This review contains spoilers.
Hello, Fillorians! This week’s episode was basically about connecting stories, and plotlines, as well as moving pieces of the chessboard into motion. It was easily action-packed, and tried to get us caught up on all of our heroes’ journeys.
If you need a reminder of what happened last week, here’s a summary from SyFy: Julia transferred her powers to Alice and it’s not going great, Margo and Eliot are trying to defeat the Queen by stealing fairy eggs, and now Quentin and Poppy are roped into a plan to solve everything, while continuing their quest to find all seven keys that will return magic to the world(s).
Last week’s episode ended with Alice foaming at the mouth on the floor, with Penny trying to save her. This week hopped scenes a lot, keeping us with each of the heroes as their storylines merged- so the best way to summarize will be in two parts- the Fillory plot, and the Meanwhile-on-Earth plot:
Eliot and Margo
The episode begins in Fillory, with Eliot and Margo making plans to attack the fairies, now that they have a little bit of leverage. They soon catch up with a disagreeing Quentin, and Poppy, and the four of them head to Earth, finding Alice foaming at the mouth on the floor, and arriving in time to save her life.
From here, Quentin and Poppy stay on Earth to retrieve the key. Eliot and Margo, on the other hand, plant the fairy eggs in a place they don’t suspect the fairy queen will look (under the stairs of the house). Fen, Fray, and Todd return from what we learn is New York City, where they’ve visited ‘The Square of Time’ and CATS on Broadway. As Eliot catches up with his family, Margo pulls Todd aside to show him the eggs, and instructs him carefully that he is not to tell Fray where they are, because she is loyal to the Fairy Queen.
Upon their return to Fillory, civil justice continues to fall apart when they see signs by hanging dead men that say ‘Death to Floaters’.
Unable to deal with that crisis in that moment, Margo takes it upon herself to negotiate with the Fairy Queen, asking for the ‘strange’ request of the her prized bathtub, in exchange for the lives of the kidnapped Fairy babies. There is one catch, however- the deal would make all Fillorians able to see the fairies so the queen decides to take time to ponder, as it is not a deal that is made lightly.
It’s no debate that Fillory has brought out a true queen in Margo. She’s easily become the one to beat- doing whatever it takes to protect not only herself, but Eliot, and the country. She’s evolved from a spoiled partier, to a formidable and strong piece on the chessboard. Here, we see Margo and Eliot debating on whether the queen will take the deal they’ve presented. Margo makes a point that she will not go down without a fight, and they’ll do whatever they need to do to save Fillory and be rid of the Fairies. We definitely hope so, as the Fairy plot is starting to drag and though we certainly love to see Eliot and Margo being epic warriors (they’ve easily gone from two of my least favorite characters to two of my favorites over the course of the seasons), we’d love to see them taking something new on. Not sure whether the fairy plot seems overdone in stories generally, or whether it’s just an uncomfortably dull storyline for characters that deserve better. Hopefully, with this plot, we are at a turning point of war, which can bring the Fillory storyline back to magical, and interesting.
After a heartwarming scene where Fen describes family and humanity to Fray, we see that Fray has found the eggs, escaped, and soon learn that she’s run off to whom she considers her true family, the Fairy Queen, who she’s illuminated on the entirety of what she knows.
The Fairy Queen, true to her nature, betrays Fray, threatening her life if Eliot and Margo don’t reveal the location of the eggs.
After choosing to ‘do the right thing’ and protect Fray, Eliot learns from the girl that she is not his daughter. The Fairy Queen loses leverage once she is forced to explain that Eliot and Fen’s real child was lost during childbirth. Fen is utterly devastated, and rightfully so.
After all that’s happened and all Eliot (and Fen) have dealt with, we finally see them having a conversation about what’s happened. Fen explains that she wanted and willed it to be real because she doesn’t know how to live with herself, and the life that is now hers. After ‘I’m sorry’ from Eliot, as well as the reassurance that she would have been a great mom, and that he was an absent husband and parent, Fen admits that she doesn’t want to be in Fillory, and we see the two of them hugging.
