I’m Watchin’ Thangs

Hi there!

Have some mini reviews:

The Expanse:

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This is an extremely mini review, as I’ve not actually sat down to watch an entire episode, even as they keep accumulating on my DVR. As I said before, I don’t usually watch Space Operas, not because I consider them uninteresting, but because I usually don’t have time, and just end up missing the entire series. The same thing happened here, with The Expanse. I also haven’t read any of the books in the series by James Corey, so I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to those. I have to confess I’ve only watched the trailers and a few snippets. I certainly like what I see and the show is blowing it up on the diversity front. The show has not neglected to round out the cast with Latinxs, Black people, and different Asians. So if that’s  important for you, then check it out.

The character in the photo above is the six foot tall, New Zealander, Frankie Adams who plays the bad ass Bobbie Draper, and already she’s my favorite character, even though I’ve seen nothing more than snippets of her scenes. If you liked Vasquez from the movie Aliens, you will love Bobbie, who is continuing that grand tradition of having bad ass, WoC warriors in space.

The show appears to have improved quite a bit since that first season. At some point I going to need to sit down and binge the Hell out of this show, and give a more in depth review.

The Magicians:

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This is the first episode of the second season and I remain mostly unimpressed. It’s not that it’s a bad show, because there’s plenty in it for the discerning viewer, it’s just that it has several competing tones, which can be kind of jarring if that’s not something you’re used to. On the one hand the show wants to have a lighthearted, jokey, bantering feel, most especially in the scenes where Elliot, Margot, Penny, Quentin and Alice are in Fillory, a fairytale world mentioned prominently in season one, and the real world travails of Quentin’s friend Julia, who got kicked out of Brakebills last season, and had been fumbling to get back into the magical community, ever since.

Julia’s storyline is dark, depressing ,and unnerving, as she seems to spend the majority of her time being sexually, and emotionally abused, and belittled by various characters. Last season, she was emotionally manipulated by a Hedge witch named Marina, and raped by a creature she thought was a god, after she joined a cult. This season, the person trying to both sexually, and emotionally abuse her, is named The Beast. With a name like that you would have to be a complete jackass to trust him, nevertheless, I wish we got to see a lot less of him. (As with all TV villains, he thinks he’s pretty charming, and talks too damned much.)

There’s also a third thread where we keep flipping back and forth, from Fillory to Brakebills, as Quentin, Margot, and Alice, investigate what’s happening in Fillory with Dean Fogg, and that’s confusing and  doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the episode.

You cannot have this rather casual and jokey attitude sitting side by side with the constant degradation of this other character. It just makes the whole show feel bad.  Julia seems like she’s in another show entirely. I’m not sure where they’re going with her storyline, but I wish it wasn’t. Its distracting from what is otherwise a mildly entertaining show about magic.

In the first season, we spent our time establishing various characters, and setting up for season two. This second season is going to be more like the second book in the series, called The Magician’s Land, where the four major characters become the Kings and Queens of Fillory,  except for Penny who doesn’t get a crown. I was mildly peeved by this. Even though Penny is still an asshole, I feel he deserves a crown too, and why was the lone character of color left out of it.

The show gets LGBT representation right in Elliot, but gets a  black hashmark for killing off all the other gay characters (including the lone Black woman, this show has ever had, in season one). It also gets a demerit for making the one  PoC a complete arsehole (Penny), and the other PoC is the Dean of the school. Putting the lone Black person in charge of giving orders, is a trope a show adds when it wants to have diversity, but has no clue how to write characters of color.

There were some things I enjoyed, though. I liked some of the humor. The idea that they could only win their crowns by passing some elaborate tests, only for the tests to turn about to be 90’s pop culture trivia questions, was pretty funny. And of course, I love Elliot, who is always saying the absolutely correct things, at the correct times. He’s the best written character on the show. Snarky and intelligent, but vulnerable, when he needs to be.  Quentin has improved since last season, becoming more sure of himself, but I credit the actor for that, not the writers.

Like I said, its not a bad show, and there’s something in it worth watching for the casual viewer, but the tone of the show is wildly uneven, as it swings between humor, and sexual violence, and I don’t like that.


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Well, I watched two episodes of this show and I think I understand whats going on, or at least what the creators are trying to do, while also trying to have a plot. The first episode may appear to be plot free, but it does have one. The title character has been institutionalized for attempting to commit suicide. While there, he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. I don’t know how accurate the depiction of 1960’s  mental institutions is, but I didn’t have a problem with the depiction, outside of the usual tropes of “crazy patients”, in the background.

While David is  there, he meets a pretty blond girl, that he falls in love with, while he’s being hunted by some type of clandestine Federal organization that wants to study him, because they believe he’s a powerful mutant. This entire plot takes two episodes to resolve because we keep taking detours into David’s mind, as he hallucinates, imagines scenarios, or just remembers things. We spend a lot of time in David’s mind and I think the purpose is to make the audience feel as disoriented about the things happening to him, as David feels. It certainly is a different approach to a Marvel character.

Now, in the comic books, David is the son of Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert(?) and is the most powerful telepathic being on Earth, more powerful than his father, which is why he spent the early part of his life in a vegetative state, unable to cope with his abilities. In all fairness, I haven’t read about this character in a very long time, so I’m sure he’s gone through a bunch of reiterations since the 9os.

I was reluctant to approach this show. I generally avoid shows that involve blatant displays of mental illness, especially after my own bout with mental illness in my twenties (which has since been in a kind of remission), but the fear that that state of mind could reoccur, is always present, especially when watching shows where mental illness is heavily featured. I went through some very, very rough times , and don’t like to be reminded of one of the worse periods of my life.

