Through this turmoil Quentin finds a sense of urgency—and an even deeper connection to magic—that he never realized he had.  Meanwhile, Penny learns a new way to control his own newly discovered powers, finding himself in a mysterious place that feels strangely familiar, which leads to a discovery that could no less than change the course of the series.

For all of the new information and discoveries in this episode, fans of the book should be delighted to finally get to see something from the books they may not have expected: the game of Venters.  While not as visually impressive as, say, Quidditch, the chess-inspired game seemed difficult to not only pull off in a visual medium, but make interesting and engaging to watch.  The Magicians pulls this off with the usual aplomb and attention to detail with a fantastically well-done scene of Venters combat.  The only complaint is that the scene was too short.  Hopefully the viewers get to experience more Venters in the episodes to come.

While not strictly speaking the most exciting episode of the season thus far, The Magicians delivered its most deeply personal episode so far.  Each new episode adds more interesting depth to this fascinating universe, and watching the universe get bigger while also growing more intimate has been a treat.  As the show begins to veer away from the book's narrative and find its own interesting and unique voice it only appears to be getting better.  Hopefully this promising series keeps the momentum going and continues to deliver more great episodes.

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-Mike Stec