This show is not wasting any time this season and I love it. There’s a lot going on, but the stories flow into each other already a little better than they did in Season 2, where it was starting to take on that Walking Dead quality of “let’s focus on this small group at a time, then this one, then this one” all in one episode. Let’s go over this much more fluid episode in Season 3, so far – as always, spoilers.
The Tale of the Seven Keys – Part Deux
We open with a very Deathly Hallows-esque, “Tale of the Three Brothers” animation about the story behind The Tale of the Seven Keys. The story is about a knight and his daughter, although he would have preferred a boy. But she’s more than capable of helping when a witch captures her father, and refuses to let him go unless the girl completes a quest to secure the seven keys. Only after she secured the keys would she be able to unlock the Castle at the End of the World, where her father was being held. This, however, is all that the book gives our heroes to start with; as each key is obtained as the gang parallels the girl’s journey, a new chapter will appear in the book.
Super sleuths Josh, Julia and Q figure out from the book that they need to make their way to Fillory to help obtain the seven keys, and while they have the Chatwin’s clock from Dean Fogg to get back to there, they don’t have magic. But Mayokovsky does with his batteries. So, while they aren’t sure how to find their former professor without magic, there is still Google.
The Hunt for Red October (or Mayokovsky…Whatever)
Josh stumbles across a video online of a hedge witch bar, where a woman is being accosted by a bear named Mischa. You know, like the symbol of Russia, and Mayokovsky’s first name. They suspect that he used a battery to turn himself into the bear, but they aren’t sure. They call Kady to try to get them into the bar, using Penny as a reason that she should follow up.
Kady goes to the bar, and Kylo Ren’s doppleganger (posing as a lowly bartender) tells her it got all magical feeling in the air when the Russian guy came in, with none other than Emily Greenstreet. Q says he’ll go see Emily alone to find out what’s going on, since she’s a bit…off…always.
Alice, meanwhile, is still off dealing with the Lamprey, who has now possessed a local construction worker, unbeknownst to Alice. She adopts an adorable kitten named Hester as an alarm system for the Lamprey, from an odd, Fred Armisen look alike, who makes Alice promise that no harm will come to the kitten. Which of course means it will.
Q heads to Emily’s apartment for some answers. Totally still hung over, Emily tells him how Mayokovsky showed up a week ago, free of the Incorporate Bond, and had always loved her and always would. After some sexy time, they went to 5 or 6 different bars, and ended up getting married. They ended up running into a woman that Mischa owed something to, but Emily went to the bathroom while the woman and him started arguing. When she came back out, Mischa was a bear, and she is now married to a zoo animal.
Now the gang has to find this woman, who still has big magic. She’s been helping sponsor a sex magic orgy in Central Park, as well as creating a dinosaur for the kids at the local children’s hospital. Josh and Kady pose as writers for National Geographic, and one of the patients shares that they named the creature Androsaurus (because it was part man, part dinosaur). we only hear the dinosaur and see a large footprint outside as Kady and Josh try to hunt it down (I suspect all the CG budget was used for the quest in Fillory that Eliot is undertaking.
Q and Julia, meanwhile, investigate the orgy in Central Park. When trying to question some of the lovers, the others instead want them to join in. They even get overcome a bit themselves by the sex magic. Taking a moment away from each other, Q stumbles across Alice wandering among the orgy, carrying her super adorable kitten in a carrier. But the police interrupt the orgy, and Alice runs off before Q can talk to her further.
It turns out Julia got some more information – the woman who cast the sex magic was also looking for the closest building from which to jump. And, of course Q knows it’s the Old Post Office, since he investigated that sort of thing when he was suicidal back in Season 1.
When they get to the building, the woman is already on the ledge, and Q goes in the building to try and talk her down. In a super “oh shit” moment the woman turns around, only to be Professor Lipson from Brakebills (guess those Xanax weren’t really doing it for her). Keegan Connor Tracy does a beautiful job displaying a woman on the edge…literally and figuratively.
Q tries to convince her that she made beautiful magic today, and it was cool she used Mayokovsky’s battery to do it. Well, turns out, it was really her battery-she’s the one who retrieved the living metal for him in Antarctica, and from the way she keeps talking about him and “Emily Greenstreet the Whore,” it’s pretty obvious that she was the wife that he cheated on with Emily. Quentin sympathizes with her, that they didn’t know how awful the world was without magic, and that he knows she was raging about that when she turned Mayokovsky into the bear. Lipson gets confused then, unaware that he became a bear. Bewildered and overwhelmed, she starts to jump, but Q catches her by one arm. She can’t hold onto the battery, however, and despite Alice and Julia’s attempt to catch it, it shatters on the street below.
