If you were tricked into believing that Marina’s spell at the end of the previous episode worked, you were mistaken.
It was only the season premiere and it was right to prolong the characters’ suffering for a little while longer. All that Marina’s enchantment did was trigger an annoying voicemail on speakerphone from Dean Fogg. This actually made Marina guess the real identities of Sam, Janet, Hansel, and Isaac.
Janet meets an amphibian
Janet, whom we left in a Fillorian forest, is pulled into a lake by a mysterious hand. It’s the visually unappealing but well-meaning king of amphibians Lord Fresh. He is powerful and predicts she will live and rule alone (“Alone is my jam!”). Even he can’t protect her from Fogg’s almighty spell. First, she must find the god who summoned her, and then return when the spell is lifted. Lord Fresh will surely play a big part later in the season since he knows Margo’s destiny. Bizarre Fillorian creatures are usually friendly, but might Fresh be an actual foe?
Marina makes Penny Travel them to Brakebills. It’s where she intends to frame Fogg into revealing the counterspell by injecting him with the same curse. Todd, who is awake writing Fogg’s memoirs despite the late hour, witnesses the scene. Fogg tells a curious Kim later that he truly doesn’t have the power to reverse the spell. (Bonus points for Marina’s sass when Fogg asks what timeline she is from and her answer is: “The one where you owe me child support… just kidding.”)
As acting High King Fen tries to hold council, Janet is brought in by royal guards. Fen and Tick are confused, as this woman looks nothing like Margo but definitely sounds like her. They’re inclined to believe her, as they have reason to believe Ember has risen from the dead and returned to Fillory. They desperately need the High King to request an audience with the god. The opium in the Fillorian air has saturated and people can’t focus, are falling asleep, or dying.
to brakebills or not to brakebills
In New York, as impossible as it may sound, Kim/Julia is failing every class at Brakebills. In last week’s review, I wrote that Fogg chose to keep Julia close this time around. From what the cast said in this interview, it looks like Kim being accepted to Brakebills was casual. It was not part of the Dean’s plan, and he was actually shocked by her presence there during the test. This would raise an argument in favor of philosophical determinism. Julia is meant to be at Brakebills, whether Fogg wants it or not. In fact, the one time she wasn’t because of his plan, it set in motion a catastrophic chain reaction.
Despite Fogg making Todd promise he wouldn’t tell a soul about Fogg leaving, the student gives in to temptation. Todd confesses to Kim, who confronts the Dean about it. She badly wants him to stay because he seems the only one convinced that she does indeed belong at Brakebills. During his last day as himself, he makes Todd follow him around to document everything he does and says, as he settles debts and scores. The amount of details he insists Todd add to each story sounds suspiciously like clues.
When Fogg comes clean about the spell he cast on his “most maddeningly millennial students”, Kim figures out she’s one of the people affected by it. He admits he will never be able to reverse it, but she might. In his last hours roaming the halls of Brakebills, he runs into Kim and broke my heart with: “Finally getting to be your teacher has been an honor.” Even though he was technically her teacher in 39 more timelines. He might not remember the details of those.
In Marina’s apartment, everyone ponders on their own identities knowing that they are fake. They all seem to be having decent, realistic lives. However, Sam is perfect to the extent of being fake. What is Marina’s deal? Not for one second do I buy that she’s helping the gang for the sake of being kind.
In the Library, Alice is able to access some magic through the pipe in her cell. She sneaks the cockroach in and follows it around to the Head Librarian’s office. She gathers enough intel to get a general layout of the room and see a fireplace before Zelda stomps on the insect. Not forgetting that her next-door inmate is Santa Claus, a chimney getaway sounds like something he could definitely crack.
Meanwhile, Quentin and Not-Eliot are in Greece, sacrificing live piglets to summon the war god Enyalius. When he arrives and Not-Eliot tortures him to get back what he is owed, he realizes the god sent a servant instead. These scenes I could have lived without.
Marina has serious daddy issues. I say this to remind you again that in her timeline, she used to sleep with Dean Fogg. When the identity spell is activated on Fogg, we discover she’s turned him into her father, a homeless ragged white man that she steals charity from.
Kim and Todd figure out something huge must be powering the spell permanently. They find the perpetual battery, and Kim tries to attack its core. She is momentarily knocked out. The dramatic irony was seeing Todd panic when we know full well that Julia, as a goddess, can’t be killed. She tries again and again until she overloads the battery and breaks the spell. In a swirl, everybody turns back to their real selves and remembers their identities.
everything is back to normal…
The most beautiful reaction was possibly Fen’s. In a swift gesture, she immediately takes off the High King crown and offers it to Margo, and proceeds to kneel. Everybody else followed suit. Margo doesn’t have time for sentimental reunions; she exposes Bacchus for pretending to be Ember. He hastily sends Margo back to Earth, not caring to answer questions.
For a split second, fully knowing it wasn’t possible, I hoped Eliot would also be back. So did Quentin, who asks what we’re all wondering. When all this is over, “Could I maybe have Eliot back?” The monster doesn’t like that Q misses Eliot and would rather be with him. He teleports them to Marina’s loft and, as his eyes glow red, whispers “I’m not here to play.”
As I said last week, this episode would’ve been more organic if shown as a two-hour premiere along with the first. Together, they seem to stand apart from the next episodes and possibly the rest of the season. Episode 3, unmetaphorically named “The Bad News Bear” goes back to that level of high-stake crazy that makes us love The Magicians.