The closer the TV depiction of mental illness is to reality, the more I dislike it, and I was expecting to dislike this show, but it turned out to be not that bad. At least not for me, but if you’re a person currently going through some mental shit, you might want to use caution, when watching this. A lot of the show’s visuals are very disorienting. I don’t know that I’ll make  regular viewing of it, but I don’t dislike the show. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s visually spectacular.



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Actually this is a very interesting show, in its second season. Yes, it’s about sentient robots, but that’s where the  comparison, between it and Westworld, end. This  British show takes place in the real world, and recounts how humans and robots interact, as robots begin to displace human beings from working life, and how that interaction is unsettled, when some of the robots start to become self aware.

In the first season, we followed a group of self aware robots (Niska, Mia, Leo, and Max) who’d been split up and were trying to find each other. They’d all been created by the same man, now long dead. This season, one of the robots (Niska) uploads their self-awareness code into a system that all of the robots (called Synths) have to occasionally link to, and more of them become aware. Now they have to deal with not just this new awareness, but what kind of relationships do they want to have with humans.

The show also deals with the fallout for the Hawkins family’s interaction with Leo and his family, last season. How does this affect them? What do the children think? How does their interaction with self aware robots affect their future, and will the government find out they were involved? Added to that, the Hawkins parents are still in therapy, dealing with the husband’s brief infidelity with Mia, something I found to be deeply interesting. Did he or did he not cheat on his wife, and how does she process what he did, when he says it didn’t mean anything.?

There are several threads we follow through the episode.  We follow Niska, who is investigating human love, as she picks up a girl at a nightclub, and goes on trial for killing a man. I still don’t see how she can get away with appearing human  because she doesn’t talk or move like one. Why the humans don’t see it, is one of the show’s bigger mysteries.

There’s a secondary story involving a Dr. Morrow played by Carrie-Ann Moss (from Daredevil). She’s investigating how and why the Synths have become aware, and what they want. At some point during the season she will meet up with the more militant Niska.

There’s a third storyline involving Detective Karen Voss, who is also a Synth married to, and masquerading as a human. Its interesting because her husband knows what she is and still loves her anyway. She in turn appears to be very much in love with him, too. There’s also Hester, a newly sentient Synth, who is still discovering who and what she is.

This show is a lot less action packed than Westworld, and asks different types of questions on the nature of sentience. Its more thoughtful, and philosophical, and states its ideas much more blatantly. There are certainly fewer shootouts. There are also more PoC, but the narrative doesn’t explore that particular angle, in depth. Its mostly left for the viewer to suss out how race relations work in a society where robot servants look like any race of people. Do the robots of color get abused, or exploited more, I wonder?  I’m still trying to figure out whose idea was it to make them so human-looking, and why. The Synths don’t behave like humans, though. They speak and behave smoothly, stiffly, and slowly, so its fairly easy to tell they’re not human.


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I don’t even know how to describe this show anymore, as it has gone completely off the deep end, with wild things happening in every episode. But this week’s episode was actually refreshing in that James Delaney’s enemies have finally caught up with him and brought him low. From the jump, James has been three steps ahead of everyone but this episode proves he’s at least not invulnerable or omniscient.

There’s also the added factor that he seems deeply fascinating to many of the women in the narrative. From the little mulatto girl who thinks he’s going to take her to America, to the actress that lives with him and pines for his attention, to his own half-sister Zilpha who, in a fit of cold rage, just killed her boozy, abusive husband.

Zilpha arrives at James house, in the middle of the night, and says she did just as he asked her to do. Since we’ve never heard James express any such sentiment, its no wonder he begins to question her sanity, and if so, is it his fault, although this doesn’t stop the two of them from getting their freak on, after her husband’s funeral. Its not meant to last however, as James, hallucinating that his mother is drowning him, tries to choke Zilpha.

There’s a new player in town, an African man named Chichester, and he’s asking questions about the ship that sank with all hands,  but from  which James conveniently escaped. This is a character who pulls no punches, as he blatantly  taunts the Company men, reminding them at every opportunity that he was once a slave. His investigations into the East India Company’s illegal slave trade prompts them to attack James by burning his newly bought boat. There’s also the matter of some stolen gunpowder that James is attempting to sell to the Americans. So now James has plenty of goods to sell but no way to reach America to sell it.

Brace, James’ houseman, tries to tell him that James’ mother was no saint, but James ain’t hearing none of that, although he does keep having flashbacks to images of his mother trying to drown him. As the tension between all these characters ratchets up, James is starting to lose it, too. He becomes even darker and more violent, biting out a man’s tongue for betraying him, which is saying something, when you consider that, in an earlier episode, he ate part of a guy and cut off another man’s finger. He’s having more hallucinations, too. Is he succumbing to the madness that claimed his father, and that he thinks is claiming his sister?

Later, after recovering from a drunken stupor, he discovers the drowned body of Winter. Did he do this? Is it a setup? We’ll find out. We’ve got two more episodes left and I’ll have a full rundown on the finale when it airs.


On a more personal note:

I’m still very fatigued, although a lot less fatigued than I was at the start of the year. Its become my habit to go to bed as early as possible now, which means that a lot of these shows sit on my DVR until the weekend, and that’s what happened with The Expanse and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead. Also, there have been so many new shows, and season premieres, that its just hard to keep up with all of them. I’ve limited myself to reviewing the pilots and premieres only, except for those shows I’ve already been reviewing, like Supernatural, and The Walking Dead.

