Margo, Quentin, Alice and Penny leave Eliot behind in Fillory, embarking on their quest to find “battle magic” to prepare themselves for the inevitable confrontation with the Beast. The spells are thought to be at Brakebills. Time for a homecoming.
Dean Fogg is willing to help — he recognizes that if the Beast sucks Fillory of its magic, then magic everywhere “dies.” But he’s the one who banished battle magic from Brakebills in the first place. The former “defense against the dark arts” (ha ha) instructor, Professor Bigby, a near-immortal pixie, threw a fit on the way out and hid the prize behind a puzzle. The hoops they have to jump through to get said magic, the puzzles they have to solve — through research, through anagramming — are clever, amusing, interesting . . . and yet another example of what we pointed out last week, that the storyline of the “main characters” seems to be setting up cans to knock them down, and the real payoff is in the personal growth and ever-fluctuating relationships. But what are their paths to growth? Some are clear; others aren’t.
Penny’s path to character growth seems clear. He’s enraged when, back at Brakebills, he sees Josh, who abandoned them in Fillory in season one, rather than help them. Penny’s double-rage when his hands won’t work. His clever solution to accordingly kick Josh in the nuts instead of punching him. Satisfying, sure — but hasn’t Penny learned a lesson about letting his emotions get the better of him (again, hands aren’t fully under his control). In a ceremony designed to get his hands under control, he gets some sexy bondage with the Brakebills library expert, Prof. Sunderland (Anne Dudek – Mad Men, Covert Affairs). Meow. The hands seem fixed, but we suppose we’ll see if they are. And if Penny learned anything from this experience of having to let someone else do the work for him.
Alice has similar issues. It was an important step last episode that she learned not to hold back in practicing magic. But now can she learn to lean on others, as Penny managed to, rather than go it solo? Quentin offers. She says she can’t think of a way he can help. She’s got god-sperm power, and it’s trickling away. We think that big brain of hers could have done better in outsourcing her burden. All the same, there’s a sense of urgency: find the magic they need before Ember’s powers leave her.
And Q — poor, Quentin, so loyal that it may get them all killed. His decision to warn Julia to stay out of the Beast’s proximity, lest she get blown up, clearly marks him as a loving friend, but this young man just can’t weigh consequences, evidently. At least Julia in turn warns Q about the Beast’s vague curse on Castle Whitespire back in Fillory. He needs to be decisive, perhaps, about where his loyalties are, or at least be persistent and strong in pursuing his goals to keep everyone safe.
Eliot’s path to progression is forced on him; the only thing he wanted to pursue of his own was making champagne happen in magic-land. But he answers the call to help, painfully reconciling his farm-boy past with his kingly future. Fillory is starving now that the magic is nearly sucked dry, and the populace doesn’t know how to grow food. He painfully recalls something he wanted to forget. He bravely sprinkles sh-t to save Fillory.
We can’t even guess what Margo’s progression looks like. She’s smart, powerful, confident, funny — always 100% Margo. Her growth was exemplified in her apology and self-examination during last week’s episode when they crowned each other. Her next challenge? Keeping our eyes open.
In terms of moving the main plot forward — “Latte Shop Poison” as the final anagram would have been great, but the phrase that revealed where the magic was hiding in the Brakebills library shares name of this episode: “Hotel Spa Potions.” The chapter is missing, leads them to another enigma: an island made of streets. Margo solves it, they break out a map to “
Road Rhode Island.” Ha ha. They find Bigby, and get to the background of why violent magics were banned from Brakebills. They convince her to share the spell after much reminiscing by the Pixie prof regarding her trysts with Fogg, with divine beings, and comments about how she can smell that Q and Alice “f— like jackrabbits.”
But the spell won’t be enough, because it’ll take Alice a while to charge. Fogg has some secrets tucked away too. Tattoos — implanted with cacodemons that will attack. Good for one use. This is straight out of the books — slightly out of sequence, but glad this cool idea found its way on screen.
And what of Julia and her quest for revenge against Reynard, the murderous, raping trickster god? Seems she’s been cursed to live in a musical, because the Beast won’t stop his admittedly wonderful singing. The Beast contributes by suggesting season one frenemy (seriously, the scariest creature from season one not named “Martin Chatwin”) Marina serve as bait, since Reynard would sense a trap if Julia is the one trying to attract or summon him. He goes ahead and kidnaps Marina, presents her to Julia bound and in a luchador mask. Not sure what the point of that was; it had eye holes.
Marina says it ain’t her problem. The Beast is still binging on sugar (this time a push pop), still crooning during this exchange:
“Reynard is targeting hedges,” Julia says.
“Right — so the answer is to hire Michael Buble to kidnap me and then use me as your bait.”
Hah. Marina actually heeds Julia’s warning — she’s not too proud, she’s no Alice — and tries to team up with the baddest bitch on the other coast. But Reynard does a number on her counterpart before they have a chance. Marina’s good instincts aren’t enough. Will she need to make a deal with the devil along with Julia? No, she goes back to Brakebills, asks Dean Fogg for asylum. Again, not too proud, very pragmatic.
Too bad Fogg didn’t learn more before refusing her request; he could have found out where Julia and thereby the Beast are currently residing and what they are up to. But the streams don’t quite cross. Alas. Again, no-pride Marina goes back to Beauty and the Beast, pretending it was her idea, not necessity, that led her back.
All in all, plots are moving at a pretty quick pace, but still time for some emotional moments and, of course, humor (proclaiming yourself “King Sh-t” is pretty funny, Eliot). And Marina is back. Very satisfying.
GEEK Grade: A-
- Full view of Fillory, floating in space. It’s basically flat, at least on top.
- Margo tries to solve Penny’s “crazy hands” issue with alcohol. Granted, it’s enchanted alcohol. That’s very, very Margo.
- “Professor Bigby” — clear Dungeons & Dragons reference. We saw “magic missile” in season one, perhaps we’ll get “Bigby’s Clenched Fist” in season two?
- Fogg is the best kisser in existence according to a 500-year-old highly promiscuous pixie?
Next week: face to face, again, with the Beast?!?!?!?
Director: Chris Fisher
Writer: John McNamara