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The Magicians: The Flying Forest

The White Lady: “Is there nothing else you desire?”
Quentin: “Everything I've ever wanted, I've got. Magic is real and it can fix anything except what I need. I loved a girl. My entire life I've dreamed of Fillory. That I would be like Martin Chatwin. I'd find a way to stay here forever. Send me home.”

So not a whole lot happened this episode, and that’s honestly why I liked it. Our magicians defeated The Beast and now they’ve got nothing left to fight, nothing to distract them from their loss, their trauma, and their responsibilities. And this gives us viewers the opportunity to watch them deal. Reconcile who they’ve been with who they want to be, accept the consequences of their choices, and figure out where to go from here.

Quentin’s not ready to deal. He wants to magically fix everything that’s happened and finds himself a quest that might do the trick. He and Penny go after the White Woman, one of the seven questing creatures, who has the power to grant the wish of those who capture her. They capture her, she fixes Penny’s hands, but she can’t revive Alice. So she asks Quentin what else he wants and Quentin realizes he’s already gotten everything he could ever want—magic, someone to love, Fillory—but it’s all so twisted that it brings nothing but pain. So he just asks to go home.

Next, we see Quentin standing in the middle of a busy city street, everyone else rushing off somewhere. He throws away his bow and arrow, symbolically stepping away from quests, missions, larger-than-life lands and foes—everything he’d clung so strongly to his entire life. And now all he can do is live in the hard, tedious real world and grieve all that magic took from him.

Margo and Eliot aren’t faring much better. Fillory is on the verge of rebellion, the wellspring is broken. There are real responsibilities to be dealt with, but Eliot refuses to deal. He’s not ready to be king and wants to go back to his old life. After a conversation with Dean Fogg, he realizes he has no choice. He went to another world, accepted the title of king, and now he must accept the responsibilities that entails. And now he’s finally willing to get started on that.

Margo is also faced with a serious realization. Julia and Margo have an altercation and Julia says that Margo only has friends because they fear her and that she wouldn’t care about anything that doesn’t directly affect her hair or her social life. None of that is entirely true. We’ve seen that Margo and Eliot actually do have a bond deeper than fear. We’ve seen Margo help Eliot, Quentin, and Alice, even when their problems didn’t involve her. But what really matters is that this makes Margo want to grow. She regrets not being a friend to Alice when she was alive and decides to build a memorial to Alice to make up for that. It’s a small start, but it’s something.

Eliot and Margo have always been great characters. The show doesn’t really need to develop them any further and could just leave them as fun, dramatic, comic relief. But the events of this episode are forcing them to become more than that. They’re reflecting on their past actions, their past choices, and taking action to change. Without this push, Eliot and Margo may have continued their lives as the king and queen of Brakebills, and that would’ve been great, but seeing them become strong, complicated adults should be even better.

Julia’s the only one still left with a cause to distract her from her pain. She still has a big bad to fight, but she’s coming away from a huge loss, and now she doesn’t have a key player: The Beast. She regroups and seeks Kady for help. She finds Kady living in an abandoned building, coming down from heroin. The two have a very complicated history, even more complicated now since Kady ran off after Julia saved her from Reynard, but all that makes their team-up that much more compelling. Plus, it’s nice to give Julia someone to work off of who isn’t an antagonist and doesn’t actively hate her. It would be good for her to have someone to support her when she finds herself in the same situation as the others: big bad vanquished and nothing to do but deal with her lasting pain.

Bits and Pieces.

-- Quentin and Penny learn the Flying Forest isn’t called that because the trees fly, but because the air is filled with drugs. It was great seeing them high, a nice comedic reprieve from all the gut-wrenching sorrow.

-- Eliot’s still struggling to figure out his sexual situation. He ends up sleeping with Fen in Fillory while his golem self sleeps with some random guy in Brakebills. Would that be considered a threesome? Foursome?

-- Todd has taken over Eliot’s reign in Brakebills and Eliot briefly considers focusing all his time and energy on destroying him. I honestly don’t think that would’ve taken too much effort.

-- A briefly revived Marina says Julia can stop Reynard. Apparently someone has expelled him from Earth in the past, and Julia needs to find a way to do that.

-- It was also fun seeing Quentin reluctantly, then not so reluctantly, chop off Penny’s hands.

-- It’s kind of amazing that the show was able to make the final scene—Quentin walking the busy NYC streets in full Fillory garb—so painfully emotional. It could have easily been played for comedy, but they make Quentin’s pain, despair, and hopelessness so tangible that it works.

Eliot, after meeting his golem: “Me likey.”
Margo: “You're thinking about banging yourself, aren't you?”
Eliot: “Shh, shh, shh. No, no. Doing your clone is more like AP-level masturbation.”

Eliot: “Why does everything smell so great?”
Margo: “Because your doppel-banger hasn't met cocaine yet.”

Quentin: “We could hunt her together.”
Penny: “‘Let's go hunt the White Lady?’ People like me get shot for saying shit like that.”

Dean Fogg: “The Beast shit in the Wellspring?”
Eliot: “No. No. Ember, Ember shat in the Wellspring. I think he meant well. He probably didn't know how hard it would be to clean out.”
Dean Fogg: “And now magic is failing on Earth because of shit, proving once again that comedy and tragedy can coexist in the same goddamn sentence.”

Quentin, while high: “I must be an adventurer.”
Penny: “No, you're not.”
Quentin: “What? I have a bow and arrow. And a cool questing outfit. And a man servant.”
Penny: “You did not just say that, white boy. Besides, what kind of servant has no fucking hands?”

Four out of four Flying Forests that don’t actually fly.


  1. Poor Marina. Poor Quentin! This was the first time I actually liked Quentin. His grief and his terrible injury made him sympathetic. He and Penny stoned in the woods was really, really funny.

  2. A line I enjoyed: "It smacks of Earth privilege". I like how the show has lampshaded the way all the kids became kings and queens in the Narnia books. Not only is it a very strange setup (of course there would be resistance to a regime ruled by people from another world!), but ruling a country is a huge responsibility, not a lark.


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