“The Art of the Deal”
March 14, 2018
Fairy Rebellion. After-Life Ruminations. Political Intrigue. Book Club and Cupcakes. After a few weeks of ground breaking story telling episodes, The Magicians gave us a jam-packed episode of forward moving story progress. Other than Kady, who had the week off, all of our Magicians had story line movement this week which is essential as pivot towards the end of the season. A Note: After consultation with everything The Magicians puts out, I am reverting to the base spelling of Fairy in lieu of Faery. I think the latter is more correct but every where else, they use Fair(y)(ies), so there you go.
Our deep dive recap and review (Beware! Spoilers Ahead) … After the jump!
The Cottage. We open on Alice being all shaking rage and anxious pacing as we hear Quentin leaving Kady a voicemail. Seems he’s given Kady the Fifth Key which Alice brings up by way of saying Q trusts a “heroin addict” more than he trusts her (he STILL won’t let her have the Quest Book). He calmly (as only Quentin can) replies that he knows what Kady wants – to talk to Penny – but Alice, girl you’re an enigma no one can figure out. First you were against the quest then you’re chasing magic like a junkie … Q can’t keep up with the Alice whiplash. Also, there is the whole working for the Library thing which is a red flag to every one on the Quester’s Side.
Alice calls party foul and Q (again, for like the 100th time) asks if she’s with them then on the Quest, does she want magic back? Of course she says, and uses the ill timing of her father dying for being hesitant before. But she’s not done yet. Alice also takes Quentin to task for not letting her be unsure of every step – accuses him of having a monopoly on depression and ambivalence, which, she’s not wrong there. But, girlfriend is STILL not done. No, not until she gives him a nice, fat, “Fuck You Quentin!”
Which is exactly when Julia walks in. Awkward! Alice turns back to Quentin and says they can table the larger fight they’re not so subtlety having until after the quest, just give her the book already. Which, he does. After she storms out, he confesses to Julia that he knows Alice is keeping something from him and also, maybe, giving her the Quest Book just now was hella-stupid but hey, they needed her help before and will likely need her help again before they are done so … what choice did he have. But, moving on!
Quentin tells Julia that the Sixth Key is in the throne room at Castle Whitespire … the same castle from which Eliot and Margo were just dethroned. Whelp. Julia uses some of her low grade magic to cure Q’s headache and then tells him that she can’t go on this Quest with him because she’s got her Enslaved Fairy Issue to deal with … which Quentin is totally fine with, he just asks her to be careful. I like what they have done with this relationship – its grown back into a very good friendship without a lot of over arching sexual tension; its really allowed the “friend” aspect to breath and that is a nice change.
Up in Fen’s bedroom, Julia is trying to get Fen to focus on the Fairy Issue and how the magic blocking collars work, but Fen is more interested in expressing her life via emoji. She’s discovered the true art of modern communication and I feel her so hard right now. As you can imagine, she’s particularly drawn to the steel weapons in the emoji universe, e.g., the dagger. When Julia questions her on the .gif she sent of a crab with a knife, she responds, “its how I feel.” Which is nonsensical yet hilarious! In the end, Fen agrees to help Julia but only on the condition that she doesn’t have to pretend to like Fairies in any way. Deal.
Brakebills. Julia and Fen confront Irene about her Fairy Slaves and mention how they can see her Fairy right there in the room do to having made Fairy Deals in the past. Funny to note that among the top things Fen hate about Fairies are their black eyes, long fingers and their mushrooms which make the air smell musty like a “bear’s undercarriage” which is just so Fen and makes me love her more. Twice, Julia has to step in to prevent Fen from spilling the beans on Fillory related secrets which Irene doesn’t need to know about.
Julia asks how McCallister keeps the Fairies so docile and Irene explains its the collar around their neck. Julia can get one from Irene’s Uncle Edwin BUT a little quid pro quo, Irene is going to need Julia to bring her a Fairy in return for access to the collars. Title Card!
