Have You Brought Me Little Cakes – Recap
As an audience, we go into a new story with certain expectations. The most notable of those expectations is believing that our protagonist will serve as the hero of said story. This is especially true in the fantasy genre, and more so when said protagonist is either completely ordinary or a straight up loser. Luke Skywalker was just a farm boy on a nowhere planet, Katniss Everdeen was just a girl trying to keep her family safe in one of the poorest districts in her country. Harry Potter was just a kid living in a cupboard under the stairs, and Quentin Coldwater is just a loser obsessed with a children’s book series. The hero’s journey is made better when the hero starts as a nobody, then becomes essentially, in one way or another, the chosen one. Which brings us to ‘Have You Brought Me Little Cakes?’, the final episode in the first season of The Magicians. We’ve spent 12 episodes with Quentin, and the show has done a great job setting up what needs to be done. The beautiful thing about this episode is that in about 45 minutes, it does just as great of a job deconstructing just about everything we thought we knew about our story and it’s players, (not only Quentin, but Julia, Alice, Margo, Kady, Eliot, Penny) and then some. So, without further ado, let’s finally check out what this finale has to offer.
Straight away, the episode doesn’t start like any of the others. Quentin is sitting in a candle lit room writing book 7 of Fillory and Further. Via the voiceover of his writing, we get a quick and dirty history of Fillory, which started as a blob of magic that gave birth to twin gods Ember and Umber, who in turn birthed Fillory into an actual place. We see Quentin and Julia, torches in hand, walking around a desolate looking place trying to find Ember. It’s maybe only about two minutes into the show, but the friendship between Quentin and Julia is not only funny, but just amazing to actually see. They start the show off establishing that they’re best friends, but even then there’s the third wheel of Julia’s then boyfriend, James before everything goes to hell and they’re split apart just as their narrative does. From there on out, it’s a lot of telling that they’re best friends rather than showing, and until they’d made up in the last episode, when they we’re together, their demeanors varied from strained, to outright hostile. Now, we get to see them together and it’s so apparent how comfortable they are around each other. I know I said a few recaps before how awesome it was to see Julia happy with the free traders, but give me Quentin and Julia any day. Their personalities are so vastly different, but they love the same things — namely Fillory & Further, magic, and each other.
Ember and Umber have been name dropped a few times through the season — the twin gods of Fillory who did things like grant Jane Chatwin the ability to mess with time. They’re the creators of Fillory, literal gods, it puts certain images in your head of someone powerful, beautiful even, radiating something that just feels superior to a mere human, even a magician. When we finally saw Our Lady Underground for the first time, she was exactly the picture of what we’d have in mind for a god; all bathed in white light, and practically floating. Ember is none of these things. What he is, is a sloppy, perverted, entitled, coward of a half ram, half humanoid looking thing.
Right after the Ember reveal, the show does the thing Quentin says he hates where the book rewinds to fill in all of the blanks. The whole episode plays out in chapters as Quentin is writing all of this down, and we are rewound back to the end of the last episode where Julia and Quentin follow Jane through the telephone box to Fillory in 1942. There was a shot implying they were being watched by someone, and they were — that someone being Martin Chatwin, who remember is Jane’s brother who Fillory stopped giving access to, leaving him at the mercy of Christopher Plover, the author of the Fillory and Further series, who was also sexually abusing Martin on a regular basis.
It’s not too long into the two of them being in Fillory and being absolutely amazed by everything (and a little bit high because apparently the air there is .02% opium) that we find out that Quentin and Julia are actually in the Fillory and Further Books they’ve been reading their whole lives. Again, these scenes are only made better with the chemistry between Q and Julia as they come to this realization that they are ‘the magician and the fool’ who help Jane out of a trap early on in one of the books. They fulfil their roles by helping Jane who takes off on her way almost immediately, and soon after, Martin makes himself known. They tell him that they might know of a way to kill The Beast (aka Plover) with the Leo blade, a sword that can kill a master magician, only they don’t know where it is. Martin leads them to someone who might know where the blade is, a knife maker. It doesn’t exist, but he can make the knife with moonstones, only it takes years to forge. Julia strikes a deal with the knife maker that if he makes the Leo blade for them then upon completion, someone in their family will marry one of them, whoever is to be king or queen of Fillory as Fillorian royalty can only be from earth.
