So I realize that this episode aired months ago, but I figure it’s a nice refresher before we start season 3 tonight, January 10, 2018, at 9 PM EST on SYFY (WHOOOOO!). It’s more of a “shit-I-never-added-this-ah-well-better-late-than never” recap/review. And we did have some technical issues with the site for a while. Pics to go with the recap/review to follow later.
I’d say spoilers, but it’s been 6 months…y’all should have already watched this episode.
We start off with an overview of the creation of Fillory, by none other than our favorite ram god Ember. He tells us of how the delicately intricate world of Fillory (or Filigree got started – Fillory is really just a drunken slur of the original name) that was created by he and his deceased brother Umber. Fillory was created to provide maximum entertainment, and he selected appropriate magical Children of Earth to serve as its rulers; however, once they lost their entertainment value (having, you know, encouraged things like democracy, *cough*Eliot*cough*), he banished them from Fillory. Martin Chatwin was particularly uncomfortable to watch after having been molested, which was why Ember shooed him away. But the god underestimated the boy’s tenacity in getting away from his abuser, as well as his need for revenge on the gods that rejected him, and his drinking from the Wellspring pretty much destroyed Fillory from the inside out, killed Umber and sent Ember into hiding.
But then Ember is rather gleeful in recounting the role Q and his companions played, personifying specific stereotypes in any good story – The Addict (Eliot), The Victim (Julia), the Bitch (Margo), the Scowl (Penny) and the Martyr (Alice). Weirdly, he doesn’t identify Quentin as a particular archetype, but he does later refer to him as the Hero, so let’s go with that.
Ember notes how he tried to help the gang take out Martin, but of course they failed, given Julia and Martin’s unusual partnership perpetuated by underlying trauma. So, he made a quick cameo by shitting in the Wellspring, but did nothing to stop Alice from dying or going full niffin. Q disappointed him too by being smart, but acting too often from his heart.
The writers do a nice recap of the season by having Ember share certain times during the season that he stepped in without us (or the gang knowing it) – it was he who led Q to the candy witch in episode 1, he who hid the Wellspring ball in plain sight and made the Rainbow Bridge bloom, he who stole from the River Watcher to incite the man’s anger when Penny stiffed him. He also claims responsibility for causing the brownouts, making Fen ovulate on the right day in order to get pregnant, thus prompting the current royalty to discover that the fairies could fix the Wellspring if they were given the right tribute (i.e. Fen and Eliot’s baby). Seems like an overly complicated plot to get to “we fixed the Wellspring,” but maybe one of the former Children of Earth, before the Chatwins, wrote for soap operas and conspired with Ember on a storyline. Or perhaps my suggestion of that is, in itself, an overly complicated plot. OK, now we are getting meta on meta on meta, so I’ll stop.
Ember does recognize that the Order is onto his behavior, and that they are worried that the Great Blank Spot in the world is going to happen as a result of Ember messing with the system too much and causing it to obliterate itself. They are right, of course, but Ember plans to actually end Fillory himself, but before he does so, he needs to indulge in a few more bits of naughtiness, like causing climate change that obliterates entire species in one go, or causing any baby born in that world this week to not have a mouth. But Ember promises that there is definitely more to come as the night of destruction draws nigh.
Alice is still pissed about being returned to her humanity, and she confronts Q as to why he brought her back. Despite being annoyed with him, she does drink a potion he gives her that prohibits her from doing any harm to her body. Q can’t comprehend how she can’t understand why he brought her back – she herself almost died trying to save Charlie out of her love for her brother, so why wouldn’t Q’s love for her be enough to justify him taking the drastic steps he did? She asks to be alone, and Q indulges her.
After Penny’s collapse last week, we find out that he has cancer “plus,” with lesions growing on his spine – apparently whatever spell he was exposed to contained a massive amount of radiation. Of course, Professor Lipson and her medical opinions are glorious.
Because the illness was caused somewhat by a spell, they might be able to figure out how to heal him; if not, he’s got about 2-3 weeks to live. Penny, always the good patient, immediately gets up, refusing to allow his last bit of time on Earth to be spent in a hospital bed. As he’s getting dressed, Kady comes to visit. She’s in a bad way too – although not dying, she did turn back to meth after being forced to kill a Senator for his demigod powers, and then having it all be for nothing, given that Reynard was whisked away by Persephone before they could use John’s stored energy to destroy him. The two reflect on a couple of major themes this season – the fact that magic really fucks thing up and complicates things, rather than fixing them; and that banging is super important to them.
