‘The Magicians’ Review: Fillory’s Last Gasp

In the season 2 finale of The Magicians, we discover that Ember was behind all the trouble in Fillory and the insanity that’s befallen Quentin and the squad.

With the ram god doing a quick recap of the show so far from his perspective, we discover that he’d been responsible for banishing Martin Chatwin from Fillory (resulting in him becoming the Beast), causing the Wellspring malfunctions (tampering with the filtration system), having Fen ovulate and conceive Eliot’s child, leading Margo to make a deal with the fairies, changing the seasons in Fillory, transforming part of the population into rats, and having babies born without their mouths all for his own amusement. He also confirms Umber’s warning from last week’s episode that Ember is deathly bored with the magical realm and will so destroy it. Fillory has been nothing more than an amusement for the gods, which begs the question, are all the worlds like that as well? Were they all just created for the entertainment of more powerful beings?

By the end of this chapter in The Magicians, it surely seems like it.

Here are the most insane things that happened in tonight’s season 2 finale:

Penny gets called into work

While being treated at Brakebills, Penny finds out that he only has a few weeks left to live unless the professors are able to undo the magical poisoning in his body. He and Kady travel to Mayakovsky’s to warn Eliot and Q about the impending disaster coming. The traveller also warns the high king that he needs to do something unexpected to successfully save Fillory because he’s read El’s books (there are two volumes) and believes that they can change fate. It seems like Penny’s plan was to help his friends and then he and Kady would go to Tahiti. But just as he’s telling her that he still has work to do, they get transported to the Order where he’s told to make his goodbyes because they are in a state of emergency and need their full staff. Kady protests that he’s dying but the librarian counters that is because the traveller went to a restricted section but that doesn’t excuse him from his duties. After all even after death he is still bound to the Order per his contract. Before she can say anything else the hedge witch is sent back to Earth.

Julia joins the squad to save Fillory

Eliot comes to Julia’s apartment to ask for her god-shielding medallion and sees how she’s struggling now that she’s been reunited with her shade. The hedge witch gives him the magical item and asks to be left alone, but El knows that she needs to do something to help her move forward. This is another example of how much the magician has grown since old Eliot wouldn’t have given a crap about another person that wasn’t Margo. He asks for her help to save all of magic and thankfully she agrees. They both head to Mayakovsky’s where they run into Penny and Kady. Eliot also Q to leave Alice alone for awhile and help him save Fillory.

He is able to return to the other realm via the ram clock and somehow manages to change King Idri back to human form. The high king then reclaims his throne from Prince Ess who throws a tantrum as he storms out of the thrown room with his father soon following. The two rulers share a kiss though now that Eliot’s Fillorian contract appears to be nullified from his banishment.

Margo and Josh return but without Fen or her daughter

Margo and Josh find Fen in the fairy dimension but she is unwilling to leave because her daughter is there. The two Brakebills magicians are called to meet with the fairy queen who tells them that they have bigger issues to deal with being Ember’s boredom with Fillory. The magical creature offers them a particularly potent plant that is especially enticing to gods in order to lure Ember to them. Unfortunately though she refused to return Fen and Eliot’s daughter because the child is now hers per their original agreement. She’s willing to let Margo and Josh return though because it’s in their mutual interest for them to succeed in saving Fillory. However, when they return to Whitespire, Margo reveals that she’s had to give up one eye as payment for passage. Eliot is waiting for them and the two best friends have an honest reunion.

Quentin pulls a fast one on Umber

A part of Eliot’s grand scheme is to use Quentin to get to Umber. Q returns to the god’s Vancouver home and is forcibly invited to try out the pocket world formerly known as Cuba. Inside, we see how perfectly symmetrical and bland this new realm is, from the streets to the restaurant chairs and even the food. The magician comments that sometimes humans like a little bit of the unknown, which turns out to be a really touchy subject for the god. With great effort, Umber takes some of the pasta from his plate and gently puts it on the table asking Q if he’s happy now before releasing a massive rant about Ember. The god claims that he couldn’t possibly go back to Fillory, but the magician interrupts saying that they are already there. The scene cuts to Julia shaking the snow globe inside Whitespire’s throne room. Umber freaks out, grabs Quentin, and they pop out of the pocket world only to discover themselves in Fillory with the godly brothers reuniting.

The godly brothers have a violent reunion

Except that doesn’t go very well at all. At first Ember is confused but happy because he thought Umber was long dead. Then he puts it together and realizes that he was tricked and betrayed by his own sibling. Martin Chatwin was never that powerful, he had only been a brilliant dealmaker and in fact never killed a god. Enraged, Ember throws his brother against the wall and then proceeds to kill him. However, the energy expelled from the act of killing a god is used by Julia to infuse a blade with power (just like she did for the bullet for Reynard). She then taunts Ember, which doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Quentin slays Ember

The magical god-killing blade transfers from Julia’s hand to Q’s who is conveniently standing next to Ember. The god is too distracted trying to choke the hedge witch for her insolence that he doesn’t notice the other magician until it’s too late. Quentin stabs him in the side and Ember’s final words are that Q always surprised him.

