Well, that was a hell of a way to end a season. The Magicians has cast an elaborate spell these past 13 weeks by escalating the story while still keeping it believable and intertwined, and last night’s episode “Have You Brought Me Little Cakes” was no exception. I’m not going to go into the season as a whole yet (a girl has to have something to write about in the long, long hiatus till Season 2), just this final episode. If you read this column regularly, you know the drill – there’s a spoilery recap, my over-analysis threaded within, it’s usually super long (which I love long posts for other shows I watch for passing the time between episodes, but I know some people hate), and there’s language. There was also murder and assault, physical and sexual, in this episode, and I don’t shy away from talking about it, so keep that in mind as you proceed. If this is your first time visiting, hey, welcome, enjoy!
We start with Quentin writing Fillory & Further Book 7, except he’s about 9 chapters in at the opening of the episode. There’s a Prologue followed by that flashback thing (that even he admits is annoying) authors do to fill us in on what’s happened since he and Julia arrived in Fillory with some of the best chapter titles for a book ever.
Prologue: Holy Shit You Guys – Fillory
Julia and Quentin are making their way through Ember’s temple when they spot a hand print on the wall. In the books, it had noted that the chamber would open with Martin’s blood, but they always took that to be more poetic than literal. Trying the literal route, Quentin cuts his own hand, and thus follows one of the most honest exchanges ever as Julia asks him, “Are you ok?” to which he replies, “No, I just stabbed myself in the hand.” If only all fantasy was this refreshingly frank when it came to injuries.
In any case, the blood in the hand print opens the chamber, and they call forth Ember, who responds, telling them it is customary to bow before the gods. Then he asks them if they have brought him little cakes (hence, the title of the episode).
Chapter 1: The Journey of the Witch and the Fool
They rewind back to a recap from last week in 1942 where Julia and Quentin follow Jane into Fillory, but someone else follows them in as well, as I kind of expected would happen, since it’s a red phone booth in the middle of a sidewalk with a massive bright light shining out of it. Once in Fillory, it turns out that young Jane Chatwin has become ensnared in a trap, similar to in the Fillory books. In the book, she is only freed with the help of the Witch and the Fool. Julia and Quentin wait for the mysterious Witch and Fool to show up before realizing it is them, and that they are actually part of the books. Now, how this fits into the whole time loop thing from last week, I’m not sure. Maybe Jane recognized Quentin as the Fool once he grew up and that’s why she targeted him to be her Beast-killing guinea pig?
In any case, they help free Jane, who merrily skips off through Fillory, while the person who followed them into the magical world reveals himself.
Chapter 2: By All Means, Hinge Your Entire Quest on a Traumatized Boy
It’s Martin Chatwin! Not very surprising, given that he was looking for an in back into Fillory. Quentin and Julia offer to help him, since they know things are shit at home, and ask him if he knows about the Leo Blade. He doesn’t, but he does know of someone who could potentially make the blade for them. He leads them to the local craftsman to talk about the Leo Blade.
Quentin and Julia talk to the Knife Maker about the fact that they need a blade powerful enough to kill a god. The craftsman tells them something like that can only be forged from moonstone, of which he has the only two remaining in all of Fillory. All seems lost until he tells them that he can breed the moonstone and make more, but it is incredibly difficult, it will take a long time, and he will require a steep price in return. So is the moonstone hard to breed because you have to set it up on tiny candlelight dinners first? Is it that male moonstones are from Mars (or some other crazy world you can only get to through the Neitherlands), and female moonstones are from Venus (or also some other crazy Neitherlands world)? Is the male moonstone just not that into her? OK, sorry-that was probably too many moonstone breeding jokes (that was a phrase I never thought I would put together), but when we get to some later parts of the recap, you’ll be glad we did a few of these silly visuals of mating rocks.
So the price to pay, according to Julia, is himself or one of his descendents holding a place in court, since Fillorian residents can’t become royals-only those from Earth can. Which would make the Chatwins or the Brakebills/Julia gang eligible-once they kill the Beast and become the kings and queens of Fillory, they could pay the knife maker by making someone in his family part of the royal court. This is a sly little commentary on the Narnia principle about how only outsiders can serve as leaders in these magical worlds, and it is needed exposition that’s subtly added within the context of the story.
