The Magicians: recap and review of episodes 1 and 2 of season 3

Episode 1: The Tales Of The Seven Keys

The Magicians are back, and magic might be gone, but they’re back with a bang.

The season 3 premiere gave us early season 1 vibes with the way the characters were paired. Julia and Quentin were off doing their thing in New York, Eliot and Margo being their usual extra selves, Penny and Kady sneaking out together, and Alice being aloof and on her own. Everyone is dealing with different stuff, but all their problems derive from magic disappearing. The drastic events of last season and decisions made by each character brought to an unescapable situation where Quentin had to kill Ember, the rather uncooperative minor Fillorian god. This brought older and more important gods to seek vengeance and switch magic off.

Now everyone is trying to do their best in a really crappy situation, but Jules and Q are the ones who are most actively trying to restore magic (guilty, much?) and it looks like their chances are the highest of all, since Julia still possesses a spark, an innate, raw magic that she can’t really control. She can’t summon it to cast spells, but it’s still more than anybody else has. In the season premiere, after racking their brains with spells and contemplating a summoning, they end up following Josh Hoberman to a party where he assures they’ll meet Bacchus, the Ancient Roman god of wine and the wild and parties, hoping he’ll help. Just their usual luck when dealing with deities, but we got to spend some quality time with the two best friends like old times. The “very white, very bad” dance that they invented as teenagers was so funny to see, and the neon lights at the party were so aesthetically pleasing, big kudos. It was also interesting to see Julia reach out to Josh, who’s pretty much a stranger to her, with a dire need to help him out and give him hope.

Meanwhile, Alice is being chased by the lamprey, a creature she upset in her time as an out of control niffin. We don’t know too much about the lamprey, but we get it’s scary. Alice is desperate for information, even resorting to getting it from vampires in exchange for her blood.

Penny, who hasn’t lost his Traveler abilities when magic was shut down, runs errands for the Library, but every time he goes back to our Earth, where time runs at a normal pace, his super cancer intensifies. In spite of this, he still takes the time to go see Kady.

In Fillory, Margo and Eliot are facing a faerie siege. The faeries might be invisible to most people at the court, but they are driving the royals insane, giving Margo weird tasks to complete and terrorizing her by keeping her stolen eye on display as a bracelet charm. (creepy, that). The iconic line “terrorism allegory with mostly white people” perfectly describes the situation. Leave it to Margo to make humor out of any disaster they’re in. Eliot goes looking for the White Lady but meets her brother instead, the Great Cock and the irony isn’t lost on anyone, not even the High King himself. The Cock promises the King he’ll send him and his friends on an epic quest to restore magic and save the kingdom. Best moment of their encounter: You have friends, don’t you?” “I used to.” (My heart broke)

“The one-eyed conqueror, the traveler, the warrior, the fool, the god-touched, the lover of tomatoes, and the torture artist.” “Wait, which one is that? You lost me there.”

The stakes are much higher this season because everyone has a common goal: bring magic back. Even the Library in the Neitherlands and Brakebills’s board of trustees are concerned. The only people who are untouched by magic being gone are gods and fairies, who have little to do with the magic that magicians use itself since they can already do what they please with their own powers. As most magical creatures, they are impervious to magic being switched off, it’s apparently part of their DNA. Eliot resolves to use adorable bunnies to carry messages between worlds and realms and communicate with his friends and tell them about the quest. He sends Q and Julia to get a book from a public library titled The Tales of the Seven Keys.
Episode 2: Heroes And Morons

In New York, Quentin, Julia and Josh read the first and only chapter of the Tales. They realize that to try and channel Julia’s powers, they need Mayakowski’s batteries, and they figure out his location thanks to a viral video on the internet of a bear creating havoc in a hedge bar. For an extra wand – um, hand – they recruit Kady, who’s quite hesitant, until she realizes that getting the batteries might be the only way of fixing Penny. They reconstruct what happened at the bar: Emily, the ex Brakebills student who had a love affair with Mayakowski (and the reason why the professor was exiled to Brakebills South) was there too, and Q goes to pay her a visit. Emily explains, in a very drunken state, that with magic gone, the restriction bond that kept Mayakowski exiled vanished and he went to declare his still burning love for her. In the heat of celebrations, amidst which the two also got married, Misha met a witch to whom he apparently owed something, and next thing Emily knows, she’s married to a bear.

