The Magicians (S03E09) "All That Josh"

If The Magicians decided that they’re going to do one musical episode every season, that’s more than fine by me. This time, bursting out in song wasn’t a nerdy or meta-televisual moment, it was truly embedded in the plot as Kady, Quentin and Alice find themselves trapped in a party universe.

The episode starts with Q and Kady coming back from their adventure in the Underworld Library, not knowing if Harriet and Victoria made it back. The sixth chapter in the Tale of the Seven Keys appears and it’s a sheet of music. Alice recognizes it and starts to play it, but – to everyone’s surprise and her own annoyance – Kady notes she’s doing it in the wrong key. Yes, she can play the piano spectacularly, and yes, as we’ll find out later, she can sing and dance and perform amazingly as well. The music Kady is playing transports the trio in the alternate party universe that looks exactly like the Physic Kids’ cottage.

Fun, right? But that’s not what makes it appealing. What makes it hard to resist is that magic exists there, to some extent. Only to perform party tricks, but it’s still better than a magic-less world. And this is why Josh is so addicted to this universe and thinks it’s the real world. When the trio tries to explain how bad things are, the crowd of angry party-goers snaps at them for ruining the vibe. Alice barely save  our heroes by singing Happy Birthday and bringing back the party vibe. Todd, the only other character we recognize in this dimension, seems like he’s able to control the mob.

There’s no exit and no sign of the keys they’ve already found or the music sheet. The team decides they need to corner Josh, so Alice lures him to his room while Kady distracts the party-goers with a beautiful jazz performance-turned-striptease. I’m really glad the writers decided to show her off this episode, because she truly has an amazing voice. Away from the party, in Josh’s room, Alice and Q tie him up to a chair – not in the way he likes – and question him. Leaving an image of herself behind, Kady joins them, and Josh is in denial about this world. He explains he felt left behind by them. He tried calling them all dozens of times to help out with the quest and none of them except Julia ever picked up.

Poor little popular white boy, being ignored by his mates. Let’s conveniently forget about the time he left them all in Fillory to die though. “That was cowardice,” Josh excuses himself. Well then excuse us for not wanting a coward backstabber in the gang, they should’ve replied. The revelers downstairs finally realize Kady isn’t actually performing for them anymore and they angrily camp outside Josh’s room. Q, Kady and Alice convince Josh to distract the mob while they figure out the mystery of the key so they can leave this dimension.

Josh complies. They realize Todd isn’t really Todd, their harmless but creepy classmate who has an unhealthy crush on Margo and kept the Margolem in his closet for two seasons, but rather a demon from German lore. Thank Alice for Hermione-ing every situation and always knowing every useless fact in the appropriate situation. The demon feeds off happiness and this pocket dimension is the result of him feeding off Josh’s desire for magic and acceptance.

Kady notices the song they’re singing downstairs is in the wrong key, just like Todd corrected her when they first arrived at the party. She plays the A key on the piano and its lid opens: inside lays the golden key they’re looking for. An exit door appears, but Q realizes they can’t leave without Josh. This was the point of this mini-quest: unity. To prove him right, the power of this key telepathically connects them to every other quester, no matter where they are: the Underworld, Fillory, Earth… they’re finally all together in their heads. And Josh, downstairs, can hear them too. This is proof that he is officially the eighth quester and they can’t leave him there.

Josh ruins the party vibe by arguing with the gang and the anti-anti-fun revelers attack him. Q figures out they need to sing to get to Josh and keep the revelers from coming at them. Each magician sings a line from a great rendition of Bowie’s Under Pressure, and the song is oddly fitting for every shitty situation they’re in. The spell is broken, the revelers disappear and the demon shows its true form, compliments the magicians and lets them out.

Meanwhile, in Fillory, Margo and Eliot have been deemed guilty and are sentenced to die. They can choose the manner of their execution and they go for Infinite Waterfalls, thinking that delaying their death infinitely is a good option because this will give them time to figure out an escape. On the Muntjac, Tick Pickwick shows his true colors: he’s not a loyal servant like we’ve thought him to be for the past two seasons, but a greedy, power-hungry spiteful man who can’t wait to get rid of Eliot and Margo so he can rule Fillory instead. But, the joke’s on him. The Muntjac doesn’t stop for him on her way to the waterfalls, and he and his crew abandon ship, leaving the Royals to die with the ship.

Tick raised a deep consideration about human privilege and white colonizers, with children of earth always coming to Fillory thinking they’re entitled to rule it better than the Fillorians themselves. Our two favorite best friends – sorry, Q and Jules – reflect on this. But they didn’t choose to rule Fillory. They didn’t go and conquer it, and they might be inexperienced rulers, but they tried their best. They say a heartbreaking goodbye:

“We’ve pretty much only ever had each other. And that’s gotten us through pretty much everything. … I love you, Margo.”
“I know.”

Of course, the royal nerds had to do a Star Wars reference before dying. When Q asks them all to sing, they join in right as they are about to plummet into the infinite waterfalls. But then the Muntjac rises up and sails towards the sky, saving our High King and High Queen.

We see very little of Penny, but he is working in the Library, his hands shackled to a book cart. He obviously hates Q for asking him to sing and only complies when Kady begs him. Her little smile when he does is priceless.

Julia and Fen are off on their side quests to liberate the slave fairies. Julia realizes there may be a way she can see and talk to Sky without striking a deal first: the Truth Key. It works. Fen is against this plan, but Julia insists: no one deserves to be a slave, no matter how horrible the fairies Fen has encountered are. Sky is resistant, but Julia convinces her that she can prove that Irene has been lying to Sky all along and she possesses magic. Julia tries to teach her magic the way magicians do it, but Fen points out it’s not how it works for them. Fairies ARE magic, they don’t need a medium to conjure it or cast it. So Julia urges Sky to imagine a flower and project it into her hand. The flower appears, but Sky starts bleeding from her eyes, mouth, nose. The necklace Irene keeps on her is killing her, triggered by the magic. Julia panics and then her magic acts of its own accord: her eyes shine and she somehow freezes Sky in time. After the song, Sky unfreezes, cured. Julia is leveling up and literally turning into a goddess, people.

Everyone, minus Penny, Margo and Eliot, meet back at the Physical Kids’ cottage. Another key obtained, two more to go!
This episode was amazing and The Magicians should consider doing musical numbers more often. I hope we can see more Margo and Eliot now, I can’t wait to watch them take back their kingdom now. Hopefully, the next key is in Fillory and everyone can reunite. They also need to figure out how to get Penny out of the Library, he deserves more screen time as well. Kudos to Kady for being a musical goddess.

See you next week! In the meantime, share your comments and theories with me at @ladymultifandom!