Penny tells her that he doesn’t want to dwell on the anger, that their time is limited (and of course, I immediately thought that this meant “let’s bang again here is the hospital bed before I die,” but our favorite Traveler was thinking with a different head this week). He needs to see Q and Eliot and take care of a couple of other things, but then they can be together for the rest of his time on Earth.
Julia and Her Couch:
Ah, the blessings of not having a Shade – now that’s Julia’s is back, she’s reliving all of the horrible things that were done to her, as well as the things she did to other people. Smoking and lying on her couch is all she accomplish at the moment, and this is how Eliot finds her when he comes looking for help to save Fillory.
And Eliot, proving once again that he is an absolute cinnamon roll and the most beautiful soul on The Magicians, sincerely asks Julia how she is before asking for anything for himself. She sarcastically points out that being whole again is the bee’s knees, and since crying jags and panic attacks are now part of her everyday existence, what can she help him with before one or both of those start again.
Eliot needs the amulet that will him invisible to Ember, and Julia hands it over before slinking back down onto the couch. Eliot goes to leave, but thinks better of it given his own struggles last season. He goes back to Julia, sharing that while he can’t possibly understand what she went through, he can understand the solitude she desires, and the fact that being alone is the last thing she needs right now. He wants her to help him convince Ember to not destroy Fillory, given that she is the most tenacious person he knows. In what is possibly one of the best proposals for moving forward ever, he asks Julia this:
“Wanna put on some pants and help me save all of magic?”
Because, seriously, who could resist a request like that?
Making a Plan:
The gang meets up at Brakebills South, and it is here that Kady first encounters Julia after their Reynard mishap. Kady doesn’t want to hear anything from Julia, noting that she’s going to go drug herself while Penny is talking to Q and Eliot.
Penny, meanwhile, is warning Eliot about the conclusion to his books (whoo! I knew his two-volume thing could come up again at some point) – currently, it’s playing out exactly as Eliot is living it, but it still ends in the 20 blank pages, which means whatever he is doing right then to try to prevent the end of Fillory won’t work. Penny tells him that the story can change if Eliot comes up with another plan, and sticks to it. He encourages Eliot to go rescue Idri from his rat-like state and come back there.
When he meets back up with Kady, she’s ready to whisk them off to Tahiti for him to live out his limited time, but the Order has other plans, and Penny seems to sense this as he tries to explain to her why he can’t leave. Before they can get far in Kady’s protests, however, they are transported to the Neitherlands library, much to Kady’s displeasure.
She tries to tell Zelda, the head librarian, that Penny should be given some leeway, given that he’s dying, but Zelda rightfully points out that had he not gone into the restricted area in the first place, he wouldn’t be in that state. While she has some sympathy for how difficult this is for them as individuals, the whole of knowledge is at stake, which is greater than any one person’s needs. She gives them an inordinately tiny amount of time to say goodbye, which was kind of a bitch move, but whatever – prolonging the inevitable isn’t going to make it any easier, I guess.
Kady ends up reaching out to Harriet, the woman with the overdue library book earlier in the season who gave her the information initially about killing gods. Kady begs for her help in curing him, offering Penny up as a mole in the library through her.
Eliot, meanwhile, before returning to Fillory, seeks out help from Q, but first asks about Alice. And Eliot, once again being the underappreciated friend to everyone on this show, deals with his younger companion’s dramatic slide down the wall as he laments Alice’s continued shitty attitude about the whole situation.
Eliot tries to reassure him that things will work, but also reminds him that he chose to be a king of Fillory, and that world needs him more than Alice does at the moment. He needs someone who speaks fluent fanboy, and sends him to see Umber and move their plan forward.
Eliot, meanwhile returns to Fillory and restores Idri to human form, where they both confront Ess, who has taken over Fillory in protest of his father’s ratification. They both ask him to vacate the throne, and he does, storming out like the angry teenager he is.
Idri also must return to Loria to support his people, but not before giving Eliot a super awesome goodbye kiss – Ember’s banishment of Eliot be damned. These two are fulfilling their marriage contract, whatever the final outcome for Fillory.
Two Nerds and a Baby (World):
Quentin makes his way to see Umber and asks for his assistance in taking down his brother. Umber points out how difficult it would be for him to reappear after having faked his own death. A bit desperate, Q incredulously asks the god if he really wants to see Fillory destroyed. Well, he doesn’t obviously, and he likes Q’s passion, so instead of helping him save Fillory, Umber’s going to give him a sneak peak into the new world he’s creating. Sort of like Q is an individual focus group, which doesn’t quite make much sense, but you know, not a lot does with these two gods.
