Welcome to another Magicians recap! The second episode, “The Source of Magic,” aired as part of Monday’s premiere.
Quentin is waking up from another faint. So far that’s three times in two episodes that he’s conveniently fallen unconscious under stress. He’s sitting on the floor of the lecture hall, and a Brakebills professor is interviewing him about his encounter with The Beast. The room is a mess, and we see some short flashbacks of Quentin, Penny, Kady, and Alice fighting The Beast.
In New York, Julia has followed the yuppie magician, who’s name is Pete, from the bar into an abandoned meat packing plant. He introduces her to Marina, a scruffy-looking magical hopeful, and leads them both down a hallway.
Marina calls herself and Julia “hedgewitches.” In both ancient and modern Paganism, a hedgewitch is kind of like a shaman. Think of the village wise woman, the midwife, healer and/or herbalist, and you’ll have the idea. The “hedge” in question isn’t a nature thing (although they do rely heavily on natural magic) but the symbolic barrier between worlds that hedgewitches are able to cross.
In The Magicians universe, though, a hedgewitch is any individual who has no formal magical training. On Wikipedia it’s capitalized as “Hedge Witches,” which is implied to be the name of the underground magic group Julia is trying to join. This seems like the show’s version of Free Trader Beowulf, which is the online community Julia joins in The Magician King. Watching Julia solve puzzles on her computer wouldn’t be very compelling television, so I think this was a good adaptation choice. I still hate Pete, though.
Back at Brakebills we see some more flashbacks to the fight with The Beast. While everyone is paralyzed, Dean Fogg does some telepathic communication with Quentin. Q makes Fogg’s pocket watch disappear and reappear in his own hand, which breaks the paralysis. Kady threw some battle magic at it, Alice magic’d it back into the mirror, and Penny broke the mirror so it couldn’t come back. The pocket watch dissolved.
Pearl Sunderland, the professor who was questioning Quentin, tells all the students that the wards protecting campus are linked to people (in the book every member of the faculty is responsible for a different part of the protections, assuming the same here). She says that they don’t know anything about The Beast except that it comes from another world, it’s dangerous, and it’s gone back now. Any student found to be responsible for compromising the wards will be expelled
Outside the building, Quentin and Alice freak out a little, because they’re totally responsible. Margo and Eliot waltz up. Margo sounds fake-concerned and Eliot sounds kind of turned on. “Jesus, you didn’t tell me you were dangerous,” he drawls at Quentin.
At the meatpacking plant, Pete locks Julia and Marina in the freezer. Told you he was a jerk. It’s a test, and Julia decides she’s getting out because she’s “sick of flunking tests right now.” While she and Marina look for a way out, they find a corpse in a body bag.
Yay look it’s the Physical Kids’ cottage! I’ve been so excited for this. It seems like there are a lot of people there, but maybe some of them are guests. We don’t really know anything about class size except that the third year class originally had 20 students. That might not be normal. The different disciplines are kind of like majors or concentrations at a normal school, or houses at Hogwarts, and in the book the Physical discipline is the smallest one. It’s implied that a talent for physical magic (telekinesis, transformation, flying, etc) is very rare, but also that “physical” can be a catch-all designation for people who haven’t quite figured out their discipline yet. It’s like Hufflepuff with more drinking.
Outside, Quentin spills his guts about the summoning and his depression to Eliot. Eliot responds by revealing that he accidentally killed someone with his magic when he was fourteen. This might be my favorite scene in the show so far. I love Eliot, but his backstory is the books is pretty much that he grew up gay, closeted, and miserable in a conservative small town in the Midwest. Not saying that’s not a thing that happens, but it’s a story we’ve heard before. This is different! It’s implied that the boy Eliot killed was beating him up because he was gay, but this adds a new layer to the character. Eliot also drops a line about how magic doesn’t come from talent, but from pain, so the most damaged people are also the most powerful magicians. Foreshadowing?
Margo is upstairs in her room, trying to get Alice drunk so they can have a heart-to-heart. Alice opens up a little bit, but she doesn’t mention her dead brother Charlie. She does admit that she wasn’t invited to Brakebills, she broke in using her parents’ alumni keys and a little magical hacking to get past the fingerprint wards. Margo’s impressed and trying to play nice but she seems like she’s fishing for gossip. Eventually Alice runs off, leaving Margo with a mostly-full bottle of wine. Bummer.
Outside the meat locker, Pete is apparently getting bored so he magically reanimates the dead body. It starts chasing Julia. She manages to get it impaled on a piece of metal sticking out from some shelves. The corpse comes alive again and starts talking in Pete’s voice, telling Julia and Marina to keep looking. They find a heat spell in the now-vacated body bad, so if they can get that to work they won’t freeze to death before they find a way out.
