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The Magicians: "Tales of the Seven Keys" (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)

Illustration for article titled The Magicians: Tales of the Seven Keys (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)

Welcome to the first official unofficial Observation Deck recap of the Magicians!

You may call me Bluebeard, as you may have done for many years. My current moniker is very silly, but I’m still enjoying it.

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I am very excited for the return of the Magicians, and despite my deep rooted desire to be lazy, I have decided to spend some time on recaps so we may all enjoy a place to discuss the show. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, so bear with me as I work out the kinks, and please do not hesitate to correct any errors or offer suggestions.

Illustration for article titled The Magicians: Tales of the Seven Keys (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)
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Quentin and Julia.

Q&J start the episode trying to force old spells to work on some fluids in beakers, but to no effect. Julia appears to be the only person in the world with any magic at all, and it is extremely limited, like sparklers. Josh Hoberman shows up to share in their misery and overhears Quentin’s plan to perform a ritual to summon a minor deity, hoping that contact with the supernatural might lead them to a new source of magic. Julia, having tried this tack with notably horrific results, thinks it may not be a great idea to try again.

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Illustration for article titled The Magicians: Tales of the Seven Keys (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)

Josh just happens to know a fairly relatable deity who throws parties to get the worship he so craves, and it is rather predictably, Bacchus. He finds Bacchus’ most recent rager on social media and takes Quentin and Julia to him, but Bacchus invites Josh “The Animal” Hoberman in while leaving Q&J to wait in the hallway until they can become fun, because they are obviously not fun. They have a moment where they remember some truly embarrassing dance they made up in 10th grade, and Bacchus lets them in. Being the god of getting wrecked, he didn’t notice that the :little guys” lost all magic. He asks how that happens and Quentin sheepishly admits to killing a god, which makes Bacchus flip out,until he learns it was Umber of Fillory, who he didn’t know. Once he got past being angry that this mortal may have killed someone he knew, he seemd at least a little impressed by Quentin’s ability to make the hard choice. Ultimately, Bacchus has no help to give, but says Prometheus loved helping mortals. Sadly, he died about 1500 years ago, but since his life was eternal torture and pain, maybe death was an improvement of his situation.

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King Elliot, Queen Margot the Destroyer, and Fen.

When magic left the world(s), the faeries of Fillory made their move against the now powerless mortals. Margot’s Faustian bargain (last season) to save Elliot cost her an eye and Fen’s baby, and now the Faeries- invisible to the general populace- have occupied the castle and seem to enjoy forcing Margot to perform herculean tasks. When she waits until no Faerie is around to command her guards and servants to perform the tasks, the faeries instantly know it and chastise her for her disobedience. One of Elliot’s advisors, the translator to Madame Sloth, figures out the Faeries are around and cleverly warns Elliot that There is a special place in the castle constructed to keep their kind out. Elliot and Margot make their next plan in that room, but are instantly called out by the Faerie Queen again. Throughout all this, poor Fen, distraught by the loss of her baby(which Margot bargained to the Faeries), coos at a log.

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Illustration for article titled The Magicians: Tales of the Seven Keys (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)

Elliot realizes that the Faeire Queen wears Margot’s eye in a little cage on her wrist, and that it must be a conduit that allows her to spy on her at all times. He brings her to the forest and has a conversation entirely composed of pop culture references that the Faerie can’t comprehend, and it is awesome. They ever-so-preciously come to the conclusion of “What Would Quentin Do?” cementing my love for Queen Margot the Destroyer, and Elliot consults the Fillory and Further books for a solution. He comes across the same means as Quentin did last season, which is to find the white lady and shoot her with an arrow to force her to grant him a wish. He does not find the white lady, but instead comes upon her brother, the Great Cock of the Darkling Woods! And what a majestic Cock is he!

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Illustration for article titled The Magicians: Tales of the Seven Keys (Season 3 premiere RECAP.)

Elliot first threatens him, then sort of sheepishly asks for a wish, but he says that’s not really his style, and people always get assfucked by wishes anyway. No, what Elliot needs is a quest! And the Cock has just the quest for him. Elliot must go where he is no king and no magician and do something or other. Elliot protests saying that he will likely make mistakes, and the Cock reminds him he has friends- the one eyed destroyer, the traveler, the warrior, the fool, the god-touched, the tomato grower, and the torture artist... the last one elicits confusion from Elliot, but the Cock shrugs it off, and tells him to start with the floppy haired one, and tells him to seek a childrens book, in a place called a “public Library” in a land called “New Jersey” in a shire called “Chester.” This sounding a whole lot like Earth, to which Elliot has no means of communication, which is a bit of a roadblock until Elliot remembers the Faeries have been making bunnies disappear and guesses that they are being used as messengers. Madame Sloth confirms that bunnies move easily between worlds, and Quentin wakes up to find a bunny say the words “Need help, Love Elliot”

