The Magicians: The 4-1-1

Alice: "How does it feel?"
Quentin: "Like I helped it wake up and remember what it was before."

“The 4-1-1” finally reveals what I think we all knew, Leslie Knope was (and is always) right: not only are librarians evil, but they’ve been evil since basically the dawn of time! And also some other stuff happened.

Some of that other stuff includes Alice and Quentin being forced to be alone together. On a quest to find out how to form an incorporate bond to use on the bottles the Monster will be sucked into when Margo expels him with the Ice Axes, Quentin has to time-travel so he can ask a coherent version of Mayakovsky for the spell. Quentin switches his consciousness with past Quentin; he wakes up under Past-Alice and Present-Alice comes face to face with a very horny Past-Quentin. Instead of being funny (although it is of course sometimes funny) the whole thing is really sad. Both Quentin and Alice learn there’s really no way for things to go back to the way they were. Even if Quentin and Alice worked through their issues, they still wouldn’t have the same relationship as they did at Brakebills South when everything was new and maybe scary and very, very horny; things happened and they can’t unhappen. Quentin can use his discipline(!) to repair small objects, but Quentin and Alice’s relationship troubles aren’t the least bit small and may be impossible to fully repair.

Back at their fancy stolen apartment, Julia, Penny 23, and Margo try to figure out The Binder and succeed. The Binder the Person comes out of the book, ready to tell them everything in weird third person narration, and then Hymen’s match-making gets in the way. Hymen (the astral-projected pervert from the 1920s) wants Julia and Penny 23 to drop all this Monster-Goddess-Library stuff and to just be together. He tells them that they’re always sacrificing themselves for everyone else and this could be their one chance at happiness. So when The Binder finally tells them what’s up and that Julia can either become a goddess or go back to being human, Julia wants to seriously consider the human option.

Hymen is kind of right. Not only did Julia give up all her power to (painfully) restore magic for everyone, but for much of the season she’s been setting her quest to figure out her state of goddesshood aside to help with the Monster and only really went back to it when they felt like they were out of options and could really use a goddess on their side. And not only do we know Pennys are prone to sacrifice from Penny 40 (who died helping Kady and Julia by default), but this Penny (23) has shown himself prone to sacrifice when he volunteered to be the Monster’s psychic after seeing the last one die. And of course if they keep putting their needs aside for the group they will be unlikely to be happy and maybe even to survive another season. Humans need a bit of selfishness (or self-preservation as Fogg would say) to survive and thrive.

But it’s also hard to be selfish when you’re an empathetic person in a world constantly on the verge of destruction. Goddess Julia could be great help with the Monster. And, now that they know Iris, Bacchus, Aengus, and Heka were librarians who became gods by killing the Monster’s sister and Kady and Zelda know Everett plans to do the same, they could really use an all-powerful Goddess Julia. There may never be a convenient time for Julia and Penny 23 (and any of the characters on The Magicians) to practice selfishness or self-preservation. And, in the end, none of that really matters anyway because the Monster steals Julia away to use her body to revive his long-lost sister. So everything’s coming to a sad, terrifying, exciting head.

Bits and Pieces

-- Back in Fillory, Josh, Fen, and Pickwick learn that something’s up with the underground magic reservoir. Also they play Fillory’s version of hop-scotch to try to fix it. The whole thing is adorable and hilarious and I love learning about Fillorian history and customs.

-- Fogg may be the only character on The Magicians who’s almost always selfish (and fairly useless). He sends his student (Kady) off to the world that killed his other student (Penny 23), using the excuse that the Library’s been really on him lately. His “self-preservation” may be what allowed him to live as long as he did, but it’s also what makes him a huge... jerk.

-- I’m glad (and not surprised) to see Fen and Josh aren’t cool with torture of any kind. And I’m not at all surprised to see that Pickwick is.

-- I’m torn between wanting Julia to become a goddess again because it would be cool and wanting her to be human again so she can feel and live with her friends and stay on the show.

-- In the Library is fascist: the Brakebills students aren’t allowed to learn cloaking because then the Library couldn’t keep tabs on them.

-- Margo calls the Foremost the “foreskin.” I think it’s more fitting.

Margo to Alice when she suggests the incorporate bond: “Thank you, I don’t know what that is but I hate you less now.”

Fen: “We used to sing it while playing bearskip. It’s a children’s game sort of like Fillorian hopscotch.”
Josh: “Involving bears?”
Fen: “Ideally skipping them!”

Mayakovsky: “I’ve seen Back to the Future. What, you want to fuck your mother in past?”
Quentin: “No.”
Mayakovsky: “Why? She not attractive?”

Margo: “You can thank my uterus later.”

Alice: “There’s not enough magic for the geese to make it [to Brakebills South]. Found that out the hard way.”
Margo: “Rest in peace, first-years.” The Magicians: where even the throwaway lines are impossibly dark.

Three and a half out of four shady, evil, power-hungry librarians.

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