Synopsis of 3×10: The quest for the seven keys brings our heroes back to FIllory, but also witness Penny on his librarian duty. The Magicians Season 3 Episode 10 leads Fen and Julia’s fairy crusade to a momentous head as they seek help from the Fairy Queen.


So here’s the skinny:

  • Alice, Quentin, and Josh search for the last key in the throne room at Castle Whitespire. After an argument here, a little debate there, and some troubling news about dead travelers, they see the sixth key. We don’t get the same chance and the episode ends before we see the key or them collecting it.
  • Penny schemes to escape from the underworld and he actually scams a ticket of sorts off of a departing underworld occupant. He meets Hades, who convinces him to stay. Instead of escaping, he chooses to join an underworld book club and gives the “metro card” to Sylvia so she can join her family in the beyond.
  • Tick’s no ruler, no surprise, and he’s led Fillory into war with their only neighboring allies. Our favorite overthrown rulers meet with the Lorian King and the Floating Mountain Clan’s Queen. Through threats and alluring methods, they convince the other rulers not to go to war, as implied by Margo’s smirk as they leave.
  • The Fairy Queen helps Julia and Fen free the McAllisters’ fairies, who kill all of their captors as soon as their collars are loose. Irene flees, but I’m sure she’ll get hers soon enough. The Fairy Queen used magic to break the old fairy deal that an “Uncle Tom” fairy made to power the collars. Since she broke the deal, which is essentially forbidden in fairy culture, she’s left fairies vulnerable as a race and destroyed their culture. Coincidentally, the last key is in the fairy realm. It also happens to power the fairy realm. Why can’t anything be easy? Oh, yeah, because we wouldn’t watch if it was.

Disclaimer: I know this particular article is especially long, but with the episode including slavery and relevant comments on it, I felt an obligation to truly flesh this one out.

Hot potato, hot potato.

So Alice confronts Quentin about his exclusion attempts directed at her since their library heist. An expert of misdirection, he tosses the allegorical potato right back at her and blames her. He voices his distrust and pushes her, but she uses her father’s death to defend her indecisiveness over joining the quest. We’ve never seen her this hostile, even as Niffin Alice, who was more psychotic than defensively hostile.

Julia enters the awkwardness as Alice leaves and relieves Quentin’s headache with a magical head press. She may be my favorite character so far this season. She’s really come a long way and come into her own. Julia had the most traumatic experience of all the characters and created something earnest and inspirational from it. She’s the only character helping others for the sake of helping. 

Emojis perfectly sums up my feelings.

Julia speaks to Fen about saving the fairies, but Fen would rather sum up her unwillingness with confusing emojis than help a fairy. Although, I’m at a loss as to where she got her own phone. I feel like I’d really enjoy the interaction of Fen marveling over cell phone technology, but I guess such scenes are not for you and me.

Ironically, slavery is always going to win an argument and Julia uses this fundamental truth to convince Fen.

The two of them meet with Irene and confess their knowledge of her fairies. Julia and Fen ask Irene for help to obtain a fairy collar. Fen’s hate for fairies really sells it. She offers to help, for a price of course. One fairy collar for one fairy.

Wrong time, Howard.

Howard, a fellow librarian, invites Penny to his book club as Penny shelves books. In classic Penny fashion, he turns him down.

Edwin is a shady dude.

Julia meets Irene’s uncle, Edwin, to obtain a fairy collar. During her visit, she meets Dust, Edwin’s fairy who has been a slave to the McAllisters for a whopping 400 years! That’s literally about a century longer than slavery existed in America. Julia takes her fairy collar and gets out of there, with a thank you through clenched teeth.

Infodump by a character, don’t you just love that?

Sylvia interrupts Penny from his exciting library duty. She explains that she turned him in to take a million years off of her library sentence, which means a million years closer to seeing her family in the afterlife. It does little to unruffle his feathers.

I’m on a boat!

Quentin, Margo, Eliot, Alice, and Josh discuss their plan to find the sixth key in Fillory. Or more like, everyone but Josh discusses the plan, he’s really not much help. Eliot and Margo discover that Fillory is currently at war with the Lorians and the Floaters. Rather than help in the quest, they refuse to relinquish their Fillorian crowns and choose to stop the war instead.

A short memory is a privilege of the oppressor.

Fen and Julia meet with the Fairy Queen, FQ as she will now be known. You’re gonna hear about her a lot, trust me it’ll be easier this way. She refuses to join the humans until Fen delivers a compelling speech about asking FQ for help despite the horrible things the Queen has done to her.

It makes sense that the Queen is so quick to deny this request at first, considering the way humans have treated fairies in the past. In our blissful ignorance, we’ve remained completely unaware of the pain the fairies faced at the hands of humans. So far this series has painted fairies as either villains or lackeys united under one evil ruler.

