Reviews: The Magicians - Episode 4 - The World In The Walls

Mike reviews the fourth episode of The Magicians. 

I'm so sad. Someone get me some
chocolate milk. 
This week the Syfy network announced that The Magicians has been picked up for a second season.  This is obviously exciting news, for a number of reasons.  The first book on its own packs a lot of important, meaningful plot points into its 400 or so pages (much less Julia's concurrent storyline from The Magician King), and even following a Game of Thrones-style "one season, one book" format something could easily still be left out.  A guaranteed second season also allows the show to deviate a bit more from its source material, while still being true to the tone and characters.  This week's episode is the first of what could end up being many more based on original material not included in Lev Grossman's books.

The episode is titled The World in the Walls, after the first book in the Fillory and Further series beloved by Quentin.  The Narnia-like series centers around the Chatwin children and their adventures in the magical (but dangerous) land of Fillory.  The title takes on a very different meaning in this week's episode, as Quentin wakes up in a mysterious psychiatric hospital with no recollection of why he's there or how he got there.  Naturally, Quentin begins to question his reality, sending him back to the books he loves—and now believes to be true—to find the answers.  But the reason for his being in the hospital could be something far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

The first three episodes proved how well this world translates from the page to the screen.  This week's episode is proof of how well that world can be expanded.  After an Alice-centric episode last week Jason Ralph is once again given a chance to shine as Quentin, and he effortlessly proves how perfect he is for the role.  All of the casting is fantastic, even in smaller roles (especially Rick Worthy in an authoritative performance as Brakebills's dean Fogg), but like the books the complex character Quentin holds it all together, and Ralph nails it.  This episode in particular is a great showcase for the troubled Quentin.

The Magicians has been consistently great week after week so far, with many of the more interesting story elements still to come.  Watching the story unfold onscreen has been has been a delightful experience so far, and this episode proves to be a great expansion on the world beloved by the readers of the books.  Any doubt about the translation of the book to the series is now officially put to rest.  And with the official announcement of the second season, it will be exciting to what kind of magic, familiar and unknown, The Magicians can create.

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 - Mike Stec