Julia agrees to the knife maker’s demands, and as they walk away to determine what to do next, they come upon Ember’s temple. Before they can get very far in exploring, however, the Watcher Woman arrives on the scene, driving Martin away.
Chapter 3: The Watcher Woman, or The Other, Other Identity
The Watcher Woman, who was previously seen as the villain in the Fillory books, turn out to be adult Eliza/Jane Chatwin.
Apparently, the previous Watcher Woman taught her what she knew, and because Jane still had the gift of time magic, Jane was just a touch stronger, and ended up taking over the position. So Martin was sort of right to run in terror, but not really. Quentin was also right-it does kind of make your brain hurt to think about all of the character changes and updates due to time.
They talk about the 39 time loops, and the fact that unfortunately, this time around Jane dies. Quentin asks her to show them some of the things she learned about time magic that might help them, and with a flourish of her hands, she stops time for Julia, but not Quentin, so that they may talk privately.
It turns out Julia has had some sort of crude memory patch recently placed on her, possibly by a hedge witch, to block out trauma. Hmm…methinks things did not go as well with the goddess as Julia let on. My first thought was that Kady placed the patch, but we’ll soon see more of this story. Jane tells Quentin to protect Julia, and then, restarting time, she sends them to 2016 to meet up with the rest of the Brakebills gang who had arrived via the Neitherlands fountain in the previous episode.
Chapter 4: Everything Sucks Now, and Why
So Fillory has kind of become a barren wasteland, much less pretty than it was when Julia and Quentin first arrived. A note from Eliot falls at their feet since it has been enchanted to find them should they ever make their way to present day Fillory alive. They follow the map to the pub where the rest of the gang is waiting.
Heh. Well this was lovely and awkward, given that everyone slept with everyone else, and the others haven’t really forgiven Julia for trying to kill Quentin with that spell earlier in the season. After some harsh words between Eliot, Margo, and Julia after meeting up in the bar (where, you know, Eliot is doing shots with a talking dog), the 7 of them head back to the knife maker to pick up the Leo Blade 60 years after they initially met.
On the way, they talk about how Victoria, the Traveler that Penny keeps hearing in his head, is probably in the dungeon of The Castle That Isn’t Really There (subtlety in titles, thy name is Fillory). Quentin tries to get Alice to explain how it’s invisible through a type of phosphoromancy, but she’s still not speaking to him after the threesome.
On the way to the knife maker’s, they run across Martin Chatwin’s gravestone, meaning that they were too late to save him from Plover as Quentin and Julia had promised him. It also means all of the Chatwins are dead at this point.
Chapter 5: Be Careful What You Bargain For
When they arrive, it turns out the knife maker died quite a while back, and his son now runs the place, along with his daughter, Fen. He presents them with the Leo Blade, but demands his payment, which Julia indicates is marriage of his daughter to the High King of Fillory. Well, who the hell is that? The Chatwins are all dead, and the Brakebills Kids haven’t gone royal yet, so the knife maker uses a special knife (not the Leo Blade) that will only draw blood from the High King. While it leaves Quentin, Penny and Josh unscathed (much to Quentin’s disappointment), it cuts the hell out of Eliot’s hand, thus, making him the High King of Fillory. As Penny pointed out, “oh, this will make him easier to live with” as the knife maker bows to his new king.
Chapter 6: How to Prepare for a Fillorian Wedding
Although Eliot’s the Chosen One, being High King is not all it seems-once Eliot accepts the job, he has to marry Fen, and be with her, just her, for time eternal, and he can’t ever leave Fillory again. Which, um…yeah. Given how vulnerable he was with Mike, as well as how hot he and Q were a couple of weeks ago, you’d think Eliot would be completely rejecting the idea. But no-he decides that this is how his life will have purpose, that this is a chance to turn all of the destructiveness around.
Wait, WHAT? OK, all of these emotional demons, like from Eliot’s time in Indiana, like from how he discovered his telekinesis, when he probably had some Martin-esque type of experience of his own somewhere along the way, and having to murder the first guy he’s opened up to in forever – that’s all dealt with by making a fresh, heterosexual, monogamous, sober start in Fillory? Really? I can’t see anything positive in this yet-I feel like he’s just pushing everything down further under the guise of serving a greater good and it’s going to backfire on him in a horrible way in Season 2.