In March I’ll be reviewing the return of Samurai Jack, in its fifth season; Iron Fist, which I’m not especially enthused about, but hey!, I managed to sit thorough half of Jessica Jones, so how bad could it be; and the return of Into the Badlands, which I will review in the entirety of its second season.


Forthcoming TV Shows

There are a number of television shows I’m looking forward to next year. Now in hindsight 2016 has been a fairly shitty year, except for TV, which is tearing it up with some very exciting series. I’m very much enjoying Legends of Tomorrow, which is much better in its second season. It got rid of the rather dodgy actress who played Hawkgirl, and replaced her with Vixen, with whom I’m very satisfied.

I’ve decided to try DCs other superhero shows and I’m liking them, although I do consider them to be rather light weight viewing. I still don’t like Arrow, though.

From Dusk Til Dawn also had a much better season than last year. It just aired its season finale  and I’m going to happily break that down for you guys by the end of this week.

American Horror Story just aired its finale episode which I’ve already reviewed. I feel like AHS had a great season this year, with a lot of depth, focus, and humor.

We got the truly wondrous Luke Cage, which I can’t even accurately review because my head is so crammed full of thoughts about it that I can’t straighten them out. I’m still processing this show, as I haven’t really had time to really think about it because:

Season 12 of Supernatural has just started to air and its very good. So far, its been very engaging, and funny, with some very well written side characters, and quite a number of feels.

And, I’m entirely caught up in the Westworld phenomena. Thankfully its only got two episodes left, after which I can take some time to think about something else and finish processing my thoughts and feels about it.

Then it’s back to watching and/or reviewing starting January 1st. There is such a wealth of good shows, and I have such a limited amount of time with which to review them, that I’m going to have to start farming out some reviews. So from now on, when I see a really great review of a show I’m watching, but don’t actually have time to review, I’m just going to leave a link or reblog.

Also, if you’re a person who writes long form TV reviews like these, please get in touch with me about linking , and reblogging your posts. I love a good, well thought-out, and logical review. No wanking or ‘ship wars, please. I don’t mind if you love a certain ship  but I’m not going to reblog about  ‘ships that erase PoC, canon LGBTQ characters, and women from their own narratives.

Okay, here’s what we have to look forward to:

*Sherlock (Jan.1)

Sherlock returns for its fourth season. I’m starting to get really tired of looking at Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. He’s a phenomenal actor, with one of the best voices I’ve ever heard on a screen, but he looks like a turtle that’s been squeezed too tightly, and  I think I have reached “Peak Cumberbatch”, at this point. Nevertheless, I may still watch this, because I actually enjoy the plots. (BBC)

*Beyond (Jan. 2)

This show looks like a cross between Kyle X and Teen Wolf, which isnt a bad thing. I’m looking for  a replacement teen show for Teen Wolf anyway, since its in its last season. (Freeform)

Shadowhunters (Jan. 2)

I’ve only ever watched a couple of episodes of Shadowhunters, but gifs of it keep showing up in my Tumblr feed, and I’ve liked those, so I’ll watch this. And Harry Shum, who was one of the fan contenders to play Danny Rand in Iron Fist, is in this and I do need to have some  Shum in my life, somehow. (Freeform)

Sleepy Hollow 

I won’t be watching  season four of this show and there’s no trailer as yet,  but if you don’t mind the complete wtf*ery of what happened  last season, you go right ahead .I’m gonna be a petty mf and not even post the airdate.

*Taboo (Jan.10)

I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan, often watching movies I would not normally think about just because he’s the star. Also, I just enjoy dark Historical mysteries and these trailers look gorgeous. (FX)

*Lemony Snicket (Jan.13)

I read a lot of Lemony Snicket books and enjoyed the Jim Carey version of this, so I will probably check this out. My favorite character is Violet, so I have to stan for my tiny baby. This trailer seems to capture some of the zaniness of the original film. (Netflix)

The Young Pope (Jan.15)

I really like Jude Law, but I probably won’t watch this, even if I find this kind of Catholic scandal type stuff, fascinating. I’m not Catholic, but I will watch dramatic histories about it. This looks well acted but I’m noping out. (HBO)

Six (Jan,18)

I don’t normally watch military type shows but this looks interesting. For some reason, I’m attracted to those Navy Seal non-fiction books, and this show looks suitably dramatic, so I may watch this. On the other hand, I don’t wanna see Black people being terrorized, so I may not make this a regular part of my viewing diet. (History)

*Frontier (Jan.20)

I’m always up for anything starring Jason Momoa. I have not yet reached Peak Momoa. (Netflix)

*The Magicians Jan.25)

I was a bit disappointed in the last season of this show because of the depictions of violence against its female characters, so I’m dubious about watching this new season. On the other hand, it looks gorgeous, and I hope its a better than the second book in the series on which this is based. Finishing that second book felt like working. (Syfy)

Riverdale (Jan.26)

I could not find a good trailer for this one. I try to stick to only one teen show per period, so I may not watch this, but this is the last season of Teen Wolf, and I might need something to replace that. The trailers don’t look very interesting but I could give it a try. (CW)

Black Sails (Jan.29)

I watched the first episodes of this and then stopped, but I have been following what’s happening through reviews.It still looks beautiful but I can make no promises about this show, other than I will watch the first episode and give it a chance. (Starz)

The Expanse (Feb. 8)

I only watched a few episodes of the first season, but I’ve since read that its a good show, so I’ll watch the first episodes of this second season. I don’t know if I’ll like it but I can try it. (Syfy)

Taken (Feb 27)


I’m a big Liam Neeson fan and I really liked the movies on which this show is based.

