The Ardent Eccentric – The Magicians S2, E8 – Word As Bond

Episode 8 seemed to be all about unrealistic hopes and dreams, and what happens when you refuse to acknowledge the futility of them – you either go beyond anything you ever imagined possible through sheer will of spirit, or you crash and burn in the most devastating way possible. And about egotistical mystical creatures.  That too.

Because I am stuck at a hotel without Syfy and with shitty wifi, there won’t be any pics for now, unless I can snag something reasonable looking through the halting buffering from trying to watch it on my laptop.  Also, I’m going to say obligatory spoilers, but sheesh, I started writing this in the wee hours of the day Episode 9 premieres, so if you haven’t seen Episode 8, well…I can’t help you.  This recap/review is really more for me, because dammit, I’m completing a whole season of them if it kills me, so I apologize for the rambling, late night nature of this article.


There…look…a picture.


Catching Up with the Gang

So Julia is now sans one demigod (as this is where we left off last week), but there was that tiny complication to consider.  Turns out when they were aborting the demigod, they accidentally knicked Julia’s shade.

But is it really such a bad thing that Julia is shadeless? She’s certainly feeling on top of the world, just as Martin told her she would, and she’s approaching things with the rationality of a sociopath, so…erm…yeah…maybe a mixed bag at this point.

After a brief recovery period in the Physical Kids cottage, her and Kady review some more information Kady has dug up for taking out Reynard.  Apparently Zeus and other gods, back in the day, were going a little gung ho with the raping and pillaging of mortals, so the Magicians made god-killing spells.  Unfortunately, all of them failed.

But nothing is going to stop newly optimistic Julia, who says they will use them as the basis for writing their own immortal murder spell.  She does recognize, however, the enormous amount of energy it would take to cast something like that, and since she doesn’t have her own demigod source of power anymore, she suggests they hunt down Dana’s son.  And you know, use him probably against his will to take down his dad.  Because that seems like a totally sane way of looking at things.

In the Brakebills library, Alice is still negotiating with Quentin the word as bond thing in order to get a little bit of freedom each day; he has tried to lock down all possible routes for her to be destructive, or you know, actually have some fun.  But he hesitantly makes his deal with the devil-niffin Alice, in what I can only assume is his overly optimistic attempt to keep her with him while he finds a way to bring her back.

Q then touches base with Margo, who after last week’s bank heist, shares with him in her typical calm way, that they managed to recover the golem’s body from the morgue back on Earth, which is necessary for Eliot’s consciousness to travel back into his sad, unconscious, real body back in Fillory.  There is a local Enchanter who’s building a magical metaphorical bridge for Eliot’s mind to travel on, but it’s going to take a few days, at minimum.

And the recurrent magical brownouts from Ember shitting in the Wellspring have become a sort of Catch-22, at least in terms of healing Eliot, and helping Q maintain some kind of balance with Alice – any disruption to the magical current (like, say, harboring a niffin in one’s body, or attempting to build a metaphorical bridge between worlds) causes a magical outage. Also, when there’s a disruption, the Enchanter has to start the incantation over again, which also is kind of a barrier for Eliot.

Q and Margo go to see their comatose High King, with Fen keeping vigil at his bedside.  Margo shares with Quentin that they had a confusion spell dropped on Loria, because going to war with the High King nearly dead is not going to bode well for Fillory.  When Quentin asks if there is anything else he can do to help, he and Margo share a sweet, “we-both-love-our-best-friends-deeply-so-let’s-be-with-them-and-hide-our-secret-overwhelming-fear-that-they-will-never-recover-from-their-respective-ailments-even-though-we-both-would-probably-benefit-from-comforting-each-other-but-are-too-emotionally-uptight-to-do-so” moment; Margo punctuates it by telling Q she will summon him from Julia’s side if she needs him, similar to how Jane did to Martin when they were children through a two-way mirror.  They do actually have a tender moment when Margo reminds him that anything can happen at any time, so don’t take things for granted.