However, his acceptance of his new role did allow for one of the most beautiful scenes between him and Margo in the entire season. I cried each time I watched the episode, and I’m crying now recalling it. Margo, played with quiet acceptance by Summer Bishil, sees that this is how Eliot can potentially be “fixed,” so she sacrifices her own feelings and need for him. He even bows to her for her wisdom, endearingly calling her “Queen Margo the Destroyer.”
It’s that whole “if you love something, set it free” concept. Eliot, to his credit, and as wary as I am about this being a completely hurdle free turnaround, does acknowledge that all of those self-destructive behaviors (sex, drugs, food, booze, even magic) never made a difference in his life, but that maybe this will. It’s a very hopeful prospect for Eliot, and while I’m weeping tears of sadness for Margo and her loss of the closest person to her in the world, they are tears of joy for Eliot at the possibility of healing. Hale Appleman continues to do a tremendous job reflecting Eliot’s journey through this season, and I am looking forward to seeing how he handles this new position of High King in season 2, as well as how Summer Bishil grows Margo as a character without Eliot at her side as her constant companion.
There’s then a lovely musically scored wedding scene with Eliot and Fen, where Eliot meets her for the first time, and fan girls across the world swoon as Eliot asks her to marry him. Penny, however, is too keyed up to stick around for all of this, thus leading us to the next chapter.
Chapter 7: Weddings are So Boring, Penny Would Rather Astrally Project into a Dungeon
While Penny projects himself into Victoria’s dungeon, the knife maker presents them with the Leo Blade.
However, neither Quentin nor Eliot can handle the knife without burning their hands. The knife maker explains that only Master Magicians may handle the knife and questions whether any of them are Masters. Penny, not hearing the first part of the conversation, and having figured out where Victoria is, excitedly joins the group, and grabs the knife, providing a bit of comic relief as he shrieks and drops it, yelping about how much he hates this place. Oh, Penny-one day we won’t giggle at your frustration at the world, we promise. Not any time soon, but…
Chapter 8: Like I said, Be Careful What You Bargain For
Using the knife maker’s as their base of operations, the gang tries to figure out the trick to picking up the blade, realizing that they either need the help of the gods Ember and Umber or some insight from Victoria, who may know the Beast’s vulnerabilities since she has been trapped by him for so long. They decide to split up, with the exception of Eliot, who apparently has to impregnate his virgin farm girl wife that very minute according to the unwritten fine print that comes along with becoming High King of Fillory. He wishes them luck and accompanies “Mrs. Me” to the bedroom, prompting one of the best lines of the season from Penny: “If I die while he’s balling himself limp, I will haunt the shit out of his ass.”
Margo, Josh, Penny and Alice head to The Castle That Isn’t Really There to rescue Victoria from the dungeon, while Julia and Quentin make their way to Ember’s temple, as we saw in the Prologue. So now we are all caught up, at least with Julia and Quentin.
At the Castle, Margo pretends to faint, while Josh calls the guards over to help his “sister.”
While they are distracted, Alice and Penny sneak in and free Victoria; she tells them, however, that someone else is in the next cell that also needs to be rescued.
Chapter 9: The Gift of Ember
In the temple, Quentin and Julia have bowed to the ram god Ember, and he asks for the cakes, of which there are none. He commends them on getting this far, as usually they are dead by this point in the loop and he’s stuck trapped by the Beast once again. When they ask him why he, as a god, would be trapped by a magician, he explains how the magic of Fillory belongs to no one, and that someone with enough determination can take down anyone else, including his brother Umber, who was killed by the Beast.
When Ember notes that he’s pretty much given up, Quentin calls him out on it, and ashamed, Ember admits that he needs help in killing the Beast. Quentin volunteers to do it, as he loves Fillory and knows he’s supposed to be there. Ember agrees that he is the purest and chosen candidate, as he never stopped loving Fillory, while Julia did a while ago. To help Quentin be able to use the Leo Blade, he provides Quentin with a gift – a rather large jar of his seed to give him the strength of a god. To Q’s credit, he was more gracious about a container of jizz than some of my younger relatives have been about shitty sweaters they received from great aunts at holiday get togethers.