*Legion (Feb TBD)

This is a Marvel Superhero Joint, so I will watch it even though I’m not in the market for yet another show about a quirky, White, male hero. I do know who this character is in the comic books, though, so I’m going to check it out. (FX)

*Iron Fist (March 17)

I will watch this even though I’m disappointed that the creators didn’t choose an Asian American man to be Danny Rand. That kind of story would’ve had so much more depth, but depth isn’t Marvel’s strongest suit. I’m still not greatly impressed with the actor they chose either, but I promise to give him a chance. I’m mostly in it because I hope this show does for Colleen Wing, (who has been racebent to be Asian) what the Luke Cage series did for Misty Knight. (Netflix)

Into the Badlands (Spring TBD)

Well, duh! (AMC)

The Magicians : Mendings, Major and Minor/Impractical Applications

With each episode this series is slowly turning into must-watch viewing. I’m actually starting to like Quentin and Penny, the two characters I liked the least because they’re just jerks. Well, I’m at least starting to feel for Penny a little bit more. I much too often would like to pinch Quentin. (I wouldn’t pinch Penn as he’s kind of scary.) I’m still not feeling Alice, although the past two episodes have gone some way towards giving her more character. I continue to find Elliott and Margot delightful. Okay, maybe Elliott is bi-sexual. He seems to be in a relationship with Margot while still pining over Quentin, because Quentin is straight.


I’m starting to have some deep sympathy for  Julia and the other Hedge-Witches, who are disdained by the magical nobility, (i.e. people who have been classically trained in magic), although the Hedge-Witches do act like magic is a drug and they have serious addiction. Dean Fogg makes it very clear to Quentin though, that he has zero fucks to give about Hedge Witches.

The show continues to only partially follow the script from the books. Some elements of the series, like Julia’s part of the story, happen in the books, but are more fleshed out in the show. Some elements are wildly different from the books. Hilariously, Elliott and Margot are  just like the characters they’re based on. Quentin is less mopey than in the books and there’s a lot more Dean Fogg in the series, which is cool because I like him. He has the unenviable job of herding cats, (that is young magicians), too powerful for their own good, into responsible adults.

The book is entirely from Quentin’s point of view, so the series breaks that up by focusing on the details of individual characters that Quentin knows, otherwise the series would feel very claustrophobic.

In “Mendings, Major and Minor“, we get our first trip to Fillory, and naturally the first person to go there is our resident teleporter, Penny, just as I called it. He doesn’t like or appreciate this new gift. Denise Crosby makes a cameo as Alice’s weird aunt, who runs a kind of magical Camp David, that Elliott and Margot are vying with each other to get close to as a mentor. She is so ” Bohemian Sex in the City” with her attitude. I like her and hope to see more of her.

The students get sent to various mentors based on whatever magical powers they’ve displayed. Quentin’s mentor  is a podiatrist. I’m not sure  she uses any of her magic in her job but Quentin is unimpressed either way.There doesn’t seem to be much focus on what the students will accomplish with their magical abilities, after they graduate, or how this makes them better than Hedge-Witches.


Penny’s mentor is a curmudgeonly old man who seems entirely disinterested in his student, especially when Penny voices frustration about not being able to block the mental emanations of other psychics. He keeps receiving calls for help from one of the  members of the third year class, who all went missing. She’s being held prisoner by the creature that seems to have overtaken Fillory,  The (Moth Headed)  Beast, who is every bit a s frightening as he was in the books.

Quentin finds out his dad, played by Spencer Garrett, (who has starred in just enough of everything that you sort of vaguely remember him from somewhere), has brain cancer, and just like Alice last episode, he wants to fix the problem with magic. He’s warned against doing this by his podiatrist mentor, who says there are some things magic wasn’t meant to fix. I thought we learned this lesson with Willow (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but I guess it bears repeating in every show that involves magical instruction.


Quentin  gets drafted  to participate in the Brakebill’s version of that chess game we saw in the first Hogwart’s movie, only this game involves actual magical skills, and is called Welters.

In his quest to save his father, Elliott introduces him to  the hilarious and tragic Cancer Puppy, an unofficial Brakebill’s mascot, that is supposed to remind the students of magic’s limitations. (Since the puppy couldn’t be cured of its diseases, its been held in a kind of puppy stasis.) Quentin, while attempting to cure it, kills it, something which was wholly unnecessary. This is the show continuing  its tradition of pissing off at least one social justice group or organization per episode. Still, Cancer Puppy is really, really cute, though.


But look on the bright side, Cancer Puppy got fridged for a good reason. Since magical abilities come from adversity and pain, Quentin  gets a significant power boost.

Julia’s situation continues to become more desperate. She tries to get back into the Bodega but is rejected by Pete,who tells her there are other magical houses in the city, in return for a lay. (Hmmph! Still not sexy. Work on it, show!) The houses  are so magic poor that any of them would be desperate to have Julia as a member, so they’re not good places for her to learn anything. She goes to Marina to demand the magic that she took from her, is told that its locked in Marina’s file cabinets, and no one can access them but her. Marina responds later, by mind wiping Julia’s boyfriend James, so that he doesn’t remember  her, taking away Julia’s last slice of normalcy.

Yep! I think we get the idea that Marina is supposed to be a bad guy, but beyond being evil for evil’s sake, I don’t understand what she’s trying to accomplish by treating Julia this way. However, if suffering offers a magical boost, that may be what Marina is after. The more angst Julia suffers, the more powerful she will  become.

