Last week, we followed our friends from Brakebills as they tried to cope in a world without magic. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that it sucks, so they set forth on a quest to get their damn magic back! Let’s see how that’s going...
Last week, Alice was trading blood to a vampire for help surviving the wrath of a Lamprey she pissed off when she was a Niffin. He offered her an early warning system and showed her a picture on his phone. It turns out that the best way to spot a lamprey is a kitten. Alice gets a kitten from a very Christian cat owner who makes Alice swear on a bible that she will protect the cat and that it will see no evil. This kitten is going to see some evil.
The Lamprey found itself a new host in the form of a construction worker.
Quentin is able to read the first chapter of the mostly blank book they found at the Chester public library in New Jersey. It tells a tale of a knight who had a daughter, but wished he had a son so he could teach him knightly things. This seems an odd detail, since he is captured by a witch who tells the daughter that finding seven keys will unlock her father’s bonds. While it was already clear that finding seven keys was their quest, the story doesn’t include much instruction aside from what the Great Cock of the Darkling Woods told Elliot last week; The Knight’s daughter is told to go to an island where nothing is as it seems. The first chapter ends and the rest of the book is blank. I don’t know if that first chapter was always there, but we didn’t see them do anything to trigger it.
Quentin, Julia and Josh Hoberman have no magic, but they do have the Chatwin’s clock, which is a portal to Fillory. They decide that they need to get their hands on a Mayakovsky magic battery, hoping it will boost Julia’s paltry ability enough to open the door so they can get back to Fillory and help Elliot.
The four of them follow up on some rumors and leads, coming across a clearly magical lovefest/orgy in the park and reports of a friendly dinosaur brightening the day for some sick kids at a hospital, and discover the witch they were looking for is Brakebills’ Professor Lipson, the head doctor of the magic school. Lipson, like most people, is distraught by the loss of magic in the world, but also because Mayakovsky left her for Emily Greenstreet and married his former student, and also because preparing for the end of magic by making batteries was her idea. She used up the battery trying to make people happy, then tried to jump off a building. Luckily, Quentin had already figured out that was the best building to jump off of in the area, and was able to get up there in time to try to talk her down. She jumps and Quentin makes the save! The battery falls to the ground and shatters.
Alice was on a similar journey and ran into Quentin and Julia at the park orgy. She joins them as far as the hospital where Professor Lipson was taken, but her new kitten, in a cat carrier, starts to freak out. Like really freak out. Then it explodes. Alice puts down the carrier and briskly walks away, and the construction worker walks after her, right past Quentin and Julia who sense nothing wrong about him, but they were in shock from the exploding kitten.
Thing is, Professor Lipson didn’t know anything about Mayakovsky being turned into a bear, so the crew realizes Emily Greenstreet misled them and they go back to Emily’s to find Kady beat them there, punched her in the face and took her battery so she could find a magical cure for Penny’s fatal magic cancer.
Elliot is ready to begin his quest to the notoriously dangerous islands across a sea that has it out for the kings of Fillory. He can’t very well discuss the quest in front of the invisible faeries, so he claims he is going to visit the island to collect taxes, which they have not paid in 46 years. The kingdom is broke and without magic, things are getting ugly.
Elliot’s advisor, Tick, introduces him to his vessel for the journey, the Muntjack, which is made of sentient wood and has a personality, and is, as the best vessels are, bigger on the inside.
Tick tries to tell Elliot that the ship is an asshole, and the boom arm swings to knock him into the water for the insult, but so far it seems to have no issues with the King. The faeries don’t trust Elliot, so they send a spy, named Fray, short for Frail Human Girl. They claim she is Fen’s baby daughter, who was raised by the faeries in their realm, where time moves differently. She has been raised to feel nothing for her birth parents and is completely loyal to the Faerie Queen.
When they get to the island and claim it as Fillorian land, the local villagers seem rather unimpressed. They tell Elliot that a beast is coming, and only Father Poe can stop it. Elliot asks the village leader for a golden key, and he says he can’t give it to him, as it is the only thing that keeps his people safe. A terrifying shadow beast does indeed come, and when the villagers run to their shelters, along with Elliot dragged to safety by his guards, Father Poe fights it off, but one man was tragically killed by the Shadow Bat.
At the funeral for the dead man, Fray informs her father that she has seen Shadow Bats before in the faerie realms where she lived all her life, and they leave much more violent marks. Fen, as the daughter of a bladesmith, agrees that the man was killed by a blade and not a beast. Elliot confronts the priest, commands the villagers to stay and watch as he summons the beast, then takes the key and banishes it himself. It was merely an illusion used by a man to terrify his people for personal power. Elliot takes the key and leaves the priest’s dagger to the wife of the man he killed.
Fray remarks that Elliot did not do what he claimed he set out to do on the island, collect taxes. Fen interjects that the key is both gold and magical, which makes it extremely valuable, but Fray isn’t buying it. Fen and Elliot tell her to be quiet and go to her room, and Fen basks in a moment of parenting that, while not perfect, is a step up from cooing to a swaddled log.
Quentin feels movement in his bag and pulls out the book, as Chapter 2 of the Tales of the Seven Keys materializes before his eyes, but the construction worker Lamprey accosts him until he just falls over. Quentin collects his book and stumbles away, clearly changed.
- Emily Greenstreet is the worst.
- No, Mayakovsky is the worst.
- No, Kady is the worst. She steals the battery to help Penny instead of letting Quentin and Julia use it to save all magic, which would in turn save Penny, who could just stay in the damn Library where time stands still and his disease doesn’t progress until the others fix magic. Kady and Penny need to die.
- It’s honestly my second most hated trope- doom the world to save a single loved one who will then probably die in the newly doomed world anyway. It’s only second worst because it isn’t as common as the New Boss, which we may also be seeing with the Brakebills board of directors.
- The doomed voyage to After Island was actually quite uneventful. They made it sound like Elliot was in for the Odyssey, but it looked more like a leisurely afternoon outing. No storm, no angry sea, the boat was cooperative and lovely, and the monster was just an illusion. All he had to do was figure that out and take the key away from the otherwise powerless bad man.
- Queen Margo the Destroyer was left behind, since her eye reports everything she experiences to the Faerie Queen, but she has a very sweet moment with Elliot before she sends him away, warning that the difference between a live hero and a dead moron is one bad decision. She remains my favorite.
- I just found out this week that Josh Hoberman played Freddie Crane, Kelsey Grammer’s son on Frasier. That’s pretty funny.
- There are Seven keys and seven people mentioned by the Great Cock when he started Elliot on this quest- himself, the Fool, the Traveler, The Warrior, the Destroyer, the one who grows tomatoes, and the torture artist. That’s actually a pretty smart story structure, make sure everyone gets something to do.
So, one key down, the second chapter of the quest book revealed, but the earth-bound crew still has no magic and Quentin is a monster-puppet. What do you see in the cards?
One more Cock, for the road.