Last week’s episode, “Ramifications,” adopted the puns that The Magicians so loves – in my last review, I suspected it would have something to do with our twin gods of Fillory, Ember and Umber (you know, ram-ifications), which of course it did. It also dealt with all the consequences the gang faced from the decisions this season, and sets us up for next week’s season finale.
As always, spoilers.
And this will be updated soon with more fun pics and such, just not…today.
Alice’s Shade Is Nothing Compared to the Shade She’s Throwing
With Alice’s Shade in tow, Julia and Quentin visit Professor Mayokovsky at Brakebills South, and try to convince him to help them return Alice to being a human. Mayakosky protests, noting that it would take the work of a Hundred Master Magicians to generate enough magic to turn a niffin back into a human. Frustrated, Julia looks around his study and notices the battery he’s been using to store magical energy. The battery would give them enough current to rejoin Alice with her Shade, but the professor insists he needs to save that and it isn’t worth it to spend it all on one life. In the first of several “Q grows a pair” moments, Quentin chastises his former instructor, noting that if Emily Greenstreet hadn’t been trying to win him over, Charlie never would have tried to fix her – that was the only reason Alice began studying magic. While Mayakovsky can’t do anything about that now, he can make up for that whole fiasco by helping Alice.
This manages to convince the teacher to get off his ass, and Q does the ritual that separates Julia from Shade Alice. The separation will draw out Niffin Alice, and the super strong current from the battery will allow the two to be reunited. After drawing out Shade Alice, he leaves her is a magically impenetrable cage, while Mayakovsky calls Niffin Alice.
Niffin Alice seems to arrive against her will, and screams and rants like a wild animal trying to get out. She threatens to burn Q alive first, then begs him to let her go. Unfortunately for her (or fortunately in the long run), he perseveres, and Alice becomes whole again, albeit naked and furious inside the cage.
Later, she’s disgustedly looking at herself wrapped in a blanket while Quentin awkwardly tries to offer her food and clothes. It’s as if she can’t stand to see her humanity again after all of that power, and it radiates out from her. She is less than thrilled with his explanation that he couldn’t leave her a Niffin when he had the opportunity to fix her.
Alone at last, Alice is desperately trying to write down all she knew before it fades away. She’s frustrated about being trapped in a human body, and can’t even do magic yet, since she’s basically like a newborn. Mayakovsky helps her understand that yes, as a niffin, she had a great deal of power, but zero meaning to her existence. As a niffin reborn to humanity, she can find meaning, but Alice despises humans, believing them to be weak. On the contrary-her professor points out that humans try so hard to find meaning, and magic makes the struggle just slightly more bearable. If humans were pathetic, we wouldn’t try to so hard. He’s happy she sees the faults in the world, because now she has the power and empathy to correct them.
Q stops by later in another awkward attempt to reach out, but she’s still not having it. He does get through to her slightly though, before leaving her, by telling her that the world is a better place with her in it.
Vancouver: Home to the Winter Olympics & Socially Maladjusted Gods
After his interactions with Alice, Quentin is rather taken aback to see Eliot approach him; the High King of Fillory has come looking for assistance after assuming that Ember banished him. He definitely needs help, seeing as his pregnant wife is being held in Fairy Gitmo, he’s currently engaged to a rat, and the grapes to make his perfect wine are finally ripe. He asks Quentin for the button to return home, and Q has another awkward conversation of the day as he explains to Eliot how they bargained with the dragon for passage to the Underworld. Eliot’s on the verge of losing it with Q for trading away their only means for returning to Fillory, when Alice arrival, grabbing books and ignoring both of the men, suddenly makes everything clear to the High King.
