Tuning into The Magicians every week is an exercise in not knowing if you’re going to be sitting down for a hilarious or somber 45 minutes of television. The show is such a mixed bag, and even when you have a general synopsis to work off of, that still isn’t a very good indication of what you’re going to get. Two episodes back Penny, a main character died (not technically) and yet it was one of the funniest episodes this season. This episode, ‘Do You Like Teeth?’ would suggest that it would probably fall into the hilarious episode category, but I am here to tell you today that assumption is very wrong.
The episode starts with Julia busting out a whole lot of 90’s nostalgia, things like Furbies, Bop Its, and Big Mouth Billy Bass because in order to perform the magical transfer spell she and Alice have, aluminum wiring is needed, and apparently that hasn’t been a component of products since the 90s. As they’re about to perform it, Penny transfers himself into the Bass to get their attention. They pick up the key to see him, and he immediately tells them that he’s seen magicians try to perform the spell before and it doesn’t end well. While he’s warning them, he let’s it slip that Fogg knows a thing or two about the spell, so the girls decide to pay him a visit in his office at Brakebills.
I know I’ve said that the Brakebills plot is weak and I don’t really care about it at all, which is still true. But seeing Dean Fogg just give the business to students all season has been kind of low key hilarious. He even says that before magic left he was operating with a series of enchantments that made him 38% more tolerant, which pretty much for me confirms what I already suspected, which is that I don’t think Dean Fogg likes his students very much at all. Still, after Julia enchants his glasses so he can see again, Fogg tells them what they need to perform the delicate spell properly — the flesh of a magical creature as a conductor, and he points them in the direction of an incubus he knows.
Back in Fillory, Margo is still dodging her new wifely duties of consummating her marriage with Prince Fumar. The stone queen walks and talks with her and tells Margo that she knows she’s trying to take out the Faerie queen and that she is not only trying to as well, but that she’s acquired a weapon to do so. Margo isn’t a fool though, and plays ignorant about the whole thing, which was probably a smart move because the stone queen leads Margo to a room where Fumar is waiting on her and locks her in. Kind of a terrible way to build trust with someone, but maybe that’s just me.
In an admittedly smart move, Quentin stays in the castle under the guise that he is a guard and not one of the kings of Fillory so the Faerie queen won’t screw with him. By now it’s clear that he’s pretty much in charge of moving the quest along, and he tells Eliot that the fourth key is in a stretch of ocean in Fillory called The Abyss. There’s a newfound closeness between the two of them after remembering that they literally shared a life together, so when Eliot tells Quentin that he can’t go with him on the voyage because he’s been tasked with convincing Margo to consummate her marriage with Fumar, Quentin is disappointed. They’re still doing that thing where they’re unintentionally intimate and their disagreements come off as lovers spats, which is all well and good, but you kind of get the impression that while they are so comfortable with each other, Eliot at least is a little uncomfortable or weirded out by it.Regardless, since it’s a no from El, Quentin sets off on this leg of the quest with one of the advisors, Benedict.
The show has a pretty good track record with playing off some pretty disturbing things for comedy, and sometimes rolling with the punches is necessary, but the whole Margo/Fumar storyline is just a lot for me. When he killed his brother in the last episode, the whole thing was executed with seriousness. The horrified look on Margo’s bloody face after seeing her almost husband’s head chopped off, then being forced to marry a child isn’t something that should be so easily forgotten that the next episode plays out like an mid 2000’s sex comedy farce. Locked in the room, Fumar literally begs Margo for sex and even tries to justify what he did to his brother, so to turn him off, Margo tries to give him sex ed, which doesn’t work so she tells him that vaginas have teeth, which for the time being seems to do the trick.
Eliot, is clearly against the whole idea of forcing/tricking Margo into having sex with anyone, let alone a child, and after he receives a letter from Prince Ess of Loria, he comes up with an idea. He convinces the Faerie queen that trying to force Margo will never work and that what they need is a honeymoon. He tells her about a forest that is filled with aphrodisiacs, so the queen permits it.
The really dark stuff this episodes comes with Quentin on The Muntjac. As they’re sailing in The Abyss they rescue a woman from a raft. The woman is Poppy (played by queen of nerd fandom, Felicia Day), who I know from my limited knowledge of the novels is a sort of substantial character in the book series. I’m not sure of anything she actually does in the books, so if her role here is a faithful adaptation, I have no clue, but I suspect not. Poppy was a Brakebills student and part of the same disappearing class as Josh was. Poppy and Q drink and talk, Poppy tells her how she ended up on the raft, while Q tells her about the quest he’s on. Just Q’s luck, Poppy actually has the key he’s looking for as she’d stolen it from a dragon’s nest but she tells him that she has no idea what the key does. After Quentin passes out, she puts it in his hand, and when he wakes up, there’s a doppelganger in front of him giving him the business.
