Welcome to the Magicians recap and commentary.

So far this season, we’ve followed the magicians’ adventures in a world without magic. They’ve gained a boat, but are on the verge of losing a kingdom. Three of the Seven Keys have been found, will Quentin be able to find another?

If you haven’t caught up on Episode 5, check it out.

You know the drill, Here be Spoilers!



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Julia and Alice.

Picking up where we last saw them, Julia and Alice embark on a quest of their own: to rid Julia of her Reynard-tainted magic and give it to addict Alice, who will snort any magic she can get her hands on. It starts with Julia raiding some boxes of junk to strip the aluminum wiring out of some old gadgets to build the magic transference machine. Astral Penny, watching but unable to find a way to communicate with them, finally projects himself into a Big Mouth Billy Bass- Mankind’s greatest achievement of the 20th century- and gets their attention. He tells them that he has seen hedge witches try this spell and that everyone ended up on fire, which is why Dean Fogg said it was a bad idea. Of course, this just gives them the idea to go ask Dean Fogg how to do it right.

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Dean Fogg flips out upon learning Julia has had magic all this time, but they defend withholding that information due to his being quite drunk lately. He’s a magician without magic and a dean without a school, not to mention a blind black man in America, so he has nothing to explain. He also lost the enchantments that helped him to put up with annoying bullshit, which explains his marked churlishness since the beginning of the season.

Uhhh... don’t ask.

The spell they are looking for, Voltaic Transfer, is Dean Fogg’s own creation, which was stolen from his files by Marina. Penny was right that they could not safely perform this spell because there was a missing component- a piece of a magical creature that can be used as a semiconductor to safely migrate the magical energies. They acquire an incubus tail and perform the rite, freeing Julia of any traces of Reynard. Alice tests her new magic by making an animated glass horse figurine, as she did in the series premiere, and then refreshing the enchantment on Dean Fogg’s glasses, allowing him some degree of sight.

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Julia gets some fresh air, but falls asleep on a blanket in the park and has a new nightmare of Reynard, not free of him after all. She tries to tell herself he is gone, but Reynard delivers a chilling reminder of the time Julia, as a small child, fell out of a tree. Her broken arm mended in a very short time, but her fear of heights never went away. Reynard isn’t the bone, he’s the terror.

Quentin and Benedict on the Muntjac...

Now that Quentin and Elliot have returned to Fillory, Quentin, also a King of the land, dresses as a palace guard to conceal his royal identity from the Faerie Queen. They conspire to continue the quest to restore magic, and the book suggests that the next key may be found in the Abyss, an uncharted region of the ocean where it is always night. Quentin was looking forward to some more quality time with Elliot, but the High King has Faerie business to attend to. Quentin sets forth on his journey into the uncharted with Benedict Pickwick, the royal mapmaker.

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They set sail on the Muntjac, Quentin gets to play swashbuckler, and he and Benedict take in the sea air and feel good. Quentin pointedly comments that being on a boat is like an antidepressant, and Benedict agrees, possibly because Quentin is his king and not because he knows what Antidepressants are- Fillorians are not great at deducing Earth-words from context. Then things get dark. Literally. They enter the Abyss, where it is always night, and soon hear cries for help coming from the darkness.

...enter Poppy.

They find a young woman afloat on a raft and bring her aboard, immediately noticing a Brakebills patch on her jacket, they meet Poppy Klein, one of the mysteriously vanished members of the third year class, along with Josh Hoberman, who they found trapped in Fillory in season 1.

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Poppy appears happy to be rescued, but acts suspiciously when Quentin isn’t looking. She offers to tell him her story over some drinks, and they get to know eachother. Poppy and the rest of the third year class were on a small boat that crashed, and she is the only survivor. Her ordeal on the raft was made all the more difficult without magic; she asks if anyone knows why it disappeared, and if anyone is working on getting it back... Quentin tells her that he is, and of his quest for the key, and she very helpfully produces one from around her neck.

