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‘The Magicians’ Review: The Binder Reveals All

THE MAGICIANS -- "The 4-1-1" Episode 411 -- Pictured: (l-r) Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson, Arjun Gupta as Penny Adiyodi, Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker -- (Photo by: Eike Schroter/SYFY)

On this week’s episode of The Magicians, we discover a truth bombshell on what Everett is really after and how it connects to The Monster and his sister.

Return to Brakebills South

Margo returns to Earth and proceeds to tell her ice axe story to multiple people in the group. She informs them that even though The Monster is a powerful god, her axes can still dispel him from a body and they just need to trap it afterwards. The trouble is that they would need a container strong enough to hold that kind of power. Alice then suggest that they cast an Incorporate Bond on the bottles which would like a giant paper weight. When the phosphomancer goes to talk to Dean Fogg about it, he confirms that he had performed the spell once on Professor Mayakovsky, but it was the Russian himself who actually wrote the spell. Apparently he was the only person who could write an Incorporate Bond that he couldn’t break. Alice reports back that their old teacher became human again (after a stint as a bear) once magic came back and he returned to Brakebills South. Margo tells Q and Alice to have fun talking to the old drunk. Quentin tries to get her to come because things between him and his ex was still weird. Margo tells him to grow a pair. Oh boy things are about to get even more awkward.

However, when they return to the school, Mayakovsky doesn’t quite seem himself. After some investigation of their surroundings, Alice explains that the professor swapped consciousness with a different version of himself and this version looks to be from the future when the teacher has dementia (Mayakovsky made a mistake with his calculations) Q then suggests that maybe he can talk to Mayakovsky in the past about the spell. So they set up the timeshare spell and Quentin switches consciousness, only to be ambushed by an Alice ready to sleep with him. But he exercises restraint and is able to pull away to go find the Russian magician. Meanwhile in the present, Alice isn’t able to fully use a memory charm on past Q (who is in present Q’s body) and so she convinces him that Mayakovsky had teleported them to the lab as a test. They just needed to tie rope knots for magical purposes. Since past Q had no idea of what was to come, he kisses present Alice’s head nonchalantly and oh my heart! It’s a hard punch in the gut at how their relationship used to be like before things got real screwed up.

Inside Mayakovsky’s office, the Russian is very suspicious as to why Quentin suddenly needs to know how to cast an Incorporate Bond. The professor is confused why he isn’t having lots of sex with Alice (who is the better magician) but has chosen him to sleep with. Eventually Q convinces Mayakovsky to help, however in order to do so he needs to know what the other man’s discipline is. He makes the younger magician drink with him while he performs a test to determine the Quentin’s magical affinity. Showing us how brilliant he is, Mayakovsky knows that Q is from the future and refuses to say anything more until the student reveals what’s going on. To even protect the timeline, Mayakovsky says he won’t remember the conversation because of the copious amounts of vodka he is drinking. In a turn of events, the surly older man writes out the basis of the Incorporate Bond and hands it over to Quentin. Before leaving we find out that his discipline is repairing small objects and past Alice had eavesdropped! She demands to know what happened and understands the paradox so she writes a charm that will erase her memory for the last hour. Q relents and says that a lot of things have happened and it’s pretty bad. Past Alice tells him that she’s scared losing what they have, not of the future because he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She hopes he remembers that when he goes back. In the present, Alice and past Q are still tying knots and he suggests that instead they should just have sex right then and there. She gives in and kisses him only to have present Q return to his body. The two then talk a bit where Alice asks what Mayakovsky said his discipline was. He answers mender of small objects and she comments that at least now he knows. She asks him to show her and he puts a broken mug back together again. When questioned on how it felt, Q answers that it’s like helping it wake up remember what it was like before. Seems that he’s just not talking about the mug there.