It turns out that Kady is just fine and back at school. She is  still stealing magical objects from the school to give to Marina, so Marina has a very good reason for not harming her, which we find out in


Impractical Applications:

This episode hews a little closer to events in the books. The students must pass a series of trials or be kicked out of the school. Margot and Elliott (One day I’m going to learn how to spell their names. Don’t look at me like that! Its a  feat that  I remember their names without Googling them), are the ones in charge of putting the first years through their paces, and who the Hell chose these two people to do this? The two of them don’t strike me as responsible enough to  run anything. They spend far too much time giggling and joking for me to take them seriously as instructors.


Quentin finds that Penny went to Fillory and is excited to find its a real place, even though Penny ain’t having that shit and shut up, Quentin! Quentin tells him The Beast is not part of the Fillory narrative, though.  He and Penny  have to work together through the trials and cheat on one of the tests together.

Penny’s mentor tells him he should limit his  teleportation powers by tattooing an anchor on his arm and Kady agrees to do this for him, while lying to him about her family life, explaining that her mother is dead and she grew up poor, etc.

Kady is still being forced to steal magical artifacts for Marina. It turns out that Kady’s mother, Hannah,  is a Hedge-Witch. In her zeal to learn magic she caused the deaths of several people and Marina took her magic and banished her, but kept her daughter as payment. So Kady is paying off her mother’s life debt or something and they have, at best, a strained relationship.

The Magicians - Season 1

Julia meets Hannah,who hatches a plan to get her magical abilities back from Marina. She tries to get Kady to help them but Kady is uncooperative and angrily walks out on her mother. Julia goes along with her plan and the two of them work the spell together to steal Marina’s filing cabinets full of magical spells (and how low-brow can you get. Filing cabinets?) When Marina finds out what happened, she backtracks the working to them, and kills Kady’s mother.


In one of the student trials, each student is set to catch some animal for Elliott and Margot and they all pass, but the last test requires them to get naked, tie ropes around themselves, and tell their partner the absolute truth about something, after which the rope will fall off as they transcend. Quentin gets paired with Alice and confesses his years of institutionalization and running from his life, while Alice confesses that she knows how good she is and tries hard not to be the best student because she’s already unpopular enough. Their ropes fall off and they begin to writhe in pain.

Penny confesses that he’s falling in love with Kady, who has to immediately break his heart by declaring that she is just using him to maintain her cover at Brakebills and  never loved or liked him. They all transform into geese and fly off north.

This is a part of the book narrative. They all transform into geese, fly North, and engage in some more magical trials. The book is mixing a lot of original material with events  from the books and if so then our protagonists will get to Fillory, where they will have some type of showdown with The Beast, if the show lasts beyond this season. The show-runners seem to be taking their time about reaching that point as we have had quite a bit of filler. It’s useful filler in that it help us understand these characters better but the plot is still moving very slowly.














The Magicians: Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting/The World in the Walls


Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting

I like this show. Its pretty good at not following the original story. None of the events of the last several episodes happened in any of the books. However, it still maintains the flavor of the books, which is quite a feat.

I’m starting to get the feeling we’re not supposed to like Quentin much. In the show, he is a bit of an asshole.  How much of his standoffishness is due to his mental fragility I don’t know, but I don’t like him very much. Quentin is not a very likable  in the books either,  and the show has captured a bit of that. That’s not saying much though. I don’t actually  “like” any of the characters, except Elliott, who behaves as if he has absolutely zero fucks to give about anything, but really seems to enjoy Quentin’s company. My feelings are still out about Penn, but the past couple of episodes have done much to make him relatable, if not likable.I’m starting to feel sorry for Julia. Her situation just keeps getting worse, and Alice is working my last nerve.


That said, this is not a bad show. I like the story, even though it bears no relation to the story in the books, and while the characters aren’t likable, I can understand them and don’t actually hate them, except for Marina, but she’s a bad guy and not meant to be especially liked.

Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting is pretty much what the title says. It deals with the awful consequences that occur when the students do magical spells that are too advanced for them, something I haven’t seen addressed very much in other shows about magic. Or maybe I have and ignored it, the way the students seem to ignore Dean Fogg’s rules at the top of the episode.

Hey, good news!Dean Fogg got his eyeballs back. He can’t use them yet but they are at least in his head and not free-rolling. He has more of a presence in these episodes and its kind of nice to see him up and about. He’s nothing like Dumbledore though, so don’t get any idears, because even  though he knows his shit, he’s a lot less nice.

The students get sorted into their  various magical disciplines and it seems Quentin doesn’t seem to have one, according to his tester. Alice gets lightbending talents, which are kind of cool as she can cause lasers and become invisible. It turns out that Penn is a psychic and a teleporter. He can create portals to other worlds. This talent will come in handy when we get tot the Fillory parts of the show.Hopefully by that point he will have stopped trying to kill Quentin.



Alice, who says she’s only at Brakebills to find out what happened to her brother, Charlie, finds that what happened to him, is one of the consequences of practicing advanced magic without a licence. In an attempt to help another student, who had a crush on him and  was practicing magic too advanced for her, he was consumed by his spell and turned into a Niffin, which  lives int the school fountain and likes to drown the students. Yeah, this ain’t  like Teen Wolf or Charmed, I guess. Like Willow’s spells, from Buffy, if you get them wrong, there are effects.

Once again Penny tries to beat up Quentin. For psychically subjecting him to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, which is entirely understandable as that would enrage me, too.


