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The Magicians: The Art of the Deal

Julia: “Is that a gif of a crab with a knife?”
Fen: “It's how I feel.”

Deals are made and broken, testy relationships harm the quest, and things get super graphic.

Julia and Fen continue with Mission: Free-The-Fairies. They enlist The Fairy Queen’s help (which isn’t easy), having her go under cover as a fairy slave. She motivates the other fairies so that Julia and Fen can use the McAllistairs’ machine to remove their collars before releasing them. Only it turns out the machine doesn’t just remove the collars but also their heads. Instead, The Fairy Queen has to break the deal fueling the collars, putting all the fairies in jeopardy. And then the fairy slaves mercilessly kill all the McAllistairs.

There’s an overall theme of trust across this episode. The Fairy Queen starts out with little trust in all magicians. Apparently, there’s a long history of magicians enslaving fairies for their magic. She trusts Fen because she sees that her motherly concern for the fairies outweighs her hatred of them. But she remains skeptical of Julia because Julia doesn’t seem to have a motive of her own to want to help. The Fairy Queen and her kind seem to only work in deals with other species. And, when your only interactions involve scratching someone’s back if they scratch yours, it’s easy to see how you might lose faith in anyone wanting to help anyone else just because. So it’s nice to see Julia and The Fairy Queen form a bond through her complete lack of personal motive.

I had trouble understanding why the Fairy Queen felt breaking a deal, and everyone else’s trust, would leave the fairies so vulnerable. I mean, they are literal magic; you’d think they’d have no trouble defending themselves. But if deals are the only way they really know of interacting with the outside world, only way of feeling safe when doing so, I guess it would feel dangerous to damage that.

We get to see more of Penny in the Underworld. Apparently, Penny’s been shelving books (badly), hands shackled, and giving dirty looks to pretty much everyone, especially Sylvia. Which is fair. He finds a way out, steals himself a MetroCard from some poor soul in fox pajamas. But then he runs into Hades, the Hades. Who tells Penny he can use the MetroCard to try to find a way back to Earth, or he can stay and live in the underworld. Penny gives the MetroCard to Sylvia so she can find her family (which is sweet) and then he joins a book club.

I think what Penny’s really offered in the Underground, that he might not have gotten back on Earth, is community. Even before he discovered he was a traveler, he apparently was constantly sacrificing himself to prove his worth. Now that he’s in the underworld he has nothing to rely on but his own ability to be vulnerable and kind and be with people. It’s probably hard to sacrifice much for people who are already dead. Penny also has a place to stay, one place. He can’t use his traveling powers to zip all over the universe. All he has is the Underworld and the people there, which could never have been true on Earth.

Penny eats a cupcake at his book club. In the story of Persephone and the Underground, when Persephone ate pomegranate seeds she bound herself to the Underground. So, if taken negatively, this could mean Penny’s now stuck down there. In a more positive light, it could also signify Penny finally embracing his place in a community, tying himself to them. That said, I still hope he makes his way back to Earth one day.

Off in Fillory for Mission: Key Quest, Quentin and Alice deal with their own trust issues. Quentin’s unsure of Alice’s motivations, especially after seeing her at the library. He needs her help with the quest, but isn’t sure he can trust her. And Alice is frustrated with him for not trusting her.

Quentin’s certainly got reason not to trust her. She has been all over the place and associating with the shady library wasn’t a good look. But Alice also has a point. It wasn’t fair to expect her to want to go on a quest for magic right after her dad died because of her actions when she was literal magic. And, if anyone should understand feeling lost, depressed, and ambivalent, it should be Quentin. But it’s still hard when the two have such a rocky history and so much is at stake. Ultimately, Quentin’s qualms were right, she is working for the library. The library might also want magic back, but its general shadiness makes its own motivations questionable.

Of course, none of that really matters because it turns out the fairies have the sixth key and they can’t give it up. So they’re all screwed.

Bits and Pieces

-- When Alice brought up how unfair it was for Quentin to judge her for acting ambivalent and depressive, like he often does, I feel like the show could’ve been highlighting the double standard the media and viewers sometimes have. Flawed, complicated men are often viewed more positively than flawed, complicated women. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into things.

-- This episode is another reminder of how far Julia’s come. She started out early season one doing anything to learn magic, even to the detriment of others. Now, she’s using magic to help everyone else with no intention of personal gain.

-- Julia was pretty nonchalant about the fairies' destruction, though. The McAllistairs certainly deserved what they got (and it’s too bad Irene got away), but still. Seeing that’s gotta leave an impression.

-- Margo and Eliot make some deals of their own on behalf of Fillory. They promise, if they end the war, they won’t conquer the Floaters with their magic and they’ll teach the Lorians how to use magic. It’s nice to see their return to their bad-ass form.

Fen: “There's an emoji of a dagger. Todd was right, this truly is the universal language.”

Fairy Queen: “Short memory is a privilege of the oppressor.”

Howard the Librarian: “So, uh, Penny. My book club is looking for new members. Interesting people. And I thought of you.”
Penny: “Why? Cause I'm brown? And shackled? You know this looks bad for the Library, right?”
Howard the Librarian: “Oh, no. We are not—we shackle people of all races and colors here.”
Penny: “Not better, Howard.”

Three and a half out of five emoji daggers.

1 comment:

  1. I *really* don't like the fairies, but no one deserves what was happening to them. The McAllistairs got what they deserved. But Michael Hogan from Battlestar! Dead already, darn.

    The Penny stuff was a lot more fun and the way he helped Sylvia was sweet. But I don't get the feeling Hades' advice can be trusted. :) What Persephone ate was six pomegranate seeds, I think, so she had to spend half the year in the underworld. What was in that cupcake?


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