Nicely done, The Magicians – it’s all starting to come together and the storylines are finally starting to overlap in a real way between the Brakebills Kids and Julia and the Free Trader Beowulf Gang. It’s also pulling in all of those wonderful clues that have been dropped all season, which of course makes a re-watch of every episode necessary. Not that I’m complaining; on the contrary. But let’s talk about this episode first – all the usual disclaimers – spoilers, analysis, length, language, blah, blah, blah…
Oh, the morning after. The tension in the Cottage is palpable, and Penny for once is the voice of reason. Actually, scratch that – the tension between Quentin & Alice is crazy; Eliot and Margo are still pretty unconcerned about what went down the night before. Penny tries to get them all to focus and remember that time is of the essence. He thinks that a debrief on the Neitherlands and the fact that one can travel from fountain to fountain with deadly consequences, in addition to the danger from the mercenaries, might provoke them into paying attention, but…no. The four of them can only think of the night before and the aftermath – Eliot, Margo and Quentin keep reflecting on what went down, and Alice remembers seeing them and then fighting with and slapping Quentin. Things escalate as Penny tries to get them to focus, with Margo and Eliot trying to smooth things over, while Quentin and Alice both need a minute. In a very Freudian way, “fuck” becomes the adjective of choice as they all argue. Heh.
Penny, trying to figure out what the hell is going on, follows Alice to her room where she is drinking Triple Sec straight from the bottle (bleh). Based on this, he immediately knows that Quentin fucked up, and that she’s trying to make the pain go away; he shares with her how he used to drink Midori the same way in high school (also bleh) to try to get the voices to go away. While nothing works forever, he suggests that there’s plenty they could do over the next hour to suppress the pain besides drink.
While they’re…talking…Quentin, Eliot and Margo are snipping at one another about the night before. Actually, no, Quentin is more trying to blame them for choices he made, but Margo’s not having it. Eliot wants to skip the whole guilt thing since they were still affected by their emotion bottles, and the two of them just get more exasperated with Quentin. At one point, Eliot literally slinks down on the chaise lounge he’s sitting on with a small moan in what can only be described as the most hedonistic, “I have the vapors” kind of move. I expected him to pull out a tiny mask from somewhere and pull it over his eyes, both physically and metaphorically. My husband actually snorted laughing when he did this, so kudos to Hale Appleman for reminding us that underneath all of that recent darkness, there’s still our dear old Eliot trying to get out.
Quentin storms off to try to make amends with Alice, only to hear her and Penny still…talking. With their bodies.
When she finally emerges, rather than try to take responsibility for what he’s done and resolve things, he instead accuses her of deliberately trying to hurt him. OK, yes, emotion bottles can mess with your head, Q. So can the shit tons of wine you and Eliot drank. She doesn’t deny it, but before they can get into it, Eliot reminds them that they need to, you know, live, by confronting the Beast, so they can fight later.
They all bottle up their emotions except for Penny, and use the button to get to the Neitherlands. Once there, Alice tries to consult their map to the Fillory fountain, but of course it blows away back into the Earth fountain. Spotted by the mercenaries, the other four take off running while Quentin tries to retrieve the map. But Eve, the mercenary who terrorized Penny on his first trip to the Neitherlands, needs to take out at least one of them, and knocks Quentin back into the fountain and back to Earth. So now Quentin is back home, while the other four have managed to find a safe haven in the Neitherlands library.
Free Trader Beowulf
Meanwhile, on the orders of the Goddess, Julia and Kady head over to the 1000-year-old servant of Our Lady Underground, who is a well dressed Hispanic dude with a man bun passing the time playing video games and listening to trance music. OK, and how much does “Our Lady Underground” sound like an early ’90s punk band? In any case, they bring him forsythia, honeycomb, and instead of platinum, their faith, which is something of “great and shining worth.” Julia has faith, but Kady admits to being a bit skeptical of everything, so he heals her of that dysfunction she’s been carrying around about Hannah, making her instead a daughter of the Goddess. He says now she has faith. Now, to me that’s not really faith, given that faith is supposed to be able to believe without proof, but whatever.