It’s definitely nice to see these issues addressed, as for awhile they appeared to be swept away in Fairy and Save-the-World type plots- but, as someone who’s dealt with family issues for most of his life- it was a breath of fresh air to see Eliot addressing his own. While any spark of romance between he and Fen has been extinguished (what little there was to begin with), it’s nice to see him support her, and close the storyline. I’ve actually been rather impressed with the advancement of Eliot’s relationships- absolutely loved seeing the storyline with he and Quentin, and love that he’s present for Margo as well- and that in the end, he even stepped up to be a father to whom he thought was his daughter.
The next scene is what should be the victory, and the closing of the episode. We see Margo, Eliot and the Fairy Queen in a carriage after she’s agreed to their terms. The statement is made that now everyone can see her. She retorts with that she can no longer offer them protection, and she is not the only one who is seen. The episode closes as an angry mob surrounds the carriage, and the Fairy Queen disappears.
Eliot states ‘this is a little too Les Mis for my liking’ as he and Margo are pulled out of the carriage and carried off by the mob, leaving the Fairy plot for more episodes, and tons of questions as to the future of Fillory (as well as an overwhelming desire to hear them sing Les Miserables’ ‘One Day More’ again).
Meanwhile, on Earth…
Quentin, Poppy, Alice, Julia, Penny, and Kady
We separate the two plots when Quentin and Poppy stay behind on Earth after finding Alice foaming at the mouth from magic overuse. We see her recovering in her room afterwards with Julia, Quentin, and Dean Fogg, who compares the magic transfer between Alice and Julia to an organ transplant that is attacking her own body to be rid of the invader.
Dean Fogg continued on his path, as he has been since losing Brakebills of just not caring anymore- quick to say what’s on his mind regardless of sensibility, even going so far as to rationalize this behavior in the statement, “You people are just going to do what you do regardless.”
Cold though this may be from someone who is supposed to be a mentor, he has a point. For better, or worse, the unlikely heroes seem generally unswayable from their courses of action.
Dean Fogg is an interesting character, who is supposed to be the Dumbledore-like leader- but, who has his own problems. He gives the entire plot a very real, very human vibe. He’s not invincible, he’s not going to fix every problem- he’s just another person.
Alice is being as stubborn as ever, likely somewhat in part to Quentin’s presence, Julia coaxes Q away, sending him on a mission to retrieve the key, while she stays behind and tries to help Alice.
Because Penny is a traveller, Quentin sees him as the best shot at getting to the underworld to get the key, and tells him this, to which Penny asks why he should help, and Quentin retorts with, “You occasionally stop being a dick when the fate of the world is at stake.”
Penny, Quentin and Poppy formulate a plan to use a tiny dragon that the Library uses to retrieve books as a portal, suggesting that since Penny can occupy objects (such as a penny, or the singing fish), he could become a book.
We learn that it may be best for the plan to have another traveller- and Victoria is brought up (remember her from Season 1- the girl in the dungeon?). It’s brought to our attention that the newest member of this mission, Poppy, was part of the class that went missing- that contained both Victoria, and Josh. Poppy claims to be Victoria’s best friend and insists that she comes along so that she, as a dragonologist, can appreciate the dragon they’re setting out to find.
From here, we flash back to Dean Fogg and Julia, who are pondering Alice’s fate, and Julia is warned that if Alice keeps the magic, she will die.
Quentin and Poppy track down Victoria, who has a prompt ‘f*** you’ for her former ‘best friend’. We learn that Poppy had slept with Josh while Victoria was dating him. No surprise if you’re aware of Josh’s character, and this keeps bringing an interesting and seemingly chaotic/dark tone to Felicia Day’s character of Poppy.
Unwilling to help at first, Quentin hands over the key that allows Victoria to talk to Penny, who reminds her that she kind of owes him. Victoria confesses that she is not against causing problems for the library, but, that she’s working for Harriet and can’t do it without her. For those who don’t remember, Harriet is the character who helped Kady with Penny, who uses ASL and is generally really badass.
At the mention of Kady, we pan to her, trapped in an institution, looking the worse-for-wear. While The Magicians seems to know how to leave on a cliffhanger, this plot is not left to wonder about. We see Poppy and Q having an in-depth discussion of their substantial knowledge on the mental health care system. They soon develop a plan to pretend to be doctors, evaluating Kady. They decide to sneak her a badge in order to get her out. As they pass her the key, and Penny explains these directions, they lose grip on the badge, leaving another plan to be formulated.
