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The Magicians – S1E1 – Unauthorized Magic

Give me a story about someone living their ordinary life, hoping for an escape to something, anything better only to have that exact thing happen and I’m in.

Images: Syfy

Images: Syfy

Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) doesn’t fit in. He’s depressed, a loner, and would rather spend time reading a children’s book series for the umpteenth time than attend a party with his friends. Quentin hopes grad school will provide him direction, but his interview doesn’t go as planned: he discovers the alumni interviewer dead at his desk. Left for Quentin is the manuscript for the fabled sixth installment of his favorite fantasy book series, Fillory. Chasing a windswept page down a New York City street at night leads Quentin to the campus of Brakebills University in upstate New York in the daytime. 

The Magicians - Pilot

There’s no time for questions as Quentin is ushered in to take a written entrance exam, which he passes, and after a bit of taunting from Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy), he passes his magical demonstration as well.

Brakebills seems to be the answers to Quentin’s prayers, a place where he finally feels he belongs. He’s even somewhat relieved when he learns his best friend Julia (Stella Maeve) was also tested but failed. Magic is something he can be good at independent of her; something he can excel at without competition between the two. Of course, nothing is that simple, and Julia is later approached by a smarmy stranger who offers her the magical education Brakebills denied.

When Quentin starts having conversations with one of the characters in the Fillory books, it’s not clear if this is another element of his magic or because he stopped taking his medication upon enrolling in Brakebills. Either way, she warns him something dangerous is coming and the very next day Quentin’s classroom is attacked by a main in a suit with the power to freeze time and with fluttering bugs where his head should be.

The Magicians - Pilot

And it was amazingly creepy.

Yup. I’m all in.

Read my review of episode 2, ‘The Source of Magic,’ here.

The Magicians S1E1
  • 9.5/10
    Plot - 9.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Dialogue - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Performances - 8.0/10
  • 10/10
    Magic and Effects - 10/10


Guys, I really loved this.

Though I haven’t warmed to Quentin completely, there is still so much to love about this premiere. The music is great and fits each scene, especially the final moments of the episode. The supporting characters feel a bit trope-y, but they’re likable. And the special effects are well done and a joy to witness.

Not sure I like Quentin’s visits to Fillory, but I’m interested to see if they’re truly something magical or all in his mind.

About Nina Perez (1391 Articles)
Nina Perez is the founder of Project Fandom. She is also the author of a YA series of books, "The Twin Prophecies," and a collection of essays titled, "Blog It Out, B*tch." Her latest books, a contemporary romance 6-book series titled Sharing Space, are now available on for Kindle download. She has a degree in journalism, works in social media, lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves Idris Elba. When not watching massive amounts of British television or writing, she is sketching plans to build her very own TARDIS. She watches more television than anyone you know and she's totally fine with that.

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