Last week’s episode of The Magicians was one packed with pretty much every emotion, from dread to romanticism and moved the season’s overarching plot along in big strides. This week’s episode “A Timeline and Place,” doesn’t share the same sweeping gestures, but starts the settling of two of our most unsettling characters – Penny-23 (Arjun Gupta) and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley).
Our episode begins with Marina (Kacey Rohl) and Penny-23 in cages, cooped up by a horomancer named Stoppard. He declares that by being in a timeline not of their origin, they are messing with magic. Before they have the chance to plead their cases, Stoppard returns them to timeline 23. With quick thinking, Penny-23 uses his traveling magic to get him and Marina out of their cages. They steal Stoppard’s traveling machine and flee. Instead of returning to timeline 40, however, they arrive in a timeline where magic has been outlawed.
In this new timeline, Penny-23 and Marina search out the Stoppard of the timeline. They need his help to get the timeline-hopping machine to work. When they find Stoppard, they learn that his mother Sonya is dying as a result of their being out of sync with time. Knowing this, Penny-23 wants to try and make sure that no Sonya dies. He wants to find a way to fix her, but Marina really doesn’t care. Marina’s callousness causes Penny-23 to leave without her.
Instead of ending up in a familiar timeline, however, Penny-23 lands in a room with none other than the OG Penny himself, Penny-40! For the first time we get to see the two Pennys interact and it’s a surreal experience. Despite having the same life experiences until Brakebills, Penny-23 and Penny-40 are most definitely different. As an all-knowing Librarian, Penny-40 tells Penny-23 that he must return to timeline 40, that Sonya will die no matter what. And that “When the time comes, do what he says,” an ominous remark about what’s to come. So, Penny-23 retrieves Marina so that she can see her girlfriend again (!!!), and they return to timeline forty.
Back in timeline 40, Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) search for information on the hieroglyphs they had seen on the paper they surrendered to the Monster (Hale Appleman) last week. They seek out a newly discovered room full of artifacts, which is where the Monster finds them. And he’s drunk. Apparently, he now is submitting to the ways of his body’s desires. Q does not find it amusing and threatens to abandon the monster entirely if he harms Eliot’s body. Levity arrives in the form of an awakened mummy who informs them that the god Heca who used to have one of the Monster’s stones is dead and it is unknown where to find his body. Cool.
In Fillory, Margo (Summer Bishil) is forced into meeting with the leader of a small island called Codswall, as they are the only ones with the remedy to the talking animal situation. It turns out, the animals are allergic to a Laurian plant that has invaded Fillory. The first meeting does not go well. The other leader declares that she is selling the beets to West Lauria (which apparently is a thing now) because Margo was a bitch (not wrong).
Luckily, Margo gets another chance at the woman. She follows Josh’s (Trevor Einhorn) coaxing into acting like an empathetic human. At first, it seems to work, and the two women enjoy a conversation about alpacas. When the leader of Codswall claims she’s still selling to West Lauria, however, Margo goes all Margo Hanson on her and threatens the aforementioned alpacas. It works. But not without a price. The price is Margo’s relationship with Josh. Josh claims that Margo out did what Eliot would have done, causing a fracture between them. She doesn’t want another partner in crime. But all Josh wants is to be her boyfriend! Can someone please inform Margo that Eliot is still alive? Please!
Back on Earth, the book of the worlds tells Alice that she is needed at a home in Modesto. It’s not exactly the most uplifting area, but Alice does notice one hedgewitch in residence. She also notices something about her landlady Sheila, she has magic. It’s a new-found talent of Sheila’s that she is able to find things, a talent that she has started using for good.
Despite her protestations that magic is bad, Alice eventually agrees to teach Sheila. Sheila has grand plans for this new skill. She explains to Alice that the Modesto pipes are all rusted, causing the city’s water to be contaminated with lead (think Flint). Unfortunately, there isn’t enough latent magic to fix it. But then, Sheila discovers a leak in the magic pipes.
With Sheila’s assistance, Alice finds the cloaked pipe and fractures it further, letting out more magic. This allows for Sheila and Alice to perform the casting necessary to clean the water and fix the pipes. Our episode ends with Alice watching children playing in water they once were afraid to touch, while Sheila gets a visit from the Librarians.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t particularly care for Alice. She royally screwed up multiple times, but you know what? I’m digging this redemption arc. Alice has issues with the rest of the Magicians, sure, but they aren’t the root of her problems. They’re a symptom. Alice’s problem has always been with magic itself. Over the past few seasons, Magic has only caused Alice harm, so in order for her to find peace, she needs to do some good with her magic. I’m not sure if the book of the worlds will lead Alice to people who need the good of magic, but that’s certainly a storyline that would serve her character well, and maybe actually bring me back to liking her again.
Like Alice, Penny-23 also received a lot of screen time this week. While Alice was starting to do something good, the episode ended with the unequivocal truth that he is killing somebody’s mother. But it’s where he’s supposed to be, according to Penny-40. Speaking of Penny-40, it was so nice to see him again, but I was shocked to find that I wasn’t trying to figure out how he could come back. He even says that timeline 40 is 23’s timeline now. So maybe the Penny of this show is just Penny-23 now, and that’s just something we’re going to have to live with.
My two burning questions after this week are: where the heck has Kady been for the past three episodes?! And…who is Marina’s girlfriend?!