Jade Tailor, Arjun Gupta, Jason Ralph / Eric Milner, Syfy

There are times when the best way to enjoy an episode of TV is not to think too hard about it. A bunch of emo magicians setting aside their differences long enough to rob a bank together is an inherently funny concept, and the show has a lot of fun with it, even if not all of it holds together.

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The flip side to the fun of the hijinks is that it’s an unfortunate reminder of how much more enjoyable the show is when all of these people are together. The scene when they all toasted together was noticeably one of the only times these people have all been onscreen together this season, minus the odd Beast battle. It’s a shame, because watching them collide with each other makes for better TV than watching Eliot or Margo interact with yet another Fillory functionary.

Keeping them trapped in Fillory is increasingly seeming like one of those subplots that worked way better in the books. They’re not even getting to do fun, fantastical things over there, for the most part. Instead, each Fillory plot is a new one of them moping around the palace, fighting with various advisers. The creation of the clay Eliot seems almost like an acknowledgment of this fact—they need him to be back on Earth where the action is.

Getting everyone together also reconnects Penny with the group, and brings Kady and Julia into the fold, both of which have been ongoing problems. The gang hates Julia, but they understand helping her here. And while Penny might have turned down Julia’s request for help, he definitely wouldn’t turn down Kady’s. It’s something of a relief that the show goes ahead and skips some long, drawn out fight between the two of them. They may at some point have to work out some trust issues here, but also, the things that kept them apart in the first season don’t exist anymore, and these are the two least neurotic people on the show. And Penny, if he’s going to be an important member of the core cast, really needs something to keep him tied to the group. Though after a while, you have to wonder why he and Kady didn’t just text each other. There is an annoying lack of cellphone use among these people.

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Speaking of people who are stranded in odd plotlines, that’s starting to look like the situation for Quentin. Plus, he’s currently engaged in one of the silliest of tropes: Not telling people an important thing purely for the dramatic effect of them finding out later. It makes sense that he’s not telling the Dean, but why wouldn’t he tell his friends? It’s hard to imagine any of them arguing with his efforts to try and save Alice, or pushing him to imprison her. And we all know he’s not the best magician of the bunch. Why wouldn’t he ask for help? For instance, he’s now going to have let Alice out into the world, unchecked, for half hour increments. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have someone there to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get up to anything too awful?

It’s possible to read this as a broader metaphor for his struggle with grief and depression. But even if that’s how we’re supposed to see this, it’s not really working. It’s all still coming across as a plot device, one that isolates him, keeps him out of the Fillory action, and prevents him from joining Kady and Julia in their efforts to stop Reynard.

The bank heist itself is a fun diversion for a late-season episode, though. We can all agree that the explanation for keeping Margo out of the action roughly translates to “we ran out of heist jobs,” right? But other than that, in true heist movie fashion, everyone gets a moment to shine, from Kady continuing to demonstrate why fists are just as effective as spells to Eliot’s magic disco ball. Oddly, there are some holes in the plot, for something that was clearly planned to a T. Why did they keep using the same method to run outside the vault during their rewinds? Why didn’t Penny just sit on top of the gold bars while he was loading them up, or flash in and out with each gold bar? Were they worried about leaving Eliot’s easily identifiable body inside the bank? For a concept as fun in theory as this, the execution is a bit wobbly.

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As a detour from some of the action, “Plan B” is an enjoyable break. But the heist can’t be the whole story, and none of it quite elevates this episode to some of the highs of other episodes this season.

Stray observations

  • What in the world was the point of Kady and Julia rescuing the stinkmonster only to have him die immediately? If he could protect someone from Reynard, why couldn’t he protect them from those invisible monsters? I’m putting this in stray observations so as not to waste too much space above with wondering what the heck this was supposed to be. But seriously, what was that?
  • I appreciate that Kady’s expertise about “battle magic” generally has boiled down to her smacking people around. I hope she kept that whip thing, though.
  • “Tell them I’m fine. I’m running out of air.” “Way to mix the message.”
  • Fun music choices throughout this episode, I thought.
  • Legit thought they had used a spell on those two security guards, but no, they’re just really bad at their jobs.
  • When Penny was talking to Kady about helping Julia, why did she tell him it was because she owed Julia? Are we supposed to think he wouldn’t understand “she’s my friend and she needs my help”? That’s not that complicated a concept.
  • That eugenics book joke was dark, but also very funny.
  • It seems notable that in the moment where Alice can force Quentin to bargain with her, she asks for control of his body rather than freedom from the tattoo trap.

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