Admin: Episode 3 opens with both Nicholas Throne and Jenny falling apart, and it is all Magnus’ fault. Nick is having nightmares about Magnus after the whole jousting affair. He goes to Fay (who was just shown chatting with Magnus’ butler/magician), and they move on with their investigation. Meanwhile, Jenny has managed to open the rigged doorknob with coal tongs. Peering over the stairs, she sees one of Magnus’ dogs barking atop a very dead looking Nick. She runs back inside her room but steps out again (seems the knob is no longer rigged) and sees Nick again – only this time he is moving. “Magnus, you’ve put things inside my head,” she says aloud. Eventually she makes it all the way downstairs, but butler/magician has returned and he sends her back upstairs. “Full marks for trying,” he says.
RF: And once again, Nick proves that besides being a wunderkind games magnate, he’s also the king of bad bed head. 😉 Fay’s discussion with the butler/magician looks somewhat urgent and conspiratorial; evidently they know each other, so there’s even more evidence Fay is not quite what she seems – at least as far as Nick is concerned.
RF: As for Jenny… it takes her an embarrassing number of tries to figure out that touching an electrified doorknob will not eventually yield a different result. She would utterly fail Lisa
Simpson’s “Is my brother dumber than a hamster?” test (Note: I’d love to link to the video for this, but I couldn’t find a playable one!). Then after Jenny finally realizes she can use the tongs to escape her room, things get even weirder when she suddenly sees Nick lying dead. (We never do find out how Magnus managed to give her that vision; post-hypnotic suggestion, maybe?) Deciding to disbelieve what she sees, Jenny closes her eyes to the vision and it works pretty well… until she gets downstairs and runs into the butler and the real dogs (who have not, in fact, savaged Nick – although they might like to). Escape attempt foiled! Side note: Given Magnus’ love of folklore and Arthurian imagery, I think it’s worth noting that Jenny, the “captive princess” in this game, shares a name with Arthur’s queen, Guinevere. Surely not a coincidence.
Admin: No video link to the Simpson’s hamster reference, but here’s a nice gif. 🙂 That’s right about Guinevere. And Fay is a callback to Morgan le Fay.
RF: Ah, thank you for finding exactly the right gif! 😀 And Magnus is Merlin, albeit a Merlin who’s had a serious falling-out with Arthur.
A Brief History of Sorcerer
Admin: Nick and Fay make it to Sorcerer. Unsurprisingly, Magnus is in a balcony outside expecting their arrival. We learn this is Fay’s first visit to the office. She asks about Jenny. Jenny was part of Sorcerer from the beginning because that was what Magnus wanted. We see a flashback of Magnus and Jenny in a restaurant having a merry old time as Magnus conjures up flowers for her. Nick is outside watching, presumably jealous.
RF: I find it interesting that we see little vignettes of Magnus wooing Jenny (he’s somewhat traditional in this area, at least, employing wine, dinner, gifts, and magic tricks), but none of Nick doing the same – though it’s Nick that Jenny ends up marrying (and divorcing). Nick certainly does appear to be jealous enough to gnaw on his steering wheel as he watches their date, even though he’s just told Fay the only reason Jenny became part of Sorcerer was because Magnus insisted on it.
Admin: And the “wooing” flashbacks are so sweet if you discount Nick seething in the background. Magnus is an incredibly charming man when he’s not feeling antagonistic. 😉
RF: Magnus looks like a lot more of a fun date than Nick would be. 😉
Admin: Jenny sold her printing company and joined Sorcerer. But that was when things started going wrong. Nick said that Magnus’ games were so complex you needed a PhD to understand the rules, let alone play them. Hmmmm…I don’t know. This is the guy who struggles with jigsaws.
RF: Haaa! 😀 Very true that Nick should be the last one to talk about Magnus’ games being “too complex”. He’s already mentioned several times that he gets SMRT people to create his games because he doesn’t understand them himself. But legions of role-playing and tabletop gamers, who adore their games’ complexity, would disagree with him. I think it’s more likely Nick just doesn’t have the patience to sit down and read the rule books. He’s certainly very impatient with Magnus’ puzzles.
Admin: Jenny tried to get Magnus into computer games, but Luddite Magnus wasn’t having it. “Nothing to do with magic, dear boy.” I’ve got to say, Nick’s little Magnus impression is cute, even if it doesn’t sound like Magnus. Nick pulls out a big contraption of plastic pillars. That was Sorcerer Mk II, Magnus’ big game. “Sheer bloody lunacy.” Sorcerer nearly went bankrupt.
