‘The Magicians’ Review: Season 3 Returns with a Noble Quest

Picking up from the end of season 2, magic has disappeared everywhere and that’s left everyone royally screwed. Margo and Eliot are trapped in Fillory where fairies have invaded, Penny still has super cancer, a very human Alice has enemies after her, Kady is desperately trying a find a way to save her dude, and Quentin was wallowing in self-pity until Julia shows up with her sparkly fingers.

quentin talks with julia while brewing a potion

Magic is Still Gone, Mostly

Q and Jules have been trying to figure out how she still has some fraction of magic while everyone else has none. The hedge witch is frustrated that there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to it and that she can’t do anything substantial. Quentin argues though that there is some reason why she still has some power left, but she believes that it’s a fluke and that Our Lady Underground may have accidentally given her some juice that will fade in time (when she got her shade back). Still, she’s given him hope that there’s still a chance that they can fix this somehow and they need to keep trying. Q’s also declared himself an official sidekick to whatever Julia turns out to be.

Meanwhile, Penny is still performing his duties as a librarian and fetching overdue books. We first see him waking up after being knocked out, wearing a dapper suit and tied in some sketchy-looking basement. An older magician seems to be holding him captive and the man is trying to work a concoction that was created by Mayakovsky. The traveler tells him that it doesn’t work, prompting a rant about the disappearance of magic being the fault of the former Brakebills professor. Penny spots the book he’s come to collect and teleports himself from his bindings, grabs the book, and vanishes. At least that the lack of magic hasn’t affected his traveling ability. In addition, we also found out from their exchange that magical creatures are totally fine (because of their DNA and whatnot). Before he heads back to the Library though, Penny stops by to see Kady who is both happy and upset to see him because duh he’s still dying. Later on, she ends up seeing Harriet who gives her a book that can help the traveler, but she’ll need a lot of magic to use it. Better get on that.

eliot talks with margo about the threat of the fairy queen

The Fairy Infestation Continues

Back in Fillory, poor Eliot and Margo have to deal with the fairy queen and her minions who remain invisible to the other Fillorians. The two monarchs are constantly having to watch their backs because the fairies seem to see and hear everything. During a session with their advisors in the throne room, Eliot and Margo observe the fairy queen be handed a rabbit and she then whispers something to it then the animal is magically dropped into nothingness. Fen in the meantime seems to be suffering a mental breakdown as she is cradling a log whom she believes is her baby girl. As Eliot tells Tick and the others that they’ll discuss the border issue after lunch, the fairy queen turns to Margo and says that they have their own matters to chat about. Looks like the high queen has been fetching a number of whimsical items for the other queen and she’s about had enough. Except that she can’t really do anything about it since her eye is still being held, hostage. This time she has been ordered to collect a specific kind of earthworm that is abundant in the grounds of Whitespire. Margo waits until none of the fairies are around and tells a guard to complete the task for her. When she returns to see Eliot in the throne room, the fairy queen appears and admonishes her. Apparently, the worms need to be picked by female hands and the other woman wishes for Margo to do it. The current high queen of Fillory is saved though when another fairy appears and whispers something in his lady’s ear. Margo can’t help but wonder how the hell did the fairy queen find out so fast about her giving the task to a guard.

However, Eliot learns from Abigail the Sloth’s attendant that there is a specific corridor in the castle that the fairies are highly allergic to due to the substance that the walls are made from. With that, he rushes to tell Margo and they try to find a way out of their current creature problem. He debates sending a letter to hubby King Idri of Loria to ask for help. When the twosome return to the throne room, the fairy queen there again waiting for them and explains that writing to the Lorian ruler would be pointless because their library has also been purged of any books pertaining to her kind. Well now me thinks Eliot and Margo need to borrow some reading material from the Library when Penny gets better.

