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The Magicians: We Have Brought You Little Cakes

The pocket world formerly known as Cuba.
Looks just like the country, right?
Quentin: “But usually people, uh creatures who can think, gods even sometimes like the unknown, the unexpected, even the offensive. Little bit of, uh...”
Umber: “Chaos.”

At the end of season one Jane Chatwin tells Quentin he’s the volunteer tomato because he just keeps coming back, despite everything. The same can be said for the rest of our characters. They keep getting killed, brutally injured, violated, and yet they keep fighting. This episode considers why.

Alice and Kady do seriously consider giving up this episode. Kady is upset with how everything went down with Reynard. It didn’t go the way she wanted and she feels like she fought for nothing. Now that Penny has cancer-plus from his trip to the poison room, she tells Penny that he’s done—they get to be done. But Penny isn’t done, he’s still prepared to help his friends in any way he can. Alice feels similarly to Kady. She’s tired of human existence. She tells Quentin that any good thing that comes from existence is married to something disgusting. We learn throughout the episode that that’s true, but it’s also part of what makes existence worth-while.

Ember and Umber created Fillory out of opposites: order and chaos. When separated, Ember’s all about chaos and Umber’s all about order, and this negatively effects their worlds. Umber creates a perfectly okay pocket world (formerly known as Cuba); everything is fine, but bland. But, as Quentin points out, humans like a bit of the unexpected, offensive, chaotic. Ember’s so disappointed with the newly orderly (by his standards) Fillory under Eliot’s reign that he’s ready to destroy it completely. Without each other, without order and chaos, their worlds no longer seem worth it.

In a scene between Quentin and Alice we see how chaos and order work together. Quentin brings Alice bacon, which they both thoroughly enjoy, but then they wind up with greasy hands. Alice laments this, but when Quentin wipes her off with a wash cloth Alice wonders why it feels so good. The reason might have been their sexual tension, as they do have sex immediately after this, but for the purposes of the episode’s theme I’m going to declare the reason to be the order that came from cleaning herself off. We like a bit of chaos when everything becomes too uniform, and we like a bit of order when everything becomes too crazy, too disgusting. And that’s why it felt good to wipe off that chaos.

So the magicians continue to fight, despite all their extreme hardships, because they like their worlds, they like the friends that came from it, and they think it’s worth it. Penny’s literally dying, yet he still gives his friends the information they need to come up with a working plan to save Fillory. Julia’s experiencing terrible PTSD symptoms (extreme guilt, horrifying flashbacks, panic attacks), but agrees to help Eliot in his fight when given the chance. They’re volunteer tomatoes, they just keep coming despite everything, and they almost succeed. Through a cool, twisty, very entertaining plan the magicians manage to take out Ember (after Ember takes out Umber). All seems well until they learn killing gods has consequences. Godly plumbers take away their magic. It seems there’s nothing they can do, no way to fight. But with chaos comes order. Julia’s somehow got a spark of magic, a source of hope that they might use to restore, to fight for their worlds.

Bits and Pieces.

-- The fairies are coming for Fillory. They took away Fen’s baby and now they seem to be after the kingdom.

-- Penny still needs to work for the library even though they fatally poisoned him. The library really sucks.

-- Margo lost her eye to the fairies. Eliot tells her she looks like a fembot Nick Fury.

-- Margo and Eliot’s relationship once again feels terribly strained. Eliot says they’re just going to have to live with it. He’s still not dealing with their relationship issues head-on, but it’s progress compared to his way of dealing last season.

-- Kady enlists Harriet (from Fuzzbeat) for help with Penny without Penny’s consent. She offers Penny as her mole if she finds a way to keep him alive. I don’t understand how Harriet can help.

Eliot: “I don't pretend to understand what you've been through, but I can tell you the way you're relating to that couch is not unknown to me.”
Julia: “Then you know I want to be alone.”
Eliot: “And, um, also that you probably shouldn't be right now.” I loved this whole interaction. It was so nice to see Eliot use his own experience with mental health issues to care for Julia.

Eliot, preparing to lure Ember: “Wait, what about a human sacrifice?”
Margo: “No. Unless the cakes are bad.”

Eliot: “We are officially a land of godless heathens, making today the first day of our societal adulthood. I, for one, am slightly terrified and equally excited. And trying not to break into Hamilton.”

Four out of four little cakes.


  1. Although I liked the thematic elements you describe from the episode, I was confused by the way they caught Umber and killed Ember. Did I sleep through something? I had no idea what the plan was, or even whether they actually intended to kill both Gods or whether that was accidental. I was also puzzled that the god-killing bullet didn't come into play since it didn't get used.

  2. @magritte, I presume a gun with the god-killing bullet might have been ready, but then why not change the plan a little bit when it looks that another god is soon to "donate" his power away? After all, these kind of things don't come by easily nor often to the mere humans, which is something that people like Julia learned the hard way.


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