'The Magicians' Season 5 Episode 6 Review: Musical heist episode is a wonderful gift for fans
The musical heist episode sees the magicians steal the World Seed from the Couple, in a celebration of everything that makes the show wonderful and weird
Spoilers for 'The Magicians' Season 5 Episode 12 'The Balls'
It's hard not to be sad about the upcoming end of 'The Magicians,' now only a week away. There's a shadow over every episode as the end draws near. The show, however, picks things up in a major way, not just gifting its fans one of the most fun musical episodes of the series, but by combining it with another seasonal staple. You thought the moon rock theft was the heist episode? You were mistaken. This is the heist episode, and it's a pure delight.
The Couple — revealed in this episode as the unfortunately-named Balls — have the World Seed, but the magicians need it to be able to destroy Fillory and save the multiverse, which means it's time for a heist. Joining the team is Marina (Kacey Rohl) and Zelda (Mageina Tovah), whose conductor spell to keep the team coordinated is an impressively elegant excuse to get the characters to sing. In the meanwhile, Penny Adiyodi (Arjun Gupta) meets his mother, Neela Adiyodi (Meera Simhan), for the first time in years, and finds out why she had to leave him in the first place.
The show's planning stage is a little quick, and hard to follow, even with the gorgeous magic dollhouse that Marina uses to explain the heist, but Sir Effingham (Sean Maguire) kicks the show into high gear with its first musical number, which really highlights what makes musicals on 'The Magicians' so unique. In most musicals, the characters don't know they're singing - the song is representational of their feelings, not literal. However, the show's characters are forced into the song, and the sight of them rolling their eyes in spite of the enthusiasm and grace with which their bodies dance and their throats sing is hilarious - though not nearly as hilarious as those who are taking to the music with delighted surprise. Zelda has a relatively minor role to play here, but it's hard to imagine there was anyone having more fun on set that day.
Mageina Tovah's not the only one having fun, as it's clear that the writers are at their comedy best here. The episode is crammed with hilariously quotable one-liners. Marina dethrones Margo Hanson (Summer Bishil) for an episode in terms of having the majority of the best quick, snappy quips at hand.
The heist, of course, quickly goes wrong, but in another clever twist, the golem bellhop bodyguards are sensitive to emotion, meaning the release of literal bottled-up feelings becomes, as Eliot Waugh (Hale Appleman) so dryly puts it, "weaponized baggage." The show isn't just all fun, however. Alice Quinn (Olivia Dudley) has to deal with some intense fear over confronting the Couple again, mingled with her long-held grief. Eliot and she share a moment as he attempts to comfort her, singing Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush's 'Don't Give Up.' It's a powerful moment, haunting and heartfelt.
With all the heist musical chaos, it's important not to forget the B-plot: Penny's reunion with his mother. Arjun Gupta is pulling the emotional weight of both Pennys, here. It's important to remember that the multiple timelines only started from a little before the students join Brakebills, meaning that Penny's childhood remains consistent across all 40 timelines. In the last few episodes, Penny-23 has really come into his own the past few episodes, becoming more than just the replacement. You feel for Penny, and for his mother, and it's a good reminder of just how much magic gone wrong can mess up a family.
The episode, as a whole, is a showcase of the best that 'The Magicians' can be. Its energy, its feeling, its quick and effective storytelling and its celebration of what makes the show so uniquely weird and fantastic is a gift to the fans. As Santa Clause (Tom Wright) says at the end of the episode: "Ho, ho, ho, mother****ers!"
The next episode of 'The Magicians' airs April 1 on Syfy.