This new baby world…Cuba. Because it’s a cube…in a snow globe.
Where everything is super symmetrical and well…boring as shit. Quentin tries to help him understand why this might not appeal to thinking creatures – that we like, even crave, a little color (and/or off-color) in our lives. Umber doesn’t receive that very well, and makes a remark about Ember being really good at creating chaos. He also sneers at Ember’s love for that pathetic mess that Fillory was, and that it’s too late for him to go back and help with anything.
Luckily for the gang, Julia took tiny Cuba to Fillory with Q and Umber inside. So brother reunion, I guess?
In the Fairy Realm:
Josh and Margo, having both made it to the fairy realm, manage to crack the code on the room where Fen is being held captive. Josh explains how they are there, noting that the fairies’ castle is on top of White Spire, but in two separate dimensions, or is in the same dimension, but with time sped up. This would make sense, given that Fen has already given birth to a daughter, and she refuses to leave without her child. Before they can get her out of bed, however, they are discovered by a fairy, who escorts them to the Queen.
With the Queen of the Fairies, we get another obnoxious, mother type figure bathing in a tub, while insulting those around her.
Margo takes the more aggressive approach to leadership, as opposed to diplomatic, by demanding that they return Fen and the baby, since the deal was inhumane and made under duress. The Queen, being a magical creature and all, could give a rat’s ass what Margo thinks, and tries to get her to focus instead on the fact that Ember has grown dangerously bored of Fillory, which means everyone’s destruction, including them.
Margo is rather taken aback at this, given that they haven’t been able to get in touch with Ember in months. The fairy points out that it’s because they never offer him anything, they are always demanding things.
Rather than keep them prisoner, it would behoove her and her fairy-people to have Josh and Margo return to their realm to help High King Eliot. She gives them a sprig of ambrosia, which gods love the shit out of, and Margo shares that they will bake it into little cakes, because Ember has a weird obsession with little cakes. She tries to slide back in that she, Josh, Fen and the baby will be on their way, but the Queen isn’t having any of that. She does allow them to leave after paying the toll. When the two Children of Earth look confused, she viciously shrugs it off, telling them she doesn’t make the rules, while at the same acknowledging that she does, in fact, make the rules, and could put a stop to this if she really wanted to, which she clearly does not.
Margo and Josh make it back to Fillory, but the toll was pretty steep – one of Margo’s eyes. But Margo, being Margo, rolls with it and takes the opportunity to experiment with a new accessory.
Well, she doesn’t completely roll with it – when Eliot tries to comfort her with their normal banter, she breaks down a bit, admitting that pretending things aren’t different between them (like, you know, dealing off his daughter and he imprisoning her, and the lack of an eye) just makes things hurt worse. But they have an orgy to throw to attract Ember to the little cakes Josh is currently baking up with the previously received ambrosia, in an attempt to save all of Fillory, so not much time for lamenting at the moment.
The Most Fillorian Orgy Ever:
The High King and Queen host their Day of Debauchery, but given that is Fillory, the people are all a bit confused and trying their best to be into it. But Josh has the little cakes done, so there’s that at least.
And they don’t have to wait long, Ember himself shows up to enjoy the Little Debbie wanna-bees.
Eliot and Margo propose a new Fillory to him, acknowledging that things have been a bit boring recently for the god’s viewing pleasure. Their pitch? “Shit Tons of Drama and Surprise.” Fillory should live to please another day.
But Margo makes the slight mistake of mentioning how great it must have been to build Fillory with Umber, which sends Ember into reflecting about how much work it is to maintain this world. He instead starts to destroy it, noting that if his brother was here, he could help since he was a workaholic.
Lucky for him, though, his wish is about the come true.
The Horned Twins Reunite:
Ember is rightfully confused as to what the hell is going on, given that Umber is supposed to be dead, rather than in the throne room. At first, he’s rather pleased to see him, given that he’s under the impression Umber died fighting Martin, in order to save his brother’s life. Turns out, that instead, Umber gave himself an out with Martin, leaving Ember to be banished. All this time, Ember has been thinking that Martin was all powerful, when really, he probably could have overtaken him and ended his own banishment at any time.
So what started out well ends up being an Investigation Discovery episode as Ember chokes his brother to death.
