So with a whole lot known about the fairies now, it makes the quest for the keys a little more fraught. In Fillory Margot in particular is definitely not going to be team fairy no matter how good she was on Earth. They decide that they need to speak to Julia about this - and since Tick has put out wanted posters for them all (which Margot and Elliot consider most unflattering) and the only person who can get around is Josh
So Josh meets up with Julia to discuss the key issues - Julia is meeting with the generally drunk Dean Fogg to explain the fairies, Irene’s escape and the general slaughter of the entire McAllister clan. He’s not drunk enough for this. And Dean’s always kind of drunk. Also he disapproves of their flowery cleaning charm - but is impressed by Julia’s awesome god-like power that allowed her to replace all the wards on Brakebills all by her godly self.
Josh and Julia consider what to do with about the keys when they’re zapped to an alternate time line - the same alternate timeline they used to visit an alternate Alice (with lots of ramifications from the various resetting time lines). There they meet Alternate Josh who quickly tells them how their world has fallen apart: the Beast is there still killing them all and to make it all so much worse magic cut off with them as well, leaving them all practically helpless. This beast wears one of the keys around his neck which is, presumably, how he gets his magic.
I’m assuming grenades aren’t an option.
Josh and Julia also consider that maybe they can get this key (which apparently has the power to see the future, which none of their keys have) then they can skip the fairy key, at least for now.
For some reason Julia wants to speak to Quentin about it - which I don’t get at all: they need Quentin to make these decisions? But when they use the key to get to Fillory, instead they get a key to the alternate timeline. Because magic makes its own rules.
In the alternate world, Marina the Hedge witch is still alive and she and Josh are happy to meet them for their plan - which involves drugging them and handing them over to the Beast. It seems the Beast wants Julia and they’re desperate enough to do anything especially since in their world Julia is long since dead.
Julia, using her magic to escape, points out a second option - they use the Beast killing spell they had from their world and Julia casts and kills it. Of course that spell required god enhancement, achieved through terrible methods in the previous seasons. Thankfully Julia has her own godly enhancement and can make the spell work
So they briefly visit an opiate addicted Henry who is really really depressed in every time line, they get a guidance on where the spell is (the original owner of the spell, being a magical creature, has been killed and harvested for her magic and he describes how two students got the spell and then died horribly horribly. But their ghosts are still around - Elliot and Margot, and yes they did die horribly
They also run into Penny - who was in love with Julia here. They do some catch up after he kisses Julia (and is duly mocked by Julia for his sexual harassment Rom-com behaviour).
While this is going on, the Josh’s speak and it’s apparent Alternate Josh has had something of a hard life, not being rescued as our Josh was, and keeping mentioning something ominous called the “quickening” which may or may not be related to him having sex with a werewolf. But he doesn’t get to elaborate
Because the Beast arrives and kills Josh. Julia unleashes her spell, unmasking the Beast but not killing him. And the Beast is Quentin. Everyone is terrified and confused but thankfully they have Penny and with his Traveller ability and Julia’s magic they escape to the Library
Which is also abandonned. Which makes it a good place to ask how Quentin went from being dead, even his shade according to Alternate Alice, to becoming the Beast himself. And the best way to find that out is to interview Alice
Who is now working with Bunny raddish smugglers in Fillory. Because Fillory, that’s why. She reveals that after seeing Quentin when they did their little world transfer, she decided she couldn’t give up on him: so she made a terrible deal with a magical creature to bring Quentin back without his Shade.
Which, as we saw from Julia, is a bad bad thing. Shadeless Quentin then kills Ember (hence the magic getting turned off) so he can steal his god power. Which also set off the magic being turned off because of the whole god killing thing. She is now hiding on a raddish smuggling boat to escape his notice, but she joins up for Quentin killing duty
Marina, who was already blaming Alice for the death of everyone she knew, is happy to use Alice as bait. Julia isn’t a fan because, as she reveals, she did that to Marina when she tried to hunt down Renard and it all went horribly horribly wrong. Which is sobering
The weapon they have to kill Quentin is a blade from the swordsmith (Fen’s father) which you have to be super powerful in order to use. Of course Julia is powerful enough
When they confront Quentin, Alice decides to try and distract him. Thoroughly bored with her, Quentin Beast murders Alice straight away. And Julia decides to stab him. Hah, no. We need to be more dramatic - instead she puts her Shade into him Since she can handle being shadeless for a while. He goes full on Angel-with-a-soul and is fully collapsed by grief and guilt and pain. He does give her an ominous warning about using the future seeing key to see her opening a lock at the end of the world and letting a big monster out
Which is very ominous
But with the key and the monster dead they’re all free to return home: taking Marina and Alternate Penny with them so that’s going to be different. I’m also somewhat concerned about Penny going back with them with the expressed intention of following Julia around until she feels something for him which is sliiiiightly creepy
But it does bring Penny back into the story in a way that him being in the underworld somewhat removed him. Josh also continues to be… troubled by whatever the Quickening is.