Q and Eliot continue their conversation afterwards, with El pressing Quentin to tell him exactly what the dragon said to them, as it may have a clue for another way back to Fillory. But Q, being Q, can only go into “woe is me” mode about Alice’s rejection of him, and he slides onto the floor in despair. Eliot, actually being a good friend, unlike some people (*cough* Quentin *cough*) slides down with him, assuring the other man that things will work out, and Mayakovsky will take care of Alice until she gets her bearings. Meanwhile, he’s been banished from his home, had his wife and unborn child kidnapped by fairies, was betrayed by Margo (regardless of her good intentions) and doesn’t get the satisfaction of being with Idri, since the other king is still a rat. But we don’t see him whining excessively, do we?
Eliot tries to get him back on track, having him focus on what the message from the dragon “the first door remains open” means in terms of getting back to Fillory. Talking it through, they deduce that the clock the Chatwins used to go back and forth is the first portal. Quentin remembers that he saw that clock at his Yale Interview (the one with the dead diabetic professor) and figure that it was probably sold at auction, and they can track it down using buyer information.
Eliot and Quentin make their way to Vancouver to the home of the clock’s last owner. Eliot tries to get into the man’s home by claiming it was his grandfather’s, but the man denies it is even there. Quenin, in desperation, starts quoting lines from Fillory and Further, trying to appeal to the man’s collector side. It works, and he lets them in.
While Eliot looks for the clock, Q marvels over the fact that the man has the original 1983 failed screenplay for the book’s adaptation. The two make scathing remarks about it, given that the Chatwins were now skateboarding Americans. The clock’s owner scoffs further, nothing that they also got Jane Chatwin all wrong-the studios portrayal of her would never support the fact that she was the Watcherwoman.
Quentin is immediately suspicious of the man, given that the reader wouldn’t know that just from the books-this guy had to have visited Fillory as well at some point along the way. They try to offer him a significant amount of money for the clock, but he refuses. As Quentin starts to question the man more about his knowledge of Fillory, Eliot does a revealing spell from behind, seeing that the man has horns, just like Ember.
Realizing the gig is up, he shows himself, and it’s Umber, Ember’s brother!
They accuse him of betraying his brother Ember, but really, Martin Chatwin was going to kill him too, and had Fillory booby-trapped to the gills. So, of course, the obvious solution is to fake your own death and move to Canada. The god asks them what they love about Fillory, and Eliot points out that in addition to the opium in the air, the magical world reminds him of how great things were before he realized how shitty it is being an adult.
Umber tries to comfort them by sharing that Fillory really lives on the backs of turtles, so it shouldn’t be so big and overwhelming to them. In fact, he tries to get them to give him feedback on the pocket world he’s currently creating (which just makes me wonder about how many snow globes are really new magical worlds) – he calls it Cuba.
They try to get him to get to the point, since Eliot needs to fix Fillory, but really, they weren’t mean to fix it. The world needs both gods for balance – without Umber, chaos will always reign. Really, the children of Earth rulers were meant purely for entertainment, not because they thought they could do anything effective in Fillory.
He elaborates by saying that when Ember gets bored, he livens things up by doing things like, giving only the sexiest animals the ability to speak, or turning people into rats (well, now we know what the hell happened there…). In another of Q’s “grow a pair” moments, he tells Umber off for not standing up to his brother, creating the Beast by not allowing Martin sanctuary from his abuser, encouraging chaos. Umber acknowledges that Q’s right, and he’ll do better with his new world.
Getting desparate, Eliot asks at least for the clock, since Umber refuses to do anything to help. He appeals to the fact that the god still cares, otherwise he wouldn’t have every piece of memorabilia possible to document his time there. Eliot loves Fillory, it’s his home (awwww), and if Umber won’t help, at least let them get back using the clock. Moved by the High King’s pleas, he gives him the clock, but warns them that Ember may still destroy everything out of spite, because there’s nothing he loves more than a whimsical death (there’s that word again, whimsical – wtf is wrong with Fillorians, sheesh).
