This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 1 Episode 13
Credit goes to The Magicians for cramming so much story into its season 1 finale! But was it too much to swallow all at once (forgive the obvious reference)? Oddly, no. Chances are that viewers who have stuck with the series this far had their eyes glued to the screens for every last detail of Fillory and each revealing moment of the various characters’ stories. Even those who have read the books may have thought they knew what would happen and instead had the rug pulled out from under them. This was definitely not your average cliffhanger!
The narrative gimmick of Quentin writing the book seemed at first to be a contrived way to speed up the many changes that were in store for just about everyone. However, given how different the setting of Fillory was from the real world and even Brakebills, it made sense to add that storybook feel. Encountering Jane Chatwin and becoming “the witch and the fool” that they had read about was particularly satisfying… the grown-up Jane actually being the Watcherwoman, doubly so.
Of course, Jane’s perception of the multiple time loops was shared by Ember and the Beast himself, which may have been confusing to some, but the respect the writers of The Magicians have for the viewer’s ability to figure it out was much appreciated. Jane’s meddling with time introduced the concept of Quentin as the “volunteer tomato,” the chosen one of sorts, and his attempted reconciliation and passing of the torch to Alice had real emotional impact and felt like a change that would affect the outcome in the magicians’ favor.
The quest unfolded like any good fairy tale, with the blademaker agreeing to forge the master magician killer for the price of marrying into the royal court. Then there was the extremely gratifying circumstance of finding out that none other than Eliot Waugh was the High King of Fillory, neatly giving the tortured drunkard a purpose that could drag him out of his stupor. Even Margo’s participation in his redemption lent hope to their situation, minor as it was in the overall plot.
Just as minor, but no less important, was Penny’s side journey to rescue Victoria which perhaps went more smoothly than one would have expected. In fact, the disappearance of Victoria and Josh was the only unsatisfying moment of the episode, but perhaps that was purposeful. The Josh character could have merely been a nod to the main character of the same name from the book who is missing from the show, but he did feel a little bit forced and unnecessary. At least Victoria served to teach Penny how to Travel with a group.
There were plenty of surprises, though, even for those book-readers who knew the identity of the Beast. Although Christopher Plover was equally as deplorable as a captive, the reveal that Martin’s abuse plus his rejection from Fillory created this magic-sucking moth man makes perfect sense. The deteriorated world Martin destroyed with his lust for power was masterfully communicated by the passage of time sped up helpfully by Jane, and this came across as one of the most tightly woven elements of the story to date.
As usual, though, the Julia storyline got sped up by small glimpses and quick cuts of memories of the god summoning – but that’s okay. The block in Julia’s mind was helping her cope with the horrific truth of who her group really brought forth: not the Lady but the trickster, Reynard the Fox. Although Julia’s trauma was unspeakably tragic, it set up the most amazing twist ever, especially for complacent readers who believed they knew exactly how it would all end. The fact that Julia also has a god in her was almost as shocking as her making a deal with Martin to get back at Reynard.
Let’s face it, the finale was nearly a perfect setup for season 2, at least for Julia. The loose thread of Victoria’s departure, the apparent death and dismemberment of Quentin’s friends, and the High King status for Eliot are, of course, left frustratingly unfulfilled, but that’s what leaves viewers hungering for more. The Magicians has earned its second season for sure, and honestly, it can’t come soon enough.