The Ardent Eccentric – The Magicians S3, E4 – “Be The Penny” Recap and Review

Last Wednesday on The Magicians, it was all Penny, all the time in this week’s episode of “Be the Penny.”  Not that that is a bad thing – any episode with that much Arjun Gupta makes me happy.  And any episode with an over-abundance of 1920’s slang I also love.

But let’s get into the recap…as always, spoilers!


Oh Penny? He Dead

Penny now has the unfortunate task of getting someone to see/hear him, given he was astral projecting when his body died.  He’s also disturbed to see that among Kady, Julia, Quentin and Dean Fogg, no one is crying – instead, Q has quite an inappropriate response of giggling, and there is an awkward eulogy as Kady realizes none of them really knew him, not even her.

In an effort to help himself, he projects himself to the Neitherlands Library, only to find books missing, and two cannibalistic roamers from the Neitherlands. After trying to warn a friend of the danger, he projects back to Brakebills, only to see Q send a bunny to Margo and Eliot’s boat about his death.  He follows the bunny, and sees Margo mourn in the best Margo way possible – she regrets that they won’t get the opportunity to bang.

Kady, back at Brakebills, is taking Penny’s death pretty hard, and after overdosing, Julia is prompted by a possessed Todd to save her (guess the goddess has found a new host to urge Julia forward).  She uses her limited magic to revive her friend, much to the disgust of another ghost/astral projection.  Penny is excited that someone else can see him, even if it is Hymen Cooper, the 1920’s Pervert Ghost of Brakebills.  Hymen thinks he’s a ghost, but Penny uses what he learned about hauntings from Professor Sunderland to help him understand that ghosts have unresolved issues – Hymen was just in the astral plane when his body was misplaced.

In the infirmary, Kady is visited by a representative of the Order calling for Penny, since he’s committed to serving the Library in this life and beyond.  The representative was concerned because Penny never showed up, and is concerned that Penny’s on his way to becoming a vengeful spirit.  They have seven days to remove his soul from his body, or it’s lost to them to serve the Order.  And the best way to do that is with a Corpse Eater.  Or they can burn his body and send his spirit to the Underworld.  Kady is worried that she’s missing something – that maybe he’s not a restless spirit.

While watching the gang work through various issues, Penny’s still trying to figure out how to communicate – Hymen manages to teach him to “be the penny,” projecting himself into an actual penny.  He tries to project himself into a messenger bunny, but only manages to hear Margo, rather than communicate, as she plots to kill the Fairy Queen when she returns to Fillory.

Next on his list is projecting into the Margolem, but he still can’t communicate – they believe that the golem just had residual magic. He’s rather frustrated, until he realizes that Julia and Q may be able to help.


The Adventures of the Waugh Family

Eliot, meanwhile, has the unfortunate issue of trying to protect his family, given that the door they traveled through took them back to the Neitherlands.  Where there is nothing but those two cannibals.  Penny tries to warn them, but again, no one can hear him.  Eliot, Fen, and Fray quickly realize that they are in danger and run off, trying to find a door to escape through.  Fray, like a typical teenager, tries to yell at her parents for lying about the key, which of course, is inappropriately timed.  Eliot remembers that there are doors in the basement of the library, so they try to figure out how to get them before getting eaten.

Eliot uses the key from the Outer Island to try to conjure the Shadow Bat to distract the cannibals, but because the key conjures your greatest fear, it instead prompts an illusion of his father, and we see why Eliot is the way he is.  Luckily, the illusion father gets sacrificed to the cannibals, allowing Eliot’s family to find a doorway and escape back to Brakebills.


Finding the Hidden Truth

Julia and Q are trying to figure out what to do next in their quest for the keys, now that Chapter 2 has opened up in the book. The girl in the story got the next key from a sentient cave in Fillory, which coincidentally is also something Rupert Chatwin did in the first Fillory book, in order to give it to a friend at Brakebills with whom he served in the war.

They find out that Rupert gave the key to Lance Morrison, a student who died in the now buried West Dorm.  Since Lance died on campus from what they initially believe is a suicide, the key might still be with him.  Unfortunately, though, it turns out that Lance was murdered by his own father, a McAlister, (as in “Irene-McAlister-from-the-Board-of-Brakebills-in-episode-1-McAlister”), for being gay.  Penny tries to get Lance to tell Julia and Q that he is there, but before he can, Lance gets stuck in his death loop, reliving his murder.  Penny then tries to get Lance’s father’s attention to say his name, but Q and Julia are spooked and leave before he can.

Julia and Q see that the father took the key after killing Lance, and use Dean Fogg to get into Irene McAlister’s house to try to find the key.  Q distracts Irene with shitty card magic, while Julia uses that fire locator spell Alice and Q used in Season 1 to find Charlie to find the key in the house, and manages to locate it in her library.  Irene’s house still has magic (like the magical 1%), which may have helped with empowering the locator spell.

Penny realizes that this key, the one that can reveal hidden things, could show them that he is there.  The problem is, it’s been almost 7 days at that point, and they either need to send him to the Corpse Eater, or burn his body, neither of which are good options.  When the decision is made to get the Corpse Eater, Penny projects into the candle next to his body and knocks it over, thus making the decision for them and burning his corpse.

Despite Q’s special card tricks, the Board of Brakebills votes to shut down the school, since real magic is still at a standstill. Before they can figure out what to do next, however, they are reunited with the Waughs. They share the new truth key with Eliot, who after a moment, is able to share with the gang (albeit super nonchalantly) that Penny is there.


Q & A About Q & A and Everything Else

  • Irene McAlister mentioned a magical blackout her father experienced as a boy – has anyone looked at what happened then historically to see if there’s any solutions.
  • We saw fairies in the background of the library when Julia found the key – what does this mean in terms of the Fairy Queen being able to see all?
  • Will the Fairy Queen play a role at all in restoring Penny to himself? I’m not sure what the plan is for him at this point, given that his body is burned.
  • Was the candle move intentional or not by Penny? Like if he had fallen the other direction, he would have let Kady know, but also not burn his body.


Best Lines of the Episode

Right now, I just want to be 23, not know what I want to do, or who I want to be – Alice, lamenting the complications that magic causes

Josh…that man is a Vagician – Hymen Cooper, referring to the awesomeness that is Josh.

Quentin…he’s the duck’s nuts! – Hymen Cooper, using his 1920’s speak to express his admiration of Q


Next Week (or This Week)

Episode 5, “A Life in the Day” has more people seeing Penny, drama, and the return of young Jane Chatwin.  Lots to look forward to tonight at 9:00 PM EST on Syfy.


Photo courtesy of


Be the first to comment on "The Ardent Eccentric – The Magicians S3, E4 – “Be The Penny” Recap and Review"

Leave a Reply