After Q confronts her, Poppy admits to him that she does know what the key does — it makes a doppelganger of the holder using the darkest parts of that person. She tells him that she gave it to him because he seems so happy that she figured he could take it without knowing that he suffers from clinical depression.
The key doppelgangers are apparently relentless, and don’t stop until it forces a person to kill themselves. Quentin doesn’t want to pass the key on to someone else, so he deals with it, and the montage of watching his doppleganger take shots at Q is bad, but the most brutal of it comes when the doppelganger puts the blame for Julia’s sexual assault and Alice’s death on his shoulders, and that gets into his head.
On the honeymoon trip, Eliot gets Fumar to drink some wine that he’d drugged, knocking him out so he can fill Margo in on what his letter from Prince Ess read. The fairies are up to something as they vacated entire cities in the north and Ess claimed to have seen some Lovecraft levels of crazy stuff like blood rivers and monsters. They realize, after finding an orchard full of giant mushrooms that the mushrooms are actually faerie embryos and that they’re literally growing an army. Margo straight up plucks a few and kidnaps them, and to handle her issue with Fumar for the time being has a toad bite his member. When he wakes up they congratulate him on becoming a man. Yikes.
On the Muntjac, Quentin’s evil doppelganger is dangerously close to convincing Q to jump over the edge, but as he’s peering down into the water he sees a dragon. Benedict pulls Quentin back. Unexpectedly, Benedict tells Quentin that he knows how he feels, and that he’s come close to killing himself as well. From their conversation, Benedict gives Quentin the idea that he needs to be tied to the mast for the rest of the trip so he can’t hurt himself and Benedict obliges. As you can probably guess, that choice comes back to bite Quentin on the ass.
Poppy comes to talk to him and when he lets it slip that the keys can open up doors, Poppy steals the key, wanting more than anything to get out of the abyss. Q tells Benedict to not let her get away, but he thinks that he failed and has the key in his hand. It’s not long before he jumps over the edge while Quentin watches helpless from the mast. Benedict doesn’t so much fall into the depths of the waters of the abyss as he falls into the mouth of the dragon Q saw earlier. Poppy didn’t actually leave and thanks to her knowledge of dragons, Q realizes that all is not lost as dragons are sort of like portals and it’s likely that Benedict and the key are in the underworld. The quest continues.
After getting the tail of an Incubus, Alice and Jules successfully complete the transfer spell, and not soon after, Penny tells Julia that he’s leaving. Julia doesn’t want him to go, but he can’t deal with sitting by and watching them while he’s either ignored or forgotten about period, so I guess there wasn’t much change in Penny appreciation between the ‘Be The Penny’ episode and now after all. Penny sort of chastises Julia for giving up her magic and she leaves, but Alice convinces Penny to stay and tells him that she’ll make a new body for him with her newfound powers the way Mayakovsky did for her in season 2, and the Alice/Penny dynamic continues to be one of the most interesting in the show despite the fact that it seems like the writers just forget about it for long stretches of time.
Julia just wants a time out from everything now that she’s rid of her magic, and while she’s reading in the park she sees Reynard who taunts her telling her that essnetially his seed that gave her the magic was never the issue, and that the thing that keeps him a part of her is the terror he inflicted on her that she can’t get rid of.
The episode ends back at the physical kids cottage with Penny watching as Alice works on constructing his new body. She suddenly drops and starts to convulse and foam at the mouth. He can’t touch her and no one can see her, so he does the only thing he can do and projects himself into the big mouth Bass from earlier hoping someone will hear him. The last shot is a pretty dope tracking shot of Alice on the ground while the fish sings ‘I will survive’.
Do You Like Teeth is pretty surface level dark and only gets darker once you start to pull back some layers. Sometimes on the show it’ll almost seem like they’ve forgotten about certain things that happened to a person that would shape them, but unexpectedly bring them up again. It seems like they try to take a fairly realistic approach to how someone would deal with trauma or their mental health; Just because Julia isn’t sitting around chain smoking anymore doesn’t mean she’s still not dealing with her assault, just because Quentin happily swings a sword around on The Muntjac doesn’t mean he isn’t still dealing with his depression on a daily basis. Just because Eliot and Margo have (in their words) depth and character now doesn’t mean they have a clue about who they actually are anymore. We’re just about halfway through the 13 episode season and all of our main characters are in some way or another lost. I’m hoping that the back half of the season they all get a chance to find something that at the very least helps them all be a little more okay with themselves before it’s all said and done.
What about you Fanbros? What do you think about the season so far? What do you hope to see before the season is over? What do you think of new character, Poppy? Are you like me and low key miss Josh? Let me know in the comments down below, and if you haven’t already, check out past recaps right here on Fanbros.com!