The Magicians 2.4, “The Flying Forest”

This week I’ve been working a bunch and desperately trying not to catch the nasty cold that’s cutting a swath through my coworkers. On the more positive side, I’ve been writing and playing music and spending time with people I like, but those things also take a toll physically and emotionally. What I’m trying to say, here, is that I really wanted to just watch The Magicians tonight and enjoy it, without worrying about cranking out a coherent 500-1000 word recap.

Instead, I decided to live tweet the show. It’s not as comprehensive as my usual, but it was still fun. The official show account teased me for criticizing the writing, but I stand by what I said. Here’s a storify of my tweets from the hour:

Like I said, not as much detail as we’re used to, but if there are things I missed that you want to discuss, hit me up in the comments!

The Magicians 2.3, “Divine Elimination”

It’s only the third episode of the season, but we are getting into some season-finale levels of drama. Storylines are converging. Characters are in real danger.

There’s so much going on, and I’m sure I missed things. This might not be the most coherent analysis, but I promised a blog post, and a blog post you shall have.

Warning for language, mention of violence against humans and animals.

The Beast’s Curse on Castle Whitespire

Who knew sitting on a Fillorian throne would bring about the urge to murder the other monarchs? Martin apparently. I really enjoyed Penny as the last non-cursed man, cooperating with Fen to keep their only-recently-reconciled friends/lovers/found family from killing each other.

I’m not saying it wasn’t fun to watch, but it felt a little out of place compared to the emotional intensity of the rest of the episode.

Julia, Marina, and Martin in New York

The plan to summon Reynard works, although not exactly as Julia and Marina planned. Martin teleports Julia out of the room before Marina can finish the summoning, and then takes his sweet time unpicking the wards on her apartment (hmmm). Meanwhile, Reynard is inside horrifically torturing Marina. I appreciate the brave face that Marina puts on as Reynard turns her cat inside out and talks about eating her alive. This is some horror movie shit, you guys.

Julia and Martin drop back in just in time, prepared to kill Reynard with the knife. This is all taking place at the exact same second that Alice is powering up her battle magic in Fillory. Penny’s job is to travel to Earth, grab The Beast and bring him back so Alice can do her thing. But Penny’s lost one of the bindings that Sunderland put on his wrist and Julia is too close to The Beast. She ends up getting dragged into the fray as well, leaving Marina to grapple with Reynard.

The Aftermath

Alice manages to wound but not kill The Beast, perhaps because she was pulling her punches to not hurt Julia? I definitely need to watch this bit again. Martin disappears, one of his arms rendered useless. Everyone else blames each other or themselves for a few seconds, as is customary. Then Penny grabs Julia and transports her back to Earth, sans Martin, and she is pissed so she tears off his other bracelet, leaving him with no control over his magic.

The last shot we see of Julia is her kneeling by Marina’s bloodied body, quite likely blaming herself for another death and for letting Reynard get away. This is framed as a wound Julia won’t recover from easily. I suspect when Martin resurfaces, she might be vulnerable enough to ask him to remove her shade, as he’s been offering. I also have suspicions about how and when the knife is going to show up again, but those are influenced a bit by some things that happen in the books so I’ll keep my mouth shut for now to avoid spoilers.

Final Confrontation

Meanwhile, the kings and queens of Fillory regroup. Eliot and Margo go to petition Ember for help, but he’s not immediately available because he’s pooping in the well so Martin can’t use the water to heal himself. Totally fits with what we saw of Ember last season—he’s disgusting most of the time, but occasionally in useful ways. Is the rest of the season going to be about how the universe is out of balance because a god took a dump in the source of all magic? Tune in next time to find out.

Alice and Quentin travel by carriage to confront The Beast. Emboldened by the fact that he’s probably going to be dead soon, Quentin initiates a frank discussion about his feelings for Alice. She lets him get away with exactly zero bullshit and they kiss.

When they finally face The Beast, he’s wounded but still powerful. Quentin jumps in front of an attack and is wounded. Alice’s god powers desert her. Se resorts to the patchwork spell she invented in “Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting” to save Charlie. That’s a respectable foreshadowing game, man. The spell burns through Alice, turning her into a niffin, a being of heightened magical power and malice. She tears The Beast apart with her bare hands.

Newly absent a moral compass, Alice turns on Quentin. He probably would have tried to talk sense into her right up until she murdered him if Margo and Eliot weren’t there to draw her fire. Unable to watch his friends suffer, Quentin releases his cacodemon and watches it kill Alice. Quentin tries to move towards her body, in denial. Eliot and Margo know exactly what happened and do their best to keep him away.