Eliot’s royal boat is ready, and this means he can finally embark on his epic quest. The Muntjac is the fastest and strongest ship in the realm, but being made from sentient trees it has moods and a personality. The fairy queen commands that Fen, in her hysterical state after her baby was taken away by the fairies, should go on the quest with her husband the High King. Then, in a shocking twist, the fairy queen introduces Eliot and Fen to their now teenage daughter, Fray. Time flows differently in Faerie, and she has been brought up by those cunning creatures whom she now serves.

Margo and Eliot say a heartbreaking goodbye where they put aside past mistakes and betrayals and focus on what’s important: the unbreakable love they have for each other. Their friendship truly is one of the pillars of the show, and it is amazing to see how these two continue to defy the norms and restrictions of labels. In this beautiful scene Margo has a monologue that gives the episode its title, cautioning Eliot about choosing wisely between being brave and being alive. He doesn’t need to be a hero and end up a dead moron, he just needs to come back to her. To conclude this exchange, Summer Bishil improvised a kiss that wasn’t scripted but which felt absolutely right. There is no hint of passion or romanticism whatsoever, but a simple kiss on the cheek wouldn’t have been so effective to encapsulate everything these two weren’t telling each other. As the actress said in an interview, Margo and Eliot “share an intimacy that transcends sexuality or traditional constructs of relationships.” Truer words were never spoken.

The Earth group splits up to investigate weird magical things that are happening in New York. They find Professor Lipsen (the amazing Keegan Connor Tracy) is delirious and about to jump off a building because she sees no point in living in a world without magic. She confesses she was the one who created Mayakowski’s batteries and she’s been causing the strange events with the last bit of magic she has left. It is clear that she didn’t have anything to do with Misha turning into a bear. Quentin manages to save Lipsen but not the magic battery, which she drops from the top of the building. Julia recovers a piece of it. Kady figures out it was Emily who cast the spell on Misha and she sprints to Emily’s place to steal the battery to save Penny from his cancer plus.

The gang briefly reunites with Alice, who clearly doesn’t want to team up with them again. She gets an adorable kitten. Something attacks a worker in a construction site, and later on, when the worker passes by her, her poor cat explodes. (Seriously? What is it with this show and cats? This needs to end now)

On the quest, Fen is going crazy with happiness for her newfound daughter, refusing to see her as a spy for the fairy queen. Eliot instead is much more skeptic and unwilling to trust the kid. They arrive on the island where the first golden key is kept, but the priest of the island claims the key is the only thing protecting everyone from the monster that reaps victims every day. But thanks to Fray’s knowledge of the beast, they figure out that it was the priest summoning an illusion of the monster to terrorize people into electing him their leader. Eliot uncovers his scheme and lets the people handle the priest. The royal family sails away, and Fen and Eliot have a funny moment where they get to parent their teenage daughter like a normal, functional family. Nothing satisfies them like saying “don’t talk back to me and your father” and “go to your room”, not even getting the first golden key.

As soon as the key is safe with Eliot, the book in Quentin’s bag moves. Q takes is out and realizes more ink is appearing, and the second chapter is finally legible. Before he can read it, the worker who was possessed at the beginning of the episode attacks Q. He then drops dead, and we can only assume that the creature inside him now possesses Quentin.

Some comments

I really wish we’d seen more of Margo and Penny. Especially in the second episode, but there really wasn’t time. Hopefully they’ll have more space next week. Because really, Margo’s one-liners are everything.

For some people, it almost looks like they’re better off without magic. Quentin says that life doesn’t make sense without it, but really, he and Jules finally reconnected and they seem as tight as they were before everything happened. It was magic that torn them apart and even made them enemies. They will obviously find a way to bring it back, eventually, but I will very much enjoy seeing magic-less magicians for a while longer.

As for Q and Alice, I really don’t see how they could grow back together. I’m not sure I even want them to. Also, what’s going on with Alice’s solo storyline?

Kady also needs more screentime. Badass is badass and the people demand more. Let her and Jules make peace and bring the Best Bitches back.

I really hope everyone reunites soon because I’m not sure I can survive with Eliot being away from Q much longer.

And that’s it, folks. We’ve sent Summer Bishil interview questions so stay tuned for a piece on the amazing woman behind our Queen Margo soon! See you next week, and until then you may find me on Twitter and fangirl and share theories with me at @ladymultifandom!