RF: Sorcerer Mk II does look rather “Mouse Trap“-like, I have to admit. All those fiddly bits would soon get lost or buried in the shag carpet. But going by some of the puzzles Magnus has come up with so far, he must have eventually reconciled himself to using computers some of the time, even if he really prefers the hands-on approach of old-fashioned henchmen, punker gangs, and rigged doorknobs.
Admin: They had no choice, according to Nick, but to bring in the money men and push out Magnus. And how did Magnus take it? He went nuts! He stormed into Nick’s yuppie office during a little yuppie party, shoving everyone out of the way, and shoved Nick over, causing him to knock his head on a table. You do NOT want to get in Magnus’ way!
RF: You can tell how prosperous Sorcerer has become in the flashback by Nick’s somewhat better haircut and actual suit, rather than the ratty jean jacket he used to wear. Jenny’s worried how Magnus will react to Nick’s going behind his back, but Nick replies that if Magnus insists on “disappear[ing] for weeks on end” he’s left with no other choice. I bet he didn’t try very hard to contact Magnus, though. Hmmm… and just what is Magnus getting up to when he disappears?
RF: The party marks a major turning point in Nick and Magnus’ friendship. Nick has rather cold-bloodedly assessed Magnus as “a liability” to Sorcerer, despite the fact he was responsible for its early success, which you’d think might merit giving Magnus a little benefit of the doubt. Instead, Nick decides to cut him out completely, dismissively describing Magnus as an anachronism who doesn’t realize it’s no longer the “Age of Aquarius“. Rather a poor way to treat one’s business partner! I can’t really blame Magnus for storming into Nick’s yuppie party after that kind of betrayal. But… is that the entirety of Magnus’ grudge against Nick?
Admin: The clue for game no. 4 appears on Nick’s computer screen. It is an incredibly easy one, something you’d give children to solve, but Nick appears confused. OK. Well, he’s been through a lot, so I won’t be too hard on him. 🙂
RF: See? Magnus is far better with computer games than Nick gave him credit for. 😉 Lisa Simpson had problems with a similar puzzle, though, so perhaps Nick isn’t entirely being a thickie. I like how Fay drops several obvious hints about how to solve the puzzle before finally giving up and just doing it for him – though Nick is too busy having a temper tantrum to notice what she’s done. Not liking being the target of his anger, Fay finally decides she’s had enough of nudging Nick along and leaves him to his own devices.
Admin: Matt Groening is clearly a fan of The One Game! 😉
RF: I knew I’d seen that puzzle somewhere before. 😉
Admin: Meanwhile, Tom Darke is lurking around Magnus’ abandoned lot. Who should be there, sitting very elegantly at an office desk with a couple of really cool black and white telephones (What are they connected to?), but Magnus himself. “I’m afraid it’s my secretaries lunch hour, otherwise I would offer you coffee or something. Still, shall we make a start?”
RF: As a magician, Magnus is very conscious of his image, so I’m sure he enjoys discombobulating Tom Darke by appearing behind a very expensive-looking, ultra-modern desk in a grotty, abandoned warehouse. Who’s the anachronism now, Nick? His manner is very casual and professional, and that tailored business suit looks really good on him. 😉
Admin: Oh, my gosh! Yes, it does. That man could take over Gotham looking like that. Not that I would recommend he try. 😮
RF: Not a lot of longevity in taking over Gotham, unfortunately. 🙁
Admin: Darke thinks Magnus has some sad vendetta against Sorcerer, but Magnus insists that Sorcerer is incidental. His target is Nicholas. You can see their breath very clearly, so it must have been a freezing cold day. Anyway, Darke doesn’t think Magnus could run Sorcerer any better than Thorne, and he thinks that Magnus’ behavior, what with stealing a couple million quid, is a bit crazy. Magnus disagrees, “Nonsense, it happens all the time.” But he is impressed with Darke and his smooth money talking ways, “Excellent Tom, that is exactly what I need in a managing director.” Flattery! But, it doesn’t work, and Tom politely makes his exit. Magnus follows him, “give my regards to your next appointment.” Looks like Magnus has been keeping an eye on some of Tom’s extracurricular activities. I like the little knowing look he gives Darke there.
RF: Apparently Magnus forgot to get the heating hooked up for his new office. 😉 But
despite Nick’s accusation that he lacks business acumen and is mired in the past, Magnus does appear to have some rather cunning business savvy. He’s certainly a lot more aware of Tom Darke’s double dealings than Nick is.
Admin: Back at Sorcerer, Thorne finally realizes he’s been looking at double sets of numbers all along; the answer is 88. No wonder he couldn’t play Magnus’ games!! The numbers reference a date, 8/8/80. The date of Nick’s and Jenny’s wedding. Magnus, looking absolutely gorgeous in his long coat and suit decorated with a red flower, is standing under a tree. He leaves as blossoms symbolically fall. Poor Magnus, he looks so dejected.