When Q returns to Brakebills, he finds Julia better than ever, but not necessarily to his delight. As he’s trying to get used to the new Julia, she’s plucking vaguely at the air after sharing that she’s pretty sure she tracked down Dana’s baby-at least when he was put up for adoption.  She tells them she needs to go to Reynard, since if he was going to kill her, he would have done it by now, despite Kady and Q trying to stop her.

Turns out she was right, because we next see her meeting Reynard in a local park, as if this was a production of Sunday in the Park with George, except infinitely creepier.  Reynard was protecting her, because she was carrying his child, but she had to go and get an abortion, which he wasn’t thrilled about.  He tried to torture Dana into giving up where her son was, but to no avail, and Julia claims she doesn’t know where the boy is either.  Reynard starts to choke her, but there’s no Shade left to prompt any fear, which he finds kind of hot.  However, before they can get much further, Q shows up behind the tree Julia’s pressed against in a stupidly heroic fashion.  Weirdly, Reynard is seemingly merciful and offers Quentin a chance to run; but before we can find out if Reynard was going to cut him down in his tracks, Q grabs Julia’s hand and whisks her back to Fillory before she and Reynard can finish their conversation.

Naturally, Julia is not pleased about this for a multitude of reasons, and Quentin tries to talk her into looking for a new Haxen Paxen style, Fillorian creature to hide her from Reynard while he goes back to Brakebills and helps Kady track down Dana’s son.  There’s also the teeny issue of the fact that it’s approaching midnight, which is Alice’s witching hour (heh). He manages to leave Julia in Margo’s care, much to the annoyance of both women.

However, things are about to get a little better (and worse) between the two – Tick Pickwick, the most positive royal advisor ever (talk about unrealistic optimism), shares with them that the Lorian head magician has enchanted his troops to appear to be 3 times larger than they really are, and that they also have the support of the intelligent trees of the One-Way Forest on their side.  The trees have traditionally hated Fillory, but because they are an endangered magical species, destroying them to get to the Lorians could cause a Fillorian civil war (between people, and other…trees).  Julia, however, is worse then a honey badger in her level of caring, and makes that clear to everyone in the throne room, saying that her and Margo will go and negotiate with the Dryad, the trees’ ambassador.  Margo finally manages to get a word in edgewise to help Julia remember who the High Queen is in the room, and tells her that she will talk to Dryad, while Julia stands at her side looking mildly indignant.

Meanwhile, back at Brakebills, Q is just starting his fresh hell, since he loses all control for the hour Alice is in charge – I would imagine it’s like having the worst blackout ever, and then not even getting the luxury of blaming it on too much to drink.  Apparently it isn’t enough time for her, though, since she couldn’t get information she needed in just that hour.  She was looking through some books about monks who practiced magic, and were trying to bring back their spiritual brother, who also went full niffin.  Q thinks she’s trying to reverse her niffin-ness, but Alice adamantly protests those assumptions.

While all this has been going on, Penny stops by the Neitherlands library to try to borrow the book Mayakovsky needs, since he can’t seem to find it anywhere else.  And the fact that it is called “Future Movements in Magic” just makes me go to such juvenile poop humor every time I hear it.  But I digress.

The ever cheerful Neitherlands librarian offers to get the book for him, but then offer a better alternative (at first) – they, the Master Magician Librarians, could help him with his hand problem, rather than Penny having to rely on Mayakovsky (gasp! Super late night conspiracy theory moment-what if the River Watcher who cursed Penny to begin with is somehow involved in Librarian recruitment, and he knew the only way he could get Penny involved was by making his situation desperate enough that he would consider the Librarians’ offer?).  She tells him they can help in exchange for lifelong (and beyond) servitude to the Order of the Librarians.  He initially scoffs, and she doesn’t press the issue.

