This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 3 Episode 12
This is as close to a happy ending as The Magicians has ever had, and it’s no coincidence that it comes right before the finale, lulling viewers into complacency before the door at the end of the world is opened, unleashing gods-know-what. Nevertheless, with Quentin, Julia, Margo, and even Josh all ending up stronger by the end of this episode, although “The Fillorian Candidate” is not devoid of heartache for people like Kady and Quentin’s father, it’s an overall win as a very clear road now lies ahead for the final key and the return of magic.
Even small victories resonate, such as Dean Fogg getting his sight back, and although Julia’s miracle is not quite as impressive as the Fairy Queen granting Margo a fairy eye (you know that thing is going to see some weird shit!), it’s a great way to introduce Julia’s evolution as a minor deity. After helping Fogg, she hears Josh’s call to come perform some good public relations and heal the sentient forest she destroyed last season, and she can Travel as well if not better than Penny. These displays aren’t too drastic; addressing a young boy’s fever in Syracuse, for example, shows that Julia’s powers won’t become a convenient plot device.
The main triumph to come out of Julia’s final transformation, however, is her confrontation with Reynard, who still manages to drip with misogyny even as he delivers pizzas. Not only is the information he shares about the Architect of the castle at the end of the world and the gods’ monstrous mistakes contained within invaluable; his laughter at what he considers human folly allows Julia to put him in his place with a spark made much stronger by her benevolence. She and Kady seem to have arrived at an understanding as well as they leave Reynard alive after stealing back their god-killing bullet, which will no doubt come in handy in the final battle.
The suggestion to pursue Reynard in the first place, oddly enough, came from Penny 23, who didn’t want to show the trickster god mercy. It’s difficult to get a bead on this Penny, in fact, even though his intelligence gathering in the Library certainly proves invaluable. Does he have any compunction about ratting out Alice and her plan to install a siphon for the Library once magic is turned back on? Is there a reason why the Unity key linked the group telepathically and replaced Penny 40 with this new version on the cosmic walkie talkie? His presence and purpose is puzzling at best, dangerous at worst, but it’s undeniably intriguing.
Another admirable personality shift comes from Quentin who has been calling the shots more demonstrably of late. Alice practically has to ask his permission to seek the Library’s help, and he immediately sees through her duplicity and realizes she wants the Library to control magic because she’s scared of what she’ll do with it when it returns. Although Alice warns Quentin, somewhat spitefully, of what will happen to his father, his decision to look Ted Coldwater in the eye and tell him what he’s chosen to do shows that the quest has changed him for the better, not least because of the life he had with Eliot and the son who carries his father’s namesake. Quentin’s journey has really been inspirational!
And thank goodness Margo and Eliot get a taste of victory as well! Although it’s surprising that Eliot would think that an elected king would need to be male, it does allow Margo’s write-in victory courtesy of Fillory’s talking animal population to be that much sweeter, especially when we think back about her other non-human interactions, not only with Humbledrum (great book character cameo!) but with Abigail and even the Muntjac herself. Margo deserves her time in the spotlight (as does Josh who came up with the whole election idea), and the mercy she and Eliot show Tick is part of this episode’s triumph.
Plus the fairies now have their own place in Fillory, allowing them to relinquish the final key. On that score, Josh’s wonderful “previously on” summary for Penny 24’s benefit served as an effective re-hash of the quest for viewers. In fact, much of the humor that began with Penny reading about the White House shenanigans in this reality felt like a topical celebration of the quest’s culmination. With Eliot making outlandish promises, the campaign became that much more comedic and current with statements like, “All you have to do is say it; it doesn’t have to be true,” or, “Giving people shit is easy; taking it away is almost impossible – like Obamacare or herpes.”
So everything’s in place for the finale of The Magicians. Some suspicion surrounds the substitute Penny, and it can’t be a coincidence that Reynard mentioned that Hades, who persuaded Penny 40 to acclimate himself to the Underworld, gave him the god-killing bullet. Surely the Library won’t take Alice’s giving up of the siphon lying down either, so there’s plenty of conflict to be had even before that final door is opened. With that in mind, there’s only one thing left to say in acknowledgement of this episode’s greatness: bring on the finale!