The Magicians S01 E07: The Mayakovsky Circumstance


On last week’s episode of “The Magicians,” the students were introduced to a new set of trials and Julia saw firsthand how dangerous it is to cross Marina when she works with Kady’s mom. Penny gets his heart broken and we’re left with a flock of geese. This week, an uncompromising professor pushes boundaries.


When you imagine yourself being a bird, what do you see? Do you see yourself soaring high in the sky like the majestic eagle? After flapping all the way to Antarctica better known as Brakebills South, the students talk about the real life of a bird which includes non-majestic activities like eating bugs and pooping. They get to meet the professor from Hell. After insulting them, Professor Mayakovsky makes all the students mute before giving them a series of nonsense tests.


This show is supposed to be about magic, but I’m not feeling anything magical about this episode. What is the purpose of a test that involves using your mind to drive nails into a plank of wood? The Professor has such a bad accent and, is so obnoxious that I was happy to see what Quentin spelled with his nails; Dick. Somehow all that work with the nails makes Alice and Quentin all gooey-eyed for each other.


And what was with the flies jumping through hoops? I admit I haven’t read the books, but I’m wondering if the magic was somehow misplaced when the book became a television series. There is lots of nudity in this show and we know the purpose is to to draw in the tweens and young adults, but if you’re going to send Alice and Quentin into a blizzard naked, we have to know why they chose the form of a fox to survive, especially since there are no foxes in Antarctica. NONE!


Penny played by Arjun Gupta, is one of the better actors on this series. Gupta convincingly plays Penny as a moody wise cracking disillusioned young man. Again, I’m disappointed with the Professor Mayakovsky character after he tells Penny that he is a powerful magician, he cuts out his protective tattoo. What’s wrong with this? We’re never told how Penny is protected without the tattoo and, all we see is Penny jumping back and forth to different places. More time should have been spent on this scene especially if Mayakovsky knows a secret that the teachers at Brakebills North didn’t know.


What the writers got right was Penny and Kady’s love for each other. They are working through real pain and we find ourselves invested in them. Kady (Jade Taylor) has a secret that is eating her alive. She has been spying on Brakebills and she is helping Marina, but not willingly. Tonight Kady opens up to Penny and they make up. They make plans to fly away together.

I always enjoy when Margo and Eliot are on the screen. They are the Boris and Natasha of Brakebills and their cunning ways adds meat to the script. They are off to Ibiza for Spring Break, but they need a gift for the Elders. Pestered by an underclass student named Todd, they decide on an impressive gift; magic gin, but they don’t know how to read Arabic. Enter a handsome dude who only has eyes for Eliot. Margo and Todd are left on their own to mix up a batch of brew. Unfortunately for our team, they misunderstood an important part of the spell.


Julia is another character that was interesting tonight. While at the police station, Julie is told that Hannah’s death was due to a brain hemorrhage, but Julie knows the truth and she is scared. We get to meet Julie’s sister and we learn a bit more about Julia’s home life. Magic comes from pain and Julie doesn’t have it easy with a coldhearted mom who would rather lock her in a psych ward than be embarrassed by her children. Mom thinks Julie is on drugs thanks to James blabbing and now we understand Julie’s desperation to be a magician. She has a wicked mother.


Not happy with tonight’s episode. Yes, Alice and Quentin finally got it on, but I felt that it was rushed. Eliot, we learn, is bisexual and that is fine, but Margo and Todd were the real stars when the spell for gin turns out to be a genie who reads minds. Margo, like Marina is a bit of a bitch, but I bet Margo could run circles around the hedge witch. Summer Bishil plays her Margo as a snobby sorority queen, but it’s her sharp tongue that makes her enjoyable, especially when she and Eliot torment the underclass students.


Mayakovsky tells Kady that her mother is dead and that she’s been kicked out of Brakebills. If she tells Penny to leave with her, he would because he loves her. In a rare moment where this episode actually delves deep into the emotional realm that is sorely missing in most of the episodes, Kady does what’s right for Penny. She runs away.


The series is billed as an adult Harry Potter, but Harry had us on the edge of our seats throughout the film. We were promised magic, but the magic in this episode was boring. I was also expecting a significant visit from the Beast, but he arrived at the very end as a moth.

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