Season three of SYFY’s The Magicians has been one of the most spectacular yet. This season was able to follow a strong story arch, but also have some fun, stylized episodes, and continue with the deep character development of the eight “heroes.” Today, we counting down the top seven moments of season three, based on entertainment, story, and character awesomeness.
If you have not watched all of season three of The Magicians, spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
#7: Nerd Code with Eliot and Margo, “The Tales of the Seven Keys.”
Season two introduced fairies, and the season two finale saw the Fairy Queen (Candis Cayne) and her army descending on Margo (Summer Bishil) and Eliot (Hale Appleman) in Castle Whitespire in Fillory, the Queen on horseback with custody of one of Margo’s eyes. Throughout the season three premiere, the Fairy Queen seems to always be one step ahead of Margo, and Eliot soon notices a small cage with an eyeball in it around the Queen’s wrist. He realizes that the Queen has been spying on Margo through her amputated eye. He takes Margo into the woods and they proceed to have a coded message in nerd pop culture lingo, featuring everything from X-Men to Gossip Girl.
The two had a rough last season, what with Margo making a deal with fairies that involved trading his wife and unborn child in exchange for the return of magic. While their relationship will always be affected, it was great to start out the season knowing that, when it comes to dire situations, they are still totally in sync.
#6: Harriet’s Story, “Six Short Stories About Magic”
This season featured multiple stylized episodes, one of them being the episode “Six Short Stories About Magic.” This episode told one story from 6 different perspectives, each with its own insights and backgrounds. One of these stories was Harriet’s. Harriet, played by Marlee Matlin, was introduced towards the end of season two as a Magician using a Buzzfeed-type of website to disseminate dark magic. Not exactly a fan of The Library of the Neitherlands, the all-knowing magical organization, she aligns herself with Kady (Jade Tailor) to help a dying Penny (Arjun Gupta) in exchange for information on The Library. It was unclear why Harriet hated the library until this episode, when viewers learned that she has a long history with The Library, as her mother is the Head Librarian.
What makes Harriet’s story a great moment on the show is that it is told completely silently, as Harriet is deaf. The story is told through sign language and subtitles, and it gives the audience not just her side of the story, but allows them to step into her shoes. Not only is this sequence stylistically magnificent, but it allows viewers to not just see Harriet’s side of the story, but to step into her shoes.
#5: Marina’s Return, “Twenty-Three”
No one ever stays dead on this show for long. Marina Andrieski, played by Kacey Rohl, was the baddest witch in New York until she was killed in the beginning of season two by a trickster god. That seemed to be the end of the “head hedge witch,” until one of the alternate timelines came into play this season.
Since it has been a while, before the beginning of the season one, the main characters went through 39 timelines of attempting to defeat The Beast, all of which ended in everyone’s deaths. In season two, Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) met Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) from the 23rd timeline when Quentin used magic to speak to her about Shades, or souls. In season three, Julia and Josh (Trevor Einhorn) were pulled into the 23rd timeline by the 23rd timeline’s Josh and Marina.
Seeing Marina was a bit of a shock for Julia; the two never really got along, and she was kind of the cause of Timeline 40!Marina’s death. But this Marina never went through that trauma, so her relationship with Julia was not tainted in the same way. (They did not actually have much of a relationship.) She is still just as cunning and self-serving. (She tried to feed Timeline 40!Julia and Josh to The Beast… yikes.) But once Julia shows that she could be a powerful ally (more on that later), they are able to work together to defeat The Beast. At the end of the episode, when a portal is opened to the 40th timeline, Marina immediately runs through, meaning her shenanigans are far from over.
#4: High King Margo, “The Fillorian Candidate”
Season 3 was not kind to the Fillorian monarchs. From the puppet master that was the Fairy Queen to the mutiny of Tick Pickwick (and the rest of Fillory), Eliot, Margo, and Fen (Brittany Curran) have not quite been able to live like royalty.
In the penultimate episode of the season, Eliot puts the position of High King up to a vote. Though the only two names on the ballot were Eliot and Tick, they only took into account the humans of Fillory. However, Fillory has about 100,000 humans and over one million intelligent, talking animals. And Margo, as the only monarch who listened to their concerns, won by an overwhelming write-in vote. Though Eliot has been High King, in the last season and a half, Margo has taken control, and it was reflected in this vote. In the episode “Poached Eggs,” Margo explains to Eliot, “There wasn’t a blood test to tell me to be High Queen. I chose it, and I have had to fight for every shred of authority.” She did, and it showed in the election. For a moment, it seemed as though Eliot would feel betrayed, but he immediately knelt down and pledged his loyalty. Due to questing reasons, Margo has not actually had much time to rule. Season four ostensibly picks up with Fen still as acting High King, while Margo spends some time on Earth. But once she has the chance, she has the potential to be a great monarch.