Fillory and Climate Change

Back in Fillory, Josh rushes up to Fen and Tick and blurts out that he’s had some kind of vision. He was just walking into the throne room when he saw a biscuit on the ground and decided to pick it up. Just as he was about to eat it a gust of wind blows through and all of a sudden a TV crew appears and he’s in the middle of filming his show, “Eating Out with Josh Hoberman.” But soon after that all vanishes and he’s alone once again. Apparently the winds of fate are a thing in Fillory and they’ve come unseasonably early. The magician points out that it seems like the country’s entire magical ecosystem is out of whack. Tick then says funny that Josh should mention that because not too long ago they imprisoned a naiad that was committing acts of violence against farmers and that he recalls her saying something about Fillory’s failing ecosystem, but he wasn’t paying too much attention because she was covered in guts. Fen says they should go talk to her and so the trio head to the dungeon to chat with Ismene. The magical being says that Fillory’s ecosystem is indeed messed up because the waters are moving and it’s the fault of the thirsty thirteenth. Apparently this guy tried to capture and dam them (the other water spirits).

Fen and Josh go check the archives and weirdly the thirteenth has been stricken from the records. Ismone however refuses to speak the dude’s name and so Tick returns with a threat. He’s gone all the way to her well and if she doesn’t start talking he’s going to drink the water, then pee it out and then Josh is going to drink it. That act is torture to the naiad but the government official is determined to get information so he starts chugging. Fen and Josh are both freaking out when the current high king remembers that the thirteenth’s name is Roderick from a children’s rhyme. Josh then supposes what if Ismone isn’t talking about water but magic and that there could a giant cistern of magic below Whitespire. That makes sense since The Beast got his magic from the Wellspring, which is a magical body of water that Ember pooped in at one point. I wonder too if its somehow related to keeping the powerful magic required to contain The Monster within Blackspire all these years since it is located in the inverse of Fillory. Fen suddenly has an idea of how to find this cistern. In one of the hallways in the castle, the floor is set up like the Fillorian version of hopscotch. Josh makes the winning move and says, “Honey or die” and suddenly a passageway is revealed leading below ground.

The Binder Explains All

At the apartment Julia, Penny 23, and Margo are examining the book that Alice brought back from the mirror world. The ex-goddess comments that it is written in a language she’s never seen before, when Margo suddenly gets a paper cut and the tome slams itself shut with the magician’s hand still inside. When they open it again, the pages have become blank except for one page that is now lightly illustrated in Margo’s blood. Well now, if the book wants some red liquid, she’s got plenty to provide via her tampon. Thank you uterus! A spell in Latin becomes visible and since Julia still can’t cast, she asks Penny 23 to do it who is grossed out at first but relents and reads the text out loud. What happens next is unexpected to say the least as the book begins to vibrate, forcing the traveler to place it down. Soon after a hand emerges. It’s a kind of weird and disturbing birthing scene where a fully-grown man comes out of the pages dressed in a linen smock akin to Biblical times. He begins to speak in third person, narrating that as they stared at him in wonder he thought to himself that it took them long enough.

He says that he knew Julia was on a quest to gain her divinity back and that The Binder had the answers, but in order for him to provide that information they would need to know how he came to be. But all of a sudden, The Binder says that pages were missing from his book and he collapses to the floor. True enough after examining the tome there are some page missing. All of a sudden Margo notices a shadow upstairs and she goes to investigate. When she enters one of the rooms, it’s all decked out in candles and rose petals. The drapes and the door move by themselves and the former high king of Fillory gets knocked out. When Penny 23 and Julia go up to check in on her, the candles get mysteriously lit and the door closes as well. A tied-up Margo then falls out of the closet door and angrily rants that a panty sniffing ghost dude tied her up and he keeps pointing to Penny. It’s the return of Hyman Cooper! Turns out he left Brakebills after Penny 40 died to find out what happened to everyone and now he wants to participate. So he’s been responsible for trying to spice the mood in order for Penny 23 and Julia to finally be together. Hyman (like perhaps many of us viewers) know a good thing when he sees it and he keeps witnessing the two of them sacrificing their own joy for others. He can’t be blamed for wanting them to be happy because they would never do it for themselves.

