Friday, April 6, 2018

The Magicians, season 3, Episode 13: Will You Play with Me?

So it’s time for the season finale and the final plan to bring magic back. And the many many many many many ways it goes wrong

We start with a recitation of the story that led them to the quest - how a knight was captured and kept in the big bad castle and his daughter went through several epic quests, becoming a knight herself and finally reaching her father with the seven keys

This comes from Quentin reciting the book with Elliot and Margot hectoring. Because they always hector. It’s what they do. They now plan to reach that castle, with Kady and Alice reminding us that the Library is still a threat having their own insidious agenda.

The first set back comes from Julia’s ascension. The spark within her has grown to a flame, she’s a full blown Goddess, Our Lady of the Trees and this is all super awesome. A messenger goddess shows up to take her to godlandia where they can focus on greater and better things like creating new worlds. She does advise the occasional answering of prayers, for morale, but really there’s far more important things to focus on than individuals, with a side dig at how brief humans are. In particular she wants Julia to give up her connections to her friends

She has a really good goodbye scene with Quentin - full of their platonic love - and she charges him with enough magic for one spell. Elliot is happy for her. Margot… more practical and very Margot.

They continue to look for the Castle at the End of the World without Julia and Josh hits on finding the architect which through research, examining the book and brainstorming they conclude is Calypso, a powerful nymph and is now CEO of an app company (creating a “new form of prison” in freemium games).

Calypso agrees to see them and kind of help because she was a great friend of Prometheus. As we learned from Bacchus, Prometheus loved human Magicians and wanted to give them magic - so much so that he created the quest and the door into the Castle at the End of the World to allow humans to be able to access it. He poured a lot of himself into it - creating the 7 keys with his own essence which left him vulnerable… and led to his death

This is also why Calypso doesn’t like human Magicians as she blames them for his death - but she did promise her lover she’d help them. They also learn from her that the knights stayed in the castle the guard the monster within and can leave at any time - but despite it basically being an eternity of imprisonment, they chose to stay. Which says just how important guarding this monster is - that they’d make this sacrifice (Sacrifice is something of a theme this episode. And this season really)

They really emphasise just how dangerous this castle is and how it was built for something so very very very scary. Which is also why the quest is so epic - to prepare them for the monster

She also points them to the direction of the castle - in Fillory, the underside.

To study the castle Penny volunteers to travel in but, surprisingly, Margot nixes that idea - they already have enough Penny blood on their hands. Instead Quentin uses his oneshot spell to enter the knight’s dreams. She is Ora and explains she’s the last guardian, everyone else is dead to the monster and she’s terrified of letting anyone else in which could compromise the security of the place.

But she agrees to help them for one exchange - Quentin agrees to stay and take over guard duty. No-one is amused by this but Quentin insists - since so many others have sacrificed and he knows the cost of this quest. He also objects to using the god-killing bullet because he promised Ora no attempts at crafty plans

Elliot, Margot and Alice are not amused. Also Margot isn’t happy he used his one shot spell to “talk to the help” rather than kill the monster

But there are many other things starting to go wrong

Fenn is in Fillory acting as High King, with the Fairy Queen stepping in to offer advice which Fenn certainly doesn’t welcome. But she’s there because fairies are being hunted - the Library and Irene McCallister are hunting fairies for their siphon plan.

Fenn lures them into a trap - and the Fairy Queen decides to make a deal to protect her people. She blames herself for breaking the last deal that left them vulnerable - and visible I guess. So she offers another, unbreakable, deal: she will give herself to Irene/the Library in exchange for a promise that no fairies will ever be hunted by anyone, ever.

Irene is eager to accept. Personally I wonder just how much they can really guarantee that NO-ONE will ever hunt a fairy… and what the consequences are when it will break. But the main star here is the fairy queen’s nobility and sacrifice for her people, moving even Fenn to tears for her enemy.

It also means the Library now has the magic for their siphon. And more, they’ve made a deal with Henry for nefarious purpose.

Alice is also near breaking - she goes to Henry because it’s rumoured he has a potion that will remove someone’s memory and reset their personality. She wants it so she can not be a Magician any more. He hails her talent but she rejects it - this is the path her parents and Henry put her on, she doesn’t want it, not any more. She wants to be free of magic - she’s just that scared of it and what she did as a niffin

Remember, this is the Alice niffin that killed a creature’s children because they made pretty lights.

She says goodbye to Quentin because he is the one he truly loved and will now forget.

They finally make the epic journey to the castle and are let in by Ora. And Ora tells Quentin about the monster with no name. The Nameless is a creature that only Wants. To guard it requires filling its needs - games amusement and even love (like a child). Because if it gets bored or upset it will be unleashed and be unstoppable

Which means Ora has been desperately trying to keep this monster amused for gods alone know how long to stop it destroying the world. That is a terrible fate for anyone. And one Quentin is ready to embrace

Except Elliot shoots Nameless with the god-killing-bullet because he has no intention of losing his best friend. They all think it’s defeated but we clearly see mist from the Nameless’s body enter Alice - and we’ve definitely seen possessing creatures before.

