The Magicians: Be The Penny

The Magicians: Be The Penny | Season 3, Episode 4 | Rating: 11/11 |

Hands down the best episode of The Magicians yet. From start to finish I was sitting on the edge of my seat, shouting at the TV and laughing hysterically. Every scene just as fantastic as the one before it. On top of that we gained a lot of insight, depth and clarity about Penny learning that his short and slightly abrasive demeanor was a mask for how much he actually just wants to be acknowledged and loved. What we resist persists, eh?

Be The Penny picks up where we left off, with Kady and Julia over Penny’s seemingly dead body. What they can’t see is Penny is in the room, he was astral projecting at the time of his death so his spirit is still grounded on earth. Kady and Julia can not see Penny, hear Penny and Penny cannot touch them. It would appear as if he’s some type of ghost.

This condition continues throughout the length of the episode allowing Penny to observe all that’s happening, and still travel between worlds, all while unable to communicate he’s somehow still alive. The inflection of the dialogue that results as a frustrated Penny learns just how much of an impact he had on everyone’s lives is quite humorous. It must have been so much fun to film these scenes and not bust up laughing! Just imagine Arjun Gupta delivering all those lines and everyone else having to keep a straight face in the room… Guessing those were some long set days.

Penny also meets Hyman Cooper, a fellow Brakebills student who was also astral projecting when he died. It turns out Hyman has been observing our heroes for quite sometime. Hyman teaches Penny how to embody another object. Penny jumps into an actual penny, but that won’t do much good as pennies can’t talk. He attempts to jump into a bunny and then tries jumping into Margo’s Margolem, which results in Quentin beating the crap out of the possessed doll. Then the library shows up to collect Penny’s body as his employment contract says he’ll serve the library even in the after life. This is not a good day for Penny.

Meanwhile, Eliot, Fen and Fray have appeared by the fountain portals (all of which are sealed/non-functional due to magic’s disappearance) and are being chased by cannibals. Kady has overdosed. Margo is sailing by Whitespire and plotting how to destroy the Fairy Queen. And Dean Fogg, Quentin and Julia have a lead on the next gold key and this key has the power to reveal things that are hidden. This means people holding the key could see Penny! Cue the final scene that ends as Eliot holds the key and casually says “Maybe it doesn’t work on me… Oh, hey Penny.”


Let’s talk performance. This episode really highlights the strengths of this cast. The raw grieving emotion expressed differently by each actor matching their character’s personality type as they learn of Penny’s death. The staying-in-character straight face reactions from all of the cast as Arjun shouts, pleas, cusses, spits sarcasm, frustration, annoyances and agreements at them (personal favorite “Me too girl. Me too.” Penny’s response to Margo’s “I guess I always thought some day we were gonna bang”). Hale Appleman expressing Eliot’s frazzled nerves through his persona, and keeping mildly calm but always cool while doing so. Brittany Curran constantly displaying opposite ends of Fen’s emotional tone scale, one moment she’s elated and naive and the next she’s determined, fearless and strong. Jade Tailor (Kady) taking anger and denial over Penny’s death to new heights. It’s been a slow build over the last couple seasons, but we can officially say this cast has become one with their characters. Bravo!


Even though this entire episode is worth noting, there were two things that particularly stood out.

  • All of Penny and Margo’s indirect interactions this episode were on fire. I originally tweeted I’d love for Margo to have her own talk show, now I’m thinking Penny needs to be the co-host.
  • Ghosts, astral projections and the living: the entire scene revolving around Brakebills late student Lance Morrison was brilliant. Ghosts can see the living and astral projections. Penny hopes Lance or his father (both ghosts) will acknowledge his presence so that Julia & Quentin will know he’s there. But the best part? Penny beating up Lance’s father and yelling at him to say his name. Hysterical.

Episode 5 airs Wednesday, February 7th at 9/8c.