The Ardent Eccentric – The Magicians, S3, E1 – The Tales of the Seven Keys Recap and Review

Photo courtesy of Syfy

Season 3 is finally here (well, it was a week ago – I’m still getting back into the swing of things with recaps). But for those that didn’t see the premiere last week, let’s discuss (and of course, spoilers)!


Julia and the Sidekick

We pick up season 3 right where we left off – Q and Julia are trying to get that spark of magic she has to work in a spell. But it’s not going well – the magic seems to come and go at random (said every long-term married couple ever…). Julia wonders if it was just a god smudge when Our Lady Underground gave her back her Shade. Q wonders if it isn’t from her contact with Reynard, however shitty that was. Although the two really have no clue as to what is going on, Q vows to be her sidekick and help her figure it out.

Quentin suggests that they summon a lesser god to try and get to an Old God and beg forgiveness, but Julia isn’t too keen on doing a summoning and having it potentially go horribly wrong again. They try to think about how different cultures would call out to the gods, recognizing that parties are usually the way to go. Josh, our resident magical drug dealer, offers to use his superior partying skills to help them out.

It turns out that Josh is a follower of Bacchus’s social media account, the god of wine, revelry, and overall good timed-ness. They track down his latest party, and Josh is allowed in, but Q and Julia need to up their fun quotient first. The two get wasted in the hallway outside the party and manage to drunkenly dance their way in.

Bacchus, who is one of the best new characters to join the cast (due primarily to the commitment to the debauchery by actor Ryan McDonald), makes them do shots (lots…and lots of shots), and then gives them a special kind of magic in the form of hits of ecstasy. Their trips are a nice way for us to see what Q and Julia have been dealing with since we lost magic – Alice has left Q to try to do something more than just theoretically study at Brakebills, and Julia is still suffering from a great deal of PTSD from her encounter with Reynard.

But now that they are sufficiently drugged/inebriated for Bacchus’ taste, they try to get some information out of him about how to reach the Old Gods. Apparently, the Old Gods are as great of parents as every other set on this show, and Bacchus isn’t keen on discussing them. He does, however, share that there was a guy, Prometheus (like, THE Prometheus from Athens 1500 years ago) who loved magicians and could probably help – it is unfortunate, then, that he is long dead and gone. But given that this show doesn’t mention anything unnecessarily, I suspect we will see Prometheus sometime this season. And Bacchus does note that Prometheus mentioned a secret back door to magic, which might have been in a brothel…so, helpful, I guess?


Penny and the Most Aggressive Library Enforcement Ever

Penny, looking much better than he did slumped in the stacks of the Neitherlands Library at the end of Season 2, still has himself in a bind (literally) – he’s tied up and being held hostage by a magician with an overdue book. The guy is convinced that the Library has a hidden agenda (other than securing missing books) and blames the whole issue of no magic on Mayokovksy. He’s convinced that the Brakebills South professor was creating those magical batteries so that he himself could cut off magic, break his Incorporate Bond that trapped him in his icy college wonderland, and then keep all magic for himself. But he seems to have forgotten about creatures, where magic is in their DNA. The Magicians does an artful job here of slipping in other reasons for the demise of magic, as well as an explanation of how magic might continue for now, since you know, it’s called The Magicians, and right now, we don’t really have any.

Penny, suspecting the guy might be a magical creature himself given his knowledge on the subject, manages to break free and secure the overdue book. But before he gets back to the Neitherlands, he stops off for a potential quickie with Kady, who’s working at a local diner while there’s no magic (ah, these two…priorities). But the more time he spends out in the non-magical world, the quicker his super-magical-cancer spreads, so Kady sends him on his way. I take back what I said earlier about him looking better than Season 2 (although I am good with Arjun Gupta in a suit any day…). Back at the Neitherlands library, the Librarian shares that he needs to stop taking so long in the real world for tasks – because time has stopped in the library, so does his cancer.

Kady, meanwhile, shares with Harriet (the magician, who, in season 2, gave her the information about the Forbidden Room of the library) that without magic, Penny can’t be helped, therefore he can’t really serve as her mole. But Harriet tells her to use her head, that there has to be magic somewhere – someone had to have seen all this coming (so again, another Mayokovsky reference…). She gives Kady a book that could help Penny, but it needs magic to work.


The Reality of Brakebills

Dean Fogg is dealing with his own issues; the school’s board of trustees has threatened to shut down the college if magic isn’t restored soon. There’s another mention of Mayokovsky’s batteries, and here we find out the professor did escape his bond, with the batteries in tow. The board’s representative, Irene McAlistair, urges Henry to do something quickly, other than just theoretically study.