The two monarchs head into the woods for a chat out of earshot of their guests and an awesomely pop-culture-coded conversation takes place. Eliot asks Margo if she remembers Grace Park’s storyline in season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, which duh of course she does. He interrupts her and says that she’s Grace Park, aka she’s an unwitting sleeper agent (as noted in the subtitles heh). They move on to Gossip Girl where someone is xoxoing the crap out of their shit (aka someone hidden in plain sight is spying on them). He then asks her to remember James Mardsen in X-Men because her Marsden is xoxoing them, meaning that through her plucked eye the fairy queen has been able to see everything that she’s done. Margo is undoubtedly pissed but her bestie reminds them both that they are dealing with a Cersei Lannister and so whatever they do they need to be very hushed about it. I love how much of a nerd Margo is deep down, she’s a fan of Buffy, Game of Thrones, BSG, and X-Men. She asks him how they can Lizzie Borden the hell out of this situation (ahem kill the fairy queen) because she’s ready to go ’07 Britney (she’s prepared to beat the other queen with an umbrella if needed). Eliot though is out of ideas and thinks that they might have been able to do something if they still had magic but Margo replies that even without a wand their Harry (Quentin) would figure something out. E puts himself in Q’s shoes and knows that they must consult the Fillory books for an idea.

dean fogg, in a fine dress suit and large glasses for the blind, talks while sitting at his brown desk

Brakebills is in Imminent Danger of Closing

Meanwhile the magical graduate school finds itself in trouble funding-wise when Dean Fogg gets a visit from Irene McAllister who is on the board of trustees. She relays the information that the board is seriously freaking out after several of their companies went belly up when magic disappeared. Fogg is understanding of course but he says that the school must continue teaching because otherwise the knowledge will be lost. However, Irene cautions that the other trustees are ready to shut down Brakebills to divert the funds for the search for magic. The dean must be able to show them something to keep the educational institution open.

josh, quentin, and julia scheme up a plan to encounter the party god, bacchus

Q Has a Plan, Sorta

Quentin comes up with a plan to somehow find a minor god and attempt to get more information on what’s going on. Julia understandably is not thrilled with the idea because she knows how dangerous they can be. Still, she’s willing to try but doesn’t have the juice to do a summoning spell. Q wonders how other cultures throughout history have done it and says that there has to be another way. In comes Josh Hoberman to the rescue! Turns out that Josh from time to time parties with the god Bacchus. Bacchus is from the Greco-Roman pantheon and is also known as Dionysus, god of fertility, wine, and ritual madness.

The trio go to a nondescript building where the god is having a party. Apparently, Bacchus is on social media because how else are worshipers supposed to follow him? Josh is allowed in quickly but Quentin and Julia are told to come back when they are fun. Their solution? Get super wasted because how else do you please a wine god? To sweeten the offer, the duo remembers a dance they choreographed in tenth grade to 50 Cent’s 2007 song Ayo Technology (featuring Justin Timberlake). Thankfully this does the trick and they are allowed into the festivities.

Once inside we get a party that is a bit reminiscent of rave from the 2000’s with lots of neon, bikinis, dancing, drinks, and bongs. Bacchus immediately has Q and Jules do shots of who knows what. Quentin tries to have a conversation with the god but the guy isn’t interested. The hedge witch interjects and explains how they’ve lost magic. When Bacchus asks how that happened the magician reluctantly fesses up that he sort of killed a minor deity, Ember from Fillory. For a few tense moments the wine god looks ready to murder them but then laughs it off saying that he didn’t know that dude. He then makes Q open his mouth and puts in a pill before walking away from them. Clearly this is going to be more challenging than they anticipated.

Q starts tripping and thinks he sees Alice at the party. We get a flashback of Alice leaving Brakebills, telling her once boyfriend and love that she thought that if they hung out and had sex that it would feel the way it did before but it doesn’t. She still hasn’t forgiven him and she can’t study dead magic. The former niffin then abruptly leaves without a care for his feelings. Well that’s got to hurt. After everything they’ve been through it’s rough that they are still miserable and can’t seem to catch a break. But of course it’s not Alice at the party, it’s just some random blonde haired woman who also wears glasses.

Julia finds her way into a neon pink room, lays down on a fuzzy bed and suddenly sees her rapist Reynard the Fox laying down next to her. She blinks and it turns out just to be some dude, but clearly both her and Q are having flashes of their recent trauma. She gets up and wanders into another area where Josh is seated on a bench smoking a joint. He opens up to her and reveals how depressed he is now that magic is gone because he got to see and do amazing things like bang a werewolf. Josh voices that he wasn’t just some average nobody because he was a magician and he could belong anywhere because of that. Julia decides to show him that she can still do something by taking a hit of the joint, blowing out the smoke, then casting a small spell that forms the smoke into first a giant star then to smaller ones. Q interrupts though and pulls her away because he’s worried that if the wrong people see what she can do it will put her in danger. Julia protests that she just wanted to bring Josh some hope because everything is depressing enough as it is.