The morning after Alice does her niffin research, Q returns to help Kady again in the search for Dana’s son, but they keep hitting dead ends-there’s no information about the adoption itself, and the nurse at the hospital is dead.  Penny interrupts them, and is immediately freaked out by the dueling personalities of Q and Alice inside Quentin’s head.  Q tries to block him out by silently singing Imagine Dragons songs, but Penny isn’t a moron-he knows something’s wrong.  Quentin leaves before Penny can analyze him much further, and then Penny says what should be the motto of every episode of this show: “something is wronger than usual.” But given that Quentin is a grown man, he lets him go, only to have Kady make things weird by telling him that they need to keep things professional-she’s not sure what to do with their being around each other 24/7 and fucking like rabbits while she’s still trying to take down Reynard.  And like every vulnerable, disappointed man in this situation, Penny blows it off as if what she’s said doesn’t matter, even though it does, deeply.

Q returns later to Penny and Kady to think of new ways to discover Reynard’s son, and has a weird interaction with Alice which makes him look like he has dissociative identity disorder. She negotiates an extra 30 minutes that night in exchange for telling him how they can see into the past using a light bending scope – they will be able to look back to some of the people who helped place Reynard’s son with his adoptive family.

Meanwhile, back in Fillory, Julia and Margo have been having their own issues, dealing with a mysogenistic male dryad, who doesn’t believe that Fillory has peace in mind, given that their High King couldn’t bother to show up, and sent two females instead.  Margo points out her status as the one High Queen of Fillory, and that Julia is a royal ambassador like him, so in essence, diplomatically imploring him to not be such a magical douche.  The dryad, however, clings to his douchiness, but as Margo turns to leave, you can see the wheels turning in Julia’s emotionless brain about how to solve the problem, diplomatically or not.

After their interaction with the dryad, Margo requests a few minutes alone with Eliot, since he has to decide to come back – the consciousness bridge isn’t automatic. She feels unwanted by the people of Fillory, and she needs him, despite the fact that he’s always had a low-key death wish.  And then she breaks my heart by uttering the words “I’m faking it, El.”

And like I said on Twitter, every great woman says this to herself at some point, in a quiet room, before realizing she’s really not faking it all.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought this to myself while getting my PhD, and then finally realizing that I really did know my shit, that my colleagues respected me, and that I could rely on others to support me, but ultimately I was strong enough to break through into the world on my own.  Plus I got my professional headshot today (you know, those ones that you see in conference brochures for speakers) so that helped me with the whole “I’m faking it” thing too.  I sooooo hope Margo gets to this point by the end of the season – it is a great character development and a super important message for the audience.

Back on Earth, Quentin, Penny and Kady head to the hospital where Dana’s son was born once they have the scope to the past (which of course, looks like our old View Finders from the 80’s). However, unlike our View Finders which could tell an entire story, Dana’s tells a different one-she managed to scratch out the faces of the people in the pictures who had come in contact with her son, in order to keep him and them safe.

While Margo is begging El to come back, Julia is trying to fix things with the Lorians and the One-Way Forest, because as royal ambassador to Fillory, she has an obligation to be loyal to them.  Or not-whatever works for her is what she believes is best.  She manages to get the upper hand on the Lorian enchanter, and tells him in exchange for something that will make her invisible to gods, she will let him go.  He does, and the two have a moment of understanding about looking out for oneself in this world.  She then call out the Douchyad and offers a gift for him to take back to his bosses, sort of a gift of peace.

Well, maybe more like a gift of pieces.  As is, they were blown up to pieces when the bomb inside the box destroys the dryad and the One Way Forest, trees screaming in agony and all.  Margo is furious, given that now trees in Fillory are all up in arms (ah, if only that could be the extent of our political turmoil in the US…).  Julia points out that she got rid of the problem, and Margo is free to throw “crazy Julia” under the bus as causing the problem.  While Margo admires this to a certain extent, she has to lock Julia up and go do damage control. Julia is in disbelief that Margo is actually going to throw her in the dungeon for helping her and Eliot.

Alice also goes to fuck shit up during her hour and a half that night, confronting an Angler Beast disguised as a little girl in a sandbox.  She asks the beast to tell her about a guy named Friar Joseph, but the creature refuses, demanding payment of fresh newborns for snacking on first.  Instead, however, Alice threatens her and almost completely destroys her, technically not break her word as bond, since the little girl wasn’t really human.