#3: Goddess Julia, “Will You Play With Me?”
Of all of the Magicians, Julia has been the one you most want to wrap in a blanket so bad so that things just stop happening to her. From Eliza keeping her out of Brakebills to Marina and all of her bitchery, and of course everything with Reynard, Julia has had a rough go of it. But at the end of last season, when Julia showed Quentin that, despite magic being gone, she still had a spark of it, it was not just a spark of magic, but a spark of hope for what was to come in season three.
It started small with smoke rings, but as the season went on, that spark of magic grew into healing injuries, saving lives, and growing an entire Fillorian forest in an instant – coincidentally the same one she burned down in season two. In the season finale, Julia is approached by Iris, a messenger goddess, who tells her she is now “Our Lady of the Tree” – a full-blown goddess. After saying goodbye to Quentin, she is whisked away to begin her godly tasks, like performing miracles and creating worlds. However, she turns her back on the goddess life to save the quest at the last moment, and the status of her powers seems to be in jeopardy. As season four begins, not only will her identity, but also her species, come into question. Yet it would seem her time as a goddess has only just begun.
#2: Under Pressure, “All That Josh”
Now, this was not The Magicians’ first musical undertaking. In the season two episode “Lesser Evils,” Eliot, Margo, and Fen marched into battle singing “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Miserables. But “All That Josh” was the show’s first official “musical episode,” and they knocked it out of the park.
The quest took a turn to Josh-land, a place that looked like the Physical Kids’ Cottage, except there are no doors, and every clock is set to 4:20. Additionally, magic is back, but only in the form of party tricks. Throughout the episode, both Josh and Kady have solo numbers, but the big finale was what had me in tears.
Quentin discovers that the fifth key is all about unity and acts as a walkie-talkie among all eight questers, including Josh, who feels left behind. In order to continue the quest, they must convince Josh to come back to the real world and rejoin the quest, and to do so, they have to sing. Using magic, Quentin makes music fill the air and it is a truly magical moment. “Under Pressure” brilliantly sums up everything The Magicians is about – pressure on people, people on streets, but they will give love one more chance. Also, with a season where everyone has been stuck on opposite ends of the Earth (and beyond), having one scene with everyone together was a refreshing reprieve going into the third act of the season.
Honorable Mention: Felicia Day as Poppy Kline
Often renowned as the Queen of the Geeks and known for her role as nerdy lesbian Charlie Bradbury on The CW’s Supernatural, Felicia Day was announced as a special guest star midway through the season. She arrived during the sixth episode “Do You Like Teeth?” as Poppy Kline, a just-as-nerdy if a little more chaotic-neutral version of her past characters.
Poppy proved herself difficult to pinpoint just whether she was friend or foe. One minute she hands over the fourth golden key, the next minute she fails to mention the side effects, and poor royal mapmaker Benedict dies. She helps Quentin find that key when it gets lost, but she also leaves him behind when there is drama in The Library. Her whereabouts are currently unknown, but it would not be a surprise if she popped her head in at some point during season four.
#1: The Beauty of All Life, “A Life in the Day”
This sequence was not just the best moment of the season, but of the show and perhaps of all TV this year. Quentin and Eliot continue the quest for the third key by traveling through time to past Fillory to try to solve a mosaic. With hundreds of tiles and a broad prompt – “the beauty of all life” – it is a seemingly impossible task. But Eliot and Quentin start at it and within moments, they have spent a year there. They toast the anniversary, and then Quentin kisses Eliot. They stop for a moment, and then Eliot softly grabs his face and kisses him back. (This was not the first time they have kissed; it also happened in season one during an ill-timed drunken threesome. But this was the first time it meant something.)
The episode then goes into a montage set to “Phoria” by Evolve showing the next 60 years of their life as they try to solve the mosaic – Quentin meets a girl, they have a son, she passes away, and Quentin and Eliot raise their son until he goes off on his own as an adult. And finally, in his old age, while still working on the mosaic, Quentin looks up to see Eliot has passed away in his sleep. He wraps him up in a blanket and as he digs beside the mosaic so as to bury him, he uncovers a missing, shiny mosaic tile. He puts it into the center of the mosaic frame and sure enough, it disappears and is replaced by the third key
In current Fillory, Margo finds a note from Old Quentin about where to find the key, with which Margo is able to get the key and rush to the cottage to stop them from going back in time in the first place. (Don’t think about it too hard, it’ll hurt your brain.) And yet, because this is magical time travel, as Quentin and Eliot sit in the throne room at Castle Whitespire at the end of the episode, they remember everything. “We had a family,” Eliot says as they sit together. It is a happy moment in a season that is a sea of misery, and promising for the future of the relationship.
Do you agree with this list? What was your favorite moment of season three of The Magicians? Let us know in the comments down below.