The Magicians “All That Hard Glossy Armor” Spoilers Ahead
As we approach the Spring finale season, we get closer and closer to the best of what TV can offer. It began with a riveting episode of Madam Secretary focusing on the importance of vaccinations. A sweet episode of Black-ish reflecting on what it means to be selfless for the kids we love, and a “key-smashingly” perfect belated Valentine’s day special of Superstore. But before The Magicians even aired their musical episode, I already had a great feeling I’d want to write about it, which I’m happy to report I was right about.
It’s not an easy task describing The Magicians to those who don’t watch it, to sit and discuss remarkably complex and intensely flawed characters that you can’t help but want to protect as if they were real. It’s not the quickest show to fall in love with either. It takes time. Two seasons to be exact for me. It takes time to understand why each and every person is as they are, why they do the things they do, and how they operate in the circumstances presented to them. And the show’s very foundation, the beating heart through it all is the relationships within. So few shows can handle platonic relationships as intricately as The Magicians does, which is why I fell in love with it when I finally did. At the top of the list of remarkable dynamics, Eliot Waugh and Margo Hanson govern—giving us utter magic in a way incantations never could.
That’s why “All That Hard Glossy Armor” is so crucial for their relationship, and even more crucial for Margo’s character—an episode filled with multiple moments that had me in tears.
Margo, the woman, and the Fillorian High King don’t grieve. She can’t. She refuses to. As she states earlier in the season, “Because if I start, I’ll never stop.” And from the moment we got that statement, I’d been waiting for the start. Eliot’s too important to Margo—he’s always been, “the best thing she’s ever done is be his best friend,” and in this case, to a degree, her own best friend, because as much as she sees Eliot as her “lizard hallucination,” they are mirror images of one other. For so long, Margo has had to take care of Margo, learn to love herself, carry herself, and fight for the person she wants to be. She’s had to be her own hard, glossy armor. Still does. But it took losing Eliot to reflect on the amount of pain she’s actually in—the pain she carries in her. I’ve used this statement before, but I won’t shy away from it with these two, but they’re each other’s person. And Margo finally allowing herself to feel was something I imagine we were all waiting for.
Margo needed this moment in “All That Hard Glossy Armor” more than anything—a moment so much more daring and enigmatic than even her most glorious moments as High King. A moment Summer Bishil conveyed with acute embodiment—the catastrophic rage building in her was so palpable, a literal storm couldn’t stop it from being felt. The realization that she is powerful even without the throne and crown is the very reflection of a strong woman. A woman who’s in pain, a woman who’s grieving, a woman who’s unsure, and a woman who’s angry. We often dismiss women like Margo on TV deeming them as “unlikeable”— she reminds me of The Americans’ Elizabeth Jennings in that way. Women who can be soft but more often than not are dealing with the fights in front of them better than they are with more intimate circumstances if you will.
I’ve written so many articles about women who are strong because they choose to be vulnerable and kind, but I’ve yet to be presented with the opportunity to write about women who are vulnerable and angry. Women who aren’t dealing with things because it’s too much. Women who are locking the pain deep within. And that’s what’s so fascinating about Margo and the way Bishil touched on a myriad of emotions — for a moment, her rage reflected all of what she truly is, a complex, wonderfully enigmatic woman who’s in every way, a force to be reckoned with. A woman who could fall to her knees screaming in pain one moment, and a woman who’ll fight the good fight the next. A woman who could be a storm that shields others instead of destroying them. And that’s just it, while Margo isn’t the traditional Wonder Woman-esque hero with innocence pouring through her eyes, she’s still a hero whose greatest fight is axing through the demons that terrorize others. This is the story “All That Hard Glossy Armor” is trying to tell. The hero who’ll fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. The voice that’ll yell and curse for those who can’t. And the voice who’ll sing softly when one fight’s over because for the first time in a long time, there’s love in her heart again. A type of love she didn’t allow herself to feel because people like her father made her believe that she couldn’t be who chose to and be worthy of adoration.
Oftentimes, especially in the media we consume, women like Margo are portrayed as villains, they use their rage in an evil quest; thereby, giving viewers the impression that you can’t be good and angry at the same time. But this episode, and particularly the “Storm Coming” number showcases the very opposite—women could use their rage and pain to fight the good fight. Princesses aren’t the only ones who get sh!t done, complex women do, too, and that’s a theme The Magicians excels at bringing to our screens week after week.
What are your thoughts on The Magicians’ “All That Hard Glossy Armor?”