All is well, until Ember starts to notice the odd memory patch Jane had mentioned earlier. Thinking she doesn’t want it there, he releases Julia from its power, thus inadvertently causing all of the trauma the patch was covering up to come flooding back.
Chapter 10: Helpless
Julia can barely talk and just wants her memories to go away. Quentin backs off for the time being, and back at the knife maker’s, we see Victoria recovering from her ordeal with Penny and Josh at her side. Victoria shows Penny that the ride along travel thing is from a spell, not anything special, and Alice and Margo show Quentin the other prisoner from the dungeon, who is, to his horror, Christopher Plover.
Plover, in his continued sick and twisted way, explains how Martin is really the Beast, and that he drinks from the Wellspring each night, which is the source of all magic in Fillory. However, when he does so, it causes him to lose his humanity little by little.
Plover regrets that he didn’t see the blackness that was in Martin’s soul before it came to this. Um…dumbass? You caused that blackness. You two would seriously be a classic case for an Investigation Discovery true crime show. Plover’s even more disgusting when they contemplate where to find the Wellspring, and he tells the gang to ask him where it is, since Martin never could hide his mind from him, because of their special connection.
Josh and Victoria bail on the group in the dead of night and head back home (ok, who could blame them after their past few weeks/years in Fillory?), and we see Quentin writing Fillory and Further Book 7, which has been the whole basis of the episode. He has a moment of real growth here, as he feels that his whole life has been leading up to this moment, only to realize that he’s not the hero Fillory needs – Alice is.
Alice and Quentin have a talk finally – Jason Ralph and Olivia Taylor Dudley are as vulnerable here as they were back in Episode 5, “Impractical Applications,” when they were undergoing the trials. He tells her how he wants to be the Chosen One, but truly, she’s the better magician and the better person. He wants to change something in the time loop the way Jane did, and he thinks giving her the power and the blade is what will do it. You can see the pain between these two as they struggle to forgive each other and still meet the needs of the greater good – it’s really quite beautiful to watch.
What was not as beautiful was watching her down an entire jar of Ember seed. But she does, and it turns her eyes a lovely shade of light up green, and allows her to pick up the Leo Blade. The High King has also joined them again for their quest, but before they can go forward, Julia is ready to talk to Quentin.
Chapter 10A: You Can’t Unring a Bell
This isn’t one of Q’s chapter titles, or even a chapter really, but this part of the recap/review needs its own heading, because it tops Stanley’s suicide for me a couple of weeks ago by a long shot in terms of reaction and discussion, and the acting from Stella Maeve and Mackenzie Astin (Richard) through this is so phenomenal it needs its own analysis.
It turns out the suspicions I, and many others had, about everything being too easy last week with Our Lady Underground, were right. These were the memories that Ember unintentionally released that had been blocked by a hedge witch.
Rather than calling forth Our Lady Underground through their invocation, the members of Free Trader Beowulf instead call forth Reynard the Fox, a violent trickster god who rips out Richard’s heart, eats it, and then inhabits his body. Astin does a terrifying job as Reynard; seeing sweet, well-meaning, slightly naive Richard transform into this violent, taunting god was a testament to his abilities as an actor, as it was obvious at that point Richard was completely gone.
Reynard then proceeds to slash the throats of Menolley, Silver Kitten and Bender, while Julia tries to get him to spare Kady as she hides under the Fillorian map table Julia and Quentin made as children. He’s taunting Kady about the fact that his hermit healed her heart last week, and now he’s going to take it. Julia defends Kady, and Reynard drags her away, saying he’ll take her first instead.
What follows is one of the most horrific rape scenes I’ve ever seen on-screen. This took place in the books The Magicians are based on, but in the books, Reynard embodies an anthropomorphized fox, so it’s a little easier to disassociate the act from the perpetrator in your imagination. To have him in a man’s body made it all the more painful to watch.
And I’m prefacing my next comments with the fact that I am not a sociologist, or a rape expert, or an insensitive shit who doesn’t know anything about the assault experience and should be flogged and burned on Tumblr. I’m a viewer, like you, trying to process all of this, and make sense of it in a way that is meaningful to me and others. If you would like to have open dialogue about all of this and other parts of the episode in the comments, I would welcome that. But please do not string me or others up if you don’t agree, just help us see other perspectives, as we are for you.