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Quentin and Julia go to the library and find a none-too-surprisingly blank book that is the start of their quest to find seven keys. Without showing us anything of what they find in the blank book, we see Elliot, Margot, and their royal advisors trying to put a bunch of rabbits in order to figure out the multi-rabbit message, while poor dear Fen snuggles a bunny and tells it how proud she and its father are of it. It turns out the first key is on an island, and apparently the sea itself has a grudge against the Kings of Fillory and has drowned them in the past, but Fen snaps out of her stupor and tells them that she knows of a boat that will keep him safe.

Alice.

Alice, as we saw in Quentin’s Bacchus-drug induced flashback at the start of the episode, has grown frustrated by the lack of magic and ran away from Quentin and Brakebills, apparently mad at him for something, because that’s what Alice does- either for “curing” her of the godlike powers of the niffin, which she really liked, or possibly for ending magic. We find her at the end of the episode selling her blood to a low rent vampire in the back of a diner for information about magic or a way to protect herself from a monster that is out for her now that she is powerless. Last season, when Alice was host to a Niffin, she did some things to piss off a great many creatures. The vampire shows her something on his phone, which he says will serve as an early warning system that may buy her time to run if the Lamprey is about. She sits at the diner, seemingly resigned to being the lamprey’s prey, and orders a side of bacon, a sure sign that she still longs for Quentin’s bacony love, or maybe that she just likes bacon.

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Oh, right, Penny and Kady

Penny works as a retrieval agent for the magic Library, and opens the episode tied to a chair, apparently the victim of a guy who doesn’t want to return his books. This guy blames Myakovsky for the loss of magic, and Penny doesn’t try to correct him. Once he awakes, he easily escapes bondage, telling the guy that some creatures look human... so, Penny isn’t human? He can’t be if he can still teleport... I don’t remember anything about Travelers being non-human creatures before, I always thought it was just a rare magic skill, but since he can do it, it’s not magic.

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On the way back to the library, he stops to see Kady, who is a waitress now, then heads back to the Library where his super magic cancer kicks in and makes him sick. Time stands still at the Library, so his disease doesn’t progress there, but he was in the real world longer than planned due to the previously mentioned capture.

Kady had a meeting with Marlee Matlin, who claims she may still be able to help Penny even though Magic is gone. Maybe, maybe not.

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Meditations on Prestidigitations:

  • I love Josh “The Animal” Hoberman! I love that this obvious side character has such depth. He’s good at magic, he’s reasonably brave and rather clever, has useful information, is even mentioned by the Great Cock as an asset and friend, and what’s more, he is valued by the core charatcers. It would have been so easy to write this guy in, have him drop some clues and disappear, but he is woven into the fabric of the show. When Julia sees his despair at the loss of magic, she shares with him what little magic she has. Quentin is afraid, with good reason, and drags her away, saying she has to hide it, but she says if her tiny little magic has any purpose at all, maybe it is to give hope to Josh Hoberman.
  • I’m not awesome at putting voices to faces, so I had to look up who played the Great Cock, and it was SyFy/SciFi veteran Faran Tahir. This may be his greatest, nay, sexiest, work to date, and I hope we get more of this character. The White Lady of the Woods was just a one-0ff, which was a disappointment considering she was all over the promotional materials last season.
  • My least favorite subplot was when Jaime Ray Newman shows up for a discussion with Dean Fogg. She is apparently a member of the board of whatever and came to warn the Dean that without magic, there are people on the board that think the school should be closed so that the funds can be used elsewhere, presumably in search of more magic. They mention that many magician-owned companies have gone under, but in general, bureaucracy is my least favorite antagonist. It is a trope I call “the New Boss,” though I believe it has another name I can never seem to find. You’ve seen it a million times, plucky, rule breaking characters defeat all external threats, so must be hamstrung by stuffy, possibly corrupt, new leadership.
  • “Every bunny for himself!” The response when Elliot asks the advisor if rabbits work for Faeries and how loyally. This quote should be on all sorts of adorable bunny merchandise.
  • The faeires may have the upper hand now, but I have a feeling Queen Margot the Destroyer is going to make them extinct soon enough.
  • I’m keeping an eye out this season for any references to Helloween’s The Keeper of the Seven Keys. I will be disappointed if there are none.

I think that’s it for this week. I wasn’t sure I was going to do this, but the episode kept rumbling around in my head so I decided to spew it forth unto you. If there appears to be any interest, I will do more.

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