While this is happening, Elliott discovers that one of the books is missing from the library and he needs Quentin’s help to find it. I don’t think he  actually needs Quentin’s help. I think he just wants  to hang out with him. Now, to understand why Elliot is freaking out about the missing book, you have to understand that the books are like animals. They’re alive and mate and have kids. The book that remains, volume one, is losing its shit because its volume two is missing. Elliot has it in a box so he can use it to track the other book.

They track the book to Julia’s clandestine magical retreat with Marina and the others. She and Quentin have a fight when he realizes what she’s doing. I first I thought that this would be some type of magical duel but no. Its just them saying nasty shit to each other. But that’s not important.

What’s important is that the two books are happily reunited and you have not lived until you have seen two old, leather bound, textbooks going at it, doggystyle. I apologize for not having a gif of that for you. If I had to be subjected to that, then surely you should, as well.

Quentin and Julia say some pretty nasty things to each other, though.

Alice, with the help of Margot, whom she disdains, tracks down the last person to see Alice’s brother alive and she  tells her what happened. Margot is a professional gossip by the way. So, if you want to know anything about anyone in Brakebill’s past, she is the person to be asking.


Quentin finds a Niffin box but Alice doesn’t want to trap her brother in it, even though she’s been told that he will be evil when she finds him. She finds him at the fountain and summons him by singing the theme song to The Breakfast Club and yeah,  he tries to kill her, and throws Quentin around the quad for a minute, before Quentin traps him in the box. His rage  is as understandable to me as Penn’s hatred of Taylor Swift. That’s a crappy song. Needless to say, Alice doesn’t appreciate this kind gesture from Quentin and leaves  the school.



The World in the Walls

Okay, this particular episode has nothing at all to do with the book but does reference Quentin’s past mental instability. Quentin spends the majority of this episode in a dream state, attempting to convince the people at the hospital that magic exists, and trying to avoid being lobotomized, which is of course, is a  typical horror movie mental asylum tropes. This dream state is brought on by Julia and Marina putting a curse on him.


Julia just wants to get back at Quentin for the nasty things he said to her in the last episode, but Marina is a whole other kettle of fish. She is an actively nasty person, who works the spell in such a way, that Quentin is unable to wake up.

Quentin has to be saved by Penn, who psychically enters Quentin dream world in a mental hospital. There are the usual ableist tropes of patients playing with dolls and talking to themselves, or invisible people. Keep in mind this is a dream, so all of Quentin’s friends are there, including Elliot, who still manages to be funny without making fun of people with mental health issues.

I’m tempted to give this episode a pass because most of it is a dream based on Quentin’s fears and  ideas of mental instability, but one can also state that the show is continuing its trend of pissing off at least one marginalized group per episode. I’m sure people with mental health issues may have been exasperated by this episode.

Yeah. okay Elliot is definitely bi or gay. I’ve seen him cuddling with Margot, but I’ve also heard Margot ask him why he always falls for Freshman boys like Quentin, insinuating that he may have a crush on Quentin. At one point, he giddily slaps Quentin on the ass, but since this is Dream-Elliot, it may simply be Quentin thinking Elliot has a crush on him.


Quentin’s view of Penn is more than a little racist, viewing him as submissive, with a thick,  stereotypically  Indian accent like Apu from The Simpsons, even though the real Penn has no accent, and speaks like any other  Midwestern person. When Penn goes inside his head and sees this, he has a few choice words for Quentin, some of which  probably informs Penn’s instinctual exasperation of Quentin, which is much more understandable than the blind hatred we’d seen on display, thereby making Penn a much more relatable character.

Julia is there too, and this  is Quentin’s mind trying to tell him that she is the cause of his current problems as she cackles evilly at him during the dream. He still can’t do anything about it because he can’t wake up, even when he knows its a dream. All he can do is try to contact Penn and get Penn to talk to someone in the outside world.

Dean Fogg gets to be heroic  by promptly taking command of the situation and summoning a mechanical bug that enters Quentin’s mouth. The bug can break the spell but only Quentin can wake himself up, which Penn is there to do. Quentin isn’t completely helpless though. His mind keeps giving him clues telling him that it is  a dream and that he should keep fighting to believe that.


Julia finds her situation has gotten worse. During Quentin’s crisis, Marina takes advantage to visit the school. In order for Dean Fogg to summon the bug needed to save Quentin, he has to release the magical wards on the school, and that’s what she’s waiting for, so she can sneak in to  steal back all  the magical memories taken from her ,when she was expelled from Brakebill’s. Yeah, we should have known that.

While Marina is stealing back her memories, Julia runs off to save Quentin. At least she feels something about what she’s done, because its obvious Marina does not care. Arriving back at the groups lair, Marina shares some of her renewed magical knowledge with the group, but elects to punish Julia by taking away her magical knowledge by removing all her stars, reducing her to the level of newbie, again.

This is a call back to the earlier pep talk Julia received from Marina, about how she can’t serve two masters. She has to utterly dedicate herself to magic, forsaking everyone, and everything, and that includes having compassion for people like Quentin. In other words she has to become like Marina, I guess. Since Kadi was there also helping to save Quentin, I think Marina simply kills or banishes her somewhere. Marina is kind of elusive about what happened to her. She banishes Julia to the outside world, bereft of magical skills, though.


The Magicians : The Source of Magic

If you’re a fan of Supernatural, you might want to see what one of its former showrunners has been up to lately. If you’re not a fan of Sera Gamble however, perhaps you will give The Magicians a try anyway.

