Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next day.
Last night on TV, Neil checks in briefly with rap-battling Jewish American Princesses on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, then hands it over to Kevin Kelly for some deeper thoughts on The Magicians and Hulu’s 11.22.63.
Neil Miller: There are weeks in which I have a lot to say about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s a fantastic show with all kinds of layers. But this week, it’s most prominent layer – that of lyrical prowess – rose to the top. So without further delay, I’d like to present the explicit version of last night’s big JAP Rap Battle, as a testament to how f – king funny this show is:
Kevin Kelly: When we left our favorite Brakebills student last time, they were winging their way as geese off into the night sky. Now we find out where they were headed: Antarctica. Welcome to Brakebills South! A delightfully homey, spacious, wooden-raftered campus tucked away in the snow. And it’s inhabited by the truly disgusting, reprehensible, and extremely Russian Professor Mayakovsky. He’s an asshole who swigs vodka all day and insults his students constantly. He’s also the best teacher they’ll ever have.
Mayakovsky starts things off by taking away the students’ ability to speak and setting them to task casting a spell that hammers a nail through a board, without using their mouths. It’s challenging work, frustrating Brakebill’s best and brightest to no end. Back at Brakebill’s proper, Margo and Eliot are preparing for a magical Spring Break-esque party of epic proportions in Ibiza. Which has been described as drinking, drugs, and orgies. So a college party, right?
Margo and Eliot are trying to come up with the perfect present for the magicians who throw the party (the last time, they brought them a bag of working dicks… literally, a bag of dicks), and Eliot has the perfect spell. Except that it’s incomplete. That means they have to go to Margo’s favorite place: the library. They wind up finding a spell to make magical gin, and they get way too far into it before they discover that it’s actually a magical djinn. As in a genie. Nice going.
Back at snowbound Brakebills South, Quentin and Alice manage to master the hammer spell, onto the discover that they then have to learn how to take nails out of boards magically as well. Eventually, they decide to take the euphemism literally, and they do some pounding of their own, if you know what I mean. Additionally, Alice somehow seems to have found very tight-fitting yoga pants at Brakebills South. You won’t be sorry about that. And when they aren’t taking each other’s clothes off to have sex, they’re having sex out in the snow as foxes. Trust me, you just have to see it.
While Alice and Quentin get acquainted with each other, Kady begins opening up a big to Penny. She invites him to read her mind, requiring her to let down her mental wards. That’s how Penny discovers the fact that she’s been stealing magical things for Marina because of something her mother did. Mayakovsky other expresses an interest in Penny once he finds out he’s a traveler, and begins training him to use his skill. Although first he has to cut the grounding tattoo off of his body.
Penny uses begins using this newfound ability, and he decides to nab something from Mayakovsky’s office to give to Kady, thinking it will get her in really good with Marina. However, Mayakovsky discovers the theft, and everything else about Kady because she had dropped her wards. Now both the professor and Brakebills know everything she’s done and everything she’s stolen. He also knows that her mother is dead, and he tells her. He also tells her to flee, knowing that Brakebills’ punishment will be more than she deserves, and she heads off into the snowy tundra by herself.
Eliot has met a cute young boy named Mike during their gin/djinn adventure, and much to Margo’s chagrin they start shacking up, loudly. After she wishes Mike away, after a fashion, using the djinn, Eliot decides to stay behind and skip the party this year. He wakes up late one night and summons Mike back to bed from the kitchen, where unbeknowst to Eliot he’s staring as a bright blue moth on a mirror, while his eyes glow bright blow. Something weird is clearly going on here.
Oh yeah, and there’s Julia. She’s reeling from the aftermath of having Hannah die right in front of her, and her sister picks her up from the police station. She warns her that their mother thinks that Julia is cracking up, and she has the resources to put her away. So… there’s not not really much happening with Julia at all this time around. The Brakebills South kids head back to Brakebills proper via a magical door, and Mayakovsky urges Quentin to feed the whole inside him. I hope we’ll see Mayakovsky again this season.
One note: are a lot of f-bombs in this episode. When Mayakovsky sense the tension between Quentin and Alice, he exclaims “Why don’t you just fuck?” And when Margo loses patience about the flirting between Eliot and Mike, she tells them to “Fuck already!” So at least this show really enjoys getting to the point, because in both cases the people do exactly that.
Kevin Kelly: We’ve entered the doldrums on 11.22.63, because this episode was an exercise in futility. On face value, there’s actually a lot going on here. At the end of Episode 2, after having successfully changed the past, or so it would seem, Jake is confronted by Bill, a former Frank Dunning cohort. However, Bill helped Jake take down Frank and had accused him of killing his sister. So why is he pointing a gun at Jake?
Well, it seems that Bill has found the stash of Jake’s future information that didn’t burn up int the house fire, namely a newspaper dated from the future that announces Kennedy being killed, along with a notebook of future sports scores. It’s like Back to the Future 2 all over again. Except rather than stealing off and making a quick buck, Bill wants some answers.
So Jake decides to level with Bill, and after getting over the whole “You’re so full of shit” moment, Bill actually believe Jake and wants to help him out. He doesn’t want to go back to Kentucky, and his sister is dead, so why not help change the course of human history? So Jake and his newfound partner head to the fictional town of Jodi, Texas “Because it’s halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth” where Jake gets a job as a substitute high school English teacher. They celebrate at a strip club, and the owner comes over to greet the rambunctious Bill and his “brother” Jake. It’s Jack Ruby.
And then suddenly, hello, it’s 1962. I mean, when Jake first pops into the past, it’s October 21, 1960. In just 10 days, he checked out the Kennedy situation, followed key player George de Mohrenschildt, and veered far off course to take care of Frank Dunning. But now it’s 1962 and the series gives us a pretty finite end in the title as far as 11.22.63 is concerned. Now Jake is a favorite member of the faculty, and meets (for the second time since episode one now two years in the past) Miss (also, formerly Mrs.) Sadie Dunhill. Sparks fly and Jake is smitten.
Meanwhile, Jake and his buddy stake out the house where Oswald and his wife Marina will live in Forth Worth, Texas. They rent a room next door and set up shop, filling the place with early 60s surveillance gear. Jakes continues to woo Miss Dunhill, but screws up when he has to ditch chaperoning a school dance to check in on Bill and the gear. Turns out Bill is an anchor that is going to get Jake in trouble sooner or later. Not only does he drunkenly tell Jack Ruby that Jake is from the future earlier in the show, but he also get the crap kicked out of him and all of their new gear stolen.
Jake decides to tail Oswald on foot, and follows him to a rally for General Edwin Walker, a man he may or may not try to assassinate later. Oswald is accompanied by de Mohrenschildt, and he goes totally bonkers after the rally, accusing Walker of being a fascist. But does that necessarily mean he’s going to gun down JFK later? Only time will tell. However, here’s hoping that time tells us in a way that is more exciting than this episode. Despite everything happening here: Jake meets Jack Ruby! Jake meets Oswald! Jake starts to fall in love!… it still feels like something was missing. The sense of urgency has gone AWOL, and other than a couple of brushes with 1960s racism, Jake doesn’t feel like he’s a man out of time anymore. I’m hoping episode four gets us back on track, because that’s the halfway point for this series.
What did you watch last night?