The Magicians: Will You Play with Me?

Eliot: “Sorry, time out. I thought the weird door swallowed the keys.”
Quentin: “Yeah, no, it did, but then—”
Eliot: “But then she has them again? I'm not that drunk. This is sloppy plotting.”

Once again the writers break their whole show apart in their season finale. Everyone is really screwed.

Things start out promising. The questers have all seven keys. But they’ve also got an evil library on their toes, a powerful monster to evade, and no idea how to actually get to the castle at the end of the world. So they do some research.

First they track down the architect Reynard mentioned (Calypso, or Callie as she goes by now). She tells them the convoluted story of the seven keys actually is a made-up story that’s meant to guide and shape the questers. The castle is actually a prison built for the monster. Prometheus created the quest because he believed the magicians would save everyone one day, if they had magic. Quentin makes a deal with the monster’s current guard (Ora) to take her place in exchange for a way into the castle. And no one’s happy with that.

Quentin points out that the quest was supposed to change them and it made him stronger, strong enough to do this. It taught them that sometimes they need to do things the hard way (like living an entire life in front of a mosaic). And they’ve all made their own sacrifices in the past. This brings up some serious questions about consent. He’s willingly putting himself in a really dangerous situation and he’s giving up his entire life. His friends aren’t okay with that. But should they respect his wishes, or make their own choices for his best interest? Eliot and Margo choose to make their own choices, shooting the monster with Julia and Kady’s god-killing bullet. But the monster just jumps into Ora’s body, so that doesn’t go so well.

Alice only makes things worse. Turns out, she had her own plan. Quentin did get through to her about the shadiness of the library, but it pushed her into believing no one can be trusted with magic because it only makes everyone different shades of bad. Eliot thinks she’s projecting, but she does have a point. Alice became psychotic as a niffin, and then nearly killed Julia for her magic as a reformed human. Julia did a whole slew of terrible things in the pursuit of magic (imprisoning Quentin in his mind, accidentally helping to release a serial rapist trickster god). All of them have caused some harm with or because of magic, whether they wanted to or not. But they’ve also done a lot of good. Alice saved everyone from The Beast, Julia saved a girl from her own mind-prison, fixed Dean Fogg’s eyes, and brought back the forest of sentient trees she destroyed. So magic doesn’t only make people bad. The problem is that humans (who aren’t all good or all bad) have magic. And, by taking away magic, Alice would take away choice. Which, as Quentin said last episode, is never the answer. Maybe schools should offer magic counseling help magicians make good choices with the magic they have? Just a thought.

So Alice, coked up on fairies, destroys the keys. All seems lost until suddenly Julia comes back, who has her own side-adventure. Turns out, she’s now a full-fledged goddess (Our Lady of the Trees). But she has trouble with the gods’ philosophy. They believe, because everything changes in a blink of an eye from their perspective, it’s better to focus on the big picture and build better worlds than to fix the ones already created. It seems really counter-intuitive to have Julia’s power grow when she helps others, give her the power to feel what everyone’s feeling, and then tell her to ignore it all. Like, maybe the gods should’ve taken a different approach? Julia feels the same way; she can’t stop worrying about Quentin and the fairies and everyone’s prayers for help. So she ditches the apathetic goddess to help out the questers.

Julia pulls a Prometheus, horcruxing her power to create a new set of keys for the questers to use to power the magic fountain. She becomes super weak, loses her godly connection. But apart from that all seems well, until suddenly there’s another betrayal. Irene, her traveler, and Dean Fogg appear with their Fairy-Queen-powered siphon and they transfer the magic to the library.

The shady library dispenses shoddy rations of magic out to whoever they see fit, they lock Alice up for breaking their deal, and replace the rest of the questers' memories with ones of their new identities: Julia the architect, Penny 23 the DJ, Josh the Uber Driver, Margo er... Janet the big-shot in some career?, Quentin er... Brian the tweed-jacket-wearing bookstore/library goer. We’re left with a lot of questions. How will they figure out who they really are? What’s going on with Julia’s power? Is Eliot the monster? And what does he want with Quentin/Brian? And, most importantly, what’s Josh’s Uber-rating?

Bits and Pieces

-- So usually I’m not a fan of amnesia stories so I’d be super disappointed in this plot-twist. But after this amazing season I have so much faith in the writers that I’m just eager to see what comes out of it.

-- RIP Fairy Queen. It’s really impressive that I went from despising her to being sad to see her go. Fen seems to be feeling the same way. And somehow, it all really worked.

-- There’s a lot of talk in this episode about the big picture. The gods have pretty much abandoned their creations in pursuit of new, better ones, whereas The Fairy Queen refuses to allow a single fairy to be hunted even if giving herself up would put the world at risk. Both choices have terrible consequences.

-- I love that Julia’s goddess name is (was?) Our Lady of the Tree. She’s named after the wrong she righted, the result of all her hard-won character growth. And it fits that her name references a single tree instead of, say, a forest. Because she rejects only seeing the big picture.

-- I love Alice’s frustration at everyone mispronouncing the island Ogygia.

-- So now Fogg is not only useless, but also a traitor. Not a good look.

Quentin, on Julia becoming a Goddess: “Life is unfair, but I'm good with it occasionally working out for people that I actually love.”

Margo: “So my castle is based on your prison?”
Callie: “What can I say? I'm constitutionally incapable of designing an ugly building.”

The Fairy Queen to Irene: “I'll die a queen, not some mediocre, power-hungry girl.”

Kady: “What are you doing?”
Julia: “What Prometheus did.”
Elliot: “Horcrotching.”
Josh: “Horcruxing.”

Three and a half out of four terrible, no good traitors.

4 comments:

percysowner said...

Now you are all caught up for the new season tomorrow. Plus, SyFy just announced that they have renewed The Magicians for season 5! So at least 2 more seasons.

Billie Doux said...

Congratulations, Ariel! I am so impressed that you wrote and posted all three seasons in time for season four!

I'm still a few episodes behind, but will definitely be catching up and watching season four live.

Ariel Williams said...

Thanks guys! I'm so excited they got a season five! Can't wait for four!

Billie Doux said...

I knew that things would go south again, but wow. Fogg. How could you? At least Julia and Quentin had that lovely moment together, and big credit to the fairy queen for sacrificing her life for her people.

And I'm almost caught up!