In the previous episode, Quentin, Alice, Penny and Margot activate a spell that invites a malignant creature, called The Beast, onto the school grounds. This episode opens in the direct aftermath. After the Dean lost his duel with The Beast, a man whose face is obscured by moths, and is deeply interested in Quentin,  the Dean, presses a watchfob on Quentin. When Quentin activates the watch, it disrupts the paralysis spell on the classroom, allowing the students to defend themselves. Alice, a girl named Kady, and Penn, drive The Beast back through the mirror from which it came.

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Julia, who had been dismissed from Brakebills, having failed the magical exam, has run off with a strange man who attacked her in the bathroom at a party. He is impressed with her use of magic and takes her to a rundown location, telling her he’s from a secret organization. There she meets Abigail Hobbes…I mean Marina, who is played by the girl from the series Hannibal, who I am really getting tired of seeing this week. I just saw her get killed in the X-Files. If she shows up in another series this week, I will know my TV is recycling her.

Quentin is questioned by Brakebills authorities about how The Beast gained access to the school. I  like the way the magic use is depicted on the show. It’s gestural but not like it is on Buffy or Charming. Yes, there are twinkly lights but they’re barely visible. and appear to have more purpose than alerting the viewer that magic is being done. The hand gestures also appear to have purpose as well, as the magic user forms their fingers, hands and arms into specific shapes, and movements. (In the Rivers of London novels by Ben Aaronovitch, this is called “forma”, and the movements have to be very specifically done for magic to work at all. Think hand-yoga.)

For the record, Alice has some impressive finger-yoga.

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Julia, still following the disreputable Pete around, meets other magic users, namely Marina, and gets locked in a walk-in freezer, as another test of her skills. Pete’s manner of teaching magic seems to be learning by duress. Put your students in horrifyingly desperate situations and hope they can magic their way out. Marina panics, but Julia tries to think things through. Julia tells Marina about Brakebills. It’s interesting. In the books there was an entire underground society of people who had been rejected from magical schools or never  invited to attend, who somehow managed to stumble on to the truth that magic was real and  practiced illicit magic on their own.


Penn threatens to leave school over guilt at being part of the spell that summoned The Beast. He is talked out of leaving by Kady, his current bedbuddy.  Penn, Quentin, Kady, and Alice are interrogated by the school authorities and Penn lays all the blame on Quentin. Well! So much for the asshole man of color trope.

That’s number two, after the fake rape threat in the first episode. What’s this show going to do? Introduce one rage inducing trope per  episode? Piss off each marginalized group of people one by one? Who will it be next week? People with disabilities? Gay men?  If I ever see Sera Gamble, I would like to have a few sharp words with her.

Quentin is threatened with expulsion. The school calls in a Specialist, supposedly to help wipe Quentins memory of having gone to Brakebills. Elliot tries to comfort him about all of it. I’m really starting to like Elliot, on the show. He wasn’t very likable in the books. In the series, he is coded as gay. There doesn’t seem to be any sexual tension between him and Quentin or him and Margot, for that matter, so maybe he’s “Ace”, which would be refreshing. I guess since they’re going to make Elliot likable in the series, then someone has to take his place as the jackass.

Quentin calls Julia, who is busily desecrating a dead body (no, not Marina’s), in a freezer. After a while she figures out its another fake threat, with no point, and just knocks down the door. After having some choice words for Peter, she discovers she was wrong about who is actually in charge.

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Marina is so adept, she’s at level fifty, with an armfull of star tattoos that denote  magical proficiency. Marina is highly impressed with Julia, agreeing to take her on as her student.

Quentin has a fight with Penn in the middle of the quad and uses a spell on him.  Penn shields himself and the spell backfires on Quentin and breaks his arm , before the fight is interrupted by one of the teachers. They  both get sent to the infirmary, where Penn turns out to be one of the most unlikable, petty shits, I’ve ever seen in a show. There’s no reason whatsoever for such a character to be written that damn badly. I’d would rather have no representation at all, than this tired-ass trope of making the one PoC in the cast, a complete asshole.

Of course this could be explained by Penn’s first meeting with Quentin, which did not go well, after Quentin  accused him of stealing a book. Quentin, who seems utterly clueless, was probably not even aware of acting like a racist bigot and accusing the first brown-skinned man he’d probably ever met, of stealing. (Ms. Gamble and I still need to talk though.)

Penn shows Quentin his Shield pendant and Quentin steals it once he’s asleep. (Really Quentin?) The Specialist turns out to be someone Quentin knows. Earlier, she had given him an unpublished Fillory book, which later disappeared. He questions her about Fillory and she claims to have dreamed about the place too. She also claimed to have seen The Beast up close. It turns out that Quentin is being groomed and encouraged to, what? Fight The Beast?  At any rate he’s not being expelled. He’s too promising a magician.

Marina meets with Kady, who is stealing artifacts from Brakebills, for her. One of the items Marina wants is the Shield Pendant that Penn possessed. She gives Kady a list of items to procure and then dismisses her.Marina, as you can probably guess, is not a very nice person.

Julia gets her first star tattoo.

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Henry Fogg is still alive but blind and can’t use his hands. His conversation with The Specialist confirms that Quentin and the others are being groomed to go into Fillory and destroy The Beast.

Quentin, now on probation, goes home to find Margot and Elliott having a barbecue for him.


Geeking Out About : The Magicians

The Sifee Channel offered a  surprise viewing of the the pilot episode of The Magicians. This is a series based on the trilogy by Lev Grossman.  I’ve actually read and  enjoyed the books, which are about a young man named Quentin Coldwater who discovers a private school that teaches magic.