Eliot and Margo and the Fairy Who Wouldn’t Stop Ruling (not to be confused with The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming)

The High King and Queen of Fillory are having their own challenges without magic, as the Fairy Queen has taken over Castle White Spire. The rulers and their advisors can’t discuss how to get themselves out of this predicament, given that the fairies are everywhere, and they also have a bat shit crazy Fen to deal with, who is cooing at a swaddled log she believes to be her daughter (to be fair, if someone took my daughter as a baby, I would also be snuzzling with an inanimate object in a disconnected way).

The Fairy Queen is having way too much fun with the control she has over Margo – however, I can’t tell if she’s just trying to torture Margo or actually teach her how to be a better ruler. It might be a little of both, given that she keeps rolling the Fillorian High Queen’s plucked out eye in her palm like the worse stress ball ever.

She sends Margo to obtain earthworms around the castle in what has to be the worst Pokemon quest ever. But what’s the real purpose of this? Does the Fairy Queen need them, or is it just another degrading task for her fellow queen? Or is she actually trying to get Margo to get more familiar with the land she rules and it’s potential to bring back magic? It’s too early in the season to really figure out the Fairy Queen’s motives.

Of course, as expected, Margo is not thrilled about the task, and sends one of her advisers out to get the worms while she tries to help Eliot figure out how to help the people of their kingdom. The Fairy Queen, however, is not pleased by this, given that the earthworms need to be retrieved by female hands, and she wants them to be Margo’s. She threatens to cut off the High Queen’s hands unless she completes the task.

Which tips Margo and Eliot off to the fact that the Fairy Queen can see everything, since Margo waited until she was alone to delegate the task to her adviser. Turns out there’s more than meets her eye with this one (see what I did there? Eh?) – the Fairy Queen can see everything through Margo’s plucked out eyeball.

Rafe and her Slowness Abigail, however, give them a way to talk without being under the fairies’ constant surveillance – there is a hallway within Castle White Spire coated in a substance to which the magical creatures are allergic. The High King and Queen plot to try to get help from Idri in Loria, but the Fairy Queen’s all-seeing eye is making it difficult to get out messages. Our two favorite schemers from Brakebills use a coded method of pop culture references to get around their oppressor (as an example, Margo’s statement “Cause I’m about to go full ’07 Britney” = “I am prepared to beat her to death, with an umbrella, if necessary”), which leads them to realize they need to pull a Q and consult Fillory and Further for help.


The Cock and the Jewel

Eliot figures out that he needs to try to capture the White Lady and wish away the fairies. He tracks someone in the Darkling Woods he believes to be her, but instead it turns out to be The Great Cock of the Darkling Woods.

Eliot’s hoping that the Great Cock can grant his wish and get rid of the fairies, but the Cock points out that wishes usually come back to bite one in the ass. He instead sends the High King on an epic quest, since it will restore all of magic and not just get solve his fairy problem, but save life for Magicians. In a nice little callback to Ember’s assessment of the gang in the last episode of season 2, the Cock tells him he must gather the one-eyed conqueror, the traveler, the warrior, the fool, the god-touched, the lover of tomatoes, and the torture artist; among those, his foppy-haired brother in heart, Quentin. The book with details on how to accomplish the quest is in a public library in Chestershire, NJ. He also shares with Eliot that he may be able to contact Q through bunnies, which can travel between worlds.

And one of the little fluffy hoppers does make its way to Q to share with him information about the book, as bunnies do in their hoarse, “I-am-a-chain-smoker” kind of way (see also: Pregnancy Bunny). Q and Julia manage to track down the book, The Tales of the Seven Keys. However, it lacks any information past Chapter 1, which means they need to earn the rest of text by accomplishing tasks in the quest.

Sending a message back through various bunnies, Eliot and Rafe determine that the first key needs to be secured from a place called After Island across the Outer Sea, which is outside of their realm, and not terribly friendly. They’ll need a decent boat, and luckily Fen knows where to get one – she takes a break from cooing at one of the messenger bunnies (she’s upgraded from the log) to help her husband.


Alice and the Lamprey

Through all of this, we finally get a glimpse of Alice outside of Q’s earlier ecstasy trip – in the last three minutes of the episode we learn that she’s been working with various magical creatures to get protection from the still pursuing Lamprey – a vampire gives her an early warning system that the creature is coming in exchange for some blood, but it’s hardly super magical. In desperation, she goes to a local diner, and sadly binges on an entire plate of bacon (oh Alice…).


Additional Questions and Thoughts

  • Irene McAlistair, who came to talk to Dean Fogg on the Board’s behalf, seems to come from a very influential magical family – will we find out more about them this season?
  • So what did Mayokovsky know about all of this other than that magic might run out one day? Was he a part of Ember’s plan before he was killed or was it just a coincidence?


This Week:

This week, we set sail on the Muntjac, the boat that will take our heroes to the Outer Sea. There’s also some new characters credited this week, including Father Poe, Naru, and Frey. So we’ll see where the evening takes us, tonight, January 17 at 9 PM EST on Syfy!