The next day, they find Ember’s temple and soon after run into the watcher woman, a notoriously scary character in the books. It turns out that the watcher woman is Eliza a.k.a. Jane Chatwin. While they speak, Jane tells Quentin that he always comes to Fillory in every time loop and compares him to a martyr. In turn, Quentin tells her about how this is the last loop because she’s dead. Jane takes a peek into Julia’s mind and sees a patch in her memory. In typical Eliza fashion, she stays vague, but she says the patch is there for a reason and is covering something tragic and replacing it with something beautiful. While she tells Quentin, Julia is zoned out, under the influence of Jane’s magic, and we see what happened when OLG was summoned. Everyone is healed and Julia is given a mission. Her departing words to Quentin are ‘if you still care about her, protect her’, then she says her goodbyes and transports them to Fillory 2016.
Everything is desolate and dead, think the pridelands under Scar’s rule in The Lion King. A note finds them in which Eliot enchanted to do so that tells them where Quentin can find them, so he and Julia go there. For the first time in a really long time, nearly everyone is together, but it’s hardly a happy reunion considering the threesome incident wasn’t too long ago, a day or two maybe. On top of that, none of them are a fan of Julia after what she did to Quentin back in episode 4, but regardless they’re all on the same side so they all head off to the knife maker. On their way, they find a headstone with Martin’s name, and Quentin laments not being able to help him before he died.
After making it to the knife maker, they find that he’s dead, but his son has the Leo blade for them, still there’s the matter of payment. Since all of the Chatwins are dead, that leaves one of them to become royalty and marry the knife maker’s daughter. To determine which of them is to be the high king of Fillory, the knife maker uses a blade that will only draw the blood of the high king. One by one, all of the guys get cut, and it’s Eliot who is chosen so it’s Eliot whose getting married. At first he thinks it’s not that big of a deal, that he can get an annulment or something down the line once he’s king, but Margo explains to him why it’s not that simple; marriage in Fillory is permanent and he can never leave to go back to earth. Despite that, Eliot is still game. In a beautiful scene between he and Margo, he’s finally honest with her, and tells her how miserable he’s been and how none of his self medication methods have ever helped. He wants to be part of something bigger, something that matters and sees this as that something. Margo understands and they finally make up, for real this time.
Eliot gets married, but Penny is antsy during the ceremony and astral projects into the dungeon to check in on Victoria and true to his word, the knife maker presents them with the Leo blade. One by one, all of the guys try to hold it, but are burned. Apparently the blade can only be held by persons possessing great power, and that is none of them. They brainstorm how to fix the issue of no one being able to handle the blade, and while Quentin and Julia thinks the answer is to find Ember and Umber, everyone else is more behind Eliot’s idea to rescue Victoria, who he assumes to be a master magician considering she’s been around The Beast and has a grasp on travelling. They all leave Eliot behind to impregnate his new wife while Margo, Penny, Josh, and Alice go to the invisible castle to rescue Victoria, and Quentin and Julia set out to find Ember and Umber.
Both missions are successful, more than considering team storm the castle manages to rescue someone else along with Victoria. Quentin and Julia’s mission brings us back to the beginning of the episode in Ember’s temple. The Beast had gotten the best of the god, and so he had been hiding all of this time, and in every reset timeline (which he is aware of). Umber, Ember’s brother is dead, killed by The Beast, and Ember has all but given up. He gets the business from Quentin, and though he is not a fan of his tone, Ember is convinced that Quentin is the long awaited champion, the one who would kill The Beast and save Fillory. Quentin is more than willing to be that, and to offset the problem of not being able to hold the knife, Ember gives Quentin his essence, which just so happens to be a jar of his semen, which Quentin is to drink before fights The Beast.
