Synopsis of 3×05: The search for the third of the seven keys leads Quentin and Eliot to a puzzle that puts the “time” in “lifetime.” Margo’s hesitation to wed a neighboring kingdom’s prince turns out to be more warranted than she could have foreseen. Here’s our The Magicians ‘A Life in the Day’ recap.


So here’s the skinny:

  • The Fairy Queen forces Margo to marry a Prince from a neighboring tribe. Although she’s resistant at first, she quickly falls for his looks and pleasantly respectful demeanor. Unfortunately, the Prince’s pubescent brother successfully devises his murder and marries Margo in his place per Fillorian custom.
  • Penny has a brief appearance in the beginning of the episode when Kady receives the key of truth. Kady then treats him to an unexpected tirade of how his death “broke” her. She even blames him for her commitment to a psychiatric hospital.
  • Quentin and Eliot use one of the keys to travel to the next task in Fillory. Rather than the present, they emerge in the past. They then spend the rest of their lives attempting to solve the puzzle day in, day out. Literally, the rest. Of. Their. Lives. Quentin finally solves the puzzle when digging a grave for Eliot’s dead body. Young Jane Chatwin arrives and requests the key to power her pocketwatch. Quentin reluctantly gives her the key and, in present-day, Margo finds a letter from a long-dead Quentin.
  • Margo follows the directions and recovers the key from present-day Jane Chatwin’s dead body. She then arrives just in time to stop Eliot and Quentin from throwing their lives away again.
  • Meanwhile, Alice and Julia finally share some bonding time of their own. Julia meets another mysterious entity manifested through Alice. This leads Julia to invite Alice out for a nightcap. Julia sees Persephone once again, who informs Julia that her power comes from a seed of power Persephone placed in her… from Reynard’s power.

The term bittersweet is one plagued by constant use and muddled representations. Such is to be expected with such a vaguely poetic word. Yet, in the Magicians Season 3 Episode 5, the word finally finds a home that does it justice. In this episode, tender sadness is interwoven so finely with a graceful gaiety that a simple explanation can barely paint an accurate picture.

Of course, there’s still plenty of humor and tongue-in-cheek flair to be enjoyed. Don’t mistake this narrative development as one undertaken by a series that has grown smug enough to take itself more seriously than it ever has in the past. Instead, take it as an earnest appreciation and exploration of the characters we love to love.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Alice leaves the physical cottage with the key of truth and Penny in tow. They pay Kady a visit, who until now has been under the impression Penny was never to be seen again. Rather than shower Penny with love or share a loving reunion, things go south fast.

Kady blames Penny for her breakdown and her current living in a psychiatric hospital. Who can blame her? He died at no fault of his own from a sickness he contracted doing something nice for her, but it’s still all his fault, right? She storms out and that’s the last we see of Penny for this episode.

The Reluctant Bride

The Fairy Queen has no chill and going toe to toe with her is a mistake Margo is beginning to see the ramifications of. Tick returns to Margo with a jar less than half full of the fated hallway dust that fairies are lethally allergic to. Margo tells him to double it up, after all, you only get one chance.

Unfortunately, the Fairy Queen has arranged a marriage between Margo and the Prince of a neighboring tribe, the floating mountain tribe. Without magic, the mountain crashed and now lies at Fillory’s coast. With such a huge army, the Fairy Queen has only the highest hopes of forming an alliance. The Prince of Loria returns, unable to hide his insecurity and jealous feelings. The boy’s thirsty.

The Trip of a Lifetime

Quentin and Eliot discover that the next leg of their quest will take them back to Fillory to solve an incredibly hard puzzle. Once they use the key to get there and stand before the puzzle, they realize “incredibly hard” was an incredible understatement.

Coming Around

After a comical false alarm, Margo meets the Prince she is set to marry. Her concerns fade pretty quickly and reasonably so. His looks bewitch her and he comes from a matriarchy where women leaders are all he knows, so he’s the perfect catch in her eyes.

Of course, we all know when something is too good to be true. An attempt is made on his life as they prepare for the wedding and Margo confronts the Prince of Loria. Prince Ess is quick to deny the claims, but Margo promises to return the favor to anyone who harms her husband.