They tell him they’re seeking an audience with Our Lady Underground to help their friends in Free Trader Beowulf, but he accuses them of just wanting power as magicians. Julia says that she finds it hard to believe that the Lady wouldn’t want her daughters to fight for what they need. Through him, the Goddess gives her approval. He gives them an invocation, along with a great bit of advice: “you can’t un-ring a bell.”
Back at the apartment, the members of Free Trader Beowulf are having a Dionysus party before they call forth the goddess to get out all of their impurities. Kady’s quite happy, even though Julia’s still creeped out by the Our Lady Underground dude. The other girls assure her everything will change for the better, and Richard assures her as well, telling her that it is all about intention, and their intentions are pure, so they don’t need to worry. But tonight, they should be celebrating Dionysus. Julia calls him out on his intentions, and if this pick up line helps him bang lots of undergrads; unfortunately, not as many as he would like. However, she lets herself be one of those undergrads.
Afterwards, they are reflecting on what will happen if the Lady has different paths for them. They both seem pretty accepting of it, and Richard tells Julia how much he admires the way she questions the world, even when it makes her grouchy. The writers give Richard a great line, similar to the one Kira had a few weeks ago in “The Writing Room” about smart girls scaring the world – “I think that us angry, questioning people sometimes shut up too fast, and that is probably part of why the gods took off. No one around with the fire to keep calling their names.”
At Julia’s the next day, the Free Trader Beowulf gang are holding hands to summon forth Our Lady Underground. This is where we leave them for now.
Back in the Neitherlands
The gang meets up with the Librarian who we met on Penny’s first visit, and we get more of those references to them having been there before. In a clever nod to the books, she calls Margo “Janet,” noting that she might be Margo this time around, but she wasn’t always. While they can hide out there till they figure out what to do, there are some rules- no harm can come to the books, and no food, drink or intoxicants are allowed in the library at any time. They all immediately turn to Eliot on the word “intoxicants,” which was awesome.
Now, he only pulls out a flask, which was a little disappointing; she still had to wrestle it away from him. Because he was wearing a longer coat, I fully expected one of those extended disarming scenes with the flask, cigarettes, Bertie Botts Every Flavor of Ecstasy, a bong hidden in his underwear, that sort of thing. But his refusal to give up the flask was still pretty adorable. The Librarian also bans their emotion bottles, shattering them and causing them to feel again.
While they are there, they try to figure out something to help them out of their current situation. Penny is looking through some books to help him master traveling with multiple people, and he and the Librarian talk about how Travelers made the library what it is, and that if he can survive long enough, he’ll get a handle on it, and have those experiences too. Penny questions her use of the word “if,” asking if it’s in his book, but she tells him no spoilers. This was a lovely scene between Gupta and Mageina Tovah – there’s that poignancy about the potentially disastrous ending, after their hopeful conversation about Penny’s journey. I hope we get to see more of Tovah as the Librarian, even though what happens next may make that difficult.
Margo and Eliot are poking through the stacks, with Margo complaining about how overwhelming it is, with a whole wing just for cat paintings. Eliot, meanwhile, is reading the book of Mike McCormick. You know, his former lover. That he murdered. He points out that it was a hardly a book, only a novella. He tries to make a joke (as he always seems to do in painful situations) about Mike being a Republican, and then tells Margo the worst part is that his life was happy. In what has to be almost the worst way she could have handled Eliot opening up, Margo tells him that Mike’s gone and asks why he is torturing himself. And then Eliot is closed off again, responding that it’s because it was his fault, and of all of the people who don’t understand, somehow she tops the list. He walks away, throwing Mike’s book in a trash can and setting it on fire. When Margo asks him what he’s doing, he bitterly tells her “putting the past behind me.” Oh, Eliot – cutting off your nose to spite your face was not the way to go here. Your Bambi’s trying-you just both do love and support in different ways, and you’re expecting love and support the way you want it, rather than the way the other person is able to give it. Margo and Eliot have such a wonderfully complicated relationship, and Summer Bishil and Appleman do such a great job week after week of showing us that ebb and flow.
