The Magnus Protocol Reviews: “Getting Off”

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“Getting Off” Is Essentially A Horror Bottle Episode

Getting Off” is an episode with a totally different vibe. Between this and “Saturday Night,” we have the same villain, Mr. Bonzo, but he’s handled totally differently. The tone, pacing, and how much information we, the audience, get is as varied between these two episodes as it could be.

In “Saturday Night,” the horror is enigmatic. Anyone familiar with horror tropes could’ve guessed Mr. Bonzo would end up a murdering monster—but the episode doesn’t lean into that. The horror is just as much about the mystery as the concept. “Getting Off” derives its horror more from violence, from shocking the audience.

I’d almost call the episode impatient. There’s practically no tone setting. An insurance claim is an excellent framing device for a horror story like this—but we almost get none of our statement giver’s personality. Her reactions could’ve been to literally any monster in any scenario. And Mr. Bonzo is not a generic villain. Basically, the supernatural elements, once introduced, take over, sacrificing everything else. It’s just a weird event, then a disturbing event, then gore, gore, and yet more gore. In that order. This episode’s runtime isn’t noticeably less than others, but it feels like the story zips on by. Perhaps this is intentional—considering the metaplot suggests this is tantamount to an assassination hit—but directness has not been something monsters in Archives usually prioritize. It’s not so much about fear anymore.

Getting Off

This Is Perhaps The Most Directly Violent Episode

Now, this doesn’t mean the episode isn’t scary to listen to. “Getting Off” has truly upsetting descriptions of violence. It’s carnage. The writing isn’t ambiguous about how much damage happened to that person. If you’re squeamish, this episode might be too much. You’ve been warned.

As to the non-Bonzo parts of “Getting Off,” there are really only a few scenes. But they’re good scenes. Sam and Celia are cute together. Alice and Sam continue to have some of the best banter I’ve heard in almost any story. And Gwen’s ongoing plotline is my favorite of the mysteries. Archives set up lots of its plot(s) with the statements, interconnecting things that way, but Protocol focuses more on its main characters. There are so many secrets they’re hiding from one another. It makes for an interesting counterpoint, and I wonder if the series intended that parallel.

So, we’ve got some good. We’ve got some bad. I wouldn’t call “Getting Off” anything special. I still have the same worries about Mr. Bonzo stories having elements of fatphobia. Magic is used to handwave away plot holes to a noticeable degree. The non-narrator victims could’ve been literally anyone—though that issue might just be to maintain a mystery for now. But Mr. Bonzo remains a terrifying villain, the dialog overall is well-written, and there are moments where the horror really works here. It’s a flawed episode in a good series. It happens.  

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