Synopsis of 2×09: Kady, Penny, and Julia devise a way to use Reynard’s biological child against him, while Eliot battles the Lorian King for Fillory’s survival. As Quentin’s body grows weaker, his impending death compels him to make a drastic choice.


So here’s the skinny:

  • Eliot battles the Lorian King in a one-on-one duel to end the war with minimal casualties. Eliot defends himself well until the wellspring loses power and his loss of magic forces him to hide in a tree. Although the magic does return, the two Kings are so drawn to one another that they develop a truce, in which ownership of the wellspring is split evenly and Eliot gladly marries the Lorian King.
  • Kady, Penny and Julia kidnap Senator Gaines, Reynard’s biological son. They hide him at Brakebills but, when Reynard comes knocking, Julia offers Quentin to Reynard to save herself. Reynard leaves with his son and the others imprison Julia in a room that disables magic.
  • A brokenhearted Quentin lets Niffin Alice free and she flies away, hopefully not off to wreak havoc.

Picking up from the previous episode, Quentin finds himself locked in a cage at Brakebills. Yep, Penny snitched and now everyone knows of Niffin Alice renting out a space in Quentin’s mental real estate. They urge him to box her since letting her go poses too dangerous of a threat, but he refuses even though it’s killing him.

Eliot and Margo sit on their thrones, where we’ve seen them most of the season so far, discussing their Lorian problem with the rest of the court. With high numbers of troops defecting from their army because of Julia’s magical tree genocide that resulted in her imprisonment, they seek a way to improve their public relations.

The sloth aristocrat suggests a duel between the Kings, which captures Eliot’s attention instantly. That’s not a metaphor, the royal figure is a literal sloth. Eliot volunteers to do a one on one duel with Lorian’s King without knowing what he’s signing up for, but if he wins then he’ll be the greatest ruler in all of Fillory’s history. So… decisions, decisions. 

Of course, Margo puts Eliot’s confidence in check by explaining, reason by reason, why his decision was a poor one made in haste. He has never lifted a sword in his life, so natural fighting ability is a bust. To make matters worse, the only two magic sword-fighting spells known take weeks or months to apply sufficiently to combat.

Penny and Kady break Julia out of Fillory’s dungeon. Although to say they broke her out might be a tad hyperbolic. Instead they strolled in casually, conversing with one another and easily put the one guard to sleep with a spell. Then, they basically just walked in and said let’s go kidnap Reynard’s son. Reynard’s son is a powerful U.S. senator, John Gaines, with record poll numbers. He believes that everyone is born with a flame of goodness, pretty fitting coming from a demigod born with immense hidden power.

Fen, again being the awesome Fillorian that she is, brings Eliot his own deus ex machina. It had been a while since The Magicians introduced one of these to us and its absence was much appreciated, but just this once I may be willing to let it go. It doesn’t hurt that the weapon in question is a sword crafted by Fen’s grandfather exclusively for a King’s use. It also doesn’t hurt that the blade comes with a King-tailored spell and has an appealing visual manifestation of power surrounding it as soon Eliot recited said spell. Apparently the spell makes it so that a King essentially has the prowess and knowledge of everyone who has held the blade before him. Nice work Fen. Even the way she presented the blade to him held a certain regal savoir-vivre.

Julia, Kady, and Penny bust into Senator Gaine’s office. Imagine Hagrid’s meeting with Harry Potter on his thirteenth birthday, only with more death threats, less pigtails and less smushed birthday cake. They do a few magic tricks to convince him magic is real. Julia summons a pretty cool fireball with a simple, silent flourish of her hand. He still refuses to believe them.

Julia quickly loses patience and advances towards him with a dagger. The others stop her, but she just argues for his death. With every comment, she resembles the beast more and more. With her shade gone, this girl is ruthless. The senator gets tired of them arguing for and against his death, who wouldn’t, so he tries to kick them out and unintentionally releases a magic blast that knocks them on their feet. He passes out and they regain their composure. Julia tries to attack him again, but Penny restrains her and suggests that they kidnap the senator.

Margo speaks with the sloth member of the court and questions how they can keep Fillory from experiencing a magic shortage during the duel. I know not whether you’ve ever heard a sloth communicate before, but I know I haven’t and now that I have, I can never un-hear it. It sounded amusing, considering I didn’t even know sloths could make sounds, but on the other hand just hearing it made my vocal cords sore. Of course, I’m sure that whatever solution they find, there will be a brown-out anyway that plunges Eliot into mortal danger.

Reluctantly, the court member’s translator suggests that Margo petition fairies. Margo’s shock is understandable, but honestly, fairies are barely a surprise at this point. I’d be more surprised if there weren’t any. He says that they exist outside of our realm and their power could repair the wellspring.

Unfortunately, they are very fickle and tend to make deals with unfair conditions. I don’t know about you, but I’m picking up a Rumpelstiltskin vibe. Margo tells the translator to get in touch with the fairies’ human ambassador, which could take days or weeks. She scolds them like a mother for keeping information from her. A little irrelevant, but ironically the queen of ferocity and sarcasm would make a great mother.

Penny, Kady, and Julia hide the senator in the physical house, of all places. Fun fact: The physical house is so well-built that during breaks in filming, most of the cast hang out together in the physical house as if it’s an actual dormitory. 

Julia’s still aching to slit the senator’s throat, but Penny’s making it his business for her not to. He even presses her with his usual machismo bravado, but she laughs it off like he’s no more dangerous than a preschooler. Her attitude draws confusion from even Penny, the prince of contempt. 

