REVIEW: The Magicians, S4E10 – All That Hard, Glossy Armor

The Magicians finally unveiled its long-awaited musical episode, but “All That Hard, Glossy Armor” ended up falling short of expectations on the Library and Enyalius plot development fronts. The songs were aces, though, as was Summer Bishil’s performance in several stand-out Margo scenes.

Julia doesn’t know what it is, and neither do we.

First, let’s get all the housekeeping out of the way. “All That Hard, Glossy Armor” spent a little too much time setting up future storylines and tying up previous ones, which meant that a lot of the episode felt like killing time. Julia (Stella Maeve), Quentin (Jason Ralph), and Penny’s (Arjun Gupta) journey to Enyalius – who actually winds up being a Celtic god named Angus – seemed mostly unnecessary. Especially when the most exciting part of it was the reveal that Not Eliot (Hale Appleman) was actually trying to revive his sister‘s body, something we could have found out last week considering no explanations about what she did or why she had to die were forthcoming this week.

The events were simple: track down Angus, pass his leprechaun’s tests, and then ultimately fail to save him from Not Eliot’s wrath. But Julia’s goddess powers played an important role in getting to Angus even if it amounted to nothing, so it’ll be interesting to see if The Magicians has her make us of them again in the final showdown. The half-touching, half-creepy moments that Not Eliot shared with a terminal cancer patient who reminded him of his sister were far more fascinating that the wild goose chase of warning Angus, though. Seeing as it’s very likely he will use her as a host for his sister’s organs, we will eventually get the answers about who the real villain is that we would have been better served getting this episode.

While Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) didn’t appear for much longer than to remind Julia and the audience about her mysterious ‘binder’, she did gain an accomplice in the rebellion against the Library. Once again playing out a previous plot development to its logical conclusion, Zelda realized that her mentor Everett really was playing her and had no intention of finding the leader of the Serpents – because he was the leader. Not only that, the available ambient magic was much less than advertised. These betrayals were too much for the ex-hedge witch, and so she agreed to become a turncoat alongside Alice and Kady (Jade Tailor).

Margo’s coming for the real you, Dream Eliot!

The meat of “All That Hard, Glossy Armor” lay in Margo’s post-exile quest and her musical visions of Eliot. After licking a droplet of water off her destiny lizard, Margo found herself tripping to the tune of The Pretenders’ “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” Eliot sang and danced her through the desert until she wound up in front of the very tribe she was searching for, where she learned that demonic sand spirits possess emotional women who are in constant need of protection from their men. Sounds like an allegory if I ever heard one – and it’s underscored by Margo’s own tale about her once beloved father, who told her she could be anything until he realized she’d become someone who didn’t need to be controlled by him. Margo’s main goal, though, was to find the magical axes that she could use to destroy the monster inside Eliot and save her best friend. It required some seducing of the tribe’s Foremost and a trek through the desert to gather up black sand for her own forging, but thankfully she had imaginary Eliot, Josh, Kady (and her four octave range, bitch) and even Fen (Brittany Curran) to accompany her in song.

Her breakdown in the midst of the desert was powerful, and showcased Bishil’s range, but the twist that the sand demon was actually a female spirit who sought to help her fellow women was slightly less so. While I understand the impulse behind telling a story of how men try to keep women from things that actually benefit them, it felt like a plotline that deserved an entire episode to flesh out implications, rather than just serving as a gotcha moment in one portion of an already packed hour of The Magicians. Nevertheless, Margo defeated the village’s men, obtained her axes, and leaves everyone in the tribe unpossessed and empowered. Next up? Finally saving El

The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on SFY.