Poppy is an expert on dragons, and found a breeding ground for one of the treasure-hoarding variety of great wyrm. In the midst of all the dragon coitus, she felt magic coming off the key and swiped it while the dangerous and greedy beasts were distracted. She offers it to Quentin, who is a lightweight and passed out before he could pick it up. She presses it into his unconscious hand and leaves. When Quentin awakes he encounters a vision of himself that immediately starts to insult and demean him. It seems the fourth key is a key of self doubt that drives those that possess it to suicide. Poppy and her friends passed they key around to reduce the demoralizing effects, but half of them killed themselves before their ship crashed into an iceberg and she was left holding they key on the raft for weeks.

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Unfortunately, Poppy misread Quentin’s boat-happy persona and thought he was someone who could handle the key’s effects, but in reality, Quentin has always been a mess, even to the point of institutionalization. His doppelganger insults him continuously, wearing him down before turning to guilt, forcing Quentin to face the wrongs he committed against Julia and Alice. Quentin makes a strong show of saying he’s faced these demons before, and for a moment we believe him, but ultimately, he finds himself looking over the side of the Muntjac ready to jump, possibly into the maw of a dragon that might be beneath the water’s surface. Loyal and upbeat mapmaker Benedict sees his king’s distress and pulls him away from the edge of the boat, confiding he too has had feelings of despair, but hides them away because that’s what parents tell their children to do. Quentin tells Benedict they can and should talk about his feelings, but Benedict wants to get him away from the edge of the boat first.

Benedict brings up an entertaining anecdote about how sailors in danger of going mad at sea were tied to the mast to prevent them from doing harm to themselves or others, and Quentin thinks this is a great idea. He commands Benedict to tie him up and not untie him until they reach White Harbor.

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This works, until Poppy comes by and Quentin tells her that the awful key may have some beneficial purpose, like how the other keys can open doors to earth. She, of course, takes the key from him, without touching it so as not to turn the key’s attention away from Quentin and back onto herself. Quentin shouts for help and Benedict comes, but is unwilling to untie Quentin, as he promised he wouldn’t. Quentin orders him to chase Poppy himself, then, and make sure she doesn’t get away with the key. Benedict finds poppy with the key in a wall, and tries to apprehend her before she can open the door, but she punches him in the face and we see the bulkhead of the ship open into a dark room. Benedict returns to Quentin, who is still tied to the mast, and begs forgiveness for his failure. Quentin sees the distress on the mapmaker’s face and realizes his tormentor is gone; Benedict is holding the key. Unable to withstand the psychic harassment, Quentin bound and unable to stop him, Benedict jumps over the side, key still in hand. The dragon Quentin believed he saw earlier rears her head and tells him that his friend was tasty before disappearing back beneath the waves.

Poppy returns, and Quentin really doesn’t want to speak with her. He is distressed that he has failed at retrieving the key and that it is going to be shat out of a dragon at the bottom of the ocean. Poppy, dragon expert that she is, informs Quentin that dragons don’t shit- they are gatekeepers. They don’t just create portals, they are portals. Quentin, having dealt with a dragon before, surmises that the key must have gone to the Underworld.

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Margo and Elliot.

Margo and her new mother-in-law, the Stone Queen, have a pleasant chat about Tick’s efforts in the Faerie-repelling hallway, and she confides in Margo that she has a weapon capable of killing the Faerie Queen. While she may or may not be involved in this forced marriage against her own will, the discussion was a ruse to herd Margo into a chamber with her 15 year old husband, Fomar, to force the consummation of their marriage. The Stone Queen’s guards are at the door, and they are out of earshot of Margo’s own royal escort. The 15 year old is obviously eager to touch Margo’s womanly peaks, but Margo is having none of it. She does her best to dissuade him, but nothing works. She somehow manages to find a Fillorian sex-ed book to scare him out of wanting sex, citing disease and birthing explosions. When telling him vaginas bleed doesn’t deter the psychopath in the least, she tells him they have teeth.

The Faerie Queen summons Elliot and threatens to take parts of him as keepsakes if he can’t convince Margo to consummate the marriage. Elliot, having intercepted a report from Prince Ess about strange occurrences in the north, comes up with a gambit to take Margo and Fomar on a honeymoon- sure to spark Margo’s libido- but drugs Fomar so he and Margo can investigate Ess’ disconcerting news.

