‘The Magicians’ Season 4 Episode 12 Recap: “The Secret Sea”

17 Min Read
Image courtesy of SYFY
Image courtesy of SYFY

To quote Margo, “Jesus f*ck a wise man’s donkey!” The penultimate episode of this season of The Magicians was jam packed with high stakes, precarious alliances, and of course, some declarations of love.

Julia wakes up in the forest next the Eliot Monster and his unconscious sister. He’s chosen Julia (“the little not god”) to be her new vessel. Before he can kill his sister’s current body to release her spirit, Julia calls upon Our Lady Underground for help. Unfortunately, the goddess tells her that there’s nothing she can do. Julia’s current state has been a test, one that she can only pass if she chooses between being a goddess and being human. (“You will not fail as long as the decision is yours.”) However, the sister’s spirit escapes her vessel and enters Julia before she can make the choice. Enter the Julia Monster! Who quickly murders Our Lady Underground with a snap of her fingers. That one is going to hurt later, if Julia ever regains control of her body again.

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Penny delivers this very bad news to Quentin, Alice, and Margo in Marina’s loft. They have their axes, bottles, and incorporate bond needed for their plan to trap the Eliot Monster, however they barely had enough magic to hold him. They certainly don’t have enough to trap two monsters. At Brakebills, Todd warns Dean Fogg not to enter his office (“If you shit in my private bathroom again-”). The Librarians have come to arrest Fogg for his drunken lecture and act of rebellion. Fogg has been expecting them and enlists Todd to help him rescue Kady and the Librarian from the Poison Room. He disguises one book as another highly contraband one, and instructs Todd to put it in the return chute (and “try not to Todd this up.”)  

Trapped in the Poison Room, Kady and Zelda have vomited up the last of their bugs and are starting to panic. “Lucky” for them, they are approached by none other than Christopher Plover. Who has managed to survive in the Poison Room after being pushed in by Alice ages ago. He offers to teach them his trick for surviving in exchange for their help escaping the room. They are totally repulsed by him but begrudgingly accept the deal. He gives them a plate full of the moss that grows in the room. His theory is that must counteract the poison because it’s the only living thing that can survive and grow in there. They all swallow a bitter mouthful of moss (and the bitter pill of having to accept help from Plover.)

Back in the loft, the gang is trying to figure out their next steps now that Fogg has been arrested when they get a magic rabbit from Fen informing them that she has found a large reservoir of magic. Penny and Quentin head to Fillory while Margo, still exiled, stays behind. In Fillory, Fen (carrying a goldfish in a bowl) leads them to a secret garden (“the drowned garden” according to Martin Chatwin) inside a hidden chamber. The chamber is the anteroom to a giant protected lake of pure magic. But of course, there is a catch. The lake is protected by a curse and if you touch even a drop of the water you will be transformed into a “Fillorian Dying Fish.” Which sadly, is what happened to Josh. He is the fish in the bowl. Fen takes the Josh Fish back to Margo and explains that the type of fish he has been turned into must have constant eye contact trained on it or else it will die. (“Usually they get it from their fish mommies, but we will have to fill in.”) Margo has a special connection with the Josh Fish but chafes at being put on fish sitting duty right when they are about to attempt to save Eliot.

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Alice reaches out to Sheila (via magic bunny) for help getting extra power from the Library. Sadly, Sheila refuses because she “doesn’t want to mess up a good thing” and asks Alice to work with the Library instead of against it. Alice reminds her that the Library would arrest her and all of her friends on sight. In the Library, Dean Fogg uses his magical suit to escape his guard. (His tie clip makes the guard vanish, and a tug on a specific button transforms the suit into a Library grey tone.) Now disguised as a Librarian he heads off to release Kady and Zelda.

The moss didn’t work and Kady and Zelda are still getting sick from the poison. They realize that the reason Plover has survived all of this time is because of the age suspension spells that Martin Chatwin placed on him must still be working. Kady starts to lose it (“I’m going to die in the most ironic way possible, just like Penny.”) when Zelda informs her that if they can escape in time, the Library (contrary to what they’ve said before) does in fact have a cure for the Poison Room. Kady is furious that they let Penny die. The Librarian tries to blame this (and it’s “authoritarian bent”) on the leadership of Everett, but Kady doesn’t accept that answer.

Meanwhile, Margo explains the Josh Fish situation to Quentin and Alice. She also lets it slip that her and Josh have been sleeping together. (“And they say girls are the ones who get needy once you f*ck them.”) She gets a bit defensive explaining their dynamic (“We bang sometimes and he makes me laugh, he gets me. It’s not like I’m in love with him.”) But Alice astutely points out that it seems like Margo does love Josh. Because “you can still care about a guy/werewolf/fish and it doesn’t make you any less you. You can still be a bitch if you want to.” It’s at this moment that Margo finally accepts and declares her love for Josh Hoberman. But in true Margo fashion what she says is “Shit. Maybe I do love this goddamn guppy.” Quentin gives Margo the number of a hedgewitch veterinarian that might be able to help change Josh Fish back to Josh Human. When Margo leaves, Alice and Quentin have their own tentative moment of reconnection. Quentin wants to behave more like an adult and forgive people (and himself) for “not living up to my stupid expectations.” They both decide to try and move on from the past and to pursue a relationship once again. (Personal note: the scene broke my heart on behalf of Eliot. Did Quentin already forget “Peaches and plums motherf*cker??” If they do manage to save Eliot, someone is going to have a broken heart.)

