The Magnus Protocol Reviews: “Futures”

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“Futures” Is Such A Unique Episode Of The Series

Futures” is not only one of the most unique horror stories I’ve experienced, but it’s also a great one. From concept to execution, there are only a few hiccups along the way, and none of them glaring enough to even be considered a distraction.

First off, the uniqueness. The premise of the horror story is an angry rant to a customer service line about a finance app. This totally makes sense. It makes sense why it happened. It makes sense as a reason someone would tell a story. Besides one or two paragraphs that were blatantly just there for backstory, the pacing, flow, all of it is organic. This is remarkably well-considered storytelling.

It’s also horror storytelling that utilizes concepts I’ve not read/heard anywhere else in spooky fiction. An evil application? Sure, that’s been done. But making the entire horror story about magical stock trading on some finance app—that’s a new one to me. The rules of it, the way it works—just a creatively disturbing idea. It does, admittedly, use similar narrative progression as “Rolling With It,” but the differences in how it plays out are many, and most such comparisons are a byproduct of any story revolving around the perils of gambling being similar. 

However, and almost hypocritical to even say on my part, the verisimilitude of “Futures” required the dialog to get a little confusing. A person who makes their money from stocks and trading would know all the affiliated terms, so it makes the character more realistic, but the average listener isn’t going to know them, and thus the early parts of this episode might knock people right out of the story. 

This Episode Uses A Lot Of Quite Technical Terms

“Futures” is also mildly soured by its anthology story’s ending. Just mildly, mind you. I can’t spoil it, but sometimes it seems that both Protocol and Archives don’t always know what to do with characters once they’re established. This might seem an odd thing to say, considering the sheer volume of interconnecting characters even going back to Mag 1: “Angler Fish,” but the machinations of the author(s) are most obvious in both series by observing which characters get that treatment, and which are sidelined.  

 As to the metaplot, however, “Futures” is golden. As I keep saying, the core group of Sam, Alice, and Celia have such engaging interplay, and each new progression in their connections and relationships is paced so well. And, though they feel somewhat siloed from the rest of the story now, Gwen and Lena continue to progress the mystery plot down interesting paths. I’ve not done many lore predictions in a while, but I’ll present my current ones—and skip this paragraph if you don’t want to hear them. For those still reading: from that brief explanation Lena gave, it sounds like the company is following Sir Robert Smirkes’ fixation on “balance” and is actively attempting control over the Dread Powers’ manifestation by pointing them toward politically/financially/etc. advantageous targets, rather than allowing wanton terror. The job of cataloging their attacks might even be to make sure one of the Powers isn’t more powerful than any of the other ones. I’m starting to suspect, since this is presumably a multiverse story, that the cases aren’t all from one reality.

But that’s all speculation. And this episode shines all its own, even if the mystery reveals turn out to not. “Futures” is wonderfully voice-acted, fantastically paced, disturbing, and does some fun things with the audio. It’s a fantastic example of how to incorporate multimedia into linear storytelling without it being gimmicky. I wouldn’t call it my favorite episode of this season so far, but it’s very close.  

Futures

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