Last night’s episode of The Magicians was everything we wanted and didn’t know we needed.
We find our dearest Eliot in full Brakebill debauchery mode doing what he does best: talking shit with Margo. As a viewer, it was a pleasure to see the duo back together in their natural glamorous booze-induced habitat. So we’re drinking, making fun of Todd, having a great time until we realize that Elliot’s soul is stuck inside a god-killing monster. Damn. Thankfully, Eliot comes to this realization relatively quickly by meeting Charlton, the monster’s last victim. Charlton tells him that the monster has banished Eliot’s soul to his own “happy place,” where all Eliot's memories and impressions lie. It’s no surprise that Eliot’s happy place is alongside Margo running the Brakebill social scene. What The Magicians does best is show us that happy is not always real and being real is not always happy. Charlton tells Eliot that there is a way out of the fake happy place, but he must find a door. Charlton warns Eliot that all the horrible beings the monster has killed will be lurking around every corner but, in true Eliot fashion, he skips straight through the bullshit and starts his journey to find this elusive door. What’s the catch, besides soul-sucking monsters? The door is located in his most traumatic memory.
In this episode the audience becomes aware of all the ways our characters are changing. As a millennial twenty-something, I feel like I have been growing up with The Magicians. We see Margo grieve Eliot in her own way and let romantic love into her life. Quentin, finally, fully ends things with Alice. We all know it hasn’t been working, but the younger, timid and self-conscious Quentin would have held onto this toxic love for dear life. Penny23 moves out the way and lets the women do the work. And at the end of “Escape from the Happy Place,” Eliot comes full circle as well. After going through a series of embarrassing high school moments and re-experiencing locking Margo up, we find ourselves in Eliot’s most traumatic moment: turning down the love of his life.
In the last season, we saw Eliot and Quentin grow old together, love each other and raise a child together. In his attempt to escape the "happy place," Eliot travels back to the day after they escape from their long mosaic journey. Quentin looks at him vulnerably and says “we work well together...who has that kind of proof of concept?” Eliot laughs it off at first. The laugh is hollow and it’s clear he is waiting for the other shoe to drop. He's waiting for Quentin to say “but I’m not gay” or “it was fun while it lasted.” Instead, Quentin asks Eliot to be his partner. Plagued by insecurity, Eliot dismisses Quentin's proposal and ends up denying the one man he could truly love. Then, the door appears. He is able to escape from his "happy place" into a real place and relay a message to Quentin.
He relays Quentin’s words of love back to him. “Who gets that kind of proof of concept? I’m still in here!" Cue break up with Alice. Cue #Queliot.
For a long time, we have been watching the friendship between Eliot and Quentin evolve and grow. As a queer viewer, I think back to all of the “friendships” that I’ve had that could have been something more if one of us took the leap of faith. Often times, as the “out” person in the friendship, I have always believed that the burden was on me to take that leap. It was refreshing to see Quentin put himself out there and it was familiar and heartbreaking to see Eliot reject it. In this grey area, it is so easy to talk yourself out of love, to talk yourself out of the signs, to talk yourself out of what it is you truly want. I understood the “but you're not..” and the “you can’t be serious” statements that Eliot was making, because it was out of self-preservation and protection. Sometimes it can be easier to believe that we are experiments to people rather than something truly real. Many times it's safer to believe that. But when it's real, it's our duty to ourselves claim the love we know is there. To heal and be glorious. I am proud that Eliot chose healing and found his way out. May we all do the same.