Back in Fillory, Eliot and Q regroup, with plan being to find a way to stay in Fillory, figure out a way to stop Ember or drive him out of their magical world before he resets everything for his own amusement. Eliot says they need to conquer Fillory for its own good, and Q points out that plan is just what the Beast wanted to do. The two men are lost in the irony, and we are left wondering with the plan will be.
It’s Called the Poison Room for a Reason, Guys
Penny and Sylvia have done some investigating about how to get into the Poison Room – the code to the room changes every couple of hours, and the front door to the room is warded out the ass. Sylvia suggests they take the back door, given that the Poison Room is really a portal to another world, and one of the many fountains in the Neitherlands should get them there. The fountain has a pile of books for its center statue (way to go with the subtlety, Librarians), and Penny uses his Traveling ability to magically dart around the Neitherlands to find in a matter of hours.
They find the fountain, but it is locked off with a six stage Vermel anti-tampering enchantment. Penny just looks at Sylvia incredulously as she manages to break it, noting that her dad is a good teacher. Penny is suspicious that Sylvia is trying to get at the world’s best battle magic in order to exact revenge on someone who harmed her father, but really, she’s trying to solve a mystery related to several of the biographies she was looking at while trapped in the library for a year.
She started reading Kanye West’s book, only to have it stop abruptly during a sex scene, and followed by 20 blank pages. But it’s not just his book – anyone alive during that time has the same issue, 20 blank pages to conclude their books. Sylvia notes that the Order calls it the Great Blank Spot – a time of cataclysmic badness, but they don’t know what causes it.
Sylvia figures that if something happens in the Great Blank Spot that affects the library, it will be in a librarian’s book, but they keep moving those books to the Poison Room, including hers. While she accepts that the Order believes once your book is written, it seals your fate, she also saw them re-shelve Penny’s book 39 times, which gives her hope that maybe this can be avoided. Penny says he will get the book for her, but she scoffs, tying herself to a rope and diving in before he can stop her.
Once inside, they find insidious floating pieces in the air that sort of look like asbestos. Penny realizes that the air itself may be poisoned when Sylvia starts to cough, but she just urges them to get what they need and get out.
After some searching, Penny finds the needed book, but the minute he opens it, his skin starts absorbing the poison and starts to destroy him. He tells Sylvia that they need to leave, but Sylvia’s not coming – unfortunately, she found her own book, and her ending doesn’t have the 20 blank pages. Instead, it has her sacrificing herself so that Penny can escape. Worst…book…ending…ever.
Penny does make it back sans Sylvia, and gives the book to Kady before collapsing on the floor of the Physical Kids Cottage.
High King Josh…In More Ways Than One
Since both the High King and Queen have vanished, Tick Pickwick, Benedict the Mapmaker, and Rafe, Abigail’s handler, inform Josh that he’s now to serve as High King. They tell him about a variety of problems facing him, including the fact that the Fillorian beavers are demanding dental insurance, the Measley Mountains have disappeared, and that he should probably avoid sitting down in the thrones right away, since they are cursed. Tick implies that all of this might be too much for the new king, but Josh shuts him down by encouraging his advisers to follow the sage advice of “hakuna matata” by a great king on Earth.
When they still appear unconvinced that “no worries” should be their motto, Josh proceeds to get them all high as shit, and then there really are no worries, just happy stoned Fillorians.
Sleeping off his high, Margo appears to Josh in his dreams, chastising him for not looking for her in the Fairy Realm. Apparently he can see Margo because the Fillorian chick next to him who he recently banged mixed the bong, making it so that he can see into other worlds, rather than get it on like pandas.
Josh enlists Rafe and Tick to help him get to the fairy realm, but it’s not that easy. Rafe can get Josh there, but like Margo, they can’t get him back. Before they can figure out what to do next, Prince Ess barges in, looking for his father, since he hadn’t returned since the Rattening. Josh tries to casually tell him that his father is now a small rodent, but Ess is not screwing around. He kills one of the guards to show that he means business, and that he wants answers, which prompts Josh, Rafe and Tick to hide in a chamber to regroup and figure out what to do next.