Quentin’s in the dining hall, reading a Fillory book. Alice shows up and they have mutual guilt at summoning The Beast. He explains his dreams and tells Alice he thinks The Beast came from Fillory. When Alice is skeptical, Q shows her a documentary on Fillory. Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians, makes a cameo appearance as Dev Fleischman, a talking head in the documentary, which is hilarious. Anyways, it turns out that the Chatwin siblings were the real-life neighbors of Christopher Plover, who wrote the Fillory books. After the books were published, both Jane and Martin Chatwin disappeared and were never found. Quentin is geeking out about the possibility that Fillory is real, but Alice tells him they need to worry about not getting expelled first.
In Pearl Sunderland’s office, a folder flips open and a light winks on what we assume is a locator spell. She’s still investigating The Beast, and it looks like she found something.
Outside the dorms, Penny has packed his bags and is leaving Brakebills. Kady wants to know why. Penny tells her that for years he’s been hearing a voice that just identifies itself as “a magician.” That’s the voice that told him to go help with the summoning, and now he feels both guilty and betrayed by his imaginary friend. Kady tells him if he’s going to leave anyway, he should come do something stupid and fun with her first.
In the meat locker. Marina is acting kind of bitchy, but instead of taking the bait Julia just talks about how much she loves magic. They need animal fat to make the heat spell work. There’s no meat left in the meat locker, so they’re going to have to cut what they need off the dead guy.
Kady’s stupid fun turns out to be stealing magical objects and books from a hidden drawer in the Phsical Kids’ cottage. Penny takes a crystal, which Kady says is called an Emerson’s Alloy Repellant. They run into Quentin and Alice. Before the four of them can get their stories straight, Sunderland walks up with the book that they used in the summoning spell.
Sunderland’s office. The quartet is being questioned separately. Alice, Quentin, and Kady are all bad liars. Penny goes last and apparently tells Sunderland only Quentin was involved.
Quentin is on his way to turn in his books when he runs into Eliot. Quentin explains that he’s being expelled and his memory of magic will be erased. Eliot is very concerned, but not very comforting.
Quentin calls Julia and records a sad message asking her to find him and tell him about magic after his mind is wiped. This is cut with scenes of Julia cutting pieces off the dead corpse and casting the heat spell with Marina. That involves mixing the dead-guy fat with sand and rubbing it on their skin, so they’re moisturized and exfoliated as well as protected from frostbite. Quentin and Julia’s positions are switched again; just as he’s hit a low point, she’s succeeding.
Brakebills. Quentin confronts Penny. First they hit each other, then Quentin tries to imitate Kady’s battle spell from before. Not only is that against the rules at Brakebills, it goes horribly wrong since Penny is still carrying the Emerson’s Alloy crystal, which causes the spell to rebound on Quentin. He gets thrown and breaks his arm. Sunderland shows up and sends them both to the infirmary.
Julia and Marina break out of the meat locker, apparently more through lock-picking skills than magical ones. Pete is still a dick, but it turns out Marina’s wide-eyed newbie act was part of the test. She’s actually the leader and most powerful of the Hedge Witches, and she has a ton of star tattoos to prove it. Julia starts to get annoyed at all the lies they’ve been telling her, but Marina dangles the promise of more magic and a connection to Brakebills. Julia decides to hang.
Brakebills infirmary. Quentin’s arm is being healed magically and it sounds crunchy. Penny is there too and they talk about his protection crystal and also how much they hate each other.
Nighttime. Pete and Marina are sitting in a car waiting for someone and oh shoot, IT’S KADY. She’s their gal on the inside at Brakebills, and she was stealing for them. They’re upset she doesn’t have the crystal, and they give her a list of more things to get. Kady is obviously not an equal or even very willing partner in their schemes. I wonder what they have on her.
Quentin and Penny’s dorm room. Penny is asleep. Quentin steals the Emerson’s Alloy from him, hoping that it will cause the mind erasing spell to rebound off him.
Daytime, Sunderland’s office. Quentin walks in and finds Eliza the paramedic is there, rooting around in the desk. She’s going to wipe his memory. There’s a tense moment, but then she laughs and tells him he’s not special. They talk about Fillory and his dreams. She tells him that she won’t erase his memory and he’ll be on probation instead of expelled. She also tells him not to get back on the garden path. We’re getting a little heavy-handed with that phrase.
In New York, Marina walks though a storefront. Julia is in back with some other Hedge Witches, getting her first star tattoo. She’s passed the first test and is now a Level One witch in their rankings.
Brakebills Infirmary. Eliza is visiting Dean Fogg, who is not dead but has no eyes or usable hands right now. They argue about who’s at fault for the attack and who has to deal with it. Honestly I’d be fine if we didn’t have any more cryptic conversations with these two. It’s undercutting the “destiny doesn’t exist” theme a little, since they’re talking like Quentin is destined for something.
Quentin, with a new lease on life and magic, goes back to the Physical Kids’ cottage. Eliot and Margo are outside playing with fire and getting day drunk. Quentin smiles. He’s home.
Have a good weekend everyone, see you on Monday for the first non-Magicians related post in forever!