By now, thanks to the marketing leading up to the premiere, and the first two episodes themselves, we’re well acquainted with the fact that the bulk of (if not all) of this season of The Magicians revolves around the quest to restore magic. It’s a lofty goal for sure, and there have been things sprinkled in over the course of the first two episodes that displayed how important magic is, but even still, it wasn’t until this week’s episode, aptly titled ‘The Losses of Magic’ that it really hit me how magic being gone isn’t just some mild inconvenience—it’s ingrained in magicians’ lives so much so that some just aren’t able to function.
Alice’s parents have made a few recurring appearances on the show since season 1, and depending on their reason for being around that episode, I can take it or leave it. Alice herself, easily one of my favorites in season 1 is my least favorite in season 3, but despite that, I think I’d give the episode MVP trophy to her. Her lamprey storyline, ( the weakest so far this season) finally comes to a head, and when it’s all said and done, I actually liked it more than I anticipated. She only knows two things for sure; that the lamprey is near, and that it doesn’t just want to hurt her, but anyone she cares about, so she goes home to warn her parents. It’s the two of them that serve amazing catalyst to further reinforce just how integral magic was to magicians everywhere. It was made known in episode 1 of season 1 that Alice comes from an acclaimed family of magicians, but without magic, there’s nothing exceptional about them. Her mother drinks pretty much the entire episode,and her father…well he’s not all that different, but without magic he is utterly useless in terms of practicality, but he still has his intellect, so that’s something.
Quentin, with the lamprey using him as a host follows Alice home, and the whole thing quickly delves into an homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing after they board themselves up in the house, then devolve into accusing the other of having the lamprey inside of them. There’s two times in the episode where Alice is asked what she did to piss the lamprey off, and she lies about it to avoid having to give a straight answer. Later in the episode, she confides in her father that she tortured his family, and not just for knowledge like she’d said initially, but because they made pretty lights when they died, and it’s simple, but savage, especially when you consider that this torture had been done by someone who is a protagonist. For a huge chunk of season 2, the Alice we’d come to know was dead, replaced with a niffin, a completely different person without her shade. But even after her shade was given back to her, she wasn’t the same, and this episode is the first that we get to look closer at what that means for her.
At one point the lamprey left Quentin’s body and without anyone knowing, inhabited Alice’s father, and in the climax of her storyline this week, Alice is forced between electrocuting her dad and killing the lamprey at the expense of her dad’s weak heart not being able to sustain injury from the shock, or letting the lamprey use her dad as a host to have more offspring, which would eventually kill him as well. Alice chooses the former, and for a while it looks like her dad is going to make it, but by the end he doesn’t and dies as Alice looks at him and you can’t tell if it’s with overwhelming shock or a lack of feeling on her part.
Shifting gears to the magical realm, while sailing back to Fillory, The Muntjac gets taken over by pirates. Eliot locks himself and his family away, and inside the room a lock appears, one that fits the key he’d gotten last episode. After turning the lock, a magical door appears, and where it leads to we don’t actually find out. Margo gets wind of the highjacking, and wastes no time springing into action. She actually goes to the faerie queen to ask for help getting her to Eliot, and she agrees, but it’s left up to Margo to negotiate with the pirates. Because this is The Magicians, and next to nothing is straightforward, it isn’t just money the pirates are after. Their ship is also sentient and it wants to mate with The Muntjac, regardless of if The Muntjac consents or not. It comes down to Margo having to choose between a ship getting raped or having the whole crew killed by the pirates. She can’t bring herself to just let The Muntjac be mounted without her consent, so she has a heart to heart with it, one that moves the faerie queen to throw them a bone and she slaughters all of the pirates for them. The resolution is kind of abrupt, and the faerie queen pulls a deus ex machina for sure, but the scene hints at something I think will be expanded on later in the season; the faerie queen was moved by Margo ability to act like an actual leader and says that’s what she wants from Margo, the why she would want that from Margo has yet to be seen. When they’d first arrived on the ship, Tig, one of her advisors (my favorite advisor tbh) swiped Margo’s eye from the faerie queen, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by her. When confronted, Margo covers for Tig and tells the queen it was her, then rather than give the eye back, she destroys it, knowing it can’t be repaired. The faerie queen doesn’t react harshly, just leaves Margo on The Muntjac to sail back alone, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that whatever consequence comes from Margo’s act of rebellion is going to be lethal.
Finally, my prayers that Kady and Julia would have more scenes together were answered as Julia finds where Kady is hiding out with a dying Penny. He’s pretty much on his last leg, but Kady’s plan is to summon a demon who can remove Penny’s super cancer using the magic from Mayakovsky’s battery and Julia is all for helping; it’s not the smartest plan and they know that, but desperate times call for desperate measures. When they perform the spell it feels like it’s been forever since seeing any actual magic performed with full on finger tutting and it’s awesome to see again, even if it’s only for a few brief moments. They summon the wrong demon (the cousin of the demon they actually meant to summon), but he’s still able to remove the tumor, a process so painful, that Penny astral projects out of his body for the duration of the procedure. Despite getting the tumor out, Penny doesn’t make it and the episode ends with his consciousness outside of his dead body watching Kady and Julia mourn for him.
‘The Losses of Magic’ very much so feels like an episode designed to set up new conflicts that’ll play out over the course of the rest of the season. But, in addition to that, it’s going down in history for me at least as the episode that turned both of my least favorite storylines into something interesting. Alice is never going to be the same girl she was in season 1, but she’s also not the niffin that inhabited her body in season 2, so finally putting her on a path to deal with that head on is a hell of a whole lot more entertaining than watching her carry around cats and looking sullen through diner windows. Penny has always gotten the short end of the stick in terms of plot, the guy hasn’t been able to catch a break, and that’s still true, but killing him while not actually killing him off will at the very least open up some interesting avenues in terms of what he’ll be doing this season –is he going to stay dead forever or is it a matter of us seeing his journey back to the land of the living? I know Felicia Day is supposed to appear this season, so will she be the Whoopi Goldberg to his Patrick Swayze? I don’t know, I haven’t made many predictions but the ones I have were all hella wrong.
The episode saw less outright funny moments or wasn’t anywhere near as action packed, and yet it’s the episode that has me anticipating tuning in next week more than any other so far.
So what did you think about ‘The Losses of Magic’, Fanbros? What did you think about the low key homage to ‘The Thing’? What other movies should get shoutout from this show? What do you think the door Eliot and his family went through leads to? Let me know in the comments, and check out any of my other recaps you might have missed right here on Fanbros.com!