Underworld. When we return, Howard, after chiding Penny’s dismal re-shelving skills, awkwardly invites Penny to join his Book Club; he sees this as a fair pay back for Penny’s part in Howard’s (suicide) death … “Fuck Off, Howard” is Penny’s current mood on that topic.
McCallister Manor. Uncle Edwin (Michael Hogan, who I associate with Battlestar Galactica but who has been in everything it seems) is explaining to Julia and Fen how the collars work and how they are unbreakable except with a special machine he keeps in his workshop. Julia pumps Ed for info on how they work, how the collars are powered but Ed claims that’s a Family Secret. By way of example of their power, Ed shows Julia a boy Fairy named Dust, the oldest Fairy in the pack, over 400 years he’s been in the McCallister Family. Those Collars ARE durable.
Underworld. Sylvia finds Penny and tries to explain her portrayal … when Magic when out, her surviving family members are all got “whacked” and they’ve all moved on from the Underworld already. She was told if she gave Penny to the Underworld Branch, it would shave time off her Underworld stay. Penny remains largely unmoved. Hold a grudge much?
Brakebills. Skye is reporting back to Julia that the other Fairies didn’t believe her about the whole “we’re really powerful magical beings” thing and they aren’t willing to risk rebellion. Also, the McCallister Clan has gathered and brought their Fairies with them. Something is brewing. Skye scurries off when she hears Irene bellowing for her. Alone, Fen tells Julia that their next move is to introduce the Fairies to someone scarier than their McCallister overlords.
Fillory. On the Muntjac, which is still flying around, Q and Alice are catching the High King and Queen up on matters: the Sixth Key is the throne room; will only reveal itself in the light of 2 half moons (Which happens to be tonight); and Tick isn’t in the throne room as he is up North waging war on Loria and the (No Longer Floating) Stone Mountain people. Eliot and Margo are stuck on the whole “our country is at war” thing and spring into action on that front, leaving the Questing to Q, Alice and Josh, who is really enjoying being back with the gang and thrust into the middle of a Quest through a war torn country. When Q makes the point that the people kind of over threw them … Eliot and Margo find that more of a gray area than a definitive de-thronement. Anyway, they chose to be King and Queen and they are going to save their country. They’ll let the Questers out at Whitespire as they pass over. Commercials.
Fillory. Castle Whitespire. When we return, Julia and Fen are trying to convince the Fairy Queen to come back to Earth with them, wear a collar and lead her captive people to Freedom. Pretty much, to go all Moses on them. We learn some backstory that the Fairies used to live on Earth but fled to Fillory when human Magicians almost hunted them into extinction. So, all in all, Fairy Queen isn’t such a fan of this plan. Julia says she had no idea of this history and FQ responds with a great line, “Of course not. Short memory is a privilege of the oppressor.”
Fen steps in and appeals to the fact that the Fairy Queen has already taken everything from her and seeing as she hates Fairies, why else would Fen come here and ask the Fairy Queen for this intervention if it wasn’t true. In response, Fairy Queen asks her why she’d help at all given how she feels and Fen makes it clear that the Fairies of Earth are more like abused children than the monster-like Fillorian king and its for them, as a mother, that she feels a need to help. “So get off your “whatever it is Fairies have for butts” and do something. They need their Queen.” Fucking Fen, man, she is the MVP of this season!
Underworld Branch of the Library. Penny and Sylvia are working near a room called, “Secrets Taken to the Grave” where Penny is watching a man emerge sobbing. What’s that room about, he asks? Sylvia explains that before you can move on from the Underworld weigh station, you have to confess your darkest shit in that room. And, if successful, you get your (literal) metro card on to the next stop, wherever that may be. Penny cannot believe there is a subway (really, a long pig, Sylvia explains) they should be hijacking to get the fuck out of dodge and Sylvia explains that it only shows up when someone has a metro card and is ready to move on. Penny realizes that their contracts, iron clad as they are, will NEVER allow them to move on. He has a sad.
