The Magnus Protocol Reviews: “Personal Screening”

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“Personal Screening” Relies On Scary Implications

Personal Screening” made for a surreal episode to listen to, considering I’m also a movie critic. I can’t say it upped the dread or anything, but it was a little odd to listen to. Considering how many professions both series have featured, it’s actually slightly surprising that we’ve only gotten one writer character previously and only back in Archives. Between that and “Personal Screening” revolving around a blog, it’s a unique episode. Though, that doesn’t mean a great episode.

The wheel that “Personal Screening” turns on is ambiguity. And is thus an outlier. The Magnus Archives always had a certain approach to information reveals, even going back to “Angler Fish.” The actual mechanics of how the “magic” works aren’t usually explained, but by the end of most episodes, you could feasibly understand a good chunk of the scenario. The previous episode, “Taking Notes,” basically spells out every rule of the horror. Same with almost everything but the exact nature of the tattoo in “Making Adjustments.” But this one confounds that. I have a theory about it being a The End avatar holding the camera, but it’s a tentative idea at best.

Personal Screening

This Episode Breaks The Already Winning Formula

And maybe—for some—this approach was quite effective. That it’s still sitting with them, making them wonder what horror lurked in the story. Not me, though. “Personal Screening” disappointed. The moments right before the movie starts were much more effective than the actual reveal. I was tense, mind running with all sorts of possibilities for horror. A little hint of what happened could’ve been enough. A single concrete detail would’ve made it terrifying. I can appreciate the episode for tension building and an intriguing mystery beforehand, one reminiscent of the also memorable “Creature Feature,” but that’s all the praise I can muster on that front.

As to the overarching plot, there’s not much to comment upon. It’s a real short section this time and doesn’t introduce any new information, really. Colin’s descent into IT frustration continues. Something is up with Sam. Alice is talking to her brother again. It’s a bit of a holding pattern waiting for whatever the big plot is—and I probably wouldn’t mind it so much if I liked the individual episodes more. But “Personal Screening” now just feels like another episode between me and whatever amazing reveal The Magnus Protocol has planned.    

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