Quentin, naturally, is confused when he wakes up near a sandbox with a mauled creature nearby, and by the next days is searching for some way to amend the Word is Bond.  He breaks down fully after Alice is ridiculously vicious to him; he tells her that he needs to talk to someone about what’s going on, but she is having none of that.  There’s no sympathy left from her, and she leaves him rather broken emotionally as she hijacks his body for her me-time.

Kady’s also being rather destructive, getting shit faced to deal with the fact that they keep hitting dead ends with Dana’s son, and to keep her from hitting the heroin.  Penny tries to reassure her that if they work together they will find Dana’s son, but she’s refusing to let him offer even that to her, saying that they aren’t a couple and he being her hero isn’t going to make everything awesome again.

During the aforementioned Alice me-time, she apparently transported them to Ireland, and Q tries to back track to the building where they were while he was blacked out.  Alice is super upset that he’s doing this, or…not really-she’s reverse psychology-ing him so he’ll do what she wants.

When he enters the house Alice was in initially, he finds an elaborate niffin designed Rube Goldberg machine set up to summon Friar Joseph, since she can’t technically do magic.  She thinks she’s going to have to talk through Quentin, but Joseph can see her just fine, and Alice goes a bit into groupie mode.  Quentin takes the opportunity to attempt to box the clergyman, but he’s way beyond the level of niffin who can be boxed.

Alice begs him to teach her his ways, since she is desparate to get out of Quentin and not be trapped.  When he tries to speak, Friar Joseph gags and chokes him, and Alice asks him to stop; at first, it feels like because she cares about Q, but really, it’s just that if he passes out, she can’t talk anymore.

Friar Joseph follows the pattern of the episode as a mysogenstic asshole, and agrees that if she can free herself of Quentin, he will share a secret or two with her.  He then whooshes away, and when Q tries to talk to Alice, she screams vile things at him, to the point where he gets a little out of it and his nose starts to bleed.  She points out that his body isn’t meant to contain a niffin and if he keeps going like this, it’s going to kill them both.  Why it will kill them both, I’m not sure-seems to me killing him would be the only way to set him free, but I guess because she’s bound not to be bloodthirsty or hurt anyone, she can’t really try to purposely destroy him, otherwise it will kill her too.

After that high drama, we have another one, albeit a much nicer one.  Eliot still hasn’t woken up from his coma, and Fen starts to lose her shit.  Margo reassures her that she will do everything El promised for Fillory, and protect her and the baby, which prompts him to wake up.

Finally, Penny also causes drama by giving the name of Dana’s son to Kady by stealing it from Dana’s life book in the library – except it’s not really stealing, since technically, now he’s an employee.  Kady’s pissed that he signed that insane Librarian contract to get her what she needed, but he tells her that he gets to decide if shes worth his time, and that he loves her.  Besides, he didn’t have magic, figured he would be dead, and/or would never see her again by this point, so all of this is gravy, even if he is an indentured servant to the library.

As they are having as close to a lovely Penny/Kady moment as possible, a totally destroyed Q comes back to the Physical Kids cottage, and Penny confronts him about what the hell is going on, since he’s still bleeding (I love vulnerable Q and aggressively caring Penny-have I mentioned that recently?).  Not getting anywhere with him, Kady punches Q in the face to knock him out so that Penny can incept him, but Alice is having none of that-she tries to kill Penny, but he escapes.  But now he and Kady know that Alice is stuck in Q, and they don’t have a clue as to what do about it.


Next Week (or this Week, because it’s Episode 9 day)

“Lesser Evils” has Eliot and Margo heading off to war, complete with a Les Mis musical number (squeeeee!), and Julia continues on her quest to take down Reynard, no longer hindered by her Shade.  Unfortunately, I have NO SYFY AT THIS STUPID, STUPID HOTEL, so instead I will roll around in anger on my hotel bed between 9 and 10 PM EDT, and then 12 – 1 AM EDT and lament the fact that I will not be joining in on the fun and Twitter-ing with the cast.  However, the goal is to see it tomorrow night when I am home-recapping is another story since I am traveling again for work on Saturday. But I just have to be like El and Margo, and hope for “One Day More” before getting to see Episode 9.