Like Eliza before him, Ember sees a patch in Julia’s memory, and without a second thought, he takes it away and suddenly Julia is a wreck, completely inconsolable. She begs Quentin to take her memories but he can’t so they go back to meet up with the rest of the crew. Penny nurses Victoria and she shows Penny how to travel multiple people. Apparently it isn’t so much as a skill as a spell. The rest of the gang take Quentin to see the second of The Beast’s prisoners they’ve rescued, and it turns out to be a frail and shell shocked Christopher. It’s here that they learn that he isn’t The Beast, but instead it’s Martin Chatwin. Though he’s been tortured, day in and day out, none of them have sympathy for him, especially Quentin, and rightfully so. If monsters are made, then Plover is Dr. Frankenstein.
After Martin found his way back, he was determined to never have to go back to Plover and so he found the wellspring, the direct source of magic in Fillory. Every night, he goes to the wellspring, which is what makes him so powerful.
In writing the book, Quentin says he felt like the hero of this story, that his whole life had been leading up to this. Then he realizes something — that he’s not the hero of this story. In his eyes, Alice is. Quentin finds her and they finally talk one on one. Alice doesn’t forgive him, but she does have his back, and she tells him so. In turn, he tells her he’s figured out that Ember was wrong, he’s not the champion. Since episode one, it has been established that Quentin needs to grow up. Even when he’d proved Julia wrong because magic was real, he still was acted like a child, but through the course of this season Quentin has grown up, and this choice he makes to put away the childish notion of being the chosen one, is maybe the most difficult thing Q has had to do so far, but he does it.
The next morning, right before the group is ready to face down The Beast, Julia pulls Quentin aside, and she tells him what happened to her. We go back to the free traders summoning ceremony for OLG, and it works, only it wasn’t actually OLG who was summoned.
The next portion of this recap features mention of sexual assault, so a trigger warning is in effect.
The person summoned isn’t our lady underground, but a trickster god named Reynard The Fox who literally rips out Richard’s heart and eats it before he kills the rest of the free traders aside from Kady, who takes cover, and Julia. He sets his sights on Kady, but Julia stands up to him and he rapes her while Kady flees. After he leaves, Julia calls Maina for help, and she is the one who takes her memories and puts the patch in her mind. There is a lot that can be said about this storyline, and the scene in particular. For the most part, I’m going to keep my own personal opinions out of it, but I will say that at the end of the day, I don’t think it was used as a cheap device in this instance, and that without giving any spoilers away for season 2, ‘victim’ is not a title Julia Wicker cares to be associated with.
Equipped with the new tattoo spell (travellers prefered means of spells apparently), Penny travels the whole group to the wellspring. They go in to wait for The Beast to arrive, and about as soon as it takes for Martin to arrive is as soon as things go south. With little to no effort, Martin gets the jump on all of them, and when Alice goes to pull out the Leo blade it isn’t there. Penny gets his hands cut off and it looks to be over until Julia gets Martin by the throat, somehow able to yield the leo blade. Without being too explicit, Julia also has the essence of a god in her, and instead of killing Martin, she makes a deal with him. Considering Martin killed Umber and trapped Ember, Julia’s seen first hand that he knows how to deal with gods, and while it’s not stated explicitly what she has in mind, we can conclude that she wants his help in dealing with Reynard. The episode and season ends with Martin and Julia gone, while Quentin surveys in horror the state of everyone in the room having been bodied by The Beast.
So there it is, Fanbros, the end of the line for season 1 of The Magicians. These recaps have given me a reason to revisit this fantastic show, and I couldn’t have been happier seeing it with brand new eyes. As far as finales go, it did a good job at doing what finales are supposed to do; close the loop on stories, while at the same time opening up avenues for new ones to be explored next season. And that they did.
This recap will be the last in ‘re-living the magic’ for a while, but fear not because there’s a very good reason for that — The Magicians, season 3 starts this Wednesday, January 10th at 9pm on Syfy, so I’ll be recapping that instead. In the mean time, what did you think of season 1 of The Magicians, Fanbros? Have these recaps made you a believer? Was there anything in season 1 you were disappointed about? What about what you want to see in the next season? Let me know in the comments down below, or catch up before the new season starts by reading the rest of my recaps right here on Fanbros.com.