But the next setback hits - Alice destroys the keys with stolen fairy magic. She has decided no-one should be allowed magic. That humanity cannot handle it. As Elliot points out, she means SHE cannot handle it.

Everyone despairs, including Quentin who fully gives up even though Margot and Elliot have Alice at knife point (Margot doesn’t play, all hail her majesty). He utterly gives up

And Julia arrives, pulled by his despair. She bestows some godly wisdom on Alice: she’s made the wrong choice and one day will know. Then magics her out of the way so she can reforge the keys.

Doing so means the same sacrifice that Prometheus made. She loses her god power casting the 7 keys becoming a human again. Awwww Julia - I wanted some more time from our Lady of the Trees

Everyone can now bring back magic at the font - which is when Irene/the Library arrive with stolen magic, pushing everyone back so they can install their syphon. After all that struggle the Library wins… magic is now controlled by them

It’s a new world, with magic, with Brakebills opened again

But the Library rations magic, limits its use, controls who gets to use it

And Henry’s potion has been used - but not on Alice. Margot, Elliot, Josh, Julia, Quentin, Kady, Penny are all living mundane lives, magic and their old selves forgotten

Alice is imprisoned by the Library for breaking her deal with them, with even more guilt consuming her she has a warning for Henry: The Nameless has escaped, it can possess people and it’s hunting her friends. Henry seems unbelieving

But we see a possessed Elliot hunt down Quentin, who doesn’t even recognise him or know a thing about magic, to play. I suspect these games can be deadly

I have to say rarely have I seen a turnaround like this. It’s no surprise that we were Not Impressed with the multiple issues that the first two seasons of Magicians had. It was a disaster - but this season? This season has turned so much around, not just managing not to repeat the constant issues of the first two seasons, but vastly elevating so many of the characters and the storyline so excellently. This went from a show that constantly made me cringe to a show that I genuinely looked forward to.

The good:
Some truly excellent complicated plot lines. The loss of magic and the sheer impact of it was powerfully laid out from the start. I’m especially stunned by the fiary line… who predicted that we would end up seeing the fairy queen as a martyr and actually miss her? (If you say you did: you’re a lying liar who lies). The twists here, the involvement of Fenn, were truly excellent. Other brilliant plot lines include Margot and Fillory with all the politics and Alice and her general descent. I think her fragility and pain were really excellently done even while I was cursing her decisions every step, they were understandable, real and deeply revealing of so afraid and insecure a chaarcter

Harriet, an excellent action character who is Deaf is so rare on television - and her POV on Six Short Stories of Magic was great. I just really hope she isn’t actually dead.

MARGOT. High Queen Margot, and never has a woman deserved the title more. After being completely ruined repeatedly over and over and over in this season, seeing her finally get the title she has so perfectly deserved for so very long. ALL HAIL HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN!

The mixed:
Julia - I’m inclined to put most of this in the positive category. But there are parts that stop me putting it in the good. The fact she ended up losing her god power which, yes, she did deserve. The fact her power had a core of Renard that, if far less blatantly than the previous seasons of awful, on some level her power comes from being raped: albeit surviving, healing, fighting and embracing compassion. Which comes to the good, her power, her shining goodness, her awesomeness through this season has been a powerful constant and she is probably more of a glue for everyone than anyone else. And while she is depowered, I’m willing to put that down as a storytelling necessity: if she kept her power she would be absent. Our Lady of the Trees simply cannot exist as a character on this show, she’s too powerful. Her being that powerful would effectively write her out of the show. Keeping her as a Magician, especially if godness leaves her with remaining abilities/knowledge

Elliot: he has improved vastly as a character from previous seasons. But that’s because previous seasons were such a trainwreck of utter homophobia that that’s not saying much. Elliot was a decent character and so vastly improved from the mess her was - but Fillory was more Margot’s story and the Quest more Quentin’s. We had a truly beautiful moment in A Life in the Day and then never mentioned it again - or when Quentin did mention it, it was to highlight his wife and child and dismiss Quentin. Even in this episode, Elliot refers to him as his “best friend” which is a pretty strong dismissal of them having a romantic relationship

The Bad:
Penny. Such an underused character - to have him not be drawn on much, then killed and effectively put in a

Kady. Honestly see Penny. While she managed to pull out a truly A+ voice in the musical episode, she’s otherwise been just kind of there? Not really focused on and when in trouble not really prioritised by anyone until she was needed. While Quentin, Alice, Julia, Elliot and Margot were all involved she felt periphery

Henry - oh Dean Fogg with his gloriously condescending lack of fucks to give could be such an awesome character -but drunk, uninvolved, generally incapable and magically cured of disability? None of this is good

And I can’t imagine what he gets out of this deal