I do believe show runners Sera Gamble and John McNamara took a huge risk in how they chose to present this, given the backlash against the use of rape in storytelling recently, particularly on Game of Thrones, but I’m very glad they did. I am not sure that the rape was necessary as a storytelling device to move Julia’s journey forward (even with what we will learn a little later); I think Reynard’s violation of Free Trader Beowulf in general would have been motivation enough. But, logically, it would have been very difficult to justify how either Kady or Julia would have gotten away if Reynard hadn’t been torturing or raping one of them, instead of just killing them outright. Additionally, he is a god, and a violent god at that, not a man, despite the fact that he was in a man’s body – the male-female perspective of rape needs to be taken out here. He could have just as easily raped Bender since the act was more about his power as a god, and Julia was the first to stand up to him. Raping, rather than torturing, left him with potential servants to exploit later on; torturing he may have damaged the “goods” too much. So I think the violations from Reynard were necessary; I’m not as sure on whether rape or outright torture would have been the better story telling device.
Additionally, unlike some of the other rapes we’ve seen on-screen, such as those of Sansa Stark and Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, which were presented more from an observer perspective, the terror and violation of this one was presented primarily to the viewer as Julia’s sensory perceptions as it was happening – her whimpering, his animalistic growls, her seeing Kady no longer under the table but still being able to see the map she and Quentin drew as children, her seeing the blood smeared across the floor, the pain she was feeling during the actual rape. Rather than minimize the assault, the scene instead forced you to experience some semblance of it with Julia, which was horrifying and necessary for it to have the impact that it did. Stella Maeve committed completely to the terror involved in this violation, from the deadness in her eyes as she tries to shut out what’s happening during the actual act to the halting way she attempts to clean up herself and the apartment afterwards.
Once Reynard is finished and leaves, Julia calls Marina for help, and Marina was compassionate, which was a relief to see after the overwhelming nature of that scene. When she arrives at the apartment, Julia is attempting to wash the blood soaked floors in a flannel shirt, crying and slipping in blood. She begs Marina to alter her memories, which is where the memory patch came from.
Overall, it was an incredibly difficult story to watch, and re-watch for recaps like these, and will have a major impact on the story moving forward.
At this point, if you need to go think about those tiny breeding moonstones we talked about earlier, or even go back and look at those pictures as you process all of this, that’s fine, we can take a break.
Back to Chapter 10: Helpless
Ready? OK, back to the current story-Quentin promises to help Julia find Reynard and kill him, but for the time being they have to stop the Beast. The group travels together to the Wellspring; inside they find that it looks like Plover’s writing room, so Martin is still holding onto a lot of the past.
A grown up Martin Chatwin enters with his moths, but takes them down once they tell him they know who he is. He does commend them for not giving up and walking into death 40 times, and then wants to get down to business. In an effort to distract him, Quentin tells him he has a gift from Jane, when really he’s just stalling so that Alice can attack.
But, of course, because it’s the Brakebills Kids, things go horribly awry as Alice discovers the knife is missing from its sheath. In a bored fashion, he makes Alice start bleeding out, throws Margo and Eliot against a wall, knocking them unconscious, and suspends Penny’s arms above his head before cutting off both of his hands.
Yep. They went there.
I was wondering if they would, as this happens in the books. I was thinking what happened to Dean Fogg’s hands in Episode 1 was how this would be addressed, but nope, Penny is currently sans hands and also bleeding out on the floor next to Alice.
Before Martin can kill Quentin, however, Julia holds him at knife point with the Leo Blade, wanting to strike a deal.
It turns out that we aren’t done with the horrific sensory experience of the rape, as we flashback to when Julia first called Marina immediately following the attack. She doubles over in pain, pulling her hand back from between her legs to find it covered in semen. Her eyes then light up green similar to Alice’s after she drank Ember’s seed, so Julia has also been strengthened by a god, albeit it in the most terrible way possible.