RF: That’s right, Magnus is the very picture of thwarted love, loitering meaningfully beneath a tree as Nick and Jenny emerge from the church. He still has better taste than Nick in clothes, though. I completely agree that that long coat and black suit are very flattering on him; dressed for mourning, perhaps? I also like that he has a red flower in his buttonhole while Nick’s is white; I’m sure that’s also symbolic of something. So, all of Magnus’ wooing came to naught. 🙁 What was Jenny thinking??
Admin: As you say, she’s dumber than a hamster. She’s probably even dumber than Bart Simpson. 😛
Admin: Nick heads to the church where he and Jenny were married and gets entangled in another Avengers like adventure. And while that is going on, Fay drives to Magnus’ lot, walks up to him, and they hug! Oooooh! So, she is in cahoots.
RF: Magnus looks quite emotional as he watches Fay get out of the car, becoming almost teary-eyed as they embrace; not only do they know each other extremely well, it seems like he hasn’t seen her for a long time – seven years, perhaps? – and has missed her badly. All very mysterious and intriguing! I also notice that Fay has changed clothes and is now wearing an all-black outfit that nicely matches Magnus’.
Admin: OK, so Nick is in the midst of his Avengers like adventure at a church which involves a blind man and Magnus’ ubiquitous butler/magician. The blind man gives Nick game no. 5….a box. There is a flashback of Magnus showing Jenny a puzzle box and is she ever amused. Magnus looks magnanimous as ever. That man really does love flattery. 🙂
RF: Nick has finally reached the point where he’s suspicious of everyone he meets at each new “game”, although innocent, non-involved bystanders just think he’s rather rude and weird. It is all rather surreal and Avengers-like, with Nick unsure of what’s real and what isn’t. After a bit of a tussle at the church (once again, more of a distraction than anything else), Nick receives game no. 5. However, flashback Jenny is just as bad at solving puzzles as Nick; she’s as completely confused by Magnus’ puzzle box as he was by the double numbers. However, Magnus does seem to enjoy her confusion; he likes knowing that his tricks are effective. No wonder he knew it would take her ages to solve the rigged doorknob. 😉
It’s the Magnus BunchAdmin: And now to Tom Darke: He does indeed pass on Magnus’ regards to Lord Maine (the bloke he’s been conspiring with over Sorcerer) who is very intrigued to learn about what Magnus has been up. However, Maine has no intention of keeping Tom Darke on should he seize control. He dislikes deserters. Ooooh! Tom sloshes his drink in Maine’s face (who just laughs about it old-school villain style) and storms off.
RF: Poor Tom just isn’t very good at double dealing. By trying to play both ends against the middle, he’s lost out completely. Magnus’ offer might start to sound good right about now.
Admin: As Tom is driving away, he sees Magnus parked in the road. Magnus, who is with Fay, says the offer is still open. Tom is just shocked to see Fay. Magnus: “Allow me to make the proper introduction.” Awww, Magnus, you’re so full of surprises. And this obviously means that Magnus knew full well that Tom would be shafted by Maine.
RF: Magnus is managing to stay neatly one step ahead of both Nick and Tom (and probably Maine, too) – and outwit Jenny without even being home – so he’s obviously very good at games stuff. The scene cuts just before Magnus makes “the proper introduction”, so we’re still in the dark (no pun intended) as to his and Fay’s relationship.
Admin: Magnus was persuasive enough this time because Tom does join them. It is Magnus, Fay, Tom, the blind guy, and the butler/magician. Magnus: “And now we are six.” Hey! I only see five. Maybe he means Jenny.
RF: Magnus and his gang have shifted locales to a much more medieval-looking, Avengers-type great hall location in preparation for the next showdown. I also noticed that while “captive princess” Jenny is attired mostly in white, Fay is all in black, indicating her allegiance to Magnus. I’m sure Tom’s last name being “Darke” isn’t coincidental, either. And what more classic Arthurian quest could there be than for “warrior” Nick to free a captured princess?
Hi, Gavin – Bye, Gavin
Admin: While all this has been going on, Nick meets Jenny’s new fella Gavin as the two of them were both snooping in her apartment. Gavin and Nick team up to try and rescue Jenny. Nick explains how Magnus can get so many people to go along with him in this reality game. Seems to me the answer is simple, they are all insane.