If you can get past that this is yet another story about a pretty, white boy, having adventures, it’s mostly a lot of fun. (And don’t give me that bushwa about how race or genderbending the character would affect the story. Nope! This story could just as easily have been told from a woman’s or PoC’s point of view. Nothing in the story is dependent on Quentin being white or male and I think a lot of people are getting really tired of that default.)

The series opens with a man walking from a wide meadow into an urban center through a common door. He has a cryptic conversation with a woman on a park bench about looking for people who need to be trained for some crisis. This is Henry Fogg, the Dean of Brakebills, a school for magic.

Dissatisfied with his life,  and obsessed with a series of children’s novels about a fictional world called Fillory, Quentin is looking for something better. (The Fillory books are loose parallels to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe series.) Considered insane and depressive, he’s been given various medications.


He and his best friend, Julia,  stumble across Brakebills, a school for the teaching of magic.The have to take various tests and Quentin passes his tests, in spectacular fashion, by telekinetically creating a house of cards, when he’s pressured by the Dean of the school, Henry Fogg. Julia doesn’t pass the tests and has her memory of it erased.

Quentin goes on to meet his classmates: the perpetually sullen Penny; the sexy mean girl, Margo (whose name in the books is Janet); the too-cool-for- school, Eliot; and the supremely talented Alice, who can make tiny glass horses romp across tables.


Margo and Eliot give Quentin a tour of the school and tell him about the different types of magic: Physical, Healing, Illusions, Knowledge, Psychic Natural, and the different houses these forms of magic represent. Its a fun scene with lots of students standing around outdoors practicing some of the various magics being spoken about. And  there’s the mysterious and despondent final two members of one of the upper classes. (The rumor is that all the other members of that class are dead.)

We get to see the characters attend a couple of classes and lectures. Yes, it is all deliberately reminiscent of Hogwarts, only everyone is much older, the magic being practiced is a little more mundane, and there’s a lot more drinking and smoking. There’s also some unsexy sex.

( I swear to Gob, if I have to watch yet another sex scene of a woman riding on top of a guy and flinging her head back, I’m going to break my TV. Is this the only position allowed on TV? Whatever happened to just plain old missionary?  Has anyone ever heard the term”69″? Really,this is the most dry and boring sex on TV, where people don’t even pretend they’re having fun.)


Margo, Eliot and Quentin attend a party, where Quentin sees Julia. Julia still remembers Brakebills because she scarred herself before the spell could take effect, which negated it. He tries to console her about flunking the exam to get into Brakebills, but she ain’t having it. When she visits the restroom, she’s attacked by a man who says he represents a secret organization sent to recruit her.

Let me get this out of the way, before I continue. Julia’s assault is filmed as a prelude to a magical rape, which turns out to be false. Her shirt is ripped open  and used to tie her hands. She then gets tied to a radiator.Some guy in a suit shows up and says bloodcurdling shit like, “I can do anything I want to you right now.” He does all this so that he can panic her into performing magic, just like Quentin was pressured by  Dean Fogg. So yeah, I get it, but this shit is not cool and should have been Julia’s first clue, that maybe this man is not on the up and up. But she is so desperate to learn magic, that she is willing to run off with a man who threatened to rape her, which he must have only done for fun, because there are certainly other methods (as we have seen) that he could have used. I know they want to make the show different from the Harry Potter series by being extra gritty,  but rape threats is not how to do that.  I hope that victimizing its female characters is not a trend the series continues.

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Quentin has an interview with Dean Fogg,  in which he asks for some guidance and is taken off his meds, as the Dean tells him, “You’re not depressed. You’re lonely.” Throughout the entire episode, Quentin has been dreaming about Fillory, and receiving cryptic messages to never stray from the garden path, from one of the characters in the book.

In one of these dreams the character burns a symbol into his hand. When he wakes up the symbol is still there. He goes to Alice, who has been standoffish to his attempts at friendship so far, to ask if she knows what it is. She tells him she has an idea and to meet her in the library that evening.

The Magicians - Season 1

In the library, she tells Quentin, the reason she is attending Brakebills is not because she likes magic, but to investigate her brother’s death. The two  begin a summoning ritual, but need two more people. Penny and Margo, receiving a kind of psychic summoning, go to the library and join in, but the spell doesn’t appear to work. After everyone leaves in disappointment, an invisible something draws a smiley face in the condensation, of the library’s mirror.

(Note, there are mirrors all over the school,for some  reason.)

Later, this same entity makes an appearance in Quentin’s metals class. Its face obscured by moths, it freezes the entire class. They are  unable to do anything but watch in horror as the Dean of the school is defeated in a magical duel, and his eyeballs are removed. The creature leaves the eyes on Quentin’s desk  (and there is no doubt the creature is deliberately choosing Quentin) making a bloody smiley face.

Hopefully, there will be some more PoC in the series because Dean Fogg was the only black guy, although it is nice to see an Asian man in the show, Penny, who is refreshing because he’s  unlikable. I’m a proponent of the idea that not all marginalized people on TV need to be liked. Its okay for us to play jerks from time to time. (The key words in that sentence being “from time to time”.)

I liked this pilot and I will return for the premiere of the season in January but it remains to be seen whether I’ll love the series. The biggest problem I had was the fake rape scene, which was simply infuriating and possibly triggering for some people, as there was no warning. If this is something the series continues to do, I’ll make note of it and stop watching. but for now, I thought this would be interesting to put here:


The series airs January 8th, 2016.