Fillory. In the throne room, Quentin is re-reading the Chapter on the little girl and how she’s become a knight and her shield is what catches the moon beams. Alice is moving ahead, loudly, with her own version of the plan. Josh feels super awkward like when mom and dad fight BUT ALSO, is super concerned about the guards still in the palace and the noise they are all making.
Brakebills. They’ve gotten the Fairy Queen this far but she is still having doubts about the whole collar thing and trusting a magic-less human? Julia shows her some of her magic skills and FQ realizes she’s “God Touched.” Fairy Queen understands Fen’s motivations but she wonders at Julia’s? Hard to say, Julia honestly explains, but with being God touched and all, she feels a need to help when she can …
Irene and Uncle Ed are examining Fairy Queen like chattel and are impressed with Julia’s Fairy find from the “Midwest.” Irene gets a call in which we hear the timeline for whatever is happening is being sped up and Uncle Ed says, ambiguously, that it looks like they’ll be working through dinner. WHAT ARE THEY PLANNING?!?! Irene dismisses Julia until later and Dust takes the Fairy Queen down to the Fairy Holding Pen.
Note: The sad look that Candis Cayne gives here, as the Fairy Queen surveys her forgotten children is really moving – as a general matter, Ms. Cayne slays it this entire episode, really giving a nuanced side to the Fairy Queen we’ve rarely seen before.
Skye comes up to her and her faith in Julia and Fen is rewarded when she sees the story of the Fairy Queen is true. Skye bows her head in deference to her liege and Fairy Queen tells her, “never bow your head. For anyone.”
In Edwin’s workshop, Fen is searching around for the collar breaker but has to hide as Edwin, Dust and a Fairy enter the room. Turns out that “collar breaker” is really just a euphemism for “decapitation.” Fen watches in silent horror. Hey, Dust? He’s a piece of shit collaborator.
Meanwhile, Julia has cast an eaves dropping spell on the McCallister Family Dinner where we hear Irene talking about the sped up timeline but its too good an opportunity to pass up. While down in the Fairy cage, Fairy Queen is trying to rouse her troops to fight – to remind them that they they are the living embodiment of magic and that their suffering is her suffering. Its pretty stirring. She ends her pitch with this promise, “We are going to hunt down every last living slaver; gouge out their eyes, cut out their tongues and hang them by their own entrails.”
Fillory. Eliot and Margo appeal to Idri and Stone Queen that they are going to be reclaiming their thrones and hey, we’re all allies. Stone Queen calls Margo’s bluff that she consummated the marriage to her son (she apparently looked at his penis and saw the toad bite which … gross mom!) and Idri also declines to cease their campaign – with Magic gone, they actually have the advantage over Fillory for once. Also, with Eliot de-throned, their engagement is off. Stone Queen offers up her son, whose marble has yet to be polished (really … fucking gross mom!), as a prospective husband. Margo is ready to rumble but Eliot excuses them to regroup.
The Dynamic Duo realize they need to split this pair up and agree that they offer them magic as a way to woo them back to their de-throned sides.
McCallister Manor. Fen frog marches Dust into the Fairy cage room, Julia hot on their heels, and with a knife against his throat, informs all the captive Fairies about how Dust just assisted in the murder of one of his kind. Also, no collar breaker, just a murder machine. “WHAT?!?” is Fairy Queen’s enraged response. See, this is why she doesn’t trust Humans! Julia tries to calm everyone down, they’ll think of something but Dust tells them that nothing can help them – Fairy Deals cannot be broken. Its a Fairy Deal that powers the Collars, a deal that Dust himself made.