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Back in the Library, Cyrus inform Everett that Zelda and Kady are trapped in the Poison Room. Everett reaches out to Zelda by knocking her out and speaking to her through her subconscious. She confronts him about his plan to become a god. He explains that he is only doing it protect the Library and “knowledge” from the monsters. And also to take the knowledge that the Old Gods possess so that the Library can control it. He tries to convince her that this is the only means of protection they have. She reminds him that Bacchus and the other Librarian-turned-gods tried this as well and fell prey to their own hubris. He tries to win her over by reminding her that “I have you.” He tells her that his plan was for her to run the Library when he is gone. He also tells her that he has been storing the siphoned magic into large reservoir (the one Fen discovered) but the only one who can access it is Quentin Coldwater.

Meanwhile, the book that Fogg disguised has made it to book return and he follows two Librarians who have to reshelve it to the Poison Room. He incapacitates them by turning them into puppies and unlocks the door. Kady wakes up Zelda with a slap and Fogg refuses to take Plover with them. Plover, ever the wiley one, claims that he can help them get to the reservoir and share Martin Chatwin’s other secrets with them. And reluctantly they agree. However on the way out, the alarm sounds. Zelda, Kady, and Plover make a run for it while Fogg stays behind and fights the guards. Ultimately he loses and is dragged back to his cell.

Image courtesy of SYFY

At the vet’s office, Margo explains her Josh Fish problem. (“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your fish is a werewolf….wait so are you…. Did you f*ck this fish?” shouts the bewildered vet.) Unfortunately, because the curse wasn’t placed using a hedge witch spell, the vet can’t undo it. But, after taking a peek at her fairy eye, he has a temporary fix – Margo just has to take the fairy eye out of her head and place it next to Josh Fish’s bowl so that it can watch him at all times. He helps her remove the eye (via a whack on the back of the head to pop it out) and gives her a pirate themed eye patch to wear.

Kady and Zelda bring Plover to loft to meet with Quentin and Alice. Alice is especially dismayed (and pissed) to see him. But he promises that he has the information needed to access the reservoir and save their friends. Apparently it was Martin who placed the curse on the reservoir, after dealing with his own magic hoarding king, so that whoever tried to use it to hoard that much power wouldn’t be able to use it. The key to undoing the curse (and saving Josh) lies in the “drowned garden” just outside the reservoir. The flowers in it are magic and respond to emotions. They need to revive one of the dead plants and the only way to do it is with someone who truly (and innocently) loves Fillory. That means the job falls to a hesitant Quentin. Now that he’s an adult, he worries that his love for Fillory has soured now that he knows what Fillory truly is. Zelda assures him that he is their best chance at getting the flower to bloom. After the others leave, Penny tries to convince Kady to take the Library’s cure. She is considering not taking it so that she can die and be in the afterlife with her Penny.

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We finally check back in with the Monster siblings, who are walking hand in hand through the park. The Julia Monster notes how much has changed since she’s been gone and how much her brother has changed as well because of his time among the humans. He asks her if he as a name and she replies “why would you need one?” (“Starbucks, mostly” is his shy answer.)  He wants to enjoy their time together now that she is free, but she has one thing on her mind: revenge. Not on the gods that murdered her (the Eliot Monster took care of them already), but on their parents, the Old Gods, that made them and then abandoned them. “But how do you kill an intangible thought creature,” asks the Eliot Monster, “where do you even stab?” She explains that they are vulnerable in their own realm. However, the only way to access that realm is with a key that has been hidden in….. You guessed it, the Library.

Back in the “drowned garden,” Plover lurks over Quentin as he struggles to find positive things to say about Fillory. He makes Plover leave the room (“you’re the one that ruined Fillory”) but still fails to make the flower bloom and begins to beat himself up. Alice tells him that even though he is trying to “let go of who he used to be” what he needs to do right now is hold on to the past, and hold on to why Fillory was so important to him in the first place. (“Believing in something is almost impossible. But the Quentin that I first met believed in magic. And in Fillory. Being an adult doesn’t mean throwing away what you used to love.”) Alice and Penny leave the room so that Quentin can have this moment to himself. He delivers a heartbreaking monologue. Unleashing his frustration and disappointment in the real Fillory because “the idea of Fillory is what saved my life. Shouldn’t loving the idea of Fillory be enough?” Luckily, for once, it is and the flower blooms. Penny takes some of the leaves of the flower to cure Josh and Alice and Quentin eat their own leaves and begin to drink from the reservoir. They now have major power.

But will they be too late? The monsters have breached the library, slaughtering librarians left and right. They easily break into the Poison Room and retrieve the key. Sheila manages to hide from them and send a magic rabbit to Alice, warning them of the attack. The Julia Monster stumbles upon Fogg in his cell, but before she can murder him she is interrupted by Quentin and Alice geared up with bottles, magic blades, and a butt load of magic. “Adorable” is her one word reply.

Tune in next week for the exciting Season Four Finale of The Magicians. Wednesday at 9pm on the SYFY channel.

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By Britt
Britt is a Los Angeles based writer, burlesque performer, and life long nerd. A former drama kid turned playwright and classic ambivert, (shout out fellow ambiverts! There are dozens of us! Dozens!) her love of books, snacks, and cats makes her a Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff leanings. She is a voracious reader, writer, and unapologetic binge-watcher. Her lifelong obsessions include Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Arrested Development, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Herbert's Dune series. Her current obsessions include: Sherlock, Black Mirror, The Great British Baking Show, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Counterpart. She will also gladly talk people's ears off about graphic novels if they let her, which they usually don't. Find Britt on Twitter @MsGeorgiaOQueef
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