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The Magicians: The Fillorian Candidate

“Giving people shit is easy. Taking it away is almost impossible. Like Obamacare. Or herpes.”

This episode is such a pick-me-up. After struggling for so long, Margo and Julia finally have their moments of triumph. After feeling that misery and frustration along with them, it’s such a relief.

Margo and Eliot try to make good on their deal (and threat) to the Lorians and the Floaters by negotiating the sixth key out of the Fairy Queen. Problem is she’ll only give them the key if they take their crowns back, and they can’t take their crowns back without magic. So they kick off Fillory’s first general election.

After a hilarious fight to win the election, where Pick Wick lays out boring, sensible plans and Eliot responds with ridiculous promises he can never deliver (free healthcare for all, champagne fountains, their first power plants), Margo wins the crown as a write-in by the talking animals. Turns out there are over a million talking animals to Fillory’s 50,000 people so the people’s vote doesn’t really count.

So after working so hard for a world that’s never really respected her, Margo finally gets the appreciation she deserves. Because she was willing to talk to Humbledrum (Fen’s bear partner). It seems that Margo’s the only one to accept the talking animals as having actual thoughts and feelings, like she showed when she asked the Muntjac if she felt okay about getting with the pirate ship. Just like Margo’s been wanting Fillory to see her as a ruler to be respected just the same as Eliot, the talking animals have wanted Fillory to see them as their equal. And they both make that happen for each other.

Julia also finally gets a win. The questers need to reach out to a god for information on the monster in the castle and the only one they can find is Reynard. So, despite her fear, Julia goes with Kady and Penny 23 to confront him. Reynard, weakened and pathetic, tries to belittle Julia, to make her feel weak herself. But it doesn’t work. She tells him his spark has grown stronger in her and, when he tries to kill her, she stops him like it's nothing. Because he is. They leave him there, to be forever punished.

What I really love about this whole thing (and I love everything about it) is that Julia is still scared before confronting Reynard. When Kady mentions his name she drops everything she’d been levitating in prayer meditation. Despite all the power, all the strength she’s garnered and all she’s done with it, the idea of him is still terrifying to her. Which shows that being afraid of someone who hurt you isn’t a sign of weakness. And confronting them despite that fear (in court or prison or somewhere equally safe) like Julia did is the real show of strength. I also like that they left him there, still frozen. I choose to imagine he’ll be stuck that way forever.

Elsewhere, Alice is still being super shady. The library has a siphon that will allow them to choose who gets magic. And it needs to be powered by a whole lot of magic, so they suggest sacrificing Julia for their cause. Alice doesn’t seem to feel great about the whole Julia thing, but she’s super on board with the siphon. And Quentin isn’t.

Alice tries to convince Quentin by comparing this to Brakebills choosing who to teach and wiping out everyone else’s memories. But that really isn’t a great example given how terribly Brakebills’ system has gone in the past. First of all, there’s Julia who was turned away despite actually having great potential to become an amazing magician, and then ended up in danger learning magic on her own. Outside of timeloop changes, there’s also Marina, who Brakebills let in and then kicked out because of character flaws. And then she caused a decent amount of trouble for Brakebills. So choosing who gets to use magic doesn’t seem to go well for Brakebills.

And then there’s Alice’s point that the Library has the knowledge and perspective to choose. While the Library may have the knowledge (mostly because they keep a lot of it from everyone else), it certainly doesn’t have the perspective. They’ve been willing to snort fairy limbs for magic despite the obvious ethical issues there. And now they’re willing to put Julia at risk for their plan, saying they’ve “all made sacrifices in pursuit of [their] greater purpose.” The problem here is it’s the Library’s purpose but Julia who’d be doing the sacrificing. I feel like someone with perspective would see that whoever’s sacrificing should make that choice themselves, it shouldn’t be decided for them.

So now they’ve got all seven keys, a potential way of dealing with the monster, and there’s really nothing stopping them from bringing magic back. Except Quentin’s still not sure because he knows when magic comes back his dad’s cancer might come back, too. So he goes to his dad, looks him in the eye, and tells him after everything they’ve done to complete the quest, they need to finish it. He doesn’t say this in a mean, condescending way, or in a fearful way. He’s just honest and forthright with his father. And he tells him he’s sorry. His dad seems to accept that. It’s a really nice, small scene. This episode does a great job showing off how far its characters have come, and this was that for Quentin.

Bits and Pieces

-- I loved Josh’s previously. Can Josh do all the previouslys?

-- Josh’s Hook-Up/Murder Chart. Pretty much everyone’s gotten with everyone except Julia (who's kinda just off in a corner alone). And Josh has his own chart for himself (the magical creature drawings are great). Who’s that guy under Quentin?

-- Kady’s having a rough time of it. She’s upset that everyone (even the unity key) is acting like Penny 23 is a sufficient substitute for her Penny, even though he’s still out there. It’s nice she at least gets a bit of closure with Reynard.

-- Julia is seriously leveling up. Hearing prayers, fixing Fogg’s eyes, sensing the location of limp trickster gods.

-- Frey’s working at an animal bar and dating Humbledrum the talking bear. Eliot tells her what he always wanted his dad to say to him: “I’m so happy you're dating a bear.”

-- The scene where Julia revives the sentient trees she killed was also a powerful showcase of her growth this season. I loved Josh telling her how much the little smoke ring spell she did for him helped. Just a great moment.

Margo: “We've been trying to negotiate with the Fairy Queen for the last Key, but this is what we got back.”
Messenger bunny: “Eat my ass!”
Margo: “We're not sure if—”
Messenger bunny: “Eat my ass! Eat. My. Ass!”
Margo: “Either this was the Fairy Queen's response or this is one very kinky rabbit.”

Quentin, arguing with Alice about the siphon: “I don't know everything that you did as a niffin, but I know that people make mistakes so that they can change and do better. But only if they're given the chance. Taking away choice is not the answer.”

Josh: “Julia has done us the solidest solid. After the trees, she grew food for the starving peasants. She fixed the dry wells. She even helped this one guy's bajanked case of head lice. I mean, Children of Earth are back on top!”

Julia, to a squirming Reynard: “You feel that? Your tiny spark has grown bigger in me than it could have ever in you.”

Quentin: “What if the thing that the quest wants me to be is cold? Being willing to sacrifice the people I love?”
Julia: “Then the quest fucked up when it chose Quentin Coldwater.”

Four out of four cursing messenger bunnies.


  1. - Who’s that guy under Quentin?

    Isn't that just a really horrible picture of Emily Greensheet (Abby Miller)?

  2. Oh, that makes a lot of sense! I totally forgot about her!

  3. I thought it was lovely that Margo got a karmic reward for treating the ship and the bear like people. And that she got a fairy eye reward, too.

    The bunnies are so funny. I wonder if it's a Buffy nod? It has to be.


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