All that being said, the Librarian is totally freaking out at this point, and rightfully so, as she puts out the fire. When Margo offers to pay the fine, the Librarian banishes all four of them forever for not understanding that each book is a life and is irreplaceable. So, in essence, Eliot’s killed Mike twice now. The four of them immediately find themselves outside at the fountains again and in danger. To his credit, Eliot does at least look mildly chagrined at fucking up.
They are starting to panic because the Earth fountain is closed off, when a goofy Brakebills student they initially mistake for a mercenary leads them to safety in an underground bunker area.
Josh Hoberman, a book character who viewers have been wondering about all season, has been integrated nicely as one of the students from the missing third year class that was referenced all the way back in the first episode. He offers them anything they need except for the carrots growing in the bunker because of their hallucinogenic qualities. Which of course catches Eliot’s attention, since he is currently sans intoxicants.
Josh believes he’s been in the Neitherlands for two weeks, when really it’s been two years on Earth. He mentions that Victoria warned him about the time change, and Penny recognizes her as the girl in the dungeon. Josh then tells them how she’s the only reason he’s alive, since the Spring Break trip to Fillory that the whole class took went horribly wrong. Apparently Victoria is a master Traveler who took everyone with her to Fillory, but was only able to save Josh before being trapped by the Beast. Josh is excited to learn that she’s alive, and suggests they use the Fillory fountain to save her after Penny admits he hasn’t mastered the traveling ride along thing yet. However, they have to get past the mercenaries.
Later that night, Alice is trying to figure out how to get them to the fountains but keeps cutting herself down, making things weird between her and Penny, and being concerned that Quentin is going to miss Fillory even though she’s still mad at him. Penny calls her out for that shit, but in a loving friend way. He knows she’s more than capable of figuring something out, and she has to have some confidence in herself and stop worrying about Quentin.
In the morning, Alice tells them that she can use her phosphoromancy to bend the light from the two suns around their group and make them invisible. She warns Penny and Eliot to stay close to her and duck down since they are tall; Penny is on board, but Eliot, who is curled up in the corner looking paler and paler, barely acknowledges her. When Margo asks him if he’s coming, he gets up in a daze and tells his Bambi he’s coming. As he walks past the carrots, we see several of them missing from the dirt piles.
The group is walking together within the bent light, with Eliot on the outer edge, looking utterly like shit. His eyes are rimmed with dark circles and he doesn’t seem to be able to blink.
He’s barely stumbling past the mercenaries on the other side of the road, even though Alice is doing her best to keep them all hidden.
When Alice tells them to go left, he gets mildly confused, and stands still for a moment, revealing himself to the mercenary in the road. He turns to face him and watches as the other magician holds up his hand to throw battle magic, making no effort to move or run or even defend himself.
But before the guy can kill Eliot, he get shot by Margo. Who yes, brought a gun. And killed a dude. And doesn’t seem too phased by it, since she’s sarcastically telling Eliot “Thanks Margo. You’re welcome. Why didn’t you move?”
Eliot responds with “Acid carrots.” When I first watched this episode, I missed the carrots part when they were leaving the bunker. I really thought he was suicidal. I’m still not entirely convinced he’s not.
It may have been a combination of being suicidal and tripping balls, because after a moment’s pause, he turns to her with this weird half smile and says “Margo, you saved my actual life.” So he’s not calling her Bambi at the moment, which he seemed to be doing lately with a little bit of a sarcastic edge (so…progress?), but the smile is a little high and manic. She responds with “hooray, you live to drink another day.” They realize that the other mercenaries can see all of them now, and take off running for the Fillory fountain. How Eliot was coherent enough to take off running is a little beyond me, but maybe adrenaline helped.
Penny, a step or two behind them, is confronted by Eve before he can jump in. Before she can get off her battle magic, though, he throws something at her, slicing her from chest to stomach and killing her. Arjun Gupta does a great job expressing horror at what he’s done-he doesn’t even move at first to jump in the fountain even though there are more mercenaries coming. So now that’s Penny and Margo who have killed people tonight. Margo, however, seems to be handling this whole killing people thing much better than the guys.