Backstory! Dust explains that hundred of years ago, with their race on the brink of extinction from humans, the Queen at the time found passage to a new world and a few of the Fairies, including Dust, agreed to stay behind and bind themselves to the McCallisters to give the rest of the tribe cover to escape, a deal that would keep them from following. As Dust’s generation died out and new generations were born into the captivity, he lost faith that his Queen had made it to the other side. Fairy Queen chimes in to tell him that she did make it, that Queen was Fairy Queen’s mom and she made it to Fillory which is where Fairy Queen was born. All because of your sacrifice, she tells Dust. “You never should’ve come, because now you can never go back,” Dust says.
Julia suspects that there is a way to break a Fairy Deal but Fairy Queen says it doesn’t matter. Fen and Julia are outraged at this because what Queen wouldn’t do anything she could to save her people. Fairy Queen explains that Fairy Deals are the cornerstone of their people – the sole reason they have the power and respect they do. Without the ironclad trust in Fairy Deals, the Fairies have nothing, she explains. She’d rather die than break a deal … which is perfect timing for Edwin to arrive to inform them that that will be soon enough!
Julia and Fen try to make a stand but Edwin force pushes them all the way into the cage against the wall, knocking them out. Edwin grabs Skye and begins dragging her out of the Cage as Fairy Queen looks on in horror. In a split second of hesitation, she cuts her hand, paints a blood sigil on the prison wall and when she places her hand on it, all of the Fairies disappear and their collars drop to the floor. Fairy Deal … BROKEN!
Edwin begins to get the shit kicked out of him by now invisible Fairies. As Julia comes to, she witnesses the horrific murder of Edwin. Upstairs, invisible Fairies slaughter the gathered McCallisters though Irene seems to crawl away. Get those Slavers, Fairies, GET THEM!! Its so blood lusty but so satisfying too!
Underworld Branch of the Library. Penny approaches a man just emerging from Secrets Taken to the Grave and convinces him that his shit was so bad that he’ll be moving on … but to somewhere much worse than the Underworld. The man drops his metro card and takes off, still sobbing. Penny picks up the card but is totally busted by a man who is clearly in charge of something. “Hello Penny. Let’s chat.”
Fillory. The Muntjac. Eliot is making sexy times with Idri and convincing him to be on Eliot’s side. Meanwhile, Margo is making the good argument that if she’s lying about getting Magic back, Stone Queen will kill her BUT, if she does get Magic back, does Stone Queen really want to be Margo’s enemy? Specifically, does she want to face a bunch of Magicians who can “finger blast your entire army into fucking compost.” Margo – the Margret Thatcher of Fillory. What’s your plan, Stone Queen asks, to take back the throne? We won’t have to do anything, the people will beg us to be in charge again once we have magic.
Back in the bedroom, Idri wants to know if that’s going to be Eliot’s method of persuasion as well, threatening him. Eliot says he’d be within his rights seeing as Loria is about to invade Fillory but no, he wants to promise Idri something instead. Once they have magic back, they can use their detection power to find the Lorian children that have magic inside of them and teach them how to use it. He quite literally promises Idri to bring magic to the Lorian people. Their work done, Stone Queen and Idri take their leave of the Muntjac.
Turns out that man? Hades. THE Hades (played by Michael Luwoye). Hades explains that he tries to not to interact with the residents but he finds Penny too fascinating. He’s never seen someone run from their destiny so hard but also run towards it at the same time. He uses the example of Penny escaping death twice but then still voluntarily sneaking into the Underworld. “Who does that,” he asks? Which, fair point. That’s Penny though. Penny still isn’t sure why he’s here though and wonders if its about the purloined metro card but Hades assures him, their meeting is much more “big picture than that.”
First, about the Quest, Hades tells Penny that it doesn’t matter because Magic always comes back. It may take a millennia but the Gods always give magic back to keep the people in line. Hades continues that Penny’s human life will be hazy at best in 1,000 years and that his future, his after life future, starts right now. Hades makes a few Real Talk points to Penny: he could be in much worse places than the Library; they are in the greatest library in existence with almost an eternity to explore it; and if he wants his shackles off, just go see Howard for fucks sake (I added the fucks sake).
