This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 2 Episode 12
It can’t be emphasized enough: The Magicians has become more and more magnificently unpredictable, even for those who have read the books. As each character embarks on separate, equally interesting quests, the richness of the story deepens. Of particular interest this week was the strangely powerful advice of Mayakovsky, the surprising sacrifice of Senator Gaines as well as that of Penny’s new supervisor, and the unexpected appearance of another of Fillory’s gods. The events of the finale couldn’t possibly be guessed, and that’s exactly the position the fans love best. Print that couplet!
Love him or hate him, Mayakovsky is always good for a significant plot turn, and it was gratifying to see Julia and Quentin go to him for help in reuniting Alice and her shade. Thankfully, Quentin was able to persuade the professor with his sometimes selfless hard truths to use some of his magic batteries — a nice callback to Penny’s time with him earlier in the season — to summon the niffin. And who else could understand what Alice has gone through, existing as a being of pure magic? A favorite moment was when Mayakovsky tried to inspire the caged-feeling Alice by telling her that magic is “energy capable of making this shithole world one fractional speck less unbearable,” and pushing her to “do something interesting.” This is exactly what the newly resurrected Alice needs to hear!
By contrast, Quentin’s assuring her that “You are Alice Quinn!” is less inspiring if more painful to watch, poor guy. But Julia carrying Alice inside herself just long enough to be happy about having sacrificed her own shade to bring Alice back was a nice touch. In fact, throughout her reunion with her “best bitch” Kady, you could see that Julia was trying hard to act normal. Her new Vulcan-like state actually makes her more likable, oddly, and it’s necessary to allow her to let John Gaines give up his power to create a god-killing bullet.
Not that it would have even happened without Penny’s help; his story intersected with Julia’s at just the right moment as he brought Kady The Ars Deicidium from the Poison Room. But at what price? It was very sad to see Sylvia go so early; she was a wonderful character, and she revealed a new mystery to unravel. What is “The Great Blank Spot,” the twenty empty pages at the end of everyone’s life books? Despite the fun of being told Terminator-style that Sylvia was on Team Sarah Connor — “no fate but what we make” — we know that she endured whatever curse haunts the Poison Room to no avail, unless the empty page mystery yields its secrets.
Was it worth it? Julia didn’t even use the bullet that The Ars Decidium helped them make. The surprise appearance of the actual Our Lady Underground was among the biggest twists of the episodes, and Julia’s capacity to spare Reynard’s life should have been greatly reduced. As Kady tells her when Julia insists it was the right thing to do: “How the hell would you know that?” We know two things in the end: Reynard has been whisked away by his mother, and Julia’s shade was returned in thanks. It just doesn’t get much more poignant than that!
And then there was Eliot’s story. Although the Fillory arcs haven’t always been the strongest lately (even though they started out as a wonderful new element), it was nice to see Eliot away from the throne room and back in normal clothes. Josh’s role as regent gave a light-heartedness to the episode, but hopefully his journey to rescue Margo and Fen from the fairies will provide a nice twist to the increasingly stale Fillory sequences of late.
The pursuit of the original door to Fillory, the clock from the days of the Chatwins, provided much more enlightenment. Not only did we get the terrific appearance of Umber, the more ordered god of Fillory, but we learned of Ember’s role in the rattening as well as his general chaotic bent. Eliot’s new mission to overthrow Ember before he gets bored breathes life into his role as High King. Bonus points for Eliot acknowledging that he got cock-blocked by Ember.
This season of The Magicians has been undeniably more consistent than last year, and the entertainment value of the show has been top-notch each week. With gods on the loose everywhere, Alice making her return, and new missions for many characters, the season finale promises to be quite a doozy. But anyone who says they know how it will end is spouting nonsense. Whatever happens will be a glorious — or horrific, if season 1’s example is followed — conclusion, and the wait for a season 3 now that we know the show has been renewed will be excruciating.