Quentin Back on Earth
While all of this is going on, back at Brakebills, Quentin is trying to get information from Dean Fogg on the Beast and Eliza, and when Fogg refuses to tell him, Quentin asks him how he lost his virginity. Which on the first viewing of this episode makes you think “Wtf? Where is he going with this? Does he think Fogg banged Eliza and that’s why he’s reluctant to talk?” As Fogg tells the story of how he lost his v-card, he realizes that Quentin has slipped him truth serum, which has happened 27 times before. Quentin is confused (like the rest of us), and he asks about Eliza and what Fogg means about 27 times. Fogg explains to him how Eliza was Jane Chatwin (which he didn’t really guess at all…really Q? The rest of us did by week 2…) and had received the gift of time magic from the Fillorian god Ember after one of her trips to the magical land. In numerous attempts to stop the Beast, she would set time back and change the circumstances in each time loop to see if it would change the outcome. But each time, the gang gets killed by the Beast. This time, however, the time loop is broken because Jane’s dead – so if they don’t defeat the Beast, they’re really dead this time. Quentin asks how many times Jane turned back the clock before now, and Fogg tells him 39 (hence the 39 graves). He asks Fogg what’s different this time around.
And now we finally get our convergence of storylines! YAAAAAYY!!!
Q and Jules – Together Again
Quentin goes to Julia’s apartment – turns out the thing that changed was Julia going to Brakebills. She had gone there 39 times before. The two of them apologize to one another for everything, and this is beautiful. I’ve watched this three times now, and they still make me tear up. Stella Maeve and Jason Ralph have this wonderful natural warmth with one another as if they really have known each other since they were 9 years old, and I’m so glad their friendship is rekindled so we will get to watch more of them together.
Julia tells Quentin about what happened with the invocation, and how the Lady granted all of their petitions, including curing Menolley’s cancer. Quentin does pay particular attention to this fact, so I wonder if he will be petitioning the goddess in Season 2 to cure his father.
Quentin tells Julia that he needs her help to get to Fillory to help his friends, and she shows him that she still has the table where they drew the map on its underside as children. There is a lovely cinematic overhead shot with the two of them head to head lying on the floor looking up at the map and talking about Julia’s mission from the goddess, which was to find a whole new kind of magic. Julia believes she will find it in Fillory.
Quentin realizes that they need to use something to get them back in time to follow the Chatwins into Fillory, since they don’t know where the doors are, but they do know when the doors open based on the books. He and Julia investigate time bridges in the Brakebills library, which will allow them to go back to specific dates in time. They find a thesis from some students who went back to try to kill Hitler on April 19, 1942, two days before Jane Chatwin entered Fillory. Quentin’s comment? “Never thought I’d say it, but thank God for Hitler.” Julia’s response? “Yeah, no, that still sounds bad.” Touche, Julia.
They use the portal door to Margo and Eliot’s favorite pub in England that is located in Margo’s room so that they are closer, location wise, when they use the time bridge. Quentin regrets that Julia hasn’t been a part of this with him, but Julia knows that she never would have looked for something more if she didn’t have to figure out the purpose of magic. He asks her to elaborate, and she brushes his hair back, telling him it’s for fixing things, and she made a lot of mistakes before she figured it out. Again, Maeve and Ralph are just lovely here – they have such an easy quality to their relationship. In another nod to the books (but no spoilers, you’ll have to read them to understand the reference) Quentin says he can only do minor mendings and bullshit, and Julia points out that if fixing big things were easy, everyone would do it.
They use the time bridge to successfully go back to April 1942, and follow Jane through an old phone booth to Fillory, which is magical and everything they expected it to be. Very sweetly, they call each other Jane and Martin the way they did as children as they follow her through the door.
And their expressions when they saw Fillory was like me when I saw Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Florida for the first time. Except I wasn’t nearly as collected as Quentin and Julia were. They managed to take in Fillory without bawling with happiness and then making everyone else in their 6 person party tear up and cry also. But hey, there’s time for that next week if they manage to meet up with the Brakebills Kids.