Penny is still incredulous that he has to join a book club to get his chains off but Hades tells him that he’s just being offered a chance to participate in something, to belong to something. Which is what Penny always wanted. He tells Penny that his whole “loner thing” is just a front. Hades says he won’t stop Penny from trying to fumble his way back to his old life BUT he promises Penny that if he stays in the Underworld, he’s got an amazing Destiny waiting for him.
Fillory. In the throne room, Q, Alice and Josh have set up the last mirror reflection of the last keystone but nothing magical has happened. Alice comes and take the Quest Book from Q who starts to complain and Alice calls him out that the book doesn’t belong to him. Q replies that he’s been on the Quest for more than 2 minutes so he’s got kind of right to be protective of it. Josh trying to get them to use their inside voices. Alice confronts the elephant in the room and tells Q to just ask her what he wants to ask her. “Are you working for the Library?” Yes, Alice replies. But they’re not trying to stop the Questers; the Library wants magic back as badly as they do. Quentin finds this hard to believe given what they did to Harriet and Victoria which is news to Josh, What exactly happened to Victoria (you’ll recall he and Victoria banged back on Spring break in Fillory).
Underworld Branch of the Library. We return to the Underworld and watch Penny give Sylvia the purloined Metro Card; I guess he’s made his decision to stay. He tells Sylvia that while she “boned him”, she also saved his life so go find your family, girl!
Fillory. We return to Alice still trying to defend the Library to Q while Josh lights up a doobie. Quentin calls him on smoking up and Josh defends himself that Victoria is dead and Q and Alice making him super tense, he’s just happy he stashed “high end party treats” all around the castle when he was substitute High King. As Alice and Q pick up their fight, Josh – staring at the light image made on the wall by the reflected light – tells them he knows where the Sixth Key is. For what its worth, the light image looks like a cave drawing of a fish to me.
Brakebills. Fairy Queen and Julia make their goodbyes. Fairy Queen tells Julia she chooses to be grateful for what Julia did and Julia tells her she won’t tell anyone about the Fairy Deal breaking. Doesn’t matter, Fairy Queen says, as there are consequences to breaking deals; their word will mean nothing now. Fairy Queen tells Julia that they have one of the Quest Keys in the Fairy Realm BUT its what makes the Fairy Realm what it is and what sustains the Fairy Realm – without the Key, it all collapses so, the Fairies can never give the Questers the Key. Whelp.
Underworld Branch of the Library. Penny joins Howard at his Book Club and, now freed from his chains, sits down to begin reading the club’s book. Kathy comes over and sells him on the glory of the story of Gil and Stacy. Kathy, for her part, treats Penny as something of a celebrity, gleeing to Howard at being “sup’d” by Penny. As in, “what’s sup?” Howard tells Penny to try one of Kathy’s cupcakes and as the episode closes, we see a dare I say, contented, Penny chowing down on a delicious looking cupcake. Maybe Hades was right maybe this is Penny’s best life …
Thoughts. So much plot movement here tonight with Penny moving in a new direction for his destiny and the detente between Fairies and Humans as brokered by Julia and the Fairy Queen. Before we go, I do want to mention one thing on the cupcakes and Penny.
In mythology, Hades was the oldest of the Big Three Gods, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. His dominion was the dead and the Underworld. He famously tricked Persephone in to coming to the Underworld and feeding her the seeds of the pomegranate which bound Persephone to the Underworld for 1/3 of the year which, long story short, is why we have the Winter season. One wonders, then, whether Hades is selling Penny a bridge by convincing him to stay in the Underworld, that this is where the best version of his life lies. It is nice to see Penny so contented as the episode closes but that’s all the more reason to be wary that he’s being lulled into a destiny that he’s not really meant to live … we’ll see I guess.
This is already SUPER late so I am going to end there. Until next week and the trippy timeline excursion.