Josh uses his superior drug tolerability to smoke out Prince Ess and his troops, in essence getting them so high they can’t possibly fight. Covering their faces with rags, Tick and Rafe stay sober as Josh bravely swallows the serum that will take him to the fairy realm after catching a glimpse of Fen in the other realm (because, you know, drugs).
Julia runs into Kady in the Physical Kids Cottage after everyone returns to Brakebills North, and the two women have it out when Julia shares that she couldn’t get her Shade back, but she doesn’t have to act like the Beast. She compares herself to a computer with a chip missing, and asks Kady to be that chip – the person who helps her figure out when she’s going into immoral territory before she hurts anyone. Kady agrees and tells Julia that she’s needed too, since John, Reynard’s son, has shown up at Brakebills and Kady isn’t sure what to do with him.
John shares with the two women Reynard’s obsession with Our Lady Underground, and how he believes that his trickster god father targets her followers for revenge, as he is a lover scorned. Julia tells them about what she learned about Persephone in the Underworld, and how they can lure Reynard to them by making him think it’s the goddess. When Kady asks where they will get the power to take down the god, Julia casually refers to John, implying they should kill him for his power, before Kady subtly reminds her that killing is bad.
She suggests instead that they teach John magic, since he will be to learn it quicker as a demi-god, and use that against Reynard.
John returns to Washington DC, as if he didn’t just try to trick his god of a father into believing he just stepped out for a quick sandwich, rather than to conspire with his dad’s enemies. But Reynard isn’t a moron, and when John asks him for some fatherly advice, Reynard agrees, but only after offering him a present to make up for all of the birthdays he missed.
Surprise! It’s his wife’s tongue and teeth, which is what Reynard saved for John. He knows his son went back to Julia and Kady, and tells him that he needs to stop fighting to be a good person, because it’s not in his nature. John tells him that he really doesn’t understand people if he thinks this is what it takes to destroy someone, but the trickster god disagrees. He uses Julia as an example, noting that he left a tiny black spot on her soul, and she scrubbed at it so hard she tore a hole in it. She can’t ever go back to who she was, and neither can John. Killing his wife helped him to get who he needs to be, and Reynard tells his son to give him a call when he’s ready to embrace that.
Julia and Kady, meanwhile, are doing research and realize that they just need to kick up a large lightening storm in Murs, France, since that was one of the last places Reynard encountered Persephone. While they are working, John arrives, deparately in need of a drink after, you know, Reynard ate his wife.
When Julia tries to find out how he’s doing so they can get on with the plan, he interrupts her, asking her if she ever thinks about how life would be different if he hadn’t… and Julia fills in the blank for him by making him aware of the fact that his father raped her. John seems rather stunned by this, and further contemplative when Julia tells him that she tries to focus on who she was, but it’s getting harder and harder as time goes on. He tells her that Reynard thinks he’s broken her, that she can’t heal, but he tells her that whatever happens, don’t let the trickster god be right. He makes a sudden decision to mind control her, sending Julia off for pizza.
Kady, like all of us, is naturally confused as to what the hell John is doing. He tells her that he’s so sorry to have to leave this responsibility to her, but Julia has been too much, so he needs to give it to Kady to take care of.
Julia comes back from her pizza dream to find a devastated Kady – John compelled her to kill him and take his power so that they can take down Reynard. But, you know, he still compelled her to murder, which as much of a badass Kady is, it’s still rather shitty to have to kill someone against your will. Julia tells her get herself cleaned up and she’ll take care of the rest.
When Penny collapses from his trip to the library in front of Kady, she gets him to the infirmary – however, he’s covered in some sort of radioactive material, so they had to clear out the whole medical facility. While Kady was dealing with that, Julia found a spell in the book, which allowed her to channel all of John’s power into a god-piercing weapon: a single bullet, so they only have one shot at taking down Reynard.