Eliot practices sword fighting in the throne room and he looks like he could stand a chance. Margo confronts him about his especially overt concerns. He’s scared for everyone and he regrets not taking the duel seriously enough initially. Margo reminisces about viewing his high school production of Les Miserables. Through her research, she’s found evidence that singing before a battle has helped warriors in the past. She tells him to sing, but he refuses so she casts a spell. It creates a big musical number featuring Eliot, Margo, Fen, and even the royal court. Once again Fen impresses us, this time with her spectacular voice. They proceed to the battlefield, singing their way there. 

At the duel, Eliot unsheathes his blade, recites his spell and enters his stance. So it begins. Blades swing and clash, with Eliot receiving the first cut across the shoulder. The Lorian King runs off into the woods, prompting Eliot to follow him since traditionally the duel can only end once either King is dead.

Julia pays Quentin a visit. She quickly picks up on Niffin Alice’s possession of Quentin’s body as they converse through the cage bars. Niffin Alice can even notice Julia’s absent shade. Quentin’s body grows weaker and he collapses.

We see Reynard again just outside of Brakebills’ wards and he communicates to his son mentally.

Dean Fogg and Professor Lipton consider Quentin’s worsening condition as he lays unconscious in a bed in the infirmary. The others bring Senator Gaines into the room, to Lipton’s surprise. But, the best moment is when Fogg breaks the fourth wall with his acknowledgment of the convoluted nature of the story’s current situation. Lipton asks if the man is the Senator and Fogg says exasperatedly, “Probably, I mean, why not?” Admittedly, I ask myself the same question in such times. Penny and Kady ask Lipton to shield Gaines’ mind from Reynard like she did for Penny.

Fogg explains to all of his former Brakebills student that the wards should hold Reynard out of the school grounds. Penny’s not so sure. The Senator apologizes for his frazzled attitude so far, although he’s actually been pretty reasonable. Either way, Penny better watch out. Kady already felt the Senator was attractive before, who knows what’ll happen. Of course I’m rooting for you Penny, but this is Mr. Steal Your Girl we’re talking about here. A patch on the Senator’s neck has rendered his mind safe from Reynard’s visits.

Through the duel, the Lorian King is just spouting a lot of unsupported claims of his combative superiority over Eliot. Eliot fights calmly and relieves the King of his weapon. Just as expected, the wellspring begins to malfunction, taking with it all the magic powering Eliot’s spell. Eliot recites it, but it nothing happens. He kicks the King’s sword out of reach and then runs further into the forest seeking safety.

At Brakebills the wards drop, seemingly due to the magic shortages in Fillory since one event directly precedes the other. The alarms go off and everyone seeks shelter in classrooms as Reynard just strolls onto campus. 

Margo meets the ambassador for the fairies. He refuses to let her meet them until she agrees to the conditions he has placed. As for said conditions, the fairies want, yep you guessed it, a baby from Fillorian royalty. What can I say? When I call it, I call it. Of course Margo asks if they’ll eat it. Unfortunately, it’s not as lightheartedly comical as it seems. They don’t desire just any baby, they specifically want Eliot’s baby growing in Fen’s womb. Margo responds, justly, with angry disbelief. Her slight outburst offends the ambassador and so, he refuses to negotiate any further. It’s take it or leave it, no amendments. 

The Senator still denies his magic power. Kady tries to convince him that his inherent magical energy has supported him at every turn. Hmmm, a man whose natural state has provided him certain advantages unavailable to others, yet he’s unable to see it. Yep, sounds a lot like white privilege to me. Good job show writers and producers for subtly taking a stance on a relevant discussion. Really, I appreciate it. But, I digress. The Senator refuses to believe that he has ever had any unfair advantage over others until Kady enlightens him with his pass/fail ratio on bills he has proposed. He considers it and realizes it’s true.

The Lorian King finds Eliot hiding in a tree up in the forest and he begins hacking at the tree with his blade.

Margo doesn’t tell Fen of the fairies’ plan, but she insists that when the time comes and Fillory is safe, Fen will have to do exactly what Margo tells her to. Fen agrees, unaware of her promise’s undesirable consequence. Once again Margo has employed her manipulative skills for good, but this time she recoils from her actions with disgust.

The King waits patiently for Eliot to come down from the tree. They find common struggles through their Kingly duties, which soon leads to some serious sexual tension since the Lorian King reveals that he is also gay and finds Eliot easy on the eyes. Still, their allegiances have pitted them against each other and Eliot’s foe resumes hacking at the tree.

At Brakebills, Kady, Penny, and Senator Gaines hide from Reynard with other students. They realize that their two star players, Quentin and Julia are not among them. Julia tells Quentin to make a deal with Niffin Alice, promising her freedom if she kills Reynard. Quentin resists and Julia pushes him through a ward, right into the clutches of Reynard. Reynard reveals that he found them from security footage of the Senator’s kidnapping. Gaines arrives and confronts Reynard, who lies convincingly straight to his face before consensually spiriting him away.

Magic energy suddenly returns to Fillory and Eliot regains his confidence.

Julia wakes up in a mysterious boiler room of sorts with an unlock-able door, it’s called the clean room. Kady confides in her that she had hope in Julia’s spirit, but that hope has withered away. Julia has lost all sympathy and empathy, capable of acting only in her own interest.

Eliot walks back into the throne room with his Lorian opponent as a welcome guest. They settled a truce, with a marriage between the two. According to the rules, all monarchs are entitled to one each of a husband and wife. The wellspring has also been split 50/50. Margo neglects to confess how the wellspring has been repaired.

Quentin sits in a giant field of dirt, questioning his future with Niffin Alice. He reluctantly frees her and she flies away into the sky as a glorious stream of blue fire.

What did you think? Did you agree with Quentin’s decision to free Alice? Did you agree with Eliot’s decision to marry the Lorian King? Did the impromptu musical number leave you intoxicated? Leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to get a dialogue going.

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