The Magicians Be The Penny Review

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The Magicians offers up a unique and moving hour of television with “Be The Penny” – a delightful Penny centric episode in which Arjun Gupta shines. Not only do we get to see the narrative play out from Penny’s viewpoint, we learn more about some un-seen residents of Brakebills and the Quest gets even grander with the knowledge that each of the different keys holds a different power.

We all I think have a moment in our lives when we ask ourselves, how would our friends and family react if we were to die? Well, unfortunately for Penny – he gets to live this reality and it isn’t a pretty one. Sure, not everyone knew Penny as well as Kady did, but they have been through some shit together so you would think that overall the crew might be a tad bit more emotional over his death. Quentin gives a quick eulogy and Kady doesn’t even shed a tear, which should probably be a warning sign for her erratic behavior that follows. So not only is Penny stuck on a plane where he can’t interact with anyone, they aren’t even mourning him properly.

THE MAGICIANS — “Be the Penny” Episode 304 — Pictured: Arjun Gupta as Penny Adiyodi — (Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

A world with Magic and Kady’s drug problem is a bit more under control, but once that is stripped away she’s back to old habits and almost over-doses on heroin after losing Penny. Luckily for her, Julia is still receiving messages via cloudy eyed messenger hosts, prompting Julia to get to Kady just in time.  Even with Penny gone, the quest must continue, so Julia and Quentin bring Dean Fogg into the loop to ask about a particular student, Lance Morrison. In the Fillory books, Rupert Chatwin takes a golden key from a magical cave and brings it back to his war friend, Lance Morrison. Lance happened to be a student at Brakebills and related to the McAllister family, who now are on the board for the school itself.

Dean Fogg, Julia and Quentin take a trip to Irene McAllister’s family home, where some magical spells are still working (on a reserve her grandfather set up) but beginning to die out. She is excited at the hope that magic might still somewhat exist and wants for this trio to bring her good news. Instead, they trick her into thinking Quentin’s slight of hand magic is still magic, while Julia uses a spell to locate the key. The key is supposed to show you the truth of things, and immediately after holding it two Fairies appear in the background of the McAllister house, interesting. Are they the ones keeping the spells going after magic has gone? Imprisoned or did Grandpa McAllister make a deal with the Fairy Queen?

THE MAGICIANS — “Be the Penny” Episode 304 — Pictured: (l-r) Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater, Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker — (Photo by: Eric Milner/Syfy)

Perhaps my favorite part of this episode is that poor Penny  gets saddled with another traveler who is stuck in this strange situation, Hyman Cooper, not quite ghost of Brakebills who is creepily invested in all of their lives as if it we’re a daytime television show. He is able to jump around and view what is happening to each of his friends, unsuccessfully trying to get their attention each time. Eliot is running away from cannibals trying to find a doorway that will take him just about anywhere, Margot is planning to murder the Fairy Queen, Julia and Quentin on the quest for the key, while Kady and Alice are debating if they should burn Penny’s body or let the Corpse Eater from the library take it. Turns out, Penny only has 24 hours to figure out a way to communicate with his friends that he isn’t really dead, otherwise the Library will use a corpse eater to force his soul to report for duty the next billion years. But Hymen isn’t really a great guide. Penny is able to reanimate the Margolem, which is both terrifying and hilarious and Quentin quickly takes down with a baseball bat. Arjun shines in these scenes and he ties the overall story together by jumping around trying to get in contact with someone before his body is either destroyed or handed over. In the end, he is able to make the decision to burn it himself, by being the candle and starting the flame on his own, but either way he’s still stuck.

THE MAGICIANS — “Be The Penny” Episode 304 — Pictured: (l-r) Arjun Gupta as Penny Adiyodi, Dustin Ingram as Hyman Cooper — (Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

And talk about a mic drop, the episode ends with what feels like the last few minutes being cut off completely, but no it wasn’t just your tv or recording. There is a very abrupt ending to “Be The Penny” and it is perfectly done. Eliot uses the Illusion Key to confuse the cannibals – it makes an illusion of his own disapproving father (who he quickly sends to be taken by the cannibals) and the key brings them all to Brakebills. After giving a grand speech about the whole incident in the most Eliot of ways, Quentin tells him about finding the 2nd key. Calling it the Truth Key, Eliot wants to hold it and he doesn’t seem to be affected by it. Looking around the room he casually makes the comment, “Oh…hey Penny” and we fade to black with Penny jumping up in excitement. Now that is how it is done.

The Magicians airs Wednesday night on SYFY 

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Michelle Harvey