Meeting back up with Josh and Kady once Lipson is safe in police custody, they share how they tracked the dinosaur, but eventually lost him. Kady gets a phone call that she has to take, and while she is gone, Q brings up the fact that Lipson didn’t turn Mayokovsky into the bear. Which means that there was another battery. Q and Kady realize who it is that did the transformational magic, but at that moment, Alice’s adorable kitten Hester starts howling and spitting…and then EXPLODES IN ITS CARRIER, as kittens do. Alice leaves the exploded kitten in the police station and runs off, as the Lamprey possessed construction worker follows her shortly thereafter.
The group makes their way to Emily’s apartment, only to find that Kady beat them to it and has taken the battery for herself. The call she received was about Penny, who has collapsed outside of the diner where Kady works. He had a foreboding feeling that it was his time and he wanted to be with her in his final moments. But traveling there has really advanced his cancer. Luckily, Kady took the battery from Emily and is going to try to use it with the book Harriet gave her in the last episode to cure Penny.
Julia, Q and Josh decide to split up to try to find Kady after finding out that Emily changed Mayokovsky into the bear herself (because she was pissed about him talking to Lipson…seems like an appropriate response to feelings of jealousy), with Julia heading to Brakebills, Josh to her apartment, and Q to the diner where she works. The group has to decide if they take back the battery, even if Kady is in the middle of curing Penny, or wait and allow their newly cured Traveler friend’s skills on their quest. They don’t really come to a consensus on what to do before they take off in separate directions.
Q is in the alley behind the diner where Kady works, when the Tale of the Seven Keys book starts flapping in his messenger bag. It’s starting to fill in Chapter 2 now that Eliot has the first key (oops, spoiler…Eliot gets the first key, but we’ll talk about how he does it below). In a back alley, Q takes out the book to see the new text, only to be accosted by the Lamprey possessed construction worker. After a brief struggle, the Lamprey makes its way into Q’s body, who gathers up the book and starts looking for Alice.
The Hunt for the First Key
Eliot and Margo are planning to take the Muntjac, an old boat in Fillory’s naval fleet to the After Island to collect taxes, which haven’t been paid by the territory in over 46 years. They are doing this because the kingdom is out of money, and definitely not to search for a key, which they conveniently announce in front of the Fairy Queen.
Tick and Eliot make their way to the Muntjac, which is piloted by Admiral Lacker. The boat is made of sentient trees, and is fast, wise, and has a great personality, which Tick is super excited about. She even has a Heartwood. Tick still warns that the boat can be a bit of asshole, for which he is promptly thrown overboard. And of course, this is all I could think about once they got on their ship:
For their crew, they will be taking the mute swordsman Bingle, and Fen insists on coming too. It was actually the Fairy Queen’s idea for Fen to come, and also wants someone she trusts to accompany them. It’s the Frail Human, Frey, who is their daughter and now about 14 years old (because of the weird time shift thing). Frey insists that she only serves the Fairy Queen and feels nothing for either of them, which is a pretty appropriate attitude for someone her age towards their parents.
Margo and Eliot discuss Frey, and Eliot is convinced that it’s all a shitty cliché and that’s she’s not really his daughter. Margo also gives him some parting words of advice – the only difference between an alive hero and a dead moron is one bad decision, so don’t make that decision.
While Frey is sleeping on the Muntjac, Fen and Eliot talk about whether or not she really is their daughter. Fen’s convinced that she is their baby, and that with love, they can bring her back to their side (since the Fairy Queen isn’t the warmest guardian in all the worlds).
The group makes its way across the Outer Sea to After Island, declaring it as a province of Fillory to the very bewildered people that live there. Eliot asks to see who is in charge, and that man is Father Poe. However, when the crew arrives, Poe is deep in prayer to prepare for the monster who attacks the island every few days.
Meeting with Father Poe, Eliot offers to send his navy to deal with the monster, but first, he is looking for a golden key, which Poe has conveniently hung around his neck. But Poe insists that he can’t give it up as the key is the only thing keeping the monster at bay.
They are suddenly interrupted by an ungodly screeching, indicating that the monster is approaching. Eliot, the crew and the other villagers all take shelter, while Father Poe stays outside to drive away the monster with prayer. Eliot peeks out of the shelter, to see what looks like a big Shadow Monster bat flapping over Father Poe (like the Lost Smoke Monster, but with wings).
After the attack, the villagers emerge to investigate the carnage – Frey announces that it’s a Shadow Bat. Since it’s not really alive it can’t be killed. Unfortunately, the husband of one of the villagers who couldn’t find shelter was gutted by the Bat – or was he?