Kady and Julia make their way to Murs, to lure Reynard out with a manufactured lightening storm that is so characteristic of Persephone. They hide in a barn, but when the trickster god arrives, Julia can’t get a clear shot. Kady uses herself as a distraction, taunting him about why he hasn’t been able to get in touch with John (because, you know…dead). As he goes to attack her, Julia approaches from behind with the gun.
But before she can shoot him, the wind and lightening stop, much to Julia and Kady’s unease, and Reynard is trapped, unable to move other than this eyes. Persephone herself emerges from the barn, and Julia is rightfully pissed that the goddess shows up at the most inopportune time.
Turns out that she’s here to ask Julia to spare his life, and why? Because the rapist, asshole trickster god is..her son.
Julia tries to convey to Persephone the devastation her son inflicted on her, but she can’t, since she lost her Shade. She accuses her of letting her son turn her into a monster, but Persephone does that whole thing of “you’re not a monster, but you will be if you kill a god” (i.e. you can’t come back from this type of thing). It’s Julia’s choice, but Persephone urges her to not let Reynard rob of her capacity to be merciful.
Julia lowers the gun, and in what can only be described as more incredibly shitty parenting, Persephone unfreezes him, only to tell him “I am disappointed in what you have done” amidst his protests of “you left me!”
You went with “I’m disappointed in you?” Are you f-ing kidding me? As a parent, I’d like to say that there is a line of unconditional love, and that you can love your child, but hate their behavior, but seriously, if my kid was murdering and raping people, I’d struggle quite a bit with separating the “I love you, but I don’t like what you’re doing thing.”
Plus, Persephone is suuuuuch a shitty parent – her and Stephanie Quinn should get together for a Mommy’s club. Perhaps Julia’s mercy should have been killing Reynard, or better yet, killing Persephone-dealing with the constant pain of rejection and need for acceptance from a parent like that is going to kill him even more emotionally than just ending him would have been.
Kady shares my anger as Persephone whisks him away to be dealt with, given all the crap she’s gone through herself to avenge Julia’s pain, only to have Julia ruin it all at the last minute.
Julia does get one thing in return, though, for her mercy – Persephone sends back up her Shade so the two can be reunited. Good thing too, since Kady just left her in Murs.
Q & A About Q & A and Everything Else:
- Seriously, NO ONE has figured out yet how to remove the curse from those thrones? Really?
- Is it suspicious at all that Tick was trying to discourage Josh from ruling? It seemed like he was going to suggest an alternative ruler when Josh initially appeared overwhelmed – does Tick have ulterior motives?
- So was Umber really the diabetic professor dude where the clock originally lived back in Season 1? Or was that man the Chatwins’ uncle, who Eliot mentions as getting all of their possessions when the Chatwins’ mother died.
- Is the woman in Josh’s bed when he is visited by Margo his future wife Poppy? Poppy is a book character we haven’t seen yet, but maybe we have now.
- Why do people think that Reynard is such a dumb ass? John thinks he can trick him, hedge witches thought they could, but he gets the best of people every time.
This Week’s Episode:
Sadly, tonight’s episode, “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” is the season 2 finale (booooooo). Happily, though the title corresponds to the season 1 finale “Have You Brought Me Little Cakes?” which means that we will get a confrontation with Ember at some point. And Starbucks releases their Unicorn Latte (er…Frappuccino) today, which at least makes it a little more bearable – I definitely enjoyed the barista’s face when I asked her if they really milked unicorns to make it.
So until tonight, enjoy a Unicorn Latte, get drunk off some Physical Kids cocktails, and embrace what is sure to be a fun, maniacal god filled evening on Syfy.
All photos from Syfy.com unless noted below:
Washington Post, “Starbuck’s Unicorn Frappucino…” – https://tinyurl.com/m598t9t