So here is where we leave our intrepid heroes at the end of the episode:

Penny: MIA, not in control of any of his powers

Julia: Emotionally wrecked, allies gone

Marina: Dead

Cupcake the Cat: Dead

The Beast/Martin: Dead

Alice: Dead

Quentin: Physically wounded and responsible for the death of the woman he loves

Eliot: Alive, probably going to try to pick up the broken pieces of Quentin

Margo: Also alive, probably going to try to have sex with a talking horse

Fen: ???

Fogg: Didn’t miss him tbh

Kady: Absent from the credits, present in my heart

I could literally ramble for 1000 more words, but I need to sleep. Do come discuss the finer points of Alice’s ice cream toppings or Margo’s love of Conan the Barbarian in the comments with me, though.

 

The Magicians 2.2, “Hotel Spa Potions”

This was a very solid follow-up to last week’s premiere. We have a lot of different storylines already, so “Hotel Spa Potions” felt a little rushed to me. Still, it’s all good stuff, as I’ve broken down below:

The Brakebills at Brakebills

Through the fountain and to Earth we go. Quentin and co. need to learn battle magic that can kill The Beast. They go on a scavenger hunt through the library in order to track down Bigby, a former Brakebills professor and old flame of Dean Fogg’s. It’s all fun to watch, if a tad drawn out.

Alice blames herself for not killing The Beast, and her guilt combined with her waning god powers drive her to get this done. Her insistence to Quentin that “not everything that hurts is bad” is worrying.

Penny gets an assist with his out-of-control magic from Professor Sunderland. Honestly this is my favorite thing from this ep, it’s such a good companion to the scene in “The Strangled Heart.” Sunderland performs a ritual that involves tying Penny’s hands, because light bondage is the real source of magic. Penny starts trying to seduce her again, but he’s less aggressive this time, almost clumsy. By stepping in as his teacher to help him, and by turning him down in no uncertain terms, she’s re-established boundaries. Good for her.

Then we got to see the cacodemon scene and I died of happiness. In a direct shout-out to the first book, Dean Fogg give Quentin, Margo, Penny, and Alice tattoos. The tattoo serves as a portable prison for a powerful demon that the wearer can release with a word. The plan in this case is to have the demons distract The Beast, giving Alice time to deploy her battle magic.

Eliot in Fillory

In the absence of his friends, Eliot faces his first challenges as High King. Thanks to the Beast’s magical drain, the crops aren’t growing. Luckily for the starving populace, Eliot grew up on a farm. He’s well-equipped to learn them a thing or two about agriculture, mostly by hand-delivering manure to skeptical citizens who have only ever fertilized with magic. It’s funny and a little poignant to see Eliot embracing his least favorite parts of himself for the greater good.

Fen gets to have a bit more personality in this one. As Eliot said last week, I think I like her. She’s devoted to Fillory and to helping her husband succeed as a ruler. They clash, albeit politely, over sex. Eliot proposes inviting other partners into their bedroom as a sort of compromise, and Fen isn’t interested. She also points out the inherent consent issues—no one feels comfortable saying “no” to their king. I didn’t love that the last season ended with Eliot in this marriage, and I’m glad this season is tackling that problem head on. I feel for both of them here, and I hope the show continues to explore their dynamic.

There’s also the little matter of the curse that The Beast put on Castle Whitespire, but Eliot doesn’t know about that and it’s not clear if his struggles so far are curse-related or not.

Julia and Martin in New York

Julia is working on a way to summon Reynard. She’s willing to offer herself up as bait, but Martin claims Reynard won’t be tricked. They need someone new. I was expecting this to be Kady, but Martin shows up with Marina, the leader of the safe house where Julia cut her hedgewitch teeth. Julia isn’t up for holding Marina against her will, which Martin sees as a sign of weakness. He reiterates his offer to remove her shade/emotions, she makes a counter offer to remove some of his body parts.

Back on the street, Marina recognizes the threat posed by the Julia-Martin partnership and tries to team up with her West Coast counterpart to take them down. But Reynard gets there first, killing the other hedgewitch. This is the first time we’ve seen Marina truly scared, I think. She goes to Brakebills to ask for help and gets rebuffed by Dean Fogg before returning to New York. Marina has never been a favorite character for me, but I’m kind of enjoying her and Julia and their “so done with your shit” faces back together again.

Quentin and Julia have a brief reunion in New York, unbeknownst to any of their co-conspirators. They both want some of the same things, in the big picture sense—to go back to Fillory, to have magic in both worlds remain intact—but their short-term goals are at odds. Watching them admit that they’re on opposite sides again is tough, but that just seems to be the way it goes with these two.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and see you next week!