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As they reach the groves mentioned in Prince Ess’ letter, they find mushrooms, just like the ones the faerie Queen commanded Margo to plant in the fields around the castle. They realize that the air is warm and humid, despite how far north they have traveled- the faeries are changing the environment.

When Margo sees a mushroom move, she decides to pluck it, and finds that the base of the mushroom is actually a gestational pouch for a faerie. The field full of thousands of mushrooms, along with the ones planted near their castle, are going to grow into an army of faeries. Between the terraforming and the apparent army in production, the royal pair are faced with a full scale invasion. Elliot, stunned by these discoveries, tries to formulate a plan to take down their “big bad,” but Margo already ripped up a bunch of faerie babies to use as hostages and leaps into the carriage to make their getaway.

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She also grabs a local mutated toad that has fangs and has it bite thestill drugged Fomar’s manhood to convince him he had sex with Margo’s toothed vagina. Elliot tells him he was great- he likes to watch. Margo offers him another go, but he declines, at least until his penis stops hurting.

Penny.

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Penny is having a hard time on the astral plane. He has to watch his friends, unable to interact with them or help them, and nearly watched Alice and Julia kill themselves trying a spell they didn’t fully understand. He was lucky he could trigger the Big Mouth Billy Bass to get their attention before they set themselves on fire, but it’s no life for him. Hyman suggests Penny may want to move on and find his own path, and Penny agrees. He activates the Big Mouth Billy Bass, now mounted on the wall with the key of truth hanging beneath it, and gets Julia’s attention. He wants to say goodbye, but Julia tries to get him to stay. She says he shouldn’t run away from his problems, and he tells her she’s the one that ran, by throwing away the one thing everyone who knows about magic wants. Chastised, Julia hands the key off to Alice and Penny says his goodbyes to her.

Alice, who has the most experience with magic in terms of education and technical ability, suggests that instead of Penny leaving, she can try to conjure a new body for him. She begins preparations by practicing bone-knitting, but something goes wrong and she begins to have a seizure, possibly as a reaction to using magic not meant to be hers. Penny, unable to call for help, does the only thing he can, and activates the Big Mouth Billy Bass in hopes that someone will hear it and find Alice.

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Reactions (of the Alchemical variety)

  • Bully and Huzzah! Hyman is back! His reactions to things and mostly convincing use of 1920s slang are a lot of fun, I love having this character around. He’s a lampshade of a lampshade, but it works.
  • Dean Fogg used enchantments to make himself 38% more tolerant. No more, no less.
  • When I saw the title of this episode, I thought it was going to have something to do with the teeth the Faerie Queen extracted from the pirates a few episodes back. I did not expect a vagina dentata joke, but it was pretty funny/unsettling.
  • I love Margo, but she’s been a little light on the destroying lately. Get started with Fomar and his mother, then the Faeries.
  • You have no idea how much it hurts me to root against Dina Meyer.
  • I am really confused about the Faerie Queen’s motivations. She wants Margo to be a queen, she wants her strong and armed, to the point of arranging a marriage that gains her an army... but she is terraforming the land and growing thousands of new faeries. I hope she doesn’t end up being benevolent- it wouldn’t be a terrible twist... or maybe it would. The “thing I thought was bad but was actually preparing me for something unimaginably worse” trope has been done enough for me, i want to see those faeries go down.
  • I looked it up, there was a Big Mouth Billy Bass that sings “I Will Survive.”
  • Margo’s royal gowns have been downright amazing this season.
  • Ha! Sera Gamble(executive producer) was the voice of the Water Dragon. Cool.

The Fourth Key.

