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The Magicians: Knight of Crowns

“Actions have consequences, Penny. Even glib words spoken in casual arrogance. It's past time you learned.”

So this episode’s all about consequences. The magicians made a lot of choices in order to handle The Beast, and now they have to deal with the outcome for their choices.

But before they get to that, they have to save themselves from the imminent death they were all in at the end of the first season. Quentin goes running off to for help, but Alice has already got it covered (because she’s Alice). She cures everyone using her cool god powers.

Our fully intact magicians (with the exception of Penny and his hands) go off to crown themselves kings and queens of Fillory so they can use all the tools Fillory has to offer in stopping The Beast. While there, they handle the emotional problems they’ve had since the drunken threesome. Everyone apologizes for their part in the situation and everything is resolved, for the most part. Alice and Quentin are still on the outs, despite acting as friends. Alice is angry at Quentin for making her lose him, and Quentin says she couldn’t lose him. But Alice is kind of right. He could never be the same person to her that he was before. And they can never have the same relationship. Quentin wants to forget it and move on, but Alice can’t do that. There are consequences for his actions, even if those actions were unintentional.

After finishing the coronation, the group heads to Castle Whitespire, where they will reign. There, Eliot realizes the consequences of his choice to accept his title as High King. There are a lot of problems he needs to solve as High King of Fillory, mostly all due to The Beast. And he has this wife now, who he thinks, or hopes, he likes. And he can’t ever leave Fillory. Eliot was hoping a new purpose might solve everything—and it might—but now he realizes there is real work he’ll have to do towards fulfilling that purpose and there are real sacrifices that he’s made. It’s a smart way to instill some personal growth in a character who’s always rejected any in the past.

Then we have Penny. Penny could have gotten through this episode unscathed if it weren’t for his abrasive attitude. So far he’s managed to skate through his time at Brakebills without much consequence for that. That isn’t to say Penny’s had it easy—his traveling powers do seem to make things really hard on him. But I don’t remember him facing serious consequences for his hostile behavior, at least until now. After refusing to tip the river guy for using his healing river to fix his hands, the river guy puts a curse on him. And yes, Penny did have a point. He shouldn’t have had to pay him when it was a public river and the guy hadn’t told him he’d need to pay earlier. But this is a new culture, and it’s also just not a good idea to piss off strangers in an unknown magical land. So when Penny asks the guy to take back the curse, promising rewards from his royal friends in payment, he lectures him on the reality of consequences and then shoos him off.

And finally, there’s Julia. Julia’s dealing with the harsh effects of her assault. She’s experiencing painful flashbacks and horrible guilt and can barely even look at herself in the mirror. The Beast encourages her to lift her shade (which holds a person’s pain and love and soul), but Julia won’t do it. She doesn’t want to live with the consequences of that choice. But she’ll have other consequences to deal with. She’s made this deal with The Beast, soliciting his help in exchange for his life, promising to set the knife down after they stop Reynard for either of them to grab.

It’s interesting that Julia can possess such strength and resolve in one area (not lifting her shade even if it would cut her off from pain), yet is so prone to irrational decision in the other. Julia’s deal with The Beast is really, really stupid. There’s obviously no way it can end well, yet she’s so sure because she needs to take out Reynard and handle the consequences of the last stupid thing she got involved in. But I think the key here is that Julia doesn’t have the emotional ability to think rationally right now (just like Quentin tells the others). And, eventually, if her plan carries through, she’s going to have to deal with the consequences of that.

Bits and Pieces

-- I didn’t watch this during its original run (I binged seasons one and two straight-through), but I’ve gotta think that it must have been terrible to think half the cast might be dead for an entire season hiatus. It was a bold move.

-- Quentin almost accepts help from a creepy Fillory resident who claims not to be like the blind witch from Hansel and Gretel, despite having a candy garden and requesting a vial of Quentin’s blood in exchange for her services. The Brakebills magicians really have to be more careful when interacting with these people.

-- Alice really loves horses.

-- Reynard is still using Richard’s body. That’s gotta be painful for Julia.

-- Eliot has to pass another test for his crown. It involves super vague 90s Earth pop culture questions. He beats it with a Patrick Swayze monologue.

-- The Brakebills magicians (minus Penny) our crowned kings and queens: High King Eliot the Spectacular, High Queen Margo the Destroyer (Eliot means that in the best possible sense), Queen Alice the Wise, and King Quentin the Moderately Socially Maladjusted.

Margo: “What plan? The Beast is gone. Our squad is a joke. What plan, exactly?”
Eliot: “We'll figure it out. We always do.”
Margo: “When it's a final to cheat on, not when we're stuck in some epic fantasy that likes to behead its heroes halfway through season one. If we even are heroes. We might be comic relief.”

Margo, as she crowns Quentin: “Uh, I could start by saying something cruel yet totally hilarious about you. Let's be real, you're an easy target. But that's – well, that's because you're honest about what you love. And underneath it all, that's inspiring.”

The Beast: “Brilliant, that, uh, laptop. The things they come up with when they don't have magic.”
Julia: “Yeah, like accounts that tweet police scanner activity.”
The Beast: “Tweet? Birds have computer accounts?”
Julia: “Don't worry about it.” The Beast might be evil, but he can be funny.

Three out of four rude horses.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review, Ariel.

    My absolute favorite part of this episode was the nineties trivia test for the crown. It was absolutely hilarious and sort of perfect.


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