Kady asks for help to save Penny’s life

Kady manages to track down Harriet the magician (who was the head of FuzzBeat) and her makes a proposal. In exchange for helping to somehow save Penny’s life, he’ll become her mole in the Order. The other woman is hesitant though because the last thing she wants is for the Order to get up in her business. Kady reassures her though that Penny won’t even know that he’s being used. Whatever Harriet wants to know, she’ll ask her boyfriend then he’ll tell her and she’ll pass along the information. Does that make her a crappy girlfriend? Maybe, but then again she does try to save his life so in the grand scheme of things its for the greater good?

Alice and Q sort of make up

Q returns to Mayakovsky’s and tries a different tactic in getting Alice to talk to him again. Earlier she had been burning herself and he made her drink a potion that would prevent her from harming herself. She was still super pissed and couldn’t understand why he brought her back. This time he has a secret weapon, BACON. Yup the deliciousness of fried pork proves too much of a temptation for a mere human and Alice succumbs to scarfing it all down. With a full belly of oily goodness, Q takes a napkin and begins to clean her hand then massages it. Alice asks why that feels so good and he answers that he doesn’t know. Ms. Quinn is still a little feral at this point and she gives in to her primal urge to procreate. After as they are both laying in bed, Q comments that this has been an okay day since he had even managed to killed a god. Alice freaks out and tells him that he is an idiot because gods like Ember have parents. Normally these ancient gods ignore them but if they cause trouble they get ripped like a malignant tumor.

Enter a magical plumber who shuts magic down 

Speaking of angering the gods, they send a  magical plumber who begins to shut down magic in multiple places. On Earth he shuts it down within Brakebills, then in the Neitherlands inside the library, and finally within Whitespire in Fillory. Now it all makes sense why Mayakovsky was storing magic and why the last 20 pages were missing from the books of all creatures currently alive.

Julia miraculously still has some magic

Two months later with the literal magic pipelines out of commission, the wards hiding Brakebills are gone and they’ve had to set up a real fence to keep people out. Alice, Quentin and the rest of their classmates are studying magical theory in order to be prepared for the time when the gods see fit to turn the power back on. Alice unexpectedly encounters Friar Joseph who says he is dying since he had gotten his magic from the Wellspring. However, he came to give her a warning that as a niffin she made an enemy and it would now seek its revenge knowing that she was vulnerable.

Julia visits Q at Brakebills and tells him that she quit law school. When he asks why, she says that she has to show him something but he needs to promise not to tell anyone because she only trust him. He agrees and she performs a small spell where sparks come out of her fingers. This scene mirrors a very similar moment in season 1 when Julia was showing Q the exact same thing, only this time she’s the one who somehow has magic while he doesn’t. My guess is that because she spared Reynard’s life, Persephone has somehow allowed her to retain some power despite the shutdown on Earth.

The fairies cometh

Meanwhile in Fillory Eliot and Margo are arguing about how to proceed. Margo wants to be a totalitarian dictator while El wants democracy when Fen barges in escorted by guards. She explains that she had wanted to remain in the other realm to be with her daughter but she had to come back to warn them. She also had to give up her toes as payment for passage. Unfortunately its too late as numerous fairies suddenly appear in the throne room with the fairy queen outside the gates of Whitespire. Seems like their magic didn’t disappear and they are taking advantage of the dry spell in Fillory for a takeover. Things are not looking good.

Final Thoughts

Season 2 of The Magicians upped the ante and flashed onto screens like a badass unicorn. The show continues to be multifaceted, able to be dark and intense while still not taking itself too seriously. We also saw continued growth for the main characters who all faced incredibly challenging situations. Their world expanded as we saw more of Fillory, got introduced to Loria, the Underworld, dragons, fairies, and the gods. The first season was all about introducing us to the world of magic and in season 2 we saw that there is so much more out there.

The series has thankfully been renewed for a season 3 and so we’ll find out whether Penny survives the poisoning, Fillory’s state of affairs under fairy rule (also why do they really want Eliot and Fen’s baby??), Quentin’s return to mundanity, Alice’s attempt to save herself from a new enemy, Kady’s deal with Harriet, and Julia’s hidden magic. What’s it going to take for the powers that be to get the plumbing up and running again? Sacrifice? I vote for Tick Pickwick to take one for the team.


The Magicians is on Syfy Wednesdays at 9/8 central.

For more on The Magicians click HERE.

Nicole C
Nicole Chttps://theworkprint.com
Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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  1. I was thinking that if it was like the book, once she encounters Persephone/Our Lady Underground, she does gain a tiny bit of godlihood herself, which might make her kind of immune to the failing magic in the universe! (but so many things have been shifted from the books to the tv series, that they could go a totally different way with this….but the parallel between when she FIRST shows Q her “sparks” and now definitely makes it more meaningful!) My question is this though, now that magic is gone, why didn’t Julia go to Brakebills (she went to Law School????), I mean Dean Fogg was the only one who remembered her, and she definitely deserves to go if she wants to!

    Seriously, we gotta wait another YEAR now!! At least we know it’s coming back, that’s something!

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