The Magicians – Ramifications
By: Sharon Kurack
Appropriately titled Ramifications, for figurative and literal reasons, (Well played, writers. Well played.), the penultimate episode of Season Two fulfills its purpose by giving us (and our magical squad) the ramifications of the major decisions made starting with Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve). We last encountered the duo leaving the Underworld as a trio with Alice’s shade in tow rather than Julia’s. The new plan now is to revive Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) with her shade, which is how they end up seeking Mayakovsky (Brian F. O’Byrne). At first, he’s not too keen on bringing a Niffin back to life and warns of the possible consequences in doing so. (She’s liable to “Hulk out…”) However, Q convinces him to help using the guilt the exiled professor still harbors over what happened to Alice’s brother, which was an indirect result of Mayakovski’s affair with another student.
Pulling Alice’s shade from Julia, Q leaves the missing puzzle piece in a warded giant metal cage and performs a ritual with Mayakovsky that uses magical batteries (larger versions than the one we’ve seen with Julia). A wild Niffin Alice appears, reunited with her shade (albeit reluctantly) and is revived. Nevertheless, our revived Alice is not the same doe-eyed young woman with promising magic, no; she is angry, with no magic and needing relearn everything.
Eliot (Hale Appleman) surprisingly meets up with Q and breaks the news of his own banishment from Fillory and the abduction of his wife courtesy of the faeries. With no button to return to Fillory (due to Q using it as payment for a ride to the Underworld), they’re both stuck to figure out how to return as well as what to do with newly-resurrected Niffin Alice. Q and El conclude from Q’s conversation with the dragon that the first portal to Fillory is still open. What is the first portal? The grandfather clock from the books. The kingly duo research where the clock had been sold, as the previous own had “died” in Season One and travel to a residence belonging to someone just as obsessed with the books as Q. Upon this visit, it turns out that this collector with quite the Fillorian artifact collection is none other than UMBER— you know, the OTHER GOD of Fillory who was supposedly killed by the Beast?
So, Umber faked his own death as part of a deal made with Martin (a/k/a the Beast), who left traps all over Fillory for Ember. Without Umber to balance out Ember, chaos reigns and everything happening is because of Ember’s boredom. Despite knowing this, Umber refuses to return and is adamant about creating a new world. Regardless of realizing how Ember’s chaotic boredom has turned everyone into rats, he still refuses. This causes Q to call out the cowardly god as the reason the Beast was created. Seriously, Q, get it! About time he started calling others out on their “ish.” El isn’t ready to walk away from Fillory either, but Umber warns that nothing entertains his brother more than a “whimsical death.” Gods, I sure hope this isn’t a foreshadow. Nevertheless, Q and El plan to find a way to return to Fillory and stay as well as stop or drive out Ember so he doesn’t lay waste to the kingdom out of boredom. This would essentially mean conquering Fillory, which was the same goal as the Beast originally. Boys, be careful!
In the library of the Neitherlands, Penny (Arjun Gupta) and assistant Sylvia (Roan Curtis) investigate a way to reach the Poison Room. They find that they can enter through a “back door,” which involves finding and using the actual (locked) fountain for the Poison Room. How Sylvia knows any of this gives a little cause for suspicion, especially after she’s able to (easily) unlock the ward on the door of the fountain. As she does so, Sylvia also reveals her reasoning behind going in with Penny. Long story short, many books (including Kanye’s) have twenty pages near the end that all happen to be blank. Blank pages usually mean death, but according to the Librarians because this had happened to a number of books it was called “The Great Blank Spot.” This being considered cataclysmic, the Library moved all of the librarians’ books to the Poison Room. If something happens that affects the Library, it would be in a librarian’s book Sylvia concludes, which gives her reason to find her own book.
With no valid counter argument to keep her from following, Penny enters the fountain with Sylvia to a realm that literally is poisoned. (The grey color scale and burning effects were brilliant in these scenes.) Breaking out in boils and coughing, Penny finds and grabs the book on killing gods (for Kady) and tries to get Sylvia out. However, she’s read her book and tells Penny to leave her or else he’ll die, too, as her book says. With no real choice, Penny disappears to Brakebills, where Kady (Jade Tailor) and Jules are. He hands Kady the book and passes out from what seems like radiation poisoning. (The Poison