Q & A & Thoughts about Q & A…& Everyone Else
Hooray for the quiet guys tonight getting the girls! Both Penny and Richard found a way to get some, and they all did a great job portraying “friends with benefits” – you never really got the feeling that something was going to go beyond that level of intimacy between either of the couples, and that felt totally ok.
Penny was amazing tonight, calling everyone out on their shit. Which is absolutely what I wanted him to do last week. He went from being completely detached to a little overly caring, giving unsolicited advice and risking his life for his friends. Which shows how much underneath of it all he wanted to be that way, but he wouldn’t let himself. Arjun Gupta does a great job balancing this line with Penny.
Speaking of balancing the line, Eliot just keeps slipping further and further off of it. Hale Appleman continues to show Eliot’s descent into self-destruction. There’s little things, like the extent to which he lets his overall appearance go to shit, or when they are talking to Josh and he’s sharing a weird story about one of his classmates having sex with a talking horse in Fillory before things went downhill with the Beast. Normally, that’s something Eliot would have commented on, but instead he’s curled up behind Josh’s desk like he’s freezing.
There’s also the fact that when the Librarian destroys their emotion bottles, and Margo yells out that she planned her whole outfit around that bottle, Eliot has literally collapsed on the floor as his emotions return to him – he’s down on one knee bracing himself against the floor. What the hell was he thinking about and feeling that caused that visceral of a reaction? Is he feeling something like that constantly? If so, I’d have a massive drug problem too.
So now Penny and Margo have killed people too; mind you, they weren’t people they loved, but they were their first murders. I really think Penny’s the only one that’s going to be able to save Eliot from going off the deep end; not only has he shown how thoughtful and insightful he is about his friends, even though he tried to act like he didn’t care, he’s now had the same experience as Eliot. And who else in that group has tried to drown out pain and torture with massive quantities of drugs and alcohol (like almost to the point of killing himself) other than Penny? He or someone else is going to have to do something before they confront the Beast, else Eliot’s going to put them in more danger than he already did this week.
What the hell did the Librarian mean about Penny surviving? And if she’s gone through this whole thing 39 times already, and can remember it, why wouldn’t she order the books he needed from the other branches already so that they might be there for him in one of the later lifetimes?
Eliot destroyed Mike’s book, but Mike was already dead – what happens if you destroy the book of a living person? Do they die for real? If so, could they just find Plover’s book and destroy it? Maybe not since they are now banned from the library forever, but it’s a thought.
The invocation seemed to go far too well, didn’t it? The servant’s warning about not being able to un-ring a bell could be seen as a bit of foreshadowing if you’ve read the books, but that’s not how they went with the story, at least not yet. If they do, I’m glad they are holding off on it, because there is enough shit to deal with currently, and that story deserves a fair bit of attention outside of the Brakebills Kids. But everything seemed to be too easy with the goddess, and wishes granted too quickly. I’m skeptical that this is going to turn out as well as Julia believes it has.
I’m not sure how Quentin and Julia followed Jane into Fillory unless Ember knew they were coming, given the way he used to lock Martin out at various times. Otherwise, what would stop any sort of curious bystander who saw a world in the back of that phone booth from stepping in with her as well?
Guy Norman Bee is an amazing director, and I hope he continues to work on season 2, along with Amanda Tapping. Actually, all of the directing work has been good this season, I’m just a little partial to them given my co-existing obsession with Supernatural.
The preview moves a little too fast to make much of it, other than that Quentin volunteers to fight the Beast to save Fillory. There are images throughout of a blue knife, which I would think is the knife they’ve been looking for, Alice’s nose bleeding, and the group eventually getting together, which means that Quentin was probably right about the whole being-70-years-earlier-in time-thing Julia was worried about. The saddest part is that it’s the season finale and they’ve just started working on season 2, so we won’t have more new Magicians for quite a while. But given how everything is fitting together, it just means that we’ll have to watch the whole season over again to pick up on all of those wonderful tiny things we may have missed the first time around.