Synopsis of 1×02: In the aftermath of the Beast’s attack, Quentin and the others may be facing expulsion. Meanwhile Julia tries to find her own place among the magical underground.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Where the first half of the two-part series premiere left us in a state of shock, the second half is much more mundane. There are no Beasts coming into the world. Instead, the episode focuses on the aftermath and the realities and consequences that come after. It also focuses a little bit more on both world and character developing, which is something we missed out on a bit in the first half which goes from zero to sixty  from start to finish and throws the viewer into the world of Brakebills pretty much just as quickly as it does Quentin.

“The Source of Magic” starts up shortly after the first episode ends.

Quentin and the others are being treated by staff while flashing back and forth between the present and the Beast’s attack. The dean helps Quentin fight back against the Beast by throwing him his pocket watch which seems to reset time and both Kady and Alice manage to push him back and out of their world using magic. But though they seem to be the ‘heroes’ that day it’s just as clear to Professor Sunderland that they had much more to do with this than just saving the day.

[Carole Segal/Syfy]
[Carole Segal/Syfy]
She makes it clear to them all that if she finds out who is responsible for bringing the Beast into this world that they will be expelled. This understandably makes Quentin panic and Alice, too. They seek some comfort in Eliot and Margot who spirit them away to the Physical Kids college to get away from things.

Eliot quickly discerns the truth and tries to calm Quentin’s guilt and tells him that everyone loses people and everyone causes pain – even death. He speaks from experience because he’s killed someone before with his powers. Meanwhile Alice and Margot talk about Alice’s big secret – she wasn’t invited to take the Brakebills entrance exam after whatever it was happened to her brother but she snuck in anyway.

Ultimately Sunderland is able to figure out that the four had something to do with the summoning of the Beast. There is no time for them to get their stories straight so each of them is interviewed with mixed results. Penny ends up saying something to Sunderland and Quentin believes he ratted them all out. He uses some battle magic he’d seen Kady use against the Beast but it’s reflected back at him. Both of them end up in the infirmary where their strained relationship settles down briefly.

Penny is taking all of this a lot harder than Quentin realizes. He admits to Kady that he had heard voiced growing up and that one of them was the Beasts. He’s not sure he even wants to stay any longer.

[Carole Segal/Syfy]
[Carole Segal/Syfy]
But it’s only Quentin’s spot at the school that’s at risk. Sunderland brings in a ‘specialist’ to investigate and Quentin is sure that he’s going to be expelled and all his memories wiped. He’s so desperate he almost reaches out to Julia and then ends up taking a page out of Penny’s book and using a ward against unwanted magic.

In the end, though, it seems to go all right. Eliza – who had previously been decked out as a paramedic and given Quentin the Fillory manuscript last episode – returns and tells him she’ll tell the school to give him another chance. This comes after all her insinuations that perhaps his dreams of Fillory are more than just dreams.

She’s not doing this out of kindness of her heart, though. After speaking with Quentin she goes to talk to Dean Fogg, who is in a private room in the infirmary – his hands still broken and his eyes still gone. Quentin and Penny are their last hope to fight back against the Beast and they know it. Unfortunately things are moving too fast and the students aren’t ready yet. So instead of being expelled, they are trying their damnedest to move them along and make them magicians. At the end of the episode, Quentin moves into the Physical Kid college.

Meanwhile, Julia is finding her own place in the world of magic.

She finds herself mixed up with these underground hedge witches and starts to fall in with them. But it’s not as easy as just joining in with them. Julia is forced into a hazing ritual to test her ingenuity and abilities along with another seemingly naive initiate. They are trapped in a meat freezer and forced to find their way out despite not only physical challenges but psychological ones as well. In the end, the answer turns out to be non-magical and she proves herself to the hedge witches – the leader of which happens to be the naive girl who was “trapped” with her in the first place.

[Carole Segal/Syfy]
[Carole Segal/Syfy]
All in all, this was a pretty great episode because we finally got to slow down a bit without sacrificing any momentum on the story as a whole.

If you read the books you would know that the Beast doesn’t arrive for the first time until like a third or more of the way into the book. We’re given a large amount of background on Quentin, the school, the characters, and more before we get thrown into the action.

Don’t get me wrong, the first episode was amazing. I’m so glad they threw us right into the thick of things. But it’s good that we’re getting a chance to take a step back. Quentin takes the time to tell Alice about Fillory and the truth behind the children in the stories and the author’s relationship with them. Many of the main characters  – particularly Elliot, Penny, and Alice – get a little bit more time to flesh out their backstories. Sure, it’s all a little rushed. But it’s better than nothing. And with a short, thirteen episode first season I suppose some things are just going to have to be rushed.

Still, we had a great opportunity to backtrack and fill in those gaps this episode and I suspect we’ll see more of that in the episodes to come. The pilot really had to hook people and show them what this show could do and become and so I think they probably did the right thing. It hooked me if nothing else!

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