Quentin, later on, manages to corner Bacchus and be annoying enough to have the god tell him about Prometheus who would totally help them because he loved magicians. Unfortunately, a faun informs them that a specific god died a long time ago. Bacchus though recalls a story Prometheus told him about a secret back door to magic or was it a brothel? The powerful being’s face was apparently melting off and so he wasn’t paying attention to details.

the great cock of the darkling woods

Eliot Meets the Sexiest Creature in Fillory

After finding another copy of Fillory and Further, Eliot goes hunting to try and find the White Lady (whom we met last season) in order to get a wish granted. Tick is with him and he reveals that fairies have infested their castle. As he hunts for the magical creature, he instead comes across a mysterious figure who compliments him on his fine thighs and asks for some praise in return. Cautiously the high king says that the creature has an incredibly fine voice and in fact sounds super sexy. The being reveals himself to be the Great Cock of the Darkling Woods, the sexiest creature in Fillory and brother to the White Lady (he’s part peacock FYI). The two have a chat with tea magically appearing as well as a chandelier because what’s the point if the aesthetics are crap? Eliot then dives into his fairy problem and hopes that he could have one wish granted. The Great Cock though explains that’s not his thing and that people always get screwed by their wishes. Instead, he declares that he’s going to give him an epic quest that will solve a greater problem, their lack of magic. He explains further that Eliot’s going to need the help of all of his friends to succeed because they are all parts of a whole. They must find the book with no author in a public library in the shire of Chester in New Jersey. The high king rushes back to the castle to consult with Abigail about bunnies and she confirms through her attendant that the animals are able to easily travel in between worlds as messengers. Eliot then sends one to Q in Brakebills with the message, “Need help, love Eliot.”

Julia and Quentin head to the library in Jersey where she’s located the book the Tale of the Seven Keys with no author. Only the first page has text and the rest are all blank. Q of course geeks out that they are on a real quest. They send bunnies back to Fillory with the message that they are a go for the epic quest and that they are searching for keys which may unlock magic. The duo also believes that the first key is in Fillory. Unfortunately, it’s on an island that isn’t quite friendly and of course difficult to get to. Fen jumps in though and know exactly the boat they need to take for the journey.

Alice, in a dark dress and glasses, readies herself to make a deal

Alice Makes a Bloody Deal

What has Ms. Quinn been up to this whole time since she left Brakebills? She’s basically been on the run from the lamprey. We find her inside a diner where a vampire is sucking blood from her wrist. Once their transaction is complete, he tells her that she needs an early warning device to give her a chance to run when the lamprey is nearby. Alice then sits alone in a booth and orders some bacon as she contemplates her next move.

Final Thoughts

  • Alice is still so angry from losing her magic and being human again, but I hope she finds some kind of middle road this season.
  • The fairy queen is such a force to be reckoned with and such a fun villain. It’ll be interesting to find out what her end goal is and what she really wants from Eliot, Margo, and Fillory in general.
  • Eliot and Margo are stuck between a rock and a hard place but still going with the flow. They are actually taking their responsibilities as rulers seriously and trying to save their people. They’ve come such a long way from season 1 and I couldn’t be prouder of them. The two are using their powers of sass for good!
  • The pop culture coded scene with the Hale Appleman and Summer Bishil SLAYED SO HARD.
  • It’s also kind of nice to see Julia and Quentin being friends again for a united cause of bringing magic back. They’ve also been through a lot together and despite everything it seems like this is how it should be. Jules looks to be spending a lot of time in Brakebills though it’s not mentioned if she’s an actual student now (since she had been in previous time loops but not this one). At first she had been given sanctuary because Reynard had been after her but now that threat is no longer there (thanks to OLU), but with the magical wards gone maybe Dean Fogg is fine with her coming and going since it would be hard to stop her anyways.
  • Is Penny some kind of magical creature? Are all travelers the same that there is some kind of magical properties in the DNA that allows them to teleport despite the magical shutdown?
  • Also suspecting that Harriet has hidden magical batteries herself, there’s no way she wouldn’t have a backup plan of sorts.
  • With all of the tragic and messed up events that happened last season, having the team embark on a quest brings a welcomed lightened mood and it’s hard not to be excited to find out what exactly the seven keys are and how do they unlock magic?
  • The true heroes of the season 3 premiere were clearly the bunnies.


The Magicians airs on Syfy Wednesdays at 9 pm

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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