Although I’m not personally a Penny & Kady shipper, this episode was great for those who are. After the first plan falling through, we see Kady holding the key and talking with Penny in a room. Frustrated with the entire situation still, Kady makes the outburst of “what kind of couple deals with this on a regular basis!?” to which Penny smiles, and points out that she called them a couple. He continues by making her scream until a guard comes in, at which point he’s handed the key, and while he’s obviously confused by Penny’s sudden presence, Kady knocks him out. We exit with an excited, “Go, Team!” to find Alice back at Brakebills, desperate for anything to help the pain and getting sicker.
Back to Penny and Kady’s storyline, we see them trying to escape the institution, and here, we break a little more past the ice to get some cute lines while they’re waiting for the best opportunity to leave. Penny, determined to help Kady through her issues, informs her “you’re the best thing in my life. I don’t regret a f***ing second. I want you to be happy,” to which Kady replies, “I can’t be (happy) without you, you f***ing idiot.”
Whether you ship them or not, it’s definitely certain that for now- neither of them are ready to give up- though they’d both tell you otherwise.
The institution alarm begins to go off, threatening Penny and Kady’s escape. We see Q and Poppy, unsure of what to do. In typical Felicia-Day-Plays-a-Nerdy-Badass fashion, Poppy sets a fire, causing the fire alarm to sound over the warning siren leaving the three of them (plus an invisible Penny) to escape.
Afterwards, we show Kady catching up with Harriet, who is incredibly reluctant, stating that Kady still owes her. They sign back and forth for awhile. Kady mentions robbing the library and Harriet questions whether her friends know what she’s doing. Penny, still trying to be the good guy in this, reminds Kady that he loves her, and closes with ‘I’m sorry we’re cursed’.
Alice is continuing down a slippery slope. The drive to succeed, and stubbornness of her character was endearing throughout season one. After her death, her character has gradually gotten to be basically intolerable to the point where we wonder what’s going to give. Even as a character, it’s clear that Alice can’t continue on in this way. She’s become completely reckless, and even desperate. It’s our hope that her storyline has the conclusion that magic isn’t everything. She’s sacrificed way too much on everyone’s behalf for it. We see that trend continuing when we find her in a car with a vampire, paying him cash to turn her so she can keep some kind of magic. Just before she drinks his blood, Julia sweeps in and saves the day, after using a tracking spell and some borrowed magic, ending it with the vampire calling her “Hedge Witch Buffy” (clever, I thought, as well as a fair assessment.)
Stubborn and desperate as ever, Alice fights back with Julia saying she doesn’t need help. Both fire off battle magic, but Alice’s reckless power causes Julia to fall to the ground, passed out, leaving us to wonder what happened to her while we continued on to the Fillory storyline.
When we do come back to the two of them, Alice seems to have seen some reason, and explains to Julia that she’s transferred the magic back. The two of them continue to bond by talking about what they see as ‘broken’ in themselves. Julia confides in Alice that she still sees Reynard- but that she’s accepted that it’s not the magic that’s the ultimate problem- it’s that she’s had trauma, and it’s left a mark.
It’s really nice to see Julia admitting this- as this is an ongoing issue she’s struggled with for seasons. Alice tells her that she’s brave, and that when she felt the magic inside of her, it didn’t have a trace of Reynard- that it was completely Julia’s. She concludes by asking what she’s going to do with it?
While this was probably the best place to leave the Earth storyline at for this week, we do see a glimpse of Q, anxious as ever, worried about what will happen if Penny doesn’t find Benedict or the key, admitting that his anxiety is because his choices no longer affect just him.
To silence his anxiety, Poppy kisses him. Upon questioning, she tells him it’s to short-circuit his panic attack, and advises him that it’s okay to have fun. The Earth storyline draws to a close with the implication that Poppy and Quentin have sex.
Next week’s episode will be titled “Six Short Stories About Magic”, and from the preview, it seems as though it will be focusing on six individual storylines over its hour airtime. It definitely looked interesting, and The Magicians seems to always find new ways to tie plots together, we’re looking forward to it!
Don’t miss The Magicians on SyFy, Wednesdays at 9/8c.