  • Quentin failed in his quest to retrieve the fourth key, but that’s because it was never his quest; He retrieved the third key, this one was clearly never meant for him. I think it was pretty clear when the Great Cock named six of Elliot’s friends that they will each have their part to play.
  • This key was originally found in a dragon treasure hoard, like the Key of Truth.
  • The first key, other than summoning your worst nightmare, doesn’t seem especially dangerous, especially since it looks like the bearer can just direct that nightmare against his enemies, or innocent bystanders. The second key creates a feeling of unease, to varying degree based on the bearer- Kady can’t stand it, Julia gets uneasy, Elliot and Alice didn’t seem affected at all. This one makes you want to kill yourself, and succeeds about half the time- and that’s with playing hot potato with at least half a dozen people. I wonder if the keys get successively more dangerous to handle.
  • What possible use can this key have?
  • As expected, there will be a key in the underworld, we just couldn’t have guessed that it would be courtesy of a dragon’s digestive tract. At least, I didn’t guess that, maybe you did.

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Penny.

  • Penny seems most likely to be in a position to retrieve this key... but I wonder if even Penny’s power can transport him to the Underworld, and what effect being an astral projection might have. We saw that ghosts can touch and hurt him, even in his current state, so he should be tangible enough to perform actions in the Underworld. This also means he is vulnerable. As a technically dead person, the powers that be may not be inclined to let him leave once he enters.
  • Being a dead person, I also wonder if the key will have any effect on him. It can’t make him kill himself any deader than he already is, which might be what makes Penny the right person for this quest, or it might be that his personality isn’t as susceptible to the negativity. As Hyman pointed out, Penny pretends not to care, but actually cares very deeply... but he is also pretty self righteous. We don’t know a ton about Poppy, but if she can survive that thing alone, on a raft, in the dark, for three weeks, I’d bet money Penny can hack it.
  • Also, he is used to drowning out thoughts all the time, ignoring one voice should be cake.
  • Penny really is becoming a better character. Part of it might be because I talked myself out of hating him recently, but I also think he is being written better and given a wider range of emotions to display. He used to be belligerent and I can’t think of a second thing to call him, because that’s all he was. I’m impressed with him as an actor in a way I wasn’t before.
  • I love that Penny told off Julia for giving up Reynard’s magic.

Quentin, Benedict and Poppy.

  • Quentin has always been emotionally unstable, but like he told his depression monster doppelganger, he has lived with this for a long time. I actually do think he should have been able to handle the key’s disparagement, at least in the form we saw. It certainly wasn’t saying anything Quentin hasn’t heard before.
  • The lovable Fool, Quentin again shows his character when he immediately offers to talk to Benedict, whose cheerful mapmaking has been a cover for internal distress probably since he was a child, despite Quentin being under psychological assault himself.
  • I like the Odyssey homage of having Quentin tied to the mast, but he’s the King and this is his ship... why didn’t they tie him to a comfy chair inside, further away from the edge of the ship? Odysseues was tied to the mast so he could hear the beauty of the Sirens’ song without the danger of throwing himself overboard, there was nothing outside Quentin needed to see.
  • I wish they had a more organic way of getting Quentin tied up. Instead of just coming up with the idea and doing it, he should have been in real danger of jumping and forcibly tied for his own safety. This is where more crewman, and especially the Captain of the Muntjac (Admiral Lacker played by Roger Cross), would have been nice.
  • I am afraid there may be more to what happened on the boat than what we think we saw... Quentin, tied to the mast, sent Benedict to get the Key from Poppy. When he caught up to her, she had opened a door to what appeared to be a dark storeroom, perhaps on Earth, perhaps not. Benedict then returns with the key and is crushed by his failure- but he has the key, he didn’t fail. Why would failing King Quentin be the impetus for jumping? Then Poppy returns saying she was punched in the face, presumably by Benedict, but she’s the one who punched him in the face... Something isn’t adding up. I think Poppy may not be real, at least not the one at the end.
  • I hope we see Benedict again, but having been eaten by a dragon, he’s in the Underworld one way or another, and I think that’s going to be a one way trip for him. At least he should get a chance to see Penny, his best friend, one last time when he goes to retrieve the key.
  • I wonder how the preternaturally unflappable Tick will take word of Benedict’s death. They are both credited as “Pickwick” so I think they are brothers.

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And that’s all for this week! Thanks for reading and please join the discussion below.