I started listening to The Magnus Archives about one year ago, in the spookiest of seasons. A friend of mine was totally fascinated by this horror drama and had listened to all seasons already. My first impression of the podcast was equally fascinated. The very first episode draw me in through the familiarity of its setting Edinburgh, and the spooky atmosphere.
I finished the first season about a month later and remained intrigued by it. I especially enjoyed the gradually revealed connections between the individual cases that are read episode per episode. Moreover, new characters and voices were introduced. They thus complicated the Magnus Institute and the staff around John, the archivist, in the best possible way. The show starts out as a ghost stories/supernatural anthology. Individual cases are read by the archivist in each episode, followed by a bit of research on the events. But soon it turns out to channel our fears in an unprecedented and unexpected way.
From then on, I continuously and regularly listened to episodes throughout the winter.
My friend and I ritualisticly went out in the dark and listened to these more or less spooky episodes. While she was completely aware of all the connections and plot twists, I was constantly trying to figure them out and keep all characters in mind. As the show initially appeared to be an anthology, I did not pay too much attention to specific names. Listening to the second season, I admitted to being a little bit obsessed with the show.
Jonathan Sims, the writer, surely caught my attention with his vaguely connected cases. I also enjoyed the sound effects and diverse speakers that made each episode intense and interesting. We even get cases read not solely by the archivist, but also from his fellow staff members. Back then, I listened to one episode per day, making my heart accelerate its beating before going to sleep. I especially enjoyed this season’s finale as it gifted us with some great revelations and plot twists. Some of our theories were finally filed or verified which was immensely satisfying. Simultaneously, many more questions came up and made me want to continue listening at once.
Season 3 brought about many changes.
New characters further complicated the plot and threatened our protagonist. He moreover, for the first time, left the Institute with us. This change of setting expanded the universe to reach beyond the read cases, to outside the walls of one building. Therefore, the threats that all these cases outline became more real and got in contact with our world.
This season thus felt more real and serious as the revealed connections outlined the lurking dangers. On this horrific background, it was intriguing to witness the characters’ relationships develop. We got to know some of them in more detail but also had to say goodbye to some. The tension between them seethed with the impending threats approaching. The deadline to be met affected all characters alike. I loved the final showdown of this excellent season, its surprising plot twists, and the expectations it set up for the following. Thanks to the sound effects and the brilliant voice actors, we were fully engaged in the happenings and listened with excitement.
Thanks to the first three seasons, choose The Magnus Archives as my favorite podcast of 2022.
I must have finished season 4 only after quite a while…
… as I listened and enjoyed the special episodes (Q&As, etc.) by the end of June. I assume that I stopped listening to it for a while or only listened to it on and off due to occurring personal changes. Simultaneously, the separation of my dearest characters within the show might have also decreased my enjoyment of the podcast.
The only things that I still remember about the second-to-last season is its rupture of everything known. The Institute is overturned in an unexpected way. What previously has been the cornerstone of the show fell apart. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this deep dive into some lurking secrets and their final revelation. Furthermore, I loved John and Martin’s relationship finally becoming a bit more official. Additionally, other characters’ sympathy for each other took shape. This season surely challenged the figures in an unprecedented way and demanded some serious actions that I listened to in shock. The final episodes further turned the characters’ world quite literally upside down.
After this finale, I somehow stopped listening to the podcasts for several months.
Predominantly having been experiencing it with the friend who recommended it to me, I felt less inclined to continue this journey after we split ways. Nonetheless, in October 2023, a year after starting the horror drama, I eventually listened to the final season. After a year, it felt really satisfying to finish the last 40 of 200 episodes. In these, John and Martin jointly but mostly cut off from everyone else fight their last battles and endure apocalyptic encounters.
The finale episodes knit countless threads together and gift us with the appearance of recurring characters and their amazing voice actors. Only the pacing sometimes seemed a bit off to me, as were some final resolutions. The writer tried to stick to his anthological pattern of individual stories while simultaneously driving the story forward. I liked both parts but found them somewhat imbalanced every now and then, depending on my enjoyment of the individual story. In some episodes, I was completely lost, others rather swept by without me really engaging with the story. But the final ten episodes surely kept me on my toes and induced a lot of emotions.
Engagement with the fans and extras
The Magnus Archives was my first original story podcast. Though lacking comparison, I nonetheless want to highlight the many extras the producers gave us. Writer Jonathan Sims guided some of the other voice actors through entertaining Pen & Paper games. They gifted us with bloopers and fluff stories read by the actors but written by fans. After the final season, they looked back on many, many episodes, commenting on specific scenes from the professional angle and answering tons of fan and crew member questions. I also really enjoyed the stories sent in by fans for Rusty Fears Contest and read by Jonathan Sims or one of the other amazing voice actors. All these extras gave love back to the fans and were additionally simply a lot of fun to listen to!
Five seasons span a lot of hours…
… but I am lucky to have spent my time with these not always sympathetic but surely authentic characters. I am grateful for the intriguing world and plot that the writer and the producers created. It surely played on our fears but also helped us process some of them as horror should do. They made the horrific events and encounters digestible and enjoyable, especially due to the complex characters’ moving relations to each other. I enjoyed their banter as much as their disappointment and arguments. Building on this experience with Rusty Quill as the production company and Jonathan Sims as the writer, I am looking forward to experiencing the new podcast following next year.
If you dare, listen to episode 1 here. And feel free to leave your opinion on it below.