Unexpected Besties

Alice comes across Julia scouring religious texts for clues to her mysterious power. The same entity that has been possessing random strangers around Julia possesses Julia, requesting her help for Alice. So clearly we have a do-gooder entity here who’s only desire is to travel the world helping those in need. It wants to be Oprah. But back to the matter at hand. Julia invites Alice out to a bar.

The Slightly Red Wedding… More Like a Sprinkle of Red

Of course, the wedding would go wrong. This is The Magicians people! You knew what to expect. What I’m sure you didn’t expect was for the Prince’s little brother to chop his brother’s head off with an ax right after the vows. Sickeningly so, in Fillory it is the sole duty of the surviving heir to step in for the marriage. So he does. Hello King Joffrey.

Time For a Montage!

Weeks into the task, Quentin and Eliot are no closer to solving the puzzle, but somehow they’re still plodding along. At some point, a woman carrying peaches and plums, Arielle, passes by and introduces herself. Quentin perks up and flashes a smile until her helper/husband enters from off-screen. A year in, Quentin and Eliot have a one-night stand, but Eliot’s too level-headed to let them surrender to “overthinking.”

Next, we get to the climax of the episode in my opinion. We see Quentin and Eliot live the rest of their life decrypting the puzzle. Quentin falls in love with Arielle; He has a child with Arielle; The child grows; Arielle passes away; Quentin’s son grows into an adult and heads off into the world; Quentin and Eliot grow old; Eliot dies. It’s all truly sad.

The slightly adventurous, upbeat music that accompanies it all makes it even sadder. Only when digging a grave for Eliot’s body does Quentin find the one and the only mosaic piece they needed. He solves the puzzle but is left with no choice but to give Jane Chatwin the key when she appears seconds later.

I Call Do-Over

Margo finds a letter in the present day, from Quentin to herself. The letter tells of Eliot and Quentin’s task, which led to their death. It also tells Margo how to find the key they went looking for. She seeks out Jane Chatwin, who she finds in a world between time, called the “Clock Barrens.” She then recovers the key from Jane Chatwin’s dead body from the present time and stops her previously dead friends from departing on their task.

A Revealing Nightcap

Alice and Julia share their troubles over a drink at a bar. Alice provides Julia an idea to seek the truth behind her power with the key of truth and a mirror. This leads to a meeting with Persephone, who explains the nature of Julia’s new power. She explains that she placed a seed of power in Julia, from Reynard’s power. When Julia relates the info to Alice and scorns her power, Alice hints that there may be a way for Julia to transfer her power. Ruh-roh.

Final Moments

In Margo’s royal bedroom, Eliot and Quentin stumble upon a basket of peaches with a letter left for them (no doubt by Arielle somehow). As Eliot eats his peach and Quentin reads the letter, the memories of the life they lived resurface. They sit and ponder how such a thing could even be possible.

Whoo, boy! If that wasn’t a great episode I don’t know what is. We got our character development, some romance, some laughs, some murder, everything we could’ve asked for. I only hope the rest of The Magicians season 3 performs as well.

Although, I’m especially enthusiastic about the upcoming appearance of “geek icon” Felicia Day. Furthermore, she’s playing Poppy, one of my favorite characters from the original book series. If nothing else, this is an inarguable statement of The Magicians‘ success, to have grown popular enough to wrangle this star’s attention. It’s a badge of honor.

3 thoughts on “The Magicians: A Life in the Day Recap”

    1. Thanks! I agree. Eliot and Margo’s banter shows perfect chemistry. Still, this episode made me finally see Eliot and Quentin’s organic chemistry. They really bring something out of one another.

  1. I didn’t interpret Q and Eliot’s romantic liaison as a one night stand. I was pretty sure that they were romantic life partners and *also* Q had Arielle as a wife. I think when Eliot says “We had a family” that was good evidence for this… Either way I’m ‘shipping the two of them together from here until forever, didn’t see that coming but now they’re the only possible ‘ship that matters to me on the show. All the main female characters are B-words and Penny can be a real douchebag so basically Eliot and Q are the only sympathetic main characters, and I loved their chemistry together in this episode, so that’s it for me.

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