Synopsis of 3×11: As the title implies, a couple of our heroes return to timeline 23, only to find it even worse off than theirs. With the sixth key in the Fairy realm, the seventh key brings Julia and Josh to the 23rd timeline to kill that timeline’s Beast.


So here’s the skinny:

  • The whole episode essentially takes place in the 23rd timeline we were briefly introduced to in an earlier season.
  • Julia and Josh (Josh 40) find themselves transported to the 23rd timeline where they help an alternate Josh (Josh 23) and an alternate Marina (Marina 23) fight The Beast. In the 23rd timeline, Alice resurrected Quentin after he was torn apart by the beast. Without a shade, the revived Quentin’s search for power led him to defeat The Beast, kill Umber, and become an even more powerful version of The Beast.
  • Josh learns, from his alternate self, that an ominous event called “The Quickening” looms in his future.
  • Beast Quentin plunges a blade into his own chest after Julia forces her shade into him and we learn that the door at the end of the world might house a monster worse than anything we’ve seen thus far.
  • After Julia and Josh meet an alternate Penny (Penny 23) with the hot and heavy’s for Julia, Penny 23 accompanies them to the present timeline.

The witch and the real fool.

So all of the “living” Brakebills gang, except for Josh, find themselves in hiding in Fillory, thanks to Tick. Forever the pinch hitter, Josh delivers a message from the others to Julia. 

Julia meets with Fogg, who helps her to realize that her magic has been growing while she’s been helping the less fortunate. At this point, she’s over 9000!!!! But no really, she’s basically “lower level god” powerful.

Julia and Josh get pulled into a “Tesla Flexion” by Josh of the 23rd timeline.

Join the fight against Mothra.

Choosing to end on one of the biggest Star Wars references to date, Josh 23 begs Julia and Josh 40 to help. Furrow your brow and I’m sure you’ll think of the one. For the memory disinclined, refer to quote number one.

The time key brings Julia and Josh 40 to timeline 23. They reconvene with Josh 23 and meet Marina 23. 

Josh 23 is of a darker, more confident persuasion and Josh 40 admires him for it. He’s also quite the prick. He and Marina roofie Julia and Josh 40 to sacrifice them to The Beast. When Julia unshackles them from their chains without breaking a sweat, the two alternates decide to join them in the fight against The Beast 23 instead.

Marina brings Julia to Fogg 23, who’s a pill addict instead of a drunk and much more inappropriate with his students. He sends them to the library to find two ghosts who he originally sent off to find the “Rhinemann Ultra.”

Lo and behold, the two ghosts are Eliot and Margo. In their death loop, we see that Margo died during the spellcasting and Eliot suffered a mental breakdown. Julia and Marina snap a pic of the spell notes and escape before it’s too late. Thank god for cellphones, right?

I’m not your Julia.

Penny 23 reveals himself to Julia and Marina, seconds short of becoming a splat on the wall. According to him, he fell in love with Julia 23. He tags along to help fight the beast.

Josh 40 updates Penny 23 on his alternate self’s current state.


Josh 40 continues to push Josh 23 for info about “The Quickening,” but he won’t budge. After Josh 23 gives Josh 40 his jacket, The Beast appears and kills the alternate Josh. Julia unleashes a direct hit from the Rhinemann Ultra on The Beast, which reveals one of the biggest plot twists this season.

The Beast survives the attack, but his moth face disguise disappears into flames, revealing Quentin’s face. Quentin 23 became The Beast of timeline 23.

According to Alice 23, she found a way to bring Quentin 23 back without his shade after he was torn apart by the beast. Without his shade, Quentin endlessly sought power until he defeated the original beast and stole Umber’s power. He then killed all of the magicians and Brakebills students he could find.

Rabbits can’t stack boxes.

Alice 23 has been hiding on a ship with a bunch of rabbit ( yes, rabbit, not rabid) radish farmers. To her luck, they can’t stack boxes, so she’s had a place to hide while searching for a weapon to kill Quentin. Her special weapon is the Leo blade, which can only be wielded by powerful beings. Good thing we just so happen to have a godly magician on our side.

The Beast is an unimpressive white guy.

Marina shows herself to be a little too trigger happy when she and Julia discuss their battle strategy. Julia shuts that down by telling her about the last time she used someone as bait to kill a god, which lead to her alternate self’s death.

Julia, Josh, and the others of timeline 23 navigate through Quentin’s “Fillory and Further” fanboy collection to find him eating a meal on the White Spire throne. Even as The Beast, he’s gotta let that geek flag fly, from an obsessive fan collection to obscure fictional references.

Alice comes out of hiding and Beast Quentin kills her, pretty nonchalantly too.

Julia forces her shade into Quentin and it turns him back into the sniveling Quentin we’ve grown used to. Julia assumes that Beast Quentin took the “future” key to keep Julia from killing him, but he confesses that the key showed him a future where opening the door at the end of the world unleashes a monster even worse than him. Well, that’s not good.

Party for four.

Penny 23 and Marina 23 hitch a ride with our heroes back to their timeline. Penny 23 accepts that Julia has no feelings for him, but still believes that she’ll develop some given enough time.  

While I do feel that I’ve had more than enough Harry Potter references than I’d like, ‘Twenty-Three’ gave us so much we didn’t know we needed. Seeing Quentin as the beast was awesome and a part of me wishes we could’ve seen more of it, but it’s not the direction the story was headed in.

We can further see that Julia is becoming so much more powerful than she had ever dreamed, and without having to sacrifice her shade for it either. She’s nearing whatever destiny she has in store, I can feel it.

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