During the man’s funeral, Frey investigates the body, much to the villagers’ shock. The newly formed royal family discusses their suspicions that the man was actually stabbed, given that Frey has seen the wounds of a Shadow Bat, and the man didn’t suffer those, and Fen has seen plenty of deaths by knives as the daughter of a blade maker.
Eliot confronts Father Poe and takes the key, ordering Bingle the Swordsman to kill him. He offers to spare him if he shows the villagers what’s really going on with the Shadow Bat-the priest might as well show them what’s going on, given that Eliot will still have the key. Father Poe summons the Shadow Bat, with Eliot able to stand up to it because it is simple illusion magic. By revealing the priest’s deception, he frees the villagers from their previous control, and while he could kill Father Poe, he chooses not to, since the only difference between an alive hero and a dead moron is one bad decision. So not only does he solidify his place as an appropriate ruler of the After Island, he also leaves Father Poe to the villagers, and they have no mercy.
Back on the Muntjac, Frey confronts her parents about not collecting taxes – that they only went to get that key. Fen tells her it’s gold and magic, both of which will help the kingdom. Frey is still suspicious, but Fen and Eliot pull parental rank and send her to her room for talking back and being rude.
Q & A About Q & A and Everything Else
- Is the Fairy Queen really as bad as she seems? I get that Fillory needs to be ruled by Children of Earth, but it seems like she could take away a lot more of their freedoms. And she does send Frey on the trip – is it really to spy on Eliot and Fen, or does she have a smidge of compassion? Or is she just trying to get the whole family out of the way to work with Margo in completing bigger plans?
- Cute animals do not last long on this show. Cancer Puppy, Alanis Morissette, Marina’s kitty, and now Hester (RIP Hester). I’m kind of shocked some of the bunnies in Fillory haven’t been murdered yet, and that Abigail is still around. Next week’s preview shows another kitten, which means that one will probably die too.
- This show continues to surprise me – I didn’t ever suspect that Lipson was the fellow professor Mayokovsky cheated on. It’s also a pretty creepy reinforcement of how young Mayokovsky likes them – Lipson isn’t super old herself.
- This whole story line with Lipson, Emily and Mayokovsky is a beautiful illustration of what separates The Magicians from other magical tales (like Harry Potter) – the magicians in this world are so much more real and raw – there’s no grandiose lifelong sacrifice like Snape made after Lily hooked up with James, there’s screaming and calling one another whores and turning their love interest into a bear in rage, which is actually a more realistic reaction to that situation. I realize that sentence makes me sounds like a crazy person, but you get what I’m going for here.
- This whole love triangle also adds to why Sunderland hasn’t acted on her feelings for Penny. This already seems to be a sticky subject at Brakebills, and while I think it’s mostly Sunderland’s own integrity, she may not pursue a relationship out of respect for what Lipson has had to go through.
- In case I haven’t said it yet, Trevor Einhorn is doing a bang up job as Josh – we are already getting a little more depth to his character and I’m glad to see him be a bigger part of the gang this season.
- So there’s still a dinosaur wandering about the city? I’m curious as to how that will come back in the story. That also prompts another question – when magic went away, did Brakebills just appear out of nowhere because the wards were gone? How did that go over with the public?
- I am curious as to whether or not Eliot will pick up Idri on the way back – while Frey is a “spy,” it doesn’t seem like she has a reasonable way to communicate with the Fairy Queen about any of her suspicions.
- I am quite happy that we are getting all of the “bad” words this season – there’s nothing quite so lovely about Eliot telling Fey that they are fucked up enough to be a good family, so they might as well enjoy it.
- Jason Ralph continues to be one of the best physical actors I’ve seen on television – from his embodiment of the Lamprey this week, all the way back to Season 1 working with the mating books in their boxes, he really has a great command of his physicality as an actor.
Elie’s Illustrious Images
Elie Smolkin is the amazing cinematographer for The Magicians, and I want to take the time each work to highlight some of the most beautiful shots from the episode:
More questing! More kittens (hopefully not exploding but probably)! More body parts! More weird family relationships with the return of Alice’s dad, Daniel! And the words that appear for Chapter 2 at the end of this week’s episode talk about how the key from After Island “brought to life the deepest and darkest fears of the beholder,” which means we may get some tortured Eliot again (whoo!). So…a typical episode of The Magicians – this Wednesday, January 24 at 9 PM EST on Syfy.
Photos courtesy of Syfy unless otherwise noted:
Kylo Ren: https://goo.gl/images/mT2Bww
Fred Armisen: https://goo.gl/images/FVzcFb
I’m on a Boat: https://goo.gl/images/aZPQBc