Thirty-Nine Graves — Recap
Here we are in the home stretch; episode 12 of the first season of The Magicians. While the end is so close we can almost taste it people, we’re not quite there yet, there’s always a warm-up act before the main event, right? That’s what Thirty-nine Graves is. While I can’t speak highly enough of this show as a whole, coming off of the heels of the excellent last episode, this one doesn’t stack up to it quite as well, but it’s an episode full of a lot of necessary reveals and set-ups that are needed going into the finale. There’s a lot of recalling elements of earlier episodes and connecting of the dots in this one, and all in all is a pretty solid lead in to the last episode of the season.
It starts off with Julia and Kady finding and meeting the servant of our lady underground (who from this point on will be referred to as OLG). I’m not sure what he actually is, but his form is of a sharp dressed Latin dude with a penchant for fine suits, cigars, and a sick man bun. It’s touch and go for a while as Kady lacks some faith, but he performs a small miracle on Kady that convinces her OLG is the real deal. Still, there’s some resistance on his part, but Julia comes through in the clutch and convinces him to give them the invocation they need to summon her. He warns her when he gives her the scrolls that you can’t unring a bell so she needs to be certain when she calls on OLG.
It’s rallying time for team Brakebills, and considering 3 of the 5 had sex with each other the night before, their focus is obviously elsewhere. Things are tense; Alice is ignoring Q who in turn is pissed at Eliot and Margo, but while Eliot is apathetic, Margo isn’t at all here for Quentin’s attitude considering it took three to tango. Penny is the only one out of the loop, but he could care less about their squabbling and is much more concerned with none of them dying, but for a while he’s fighting an uphill battle. He goes off to find Alice and gives her some words of wisdom when he sees her trying to drink her problems away, something he’s well versed in. Without actually knowing what’s up, he makes Alice feel a little better and then a lot better because they sleep together.
The Free Traders, meanwhile are the complete opposite; tension free on the eve of their summoning OLG. There’s a full on party going on, but Julia still can’t quite get out of her own head. Kady tries to get her to relax a little, but OLG’s servant unnerved her. Richard takes a crack at it and gets better results, and that probably has something to do with the fact that they end up sleeping together too. I think it’s worth comparing and contrasting the two storylines here with both camps rallying together for vastly different reasons, yet in both plots sex is used as a means of comfort and calm between friends who have a mutual respect for one another without messy strings attached on the back end.
The next day, it’s go time for both the Free Traders and Team Brakebills for better or worse. Before leaving, Alice bottles up her emotions as well, fearing she would have probably gotten them all killed considering how she was feeling about Quentin. As soon as they get there, they’re all ambushed by The Beast’s henchman, and Quentin falls back into the earth fountain with the map to Fillory’s fountain in his hand. The rest of team Brakebills takes refuge in the library, but there are rules, one of them being that bottling up their emotions isn’t allowed. Sidebar, while it isn’t actually important to the plot, I just want to point out that there’s a funny little bit included where the librarian says all of their names but refers to Margo as Janet. Margo corrects her and the librarian responds with a curt ‘this time’. It’s a funny little nod to the novels, because as book readers know, Margo is the TV counterpart to the books’ Janet.
Stuck on earth, Quentin confronts Dean Fogg, demanding answers knowing that he knows more than what he’s saying. He spikes the Dean’s drink with truth serum and Fogg drops several bombs on Q. Not only does Quentin find out that Eliza was Jane Chatwin, but that Jane had the power to create time loops and she did, 39 times to be exact. Every time team Brakebills failed to kill The Beast and die, Jane would loop time again, altering one factor in hopes of changing the outcome. This folks, is where we get our episode title of 39 graves from. Fogg isn’t done dropping bombs though because he lets Quentin know that because Eliza is dead, if they fail this time their 40th death will be their last, but even that isn’t the best reveal. Nope, the best reveal involves our girl, Julia, who just so happened to be the changing variable this time around. In every other loop, Julia did get into Brakebills. Considering everything Julia has been through this season, knowing now that none of it should have never been her fate to begin with, the move seems that much more cruel, even if Eliza did it knowing that Julia would find a means to learn magic regardless.
Armed with the information he got from Dean Fogg, Quentin seeks Julia out. When he finds her, she’s alone in her apartment, no sign of the free traders. She tells him how their endeavor to summon OLG was successful and that not only did they get what they wanted, but OLG sent them all on different missions, which is why they weren’t there anymore. Quentin tells her everything about the time loops and how she belonged at Brakebills. Julia feels vindicated, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter much to her after seeing everything she had with OLG. It took 12 whole episodes, but finally, Quentin and Julia make up for real, and not only that, they team up to go to Fillory, because Quentin refuses to let his friends go up against The Beast alone. Julia’s marching orders from OLG is to find a new kind of magic, and she’s convinced that she’ll find it in Fillory.
While kicking it in the library, Penny tries to figure out how to travel with multiple people, but the books he needs are in another branch. Thanks to Eliot, they wear out their welcome pretty fast as after he burns a book, they’re all banished and left out in the open. It’s here that we’re introduced to a new character, Josh, who was part of the third year class that went missing. He gives them refuge and more insight on what happened to the missing class — he’s friends with Victoria, the traveller girl The Beast keeps locked up in his dungeon. She found out how to travel to Fillory and was so good that she managed to take most of their graduating class with her. The Beast tricked them, but she got Josh to a safe hideout before she was captured.
Quentin and Julia go to Brakebills, and find a way to time travel in order to follow Jane Chatwin into a door leading to Fillory. It’s kind of convoluted in a way, but hey, this is a show about magic so just go with it. While they’re busy with that, Alice is the one who comes up with a plan on how to get to the Fillory fountain. Josh knows where it is, it’s only a matter of getting there undetected, a matter that’s solved with a callback to Alice’s specialty, light bending. Using it, she manages to walk them all through the fountains. The plan works flawlessly until Eliot, who had eaten a psychedelic carrot (just little Magician things) gets them noticed. It takes some battle magic, but they all get to the Fillory fountain and jump in.
Back in 1942, Quentin and Julia’s plan goes off without a hitch, and the last scene of the episode sees the two of them fulfilling a near life long dream together — finally making it to Fillory.
And there it is, the calm before the storm. It’s been a long and weird journey, but we’ve finally made it to the big show, folks; we’ve made it to Fillory. Like I said at the top, this episode was a lot of set up, but even still, finally making it to Fillory feels like an accomplishment in of itself. It’s a beautiful thing to see not only the two main protagonists of the show mend their friendship, but to have it confirmed that their destinies are tied with one another. I’m not going to pretend like Thirty-nine Graves makes it on my top 5 list of best Magicians episodes, but it’s one that’s necessary, and the last show before everything changes for pretty much every character in a pretty major way. Say your goodbyes to the status quo now, because the season finale is guaranteed to shake everything in the world we’ve seen created in the past 12 episodes up.
So tell me what you thought about Thirty-Nine Graves, Fanbros? If you haven’t skipped ahead, what are your predictions for the end of season 1? Let me know in the comments below! Also, you can catch up on my recaps on any previous episodes, right here on FanBros.com!