Synopsis of 2×03: The cacodemons come out to play in a way no one could have foreseen. Reynard the fox graces the screen once again with fatal results. The Brakebills crew puts their new weapon to the test in a confrontation with the Beast that leaves some deep wounds. 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this season continues to serve us performances and character development that the first season struggled with. While this episode may not have been as brimful as its predecessor, its moments were generously more substantial. Look forward to immediate, potent effects on the rest of the series.

We pick up moments after the previous episode ended.  Eliot brings everyone to the throne room and implores them to bask in their royalty at least for a moment, which really comes back to bite everyone in the rear end. Instead of mentioning the curse the beast placed on the castle, Quentin allows Eliot to take a seat in the throne. Suffice it to say, it becomes clear that the curse placed on the castle curses anyone who sits on the throne so that they’ll become crazy for absolute power and stop at nothing to get it, even if it means the death of the other rulers. Unfortunately, each one of the rulers has already “copped” a squat.

In the real world, Marina’s prayer to Reynard gets off to a rocky start but, as soon as the magic begins to manifest, the beast whisks Julia away to a nearby park for safety. Marina is left alone to complete the spell, after which she notices she is completely alone and returns home unaware of how successful the spell truly was.

Back in Fillory, the high kings and queens are gunning for each other’s heads. We see the cacodemons gifted to the crew in the last episode used earlier than anticipated. They came, they saw, but they did not conquer. They emerged in a sufficiently interesting sequence, but then they simply charged each other and exploded. Setting all bias aside, I’ll admit that it could have been used much worse. It served a purpose, which is the most important thing.  

Excuse my curtness, but the flame I harbor for Eliot’s wife as a character grows stronger by the episode, for good reason.  She is more than just a typical voice-less, helpless queen or tertiary character with no involvement in the plot. Although it seems that this may be her role when she first appears, she takes on more with every subsequent appearance on the screen.

In her stint on “Divine Elimination,” she helps Penny keep the newly appointed high kings and queens from literally trying to kill one another. Penny takes the lead as he develops a plan to outsmart the curse and they hold the others hostage by crossbow. Once everyone has their sights back on the true task at hand, they set the stage for their battle with the beast. 

Now it’s Marina’s turn to give us a peek behind the curtains. Reynard corners her in her own home, where she has applied wards unknowingly sealing them both inside. Of course he wouldn’t be Reynard if he let her off with a warning. In terms of sadistic nature, Reynard makes the beast look like the Pillsbury doughboy. He takes such joy in her pain and fear that it’s hard to imagine that he could have ever lived for anything else. The Beast and Julia take the wards down in too perfect of a moment as they stroll in and stop Reynard from taking foot fetishism to violent extremes.

In the midst of Penny bringing the Beast to the others to destroy him, Penny unintentionally brings Julia along and leaves Marina alone with Reynard. Alice’s attack just misses and the Beast escapes, leaving Alice to feel the heavy weight of failure. They decide that if they can reach the wellspring before the Beast uses it to juice himself up, then they could still defeat him. On the ride to the wellspring, Quentin and Alice share an emotional moment as he tries to distract her and wins her back. This may be the most emotion I’ve seen exchanged between the two since the start of the show and, dare I say, it might be painfully perfect. A little too late Quentin!

With the Beast free, Penny returns Julia to Earth. She relieves him of the chains keeping his hands manageable and he loses all control. Hopefully, next week we’ll see where he ends up. Julia then returns to Marina’s home only to find that she is dead, a direct cause her and the Beast being pulled away to Fillory seconds from ending Reynard. 

The Beast reaches the wellspring first, but finds it defiled by godly excrements, courtesy of a comically prideful Ember. Without the wellspring, the Beast is left to face Quentin and Alice with one hand tied behind his back (although burnt and nerve damaged from Alice’s last attack would be more accurate). After keeping the Beast on his toes for long enough, Alice attempts to once again complete the master spell she acquired from Professor Bigby, but she is far too weak to cast it. The power from the spell burns her alive and she becomes a niffin. She easily puts a short end to the beast. Unbeknownst to Julia, she’s just lost her last partner against Reynard. 

Now niffin Alice is looking for her next victim and she holds absolutely no warm feelings for Eliot, Margo, or Quentin. Reluctantly, Quentin releases his cacodemon and sends it hurtling at Alice, who is so preoccupied with Eliot and Margo that she fails to notice as it makes impact. Eliot and Margo cradle an emotionally shattered Quentin as he reaches out for Alice’s lifeless body and sobs with the entirety of his bruised spirit.

Okay, you can breathe now. What an episode! We’ve experienced the first, and hopefully last, serious death that has razed the series’ foundation. With such a heavy death, it’s too easy to overlook the Beast’s death and some amusing, yet fatal royal hijinks. Bare with me and let’s see how this pans out next week.

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