Quentin and gang are off to find the Sixth Key, leaving Julia and Fen to fuck around with the fairies. But what if the fairies are the “key” to everything after all?
Quentin and Alice are still fighting over what happened in the Library. Alice insists that she is still on their side. Frustrated, Quentin relents and gives Alice the Quest Book. It turns out the sixth key is in Castle Whitespire. You know, where Eliot and Margot just got overthrown? Quentin, Alice, and Josh — Kady has gone MIA — all cross over to Fillory, onto the now flying Muntjac. Eliot and Margot are still a little bit in denial over the whole dethroning fiasco. Desperate to take Fillory back, they let the others take the lead on the whole questing bit. But they drop Q and gang off at Castle Whitespire, so that’s nice. The quest to getting the next key? Some sort of puzzle involving Fillory’s two half moons. But Josh is only able to solve it by smoking some weed.
Meanwhile, Julia and Fen are still on their saving fairies bent. Julia wants to stage a full-scale revolt, but Sky has been unable to convince the other slave fairies that they actually have magic. Even if she could, there’s still a huge catch: as long as the fairies have their collars on them, they cannot do magic without dying. Hoping to get to the bottom of it, Julia reveals to Irene McAllister that she knows about the McAllister fairies. But with the twist that Julia actually wants to catch a fairy of her own. Irene agrees to give Julia one of the collars, if Julia will bring her a fairy.
Penny is ready to contrive a new escape plan. He learns from Sylvia that there’s a weird room in the library where those who are about to “move on” from the Underworld go to spill all the secrets they never told anyone. Penny corners one of these patrons when they get, convincing them that what lies on the otherside is actually a fate worse than hell. They gives up his MetoCard to “Beyond”, just so Penny can swoop it up. Until Hades makes an appearance. You know, Hades. God of the Underworld? He and Penny have a little chat. In the end, Penny hears him out, and decides to give his sentence to the Underworld Library a shot. He gives the MetroCard to Sylvia instead.
Eliot and Margot bring the Floater Queen and King Idri on board the Muntjac to bargain for their help in retaking Fillory. They’re not having it. Turns out Loria and the Floaters are marching full-out war on Fillory. So Eliot and Margot play the last card they have: magic. Once they complete the quest, they promise to teach the gifted of the Floating Island and Loria magic. Making them just as powerful as Fillorians.
Julia and Fen zip on over to Fillory to chat with the Fairy Queen. Turns out long ago, magicians hunted down fairies on Earth into extinction. Only a few, like the Fairy Queen’s mother, escaped into Fillory to build a new world. They convince her to help them free the enslaved fairies. The McAllisters clap a collar on the Fairy Queen, and put her where the hold the rest of the slaves. But as Julia and Fen search the mansion for the machine, the McAllisters claim removes the collars, they discover it is in fact only a guillotine. The magic, which binds the collars to the fairies, is a fairy deal. A deal which can’t be broken. Except by the Fairy Queen.
As the McAllisters prepare to decapitate all their slaves for their magic essence, the Fairy Queen breaks down and ends the deal. She and the fairy slaves massacre the McAllister family. Only Irene escapes. In repayment for her help, the Fairy Queen thanks Juliet. But she also warns her: the next Key is in the Fairy Realm. And it is the only thing keeping the realm intact. The fairies will not give it to them.
The pacing of this episode was wonky. I mean, more wonky than usual. It seems like a day or two surely must have passed, between Julia’s storyline and Eliot and Margot’s. Are we expected to believe that Quentin, Alice, and Josh have been slaving over the sixth Quest puzzle for a day and a night, in secret? I liked the storyline with Julia and the Fairy Queen fine, but there were just way too much fairies in this episode.
Not to mention, I seem to have missed the part where someone screamed, “Beam me up Scotty!” Because the level of convenient teleportation in this episode was insane. How was everyone getting in between Fillory and Earth with such ease? The Quest Keys? The Fillory clock? It doesn’t even matter, because the rule established in previous episodes until now has indicated that every method of world-jumping is imprecise. It’s based on Narnia, for Christ’s sake. You might find a way to cross over, but you never know when or where you will cross over. Who decided to throw that out the window?
While I enjoyed Alice’s monologue at Quentin over his double standards, it still did ring of too little too late. Yet again. I agree. Why should Quentin get to be surly or indecisive while Alice doesn’t get a pass? Because he’s the protagonist or something?
This hearkens back a bit to the original core of The Magicians as a story. A commentary on fantasy versus expectation. And the dangers of seeing yourself as the protagonist in your world. The effect that has on those you love. Except we haven’t been on that train of thought for, what, like a season? That’s my main issue with every semblance of a character arc which has been crammed in this season. Without the context, without the time put in to these characters, these character moments just crop up like classroom motivational posters. All prose and no impact.
The Magicians is burning the candle from both ends, rushing to get to the end of the Quest. Just as they rushed to defeat the Beast. To defeat Reynard. But what they could really use is a good, slow burn.