Julia, in the meantime, has snagged a sword, and taunts Ember into a duel. Ember, never one to pass up choking an insolent, fails to notice Quentin approaching him from behind with Eliot’s enchanted sword. But he definitely notices when Q stabs him from behind with it, and in true Ember fashion, is pleasantly surprised that his death is caused by the person he least expected.
So now we have two dead gods and a (seemingly) saved Fillory.
Brakebills South, Part 2:
Now that he’s done saving Fillory, Q attempts again to save his relationship with Alice. He entices her to return to humanity from her sad cat position by using the goodness of bacon. Realizing that bacon is something you can’t experience as a niffin, she starts to reflect on other things that are beautiful about humanity, but also gross. Like sex. Which she initiates rather quickly with Q, given that she was just reflecting on life principles 30 seconds before.
Q, feeling rather proud of himself for conquering a god and Alice’s fears of intimacy, tells her about their taking down Ember and Umber. But Alice points out a horrible truth that she learned as a niffin – there’s old gods, like the rams’ parents, who are responsible for all of magic, and pissing them off by killing their children is not a good thing for the magical community. The gods send out a henchmen (the Plumber) to shut down the pipes of magic across worlds.
Two months later, and the cast of the Magicians stands, well…without magic. Q and Alice eventually made their way back to Brakebills (where it’s now like normal graduate school), Margo and Eliot are still in Fillory, and Penny’s dying while stuck with the library staff.
Magical creatures, however, seem to be doing just fine, and Joseph the Friar niffin (who is now dying, due to lack of magic), comes to warn Alice that the Lamprey she pissed off earlier in the season is coming for her now.
Eliot and Margo are struggling to figure out what to do with their terrified subjects to keep them from resorting to mob mentality without magic. Fen surprises them by returning from the fairie realm (after sacrificing her toes) to warn them about the impending fairie invasion. But too little, too late, as the fairies, who have retained their magic, have them surrounded, both inside the castle, and at White Spire’s gates.
But all hope is not lost, as Julia still inexplicably has a bit of magic left in her, and she shares her secret with Q, to leave us all hanging until season 3 (which again, January 10, 2018, 9 PM EST on SYFY).
Q & A
- In Ember’s monologuing in the beginning of the episode, he notes that when the Candy Witch took some of Q’s blood, that we would find out what that was for later. But if he destroyed Fillory before then, how would we find out that information? Was he sending them away from his world before it was destroyed, or because he’s a god, he knew in the end he would be defeated in his attempt to destroy Fillory?
- The potion that renders one able to do harm to one’s body intrigued me. Would this be a good start for people with mental health problems who self-harm, or would it set the person back even further, since self-harming is a way to feel something, even if that something is pain? It would be an incredibly effective suicide prevention tool, and that too intrigues me – the potion prohibits self-harm, but if you jumped in front of a train with the intent for the train to kill you, would you succeed or no, given that you deliberately jumped in front of a train? And who invented this potion? Back stories I need to know…
- Can we please get a crossover show with Keegan Carol Tracy playing Professor Lipson and the Blue Fairy from Once Upon a Time?
- So Arjun Gupta posted a picture on his Twitter feed the night of the finale of him holding a little girl named Poppy. Given that the fairy’s castle is on top of White Spire, and time is sped up, is it possible that Poppy is Fen and Eliot’s daughter, just aged significantly? He called her Poppy in the picture’s caption, so I’m going with this theory for introducing the Poppy character from the books. However, in the books, Poppy marries Josh – if this turns into one of those Renesmee-Jacob, “imprinting-on-my-mate-who-is-three-times-younger-than-me” things, I will be sorely disappointed, Magicians. I’m going to hope it’s not though, given that Felicia Day is playing grown up Poppy in Season 3.
- I can’t help but wonder if the Queen would have been more cooperative if Margo had approached her more diplomatically. Or, like the Queen said about Ember, offering her something, such as an exchange for the baby. Between this, and losing her eye, I think this is going to be a sobering lesson that she can’t always just bully her way into getting what she wants.
- The Fairy Queen is played by the lovely Candis Cayne, and I once again have to commend this show for celebrating diversity, but no one makes a big deal of it – it is just a normal part of these characters’ existence. Candis a transgendered woman, and she, like all of the fairies, is made to look very gender fluid.
- I wonder if next season, Eliot is finally going to snap about the fact that his friends are really kind of self-centered, and he provides the strength for that group. I’m hoping that Idri can be that rock for Eliot as the character continues to mature.
- Please let “Shit Tons of Drama and Surprise” be an episode title for Season 3.
Tonight! January 10, 2018! Season 3 premiere! SYFY! Be there!