Back at the Wellspring, Julia wants the Beast’s help in taking down Reynard, since he has experience in killing gods. The two of them disappear, leaving Alice potentially dead on the floor, Penny writhing in pain and handless, and Eliot and Margo unresponsive against a bookcase.
Aaaand…that’s where we are left until January 2017. Curse you, Syfy, and your tiny 13 episode season.
Q & A & Thoughts about Q & A…& Everyone Else
Do you think something will happen to Fen that will open up the door for Margo to be the High Queen? Because technically, isn’t Fen the High Queen by marriage now? Or can only Earth born humans hold the positions, even if they marry Fillorians? But if that were true, then really, Fen could have just been made a Duchess or something and Eliot wouldn’t have had to marry her at all. Ugh…royal etiquette is so hard to keep track of…
Kudos once again to Sera Gamble and John McNamara for promoting non-profits that support the issues addressed during the show. The information for RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incent National Network) was shown prominently at the end of the season finale, similar to how the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was shown at the end of Episode 10, “Homecoming.” As a public health person by day, when I’m not writing these exceedingly long, drawn out, Fillorian reviews, these unprompted acts of public awareness in the media give me faith that we will be able to help as many people as possible suffering from illnesses, assaults, and other challenges because viewers are being encouraged to talk about these issues and seek help from the numerous resources that are available.
I’m totally worried about Penny, but I’m excited that Arjun Gupta may get to work with the challenge of a physical handicap as an actor next season. Gupta has really taken Penny and made him his own unique spirit that is reflective of the character from the book (that sweet bit of wonderment from book Penny is still there under the surface of TV Penny), but with more of an edge, and this makes him a much more sympathetic character. I also wonder if he and Kady will meet up again in Season 2, and what the aftermath of their run-ins with the Beast and Reynard will mean for each of them, both personally and in terms of their relationship. I also wonder too if anything will happen between him and Victoria, should he recover from all of this trauma-they seemed to have had a bit of a connection there as well.
Several of the Brakebills Kids committed or witnessed murders this season, and/or were the victims of violent and sexual assaults-will they be processing that at any point, or is that just a thing now? I know Eliot said in the beginning of the season the waiver when you came to university said you may expect to get killed by magic, but seriously, there has to be some sort of support group, or maybe they could just talk out how fucked up this past year was so they could all grow a little more as healthy individuals? Mind you, that would probably diminish their magical abilities, given that it all comes from pain, but that might be a risk they should be willing to take. Perhaps they can meet with Dr. Phil-orian (sorry, I couldn’t resist that incredibly bad pun).
Speaking of pain and magic, will Eliot’s strengths as a magician decrease with this new lifestyle of his? Or will the pain of losing Margo as his constant companion, rather than losing his vices, be the source for his magic?
Is Alice really dead? The ending to this episode was very different from in the books; I’m not sure where they are going with her storyline, given how it plays out across the three books. But she looks pretty dead.
Finally, I feel like things would have gone better at the pub when Julia and Quentin first arrived in modern-day Fillory had Francine Smith been there to greet them:
Please don’t think because of my silliness throughout that I am minimizing any of Julia’s story line, or any of the other appalling things that happened in the episode. Rather, I like to leave you with something a little more lighthearted to keep us going as we inevitably talk and over analysis the shit out of this show while waiting for the second season.
And if you’ve made it this far, hooray! You’re not a TL:DR reader! If you like these, please share them with others who you think would enjoy them. They take an exceptionally long time to do (part of that may be my learning new technologies & my perfectionist streak), and are a labor of love, but they are still labor. And if there are things you want to go more in-depth on, let me know! Plus the more of us sharing our love for The Magicians, the better!
Through the Summer:
We’ll be doing a wrap up analysis of the season as a whole, individual character analyses, and maybe some interviews with the cast if I can get up the balls to do some requests. Plus we’re attending San Diego Comic Con in July, so if the cast is there, we’ll have a full report!
Share your thoughts in the comments so we can keep the discussion going – we’ve only got 9 months to wait till Season 2!
White Moonstones: Asia Images
Blue Moonstones: Etsy.com
Bad Christmas gift: http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/18-disappointed-people-opening-holiday-gifts
American Dad-Shots: https://youtu.be/gy0t7sYzz3g
All other images/gifs: Syfy.com