The Magicians “Unauthorized Magic” Review (Season 1 Episode 1)

So, I’m in a weird place where The Magicians is a show that I really enjoyed the premiere of, but nonetheless have major issues that either need to be ignored or addressed going forward. The world of Brakebills is a fascinating one, every bit the mature version of Hogwarts that fans of the book have long described it as. However, “Unauthorized Magic” suffers from putting a bit too much emphasis on being a head-in-the-cloud dreamer, with a main character who’s suffering a major case of Peter Pan syndrome.

To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of wish fulfillment, and Quentin and Julia’s arrival at Brakebills definitely has that air about it. It’s a moment that no doubt many Harry Potter fans have fantasized about, learning that there is a world of magic, and that they’re a part of it. Still, the show leans a little too hard into justifying Quentin’s lifelong refusal to grow up, a bit of an unhealthy worldview to promote.

And make no mistake, as a Creative Writing major attempting to break into the world of comics, I’ve got a bit of Peter Pan about me myself. But this show goes hard in the reject reality direction, to the point that Julia is actively punished for letting her connection to the magical slip away. Throw in the general sense of high school clique culture that permeates Brakebills, and there’s just an air juvenility to what’s supposed to be an adult world.

That said, though, it remains a fascinating world, one that’s full of creative visuals and well-acted characters. In particular, I’m already interested to see where Julia’s flirtation with the dark side of magic leads her, and the visions of Fillory Quentin is having suggest that Brakebills isn’t as idyllic as it seems. Plus, the butterfly-veiled villain introduced at hour’s end makes one heck of an arrival, one that has me eager to dive into the second episode. Hopefully, the early issues are just a matter of quick world-building, and we have a stronger sense of story and characterization to look forward to.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!