Once Hyman returns the missing pages and The Binder’s book is made whole again, we learn a major plot twist! The man resumes his tale and we discover that it begins in the Library. He was studying the limits of power and his specialty was the inherent magic of gods. Here’s the point where the puppet show starts. The Binder had a theory that when a god was killed his energy would be lost, but he believed it could be preserved by binding it to an object and then in turn binding that object to a magician who had sufficient training and preparation. This would effectively turn the magician into a god. However, they couldn’t just kill a god because as Margo pointed out that would mean a shutdown of magic. The problem perplexed the librarians but it was the old gods themselves who provided a solution in the form of two siblings who were born with the power of many gods (aka The Monster and his sister). They also had an important element that was essential to the experiment, the twins could not die. When the two were separated the less dominant one would be in a confused childlike state. The sister was then split into four parts, bound to four stones, and then the stones bound to four librarians (Bacchus, Aengus, Iris, and Heka). In the aftermath The Binder regretted what he had done and the four new gods were afraid of him because he alone held the secret to make them human again. So they cursed him into becoming a book so that they could hide him from the rest of The Order and from history. It just so happened that a young librarian read his book and hid him in the mirror world where he hoped no one would find him again, until word reached The Binder of Julia Wicker’s quest. He could help her either become human or goddess again. The choice would be hers but both roads would be painful. The Binder knew she would need time to decide and he only asked for one favor in return, that she would burn his book after because he didn’t want to be used again.

Julia and Penny 23 talk after and she asks if he thinks Hyman is right about them. She’s also been thinking about being a goddess a lot and how she’d try not to screw it up like the other gods but maybe she should also consider just being happy. He suggests they make a pros and cons list, if she becomes divine again she gains power and can help in the fight. If she turns human she can feel things like hunger and sadness. Unexpectedly she goes in for their first kiss! Suddenly The Monster pops in and says that he has a problem. The body he has for his sister isn’t durable enough and he needs one that’s stronger, like Julia’s. He then kidnaps her and they vanish leaving Penny 23 alone in the room.

Back To the Poison Room

Meanwhile, Zelda tells Kady and Fogg that she wants to go into the Poison Room to steal Everett’s book in order to be one step ahead of him. At first the younger magician wants nothing to do with that room because going there is what caused her Penny to die. She asks why the dean can’t go instead and he says that he can’t because the Library has been harassing him heavily and Zelda agrees that it would cause too much unwanted attention. Eventually Kady relents and dons a disguise. The two women then return to the Neitherlands branch of the Library and head to Everett’s office. Zelda says that he is in an acquisitions meeting and so they should have enough time to go grab his book but then the man himself appears and explains that he snuck out of the appointment early. He asks what she’s doing there and she fibs that she was hoping they could chat in his office. Kady then calls Fogg asking him to create a distraction big enough that it would warrant Everett’s attention. So he proceeds to get massively drunk and teaches the surviving first year students how to do a cloaking spell. This in turn gets reported to the Library and Zelda is able to do a quick key copy spell as she leaves her mentor’s office.

The duo then head to the Poison Room, but they must drink a bottle of insects as protection first. Turns out the magical creatures will eat the poison inside their bloodstream. The bugs only last one hour so they will need to be quick. Kady finds Everett’s book and Zelda speed reads through it. The librarian confirms that her mentor had been lying to all of them and he indeed had been hoarding magic to become a god. Worse is that if the book is correct, he succeeds. My theory is that Everett was the young librarian who had found The Binder’s book some time ago. They make their way back up to the entrance when Kady comments that she has a chocolate taste in her mouth. The older woman responds that as the bugs eat the poison they’ll experience different flavors and that they are in trouble if they taste mint. Unfortunately as well, someone has locked them inside and now the Hedge Witch leader has finds herself with minty fresh breathe.

Final Thoughts

  • Are we beginning to see Alice and Quentin learning to be friends with each other at long last?
  • Will Plover be the one who provides Zelda and Kady a way out of the Poison Room or perhaps a way to survive within?
  • If Everett really succeeds in becoming a god, The Binder could still return him to being a human. Or hopefully he passes on the knowledge to someone else.
  • Now that Julia has been chosen to be The Monster’s sister’s body, if she can overpower said sister she would totally have goddess level (if not more) again.

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

About Nicole C

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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