The Magicians (S03E10) “The Art of the Deal”

After last week’s gloriously unifying episode, this week on The Magicians was not about unity. Our questers had completely separate storylines. I was looking forward to Quentin (Jason Ralph) reuniting with his life partner Eliot (Hale Appleman) and with Margo (Summer Bishil), but my shipper heart was not satisfied because their paths only crossed for one scene and it was anything but romantic. Q wanted to focus on the quest and the High Royals prioritized getting their kingdom back.

I know bringing magic back is paramount, but I don’t like how easily Q and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) dismiss the fact that they also are rulers of Fillory. We were brutally reminded of it this week, with the stark contrast of how little they cared about their kingdom being invaded by enemy forces.

The fact that Margo and Eliot take Fillory so seriously even after being dethroned and trialed to execution gives them a lot of credit. Last episode they really decided they were going to fight for their kingdom, and they sure are. Tick being on the throne of a “free Fillory” means that all alliances made by the old monarchs don’t stand anymore. Therefore Idri of Loria, Eliot’s fiancé, and the Floaters, the tribe of Margo’s “child bride” prince, both decided to invade to pillage and conquer.

The high queen and king of our hearts decided to take the situation strategically, since diplomacy didn’t seem to work. They offered their enemies the one thing they want more than money and land: magic. Idri and the queen of the Floaters promise not to attack Fillory for the time being, and that was Margo’s feat for the day. She seriously needs more scenes though.

Meanwhile, Julia (Stella Maeve) and Fen (Brittany Curran) were on their side quest to free the fairies enslaved to the McAllisters. Fen was only reluctantly cooperating, still rightfully bitter at the fairies for what they did to her in Fillory, But Julia helped her see the situation through a mother’s eyes, and agreed to help. Against all odds they were able to gain information about the magic-binding collars worn by the enslaved fairies, and also to enlist the fairy queen’s help. Convincing her wasn’t easy, but the queen realized they were acting out of genuine compassion and no second means.

Their plan was to introduce the fairy queen (Candis Cayne) as another slave and give her to the McAllisters, where she would be able to convince the other fairies about her existence and their ability to perform magic. But Julia was under the wrong impression that the collars could somehow be deactivated, until Fen found out the horrifying truth halfway through their mission: the only way to take the collars off was by decapitating the poor fairies.

The collars were part of an ancient deal that was made 400 years before, and therefore cannot be broken. To ensure the migration of the greater population to Fillory, one fairy had enslaved a few to magicians on earth. The queen explained that if an oath is broken, their word would not be sacred anymore. But at the end she realized that was a sacrifice she might have to make. In the climax of the episode she vanished the fairies away and free from the collars, and we see the McAllister family being slaughtered. Only Irene managed to escape, and I bet that is going to come back and haunt Julia.

Meanwhile, Quentin, Alice and Josh were the only ones who carried on with the quest of the seven keys. Q and Alice had some pretty heated discussions, and for once, I was inclined to side with her. Quentin was hesitant to trust her after the stunt she pulled with the Library, but Alice justified herself by bringing up her trauma: she had to watch her father die as a consequence of her niffin past and he expected her to be fine and ready to go on a quest to restore the one thing that caused all her pain? Three people in her family were killed by an excess of magic, herself included. Of course she’s not going to know what she wants right away. Quentin shouldn’t be the only one allowed to wallow in self-pity and depression and trauma. Alice seemed genuinely hurt by the fact that Q trusted Kady more than her.

Speaking of, Kady was dearly missed this episode. Her performance last week was spectacular, so I guess we had to take a break. Plus this ep was packed enough, there was no room for her. She deserves her own storyline, not to merely tag along and be the third unnecessary sidekick. What we need is longer episodes.

The key our heroes were looking for was apparently in the throne room at Whitespire, which Josh remembered well from his short time as substitute high king. Yes, he had hidden weed in the throne room, but did we really expect any different from Josh “Party King” Hoberman? That kid goes through joints like Quentin goes through books.

Meanwhile, Penny (Arjun Gupta) was still chained to his book cart in the Underworld Library. He confronted Sylvia about betraying him, and she explained the reason why she did. Her family moved on from the Underworld and turning Penny in moved her a million years closer to them. Penny, who despite appearances is a softie, couldn’t resist her sob story and got her a metro card that would take her to wherever it is that souls move on to when they leave the limbo.

Except, he was caught red-handed by Hades himself. And the lord of the Underworld wasn’t mad about the infraction. On the contrary, he was impressed. He said he could see Penny have the adventure of his life, fulfill his destiny down in the Underworld. After an intense and meaningful conversation, Penny showed up at the book club he was invited to and his shackles were finally removed.

Everything seemed to be going great for our magicians, except for one thing. The faerie queen revealed to Julia the last key they are looking for is in the faerie realm. But she can never hand it over to them, because it’s what keeps their realm together.

Highlight of the episode is Fen in her her teenage millennial phase where she discovers emojis and all she does is passive-aggressively respond via text. Hands down. But Julia awkwardly interrupting Q and Alice’s fight was also golden.

I demand that they all work together, as a team, in the same universe, for the last part of the quest. I demand that Penny make his way back to earth and that Margo gets a chance to deliver all the burns she’s been keeping in the past few episodes. I demand Queliot and everybody’s happiness.

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