RF: Or they just like what Magnus is paying them. Or they find Nick’s discombobulated expressions really entertaining. 😉 Gavin is also a security expert, so he sees through Nick’s rather clumsy efforts to lie about Jenny’s whereabouts easily. After hearing the whole story from Nick, Gavin’s willing to come along as an ally, though he thinks Magnus is an “all-time nutter”. Surprisingly enough, given his earlier conversations with Fay, Nick grudgingly admits that “there’s more to [Magnus] than that.”Admin: But we get a flashback to really explain it: Nick, Jenny and Magnus are in a diner. Nick asks what if people just don’t want to play. Magnus insists that “most will. It’s only an extension of real life; after all we’re always playing roles, changing the rules to suit ourselves. You give people a chance to do that on a grand scale, they’ll jump at it.” Nick thinks it is just a theory, but Jenny pipes in, “…it’s more than a theory. I’d be interested in a game like that.” That earns her some Magnus brownie points.
RF: Jenny stares at Magnus with complete fascination as he explains his game theory – is she sure she married the right guy? 😉 However, despite saying she’d be “interested in a game like that”, it turns out she really isn’t, especially if it means being cooped up in mansions, fed gourmet meals, and tormented with visions of dead ex-husbands. I also think that the reason most people would be willing to play the game would be because they’d be drawn in by Magnus’ charisma, rather than just a desire to roleplay.
Admin: Nick and Gavin go to Magnus’ mansion. Unfortunately, they run into the dogs and as a result Gavin dies. Even more unfortunately, the dogs die. So, a very shaken-up Nick goes back to the game no. 5 box and smashes it. Inside is a card saying he is “cordially invited to our medieval banquet at Castle Perilous.” That sounds fun! On the back it says, “her place or mine?” and Nick has a little meltdown. Even when he thinks he’s acting on his own initiative (going to Jenny’s apartment and Magnus’ mansion) he is still playing right into Magnus’ hands.
RF: Poor dogs! 🙁 They were just doing their jobs. Before he dies (not one of Magnus’ illusions this time), Gavin also tells Nick that he thinks Jenny is still in love with him, because she turned down Gavin’s marriage proposals. Nick has a rather nonplussed reaction to that information. He also has an interesting flashback after Gavin’s death, remembering a woman’s hand and arm emerging from a lake (a recurring Arthurian image from earlier episodes), while he desperately tried to reach whoever it was. He screams out, “Megan!!” – now, who could that be?? Nick had earlier accused Magnus of being obsessed with the past, but this seems to be a key event from his.
Admin: Nick goes to Castle Perilous where it all gets a bit Avengers-like again. It is a medieval themed venue where guests eat and participate in fun and games. But, of course, for Nick there isn’t much fun. While there, he discovers that Fay, who is playing the role of an accused witch requiring a champion, is indeed part of the game!
RF: I like how Nick keeps catching fleeting glimpses of Tom Darke and Fay in the crowd – but when he goes in for a closer look, he finds they’re really other people. Clearly Magnus’ game is beginning to take a bit of a toll on him. The medieval party is rather Avengers-like and again, somewhat surreal, until Nick realizes that the knight he’s fighting is taking things rather more seriously than expected. Worn out and under duress, he’s even more shocked to discover Fay has been in on the game the entire time. She’s even disguised in a blonde wig to make him think she might be Jenny. After losing the champion’s duel, Nick is left to cool his heels in an oubliette while awaiting the next game.
Wrap-UpAdmin: I certainly like how smart Magnus looks in his business attire. Honestly, I think he’d be great for Sorcerer. What we really learn in this episode is that no matter how secretly or independently you think are acting, Magnus knows exactly what is going on. I think he is using a combination of guess work (he knows Nick inside and out) and spying (that butler/magician guy is everywhere).
RF: Agreed that Magnus is likely using a mix of intuition, prior knowledge, guess work, and spies to stay one step ahead of Nick. Plus it’s already well-established that Magnus is far better at games than Nick will ever be. I like the amount of trouble he takes to project the right image, especially when doing so results in surreal, confusing contrasts, like his modern office set-up in a decrepit warehouse. Magnus knows the value of keeping his opponents off-kilter. And he dresses much better than Nick, too.
Admin: And we got to see a little bit of what he is like when he is angry: Determined, volatile, and aggressive. It is an impressive contrast to the warm, loving countenance we saw when he was impressing Jenny with his magic tricks and secret boxes. Yeah, Magnus is definitely a man you’d rather keep happy.
RF: We’re still not sure if Magnus’ attack on Nick is what precipitated his seven-year(!) stay in the asylum, but it does seem like a possibility. Not only was he determined, volatile, and aggressive, I also think that he was, above all, feeling incredibly betrayed by the man he trusted. And not only that, he was betrayed by Jenny when she (inexplicably!) married Nick. He’s had seven years to think about things, and now he’s trying to get a message across to both of them – mostly to Nick. But I would also agree that we saw he has the potential to be warm, loving, and very generous. Magnus is a fascinating set of contrasts.