Revelation is at the center of The Magicians Season 3 Episode 6, as a new part of the Fairy Queen’s plans, Julia’s magic and Quentin’s guilt are all unveiled.
There were a lot of moving parts that fell into this larger theme of the reveal this week, and it left me feeling quite satisfied just one episode out of the season’s halfway point. I will say that it felt like there was a lot more than usual happening.
As we saw at the end of The Magicians Season 3 Episode 5, Alice “figured out” how to transfer magic between her and Julia. And as I had hoped, we learn that the easy solution is incredibly dangerous thanks to Penny.
As a result of Alice and Julia almost catching themselves on fire, Julia is finally forced to reveal that she has magic. I thought the Dean’s response was appropriate (albeit hilarious).
While the Brakebills crew might not trust a drunk Dean Fogg, I don’t think I’ve ever liked the character more. His alcoholic wallowing is humanizing and the quippy bitterness entirely relatable.
I also think his current bite made the moment where Julia used her magic to help him extra sentimental. We’ve seen a lot of why having magic back isn’t necessarily the greatest idea.That tiny moment was a reminder of why when you aren’t trying to be bigger than magic, it can be a powerful, meaningful thing.
Beyond Fogg, as well as Alice and Julia generally bonding (they don’t spend a lot of time on screen just the two of them), the Incubus scene has to be one of the funniest so far this season.
Watching Alice sputter around trying not to offend the Incubus was true gold. This show really, really knows how to deliver and land a joke, from script to screen.
Keeping the focus to Julia, I was a bit shocked by Penny and Julia’s conversation at the end of the episode after she gave up her magic.
Firstly, I love when the characters show they actually care more about each other than they let on. I think it’s a small but significant sign of character growth, especially when you look back at The Magicians Season 1.
Secondly, I get why Penny was upset as Julia didn’t really seem too moved when he died. He also doesn’t have a body and won’t be able to use magic again without one.
But that signature Penny tough love is too tough sometimes. Julia’s relationship to magic (God powers? Is she a god now?) is complicated. Ease up, man.
Dropping into Fillory, Margo and Eliot accomplish two major things: cleverly faking consummation with toothed frogs and uncovering a plan the fairies are literally hatching.
I have to say it was so, so good to see Margo and Eliot back to their old, confident scheming selves. Character and depth are great, but these two are simply more effective (and fun to watch) when they’re less stressed.
Of course, Margo’s joke about sex ed turning you off to sex was great, as was the statutory miscommunication between Eliot and the Fairy Queen.
I also loved that Margo was able to carry through her lie about “teeth.” Not only was it funny, but it felt very emblematic of Margo’s ferocity, independence, and will.
It also seemingly makes that one issue a non-issue for now, which is great because she and Eliot have bigger eggs to fry.
The fairies are terraforming Fillory and we don’t know why. We do know there’s gonna be a lot of them and I’m not sure how anybody is going to get rid of that many faeries.
Finally, there’s Quentin and his solo key quest which, quite frankly, had a lot going on but was easily one of the more interesting quests we’ve seen.
Not only did it deliver Felicia Day into the storyline as Poppy (who I expect we’ll continue to see) and gave us dragons, but it explored an issue the series often circles.
I’ve always appreciated that The Magicians has been so open incorporating mental health issues into its story. I think most TV shrinks away from it or leans far too much into stereotypes because it uses it as a dramatic plot point or twist instead of a part of a character.
And while I’ve thought the show has been at times more successful in its handling of Quentin’s depression than others, this episode was noticeably strong.
The key’s entire power isn’t just fodder for a quest. It’s a representation of the ways depression operates, less noticeably for some like Poppy, and other times more significantly, dramatically and rapidly for others like Benedict.
From Quentin feeling great traveling on the waves, free of restriction and under the sun’s warm rays, to the boat shifting at the snap of a finger into darkness—that’s how quickly depression can set in. People can be at the will of the tide.
Quentin’s conversations with the darker version of himself were a stronger than usual TV representation of how negative thinking exacerbates into suicidal ideation.
Thoughts of self-criticism, self-hate, and guilt for some are always resting just below the surface and with the touch of a key, can rise up and plague them. It all served as great physicalization of how our own minds can work someone down from the inside out.
Poppy’s acknowledgment that the key took people out at different rates also speaks to how we all exist on different wavelengths in our ability to manage what is going on internally and externally.
But most importantly, the key affected everyone. In the same way that depression doesn’t just “come for the weak” (a really outdated view of how mental health issues work).
It can reach anyone at anytime and its power is less about our own strength, though acknowledging and building tools to work through it, as Quentin has, can aid in weathering it.
In the end, depression doesn’t really care about the why or frankly the when or the who. It just is, like the key, and we have to find ways to manage it when it enters our lives.
As a slight side note, it was nice for the show to acknowledge fully that Quentin was struggling with what happened to Julia and Alice. It’s rare that shows have main characters reflect on their own roles, especially negatively.
Often lead characters are written in a way that always makes them empathetic with the audience. The writers let Quentin be a complex character here and left viewers to make up their mind about how they felt about his actions. That was great writing.
I do worry if Quentin will internalize Benedict's death though as well. We see the mapmakers save Quentin earlier in the episode, but Quentin is unable because he's tied himself up. I imagine this will leave a mark.
The end of the quest revealed that Poppy isn't so great and that the Brakebills kids will have to go to the underworld. Who are we thinking is going to make that trip?
Do we think someone will come in time to save Alice? I’m assuming the reaction is a side effect of some sort to Julia’s magic, so will she have to give it back?
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that Alice is the second person Penny has had to witness near death and can’t do anything to help. On a better note, Alice has proposed a solution to his problem so we’ll see if he agrees and if they can make it happen considering her current state.
I imagine Benedict is not coming back. He was a great character, to be honest, so if we don't see him again, farewell mapmaker.
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Abbey White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.