This episode spits in the face of all the work done to portray the fairies as antagonists by revealing their role as victims.

You’ve never seen Metrocard fare this expensive.

Sylvia enlightens Penny about the system of moving on in the underworld. If he can get a “metro card” from one of the souls granted passage onwards, then he can hitch a ride out. Only souls deemed ready, by the powers that be, get one.

Another day, another puzzle.

Alice, Quentin, and Josh work on the puzzle in Castle Whitespire’s throne room. It’s a daunting task, without any clues. All it does is provide an arena for Alice and Quentin to rehash the tension and mistrust between them.

Technically all fairies are house slaves, but some are really “house slaves.”

With FQ helping, Julia and Fen kick their plan off. They sneak FQ in right under the McAllisters’ noses by introducing her as a random fairy they caught. Dust brings her to the basement with the other fairies. As soon as FQ sees the others, her heart weeps, as expressed by the actress’ superb acting.

She’s the leader they needed and she bolsters their confidence as if they’re neglected children. We see her caring side as the Fairy Queen, she really feels for her people. At this moment, it’s impossible to still see her as the cold-hearted antagonist who tormented our heroes earlier. 

Fen hides in Uncle Edwin’s workshop, only to witness a crime so ghastly it instantly dissolves any lingering fairy hate inside her. She sees Dust placate a fellow fairie’s fear with false promises as the fairie’s head is chopped off. Now, Dust is an Uncle Tom if I’ve ever seen one!

Mother knows, mother always knows.

Margo and Eliot meet with Loria’s king and the floating clan’s Queen. Apparently, the floating clan’s Queen knew her son failed to consummate the marriage with Margo… because she saw the frog bite. I won’t even comment on the disturbing nature of that tidbit. Nope, I’ll let your minds do the dirty work.

Eliot and Margo attempt to convince their neighboring allies. Margo’s threats and Eliot’s seduction get the job done. I see what you did there, SYFY, demolishing typical gender norms. Let’s keep it coming.

A deal that never should’ve been made.

Fen charges Dust into the basement with a blade to his neck. He tells the horrid truth of the magic behind the fairy collars. Apparently, Dust was a member of one of the first fairy generations to come to Earth. When most fairies departed to Fillory, he and a few others tethered themselves to the McAllisters to keep them from following. It was Dust’s deal that created the binding magic of the fairy collars. Consequently, they’re inescapable without breaking the original deal.

FQ refuses to break the deal because deals are all that the fairies have and it’s the only safeguard against their vulnerable nature. Not only would it make them weak, but it would also destroy their cultural history.

Although, when Edwin comes in plucking more fairies to behead, FQ breaks the deal with a spell and the fairies tear into Edwin. The fairies, now invisible since the deal is broken, ascend to the dining room and kill all of the attending McAllisters except for Irene. She gets away.

Nice work, but that was too easy.

Penny scams this guy out of his “metro card” for leaving the underworld. As soon as he picks it up, a mysterious man appears. This mysterious man is no other than HADES! What?!

According to him, magic always comes back because it’s a “carrot the gods use to keep humans in check.” Hades confuses us all with an odd choice of phrasing, but he then explains that Penny can “participate and be part of something” by staying and joining Howard’s book club. 

According to Hades, Penny is actually desperate to show others that he’s worth keeping around and that drives all of his actions. There’s something I never expected I’d get to say, “according to Hades.”

Hades’ words must have struck a chord because Penny gives the card to Sylvia so she can reunite with her family.

Penny meets Howard to join the book club. His shackles are removed and one of the other members, Kathy, immediately welcomes him into the club. As what I assume to be a sign that he’s wholly accepting his decision, he eats one of Kathy’s cupcakes and enjoys it. 

So where’s the key, though?

Alice, Quentin, and Josh are still deciphering the puzzle in the throne room in Castle Whitespire. Alice admits that she is working for the library and that doesn’t sit well with Quentin, even with her addition that the library wants to help them return magic.

Josh finds out that Victoria died, but then he sees where the key is and the last we see of the trio is them staring at the supposed key.

I don’t fully get the whole “deal” set up, but I’ll go along.

The Queen broke the deal that the fairies made with the McAllisters before. By doing so, she invalidated all of her peoples’ culture thus far. The fairies are now vulnerable, although I don’t understand exactly how since they’re still magical creatures with magic in their very beings. Your guess is as good as mine.

The Fairy realm has the last key, but it powers the realm and the realm would be destroyed without it. As you could guess, the fairies aren’t keen on giving up the source of their realm’s power.

One thing I’ve appreciated so much about this season so far is the idea to pair characters up at every chance. I feel like we’ve seen some old pairings we love and new pairings we never expected. The random pairings are the best. At any rate, this episode deserves some props for making the villains into victims of our doing and delving so far into relevant aspects of slavery.

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