This is an odd episode in that is takes stories of several characters telling the same story from different viewpoints all with a mixing time line… and it works.
Yes I’m shocked too. Honestly I hate shenanigans with narrative. Take a story, tell it in chronological order, try to be consistent with viewpoints in any one scene and generally don’t leap around and throw in random camera angles and whatever else some newly-art-school-minted director decides to throw into a show for whatever random reason
But this worked - we got to see some less usual POVs and allowed us to see a very complicated multi-sided plot from different angles because one POV simply could not adequately cover it.
So, Penny is heading to the Underworld to try and get the key from there - only he finds that the Underworld is Broken. I’m guessing this is because there’s no magic anymore and the Underworld probably runs a lot on magic. So we have “temporary” housing where numerous dead are now living in tents. Finding one person among them would be difficult so he needs to bribe an official
With the plot line of Game of Thrones. Hey if you died mid-series you’d want to know what happened! Of course, Penny has never watched an episode of Game of Thrones in his life and has to bullshit some nonsense instead, but it works and he finds Benedict
Who doesn’t have the key…. And is super sad that Penny, who he considered a friend (despite Penny hardly knowing him) has not actually come for him. He’s sad and pitiable and rather huggy and clingy in a slightly more than a little stalkerish way. Benedict claims the Librarians took the key and he totally wants to go with Penny on a buddy adventure to get it back.
Penny ditches him. And I understand that - I mean I get that Benedict is super sad and vulnerable and I kind of want to hug him and ask him about maps; but at the same time his clinginess kind of makes Penny obviously uncomfortable and one’s need for companionship does not mean others are required to provide it.
The Library does still work, which implies some level of magic. He tries to break in and runs into Sylvia - his former supervisor at the Library is super dead. Penny feels kinda guilty about this since he kind of left her in the poison room to die. But Sylvia is both cool and sensible and quickly tells him she isn’t mad because of course he ditched her - all he could have done would be to die next to her. And she’s here to help him find the key
They follow a trail of white powder to a room containing a woman who looks exactly like Alice. She’s actually Cassandra. Yes, that Cassandra, the prophet who was cursed with magical Sight. The Library has used her for a long time to use her magical vision to write the biographies of all living people: managing it with magic. Now, without magic, Cassandra can only write one book at a time - which also explains the Blank Spot - the terrible apocalyptic future that the Librarians were so worried about. All the biographies stop because Cassandra can’t write them any more.
Cassandra isn’t exactly coherent, but her writing is what led Sylvia to Penny.
And now she passes crumpled pages to Penny to help guide him. Page 1 is Poppy and Quentin having sex which Penny quickly puts down because he really really really doesn’t want to read that
Quentin is still all fretting about Harriet’s plan and doesn’t want to risk Poppy’s life on the plan because he’s become post-sex clingy rather than remembering she’s not a friend. She points out that bringing magic back is kind of something every magician has a stake in; and he totally misses this point to instead talk about quests. This is his quest and the whole point of a quest is to change the questor and make him something he’s not: specifically making the not!hero Quentin into a hero