Remember that whole 39 alternate timelines thing? While it has not been brought up since the end of last season, this week’s episode saw Julia and Josh traveling to the twenty-third timeline to help someone we haven’t seen in a long time.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
In case you have forgotten, at the end of season one Dean Fogg explained to Quentin that in order to attempt to defeat The Beast, Eliza, nay Jane Chatwin, had created a timeloop that restarted every time the main cast of characters did not defeat The Beast. The show takes place during the 40th timeline, meaning the band of heroes had died 39 times before the pilot starts.
We don’t know much about the past timelines, other than that in each one The Beast won and everyone died. However, at the end of season two we get a glimpse of one of them, Timeline 23. In order to get information about shades, or souls, Julia and Quentin contact Alice from the 23rd timeline through a spell called a Tesla Flexion which bends time and dimensions. After this scene, the timelines are somewhat forgotten because magic itself is gone and this season has been focused on the quest for the seven keys to get it back. But this episode takes a detour back to Timeline 23, this time in person.
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After a quick check in with Margo, Eliot, Quentin, and Alice on the Muntjac, Julia and Josh suddenly appear in a Tesla Flexion, drawn there by an alternate version of Josh. 23-Josh explains that the Beast is back and that he needs their help to stop him. 40-Julia and 40-Josh decide to ignore the request at first, but when they travel through the grandfather clock trying to get back to Fillory, the clock and key they used to open it have other ideas and send them to Timeline 23 anyway.
Timeline 23 is like an apocalypse version of the Brakebills we know and love. 23-Josh immediately greets them, followed by a face we had not seen since the beginning of season 2 – Marina. The bad bitch died at the hands of Reynard last season, but she was a fan favorite and her return is a welcome surprise. This Marina is just as conniving as our Marina was and it quickly becomes apparent that Julia and Josh have been brought to Timeline 23 as bait for The Beast. Julia quickly proves to Marina and 23-Josh that they don’t have to sacrifice Josh and Julia because Julia has god-like magic and can take the Beast down herself.
Not long after as they prepare to face the Beast, Julia and Marina run into Penny… who immediately kisses Julia. What?!?! Julia and Penny is a pairing we have not seen often on the show, but in this timeline they were together and it is clear that Penny loved her. It takes a minute for both of them to adjust, but they quickly move past it and Penny joins the group to take down the Beast.
Marina and Julia also find out what happened to Margo and Eliot. They go to the library to speak to “two ghosts” who may know something about a spell to take down the Beast. It quickly becomes clear that these ghosts are not souls at rest. Eliot pops up first, completely soaked in blood and spooking Julia and Marina. We then see the two discussing a plan, while Eliot drinks from a flask and expresses concern that he will not be sober enough to do the spell they are planning. The two ghosts flash away, and next we see a visibly distraught and bloody Eliot crying and repeating “I screwed it up,” over and over. Julia quickly snaps a picture of the spell in his hand, and we can infer he was drunk when trying to perform the spell and it ended in Margo’s death – and a gruesome one at that. It’s never revealed exactly how Eliot died, but from his first appearance it was not pleasant.
Finally with the spell from 23-Eliot in hand, Julia, Penny, Marina, Josh, and 23-Josh gather in a Brakebills classroom the face the Beast. They try the spell on him, but he is revealed to be not just more powerful than the Beast we saw, but also that the Beast is no other than Quentin Coldwater. 23-Josh is killed and the four travel away thanks to Julia powering up Penny.
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They end up on the 23-version of the Muntjac where Alice is hiding from 23-Quentin and working for a group of rabbits. Alice explains that after Julia and Quentin pulled her into their Tesla Flexion, she tried to bring 23-Quentin back to life, but brought him back without his soul. Because of this, he turned into the Beast. She had been trying to fix her mistake and even had the Leo Blade, but she could not hold it. Once again, god-powered Julia comes to the rescue and is able to hold the blade in order to kill him. The five, now including 23-Alice, travel to Fillory to face Quentin and end his reign of terror once and for all.
In a final showdown, rather than come at 23/Beast/Quentin with the Leo Blade, she uses who he truly is against himself and transfers her shade to him, but not before he slices Alice in half. With a shade inside, he immediately feels the guilt and sadness of killing Alice and his other actions as the Beast, and uses the Leo Blade to take his own life. Julia sees he is wearing the seventh key around his neck and takes it, meaning our questers only have one key left, although it may be difficult to obtain. Josh uses the seventh key to open a door back to the 40th timeline, which Marina immediately runs through. Not only that, but 23-Penny decides to come as well. What these two will add to the mix has yet to be seen, but it is sure to be a hell of a last two episodes.
Episode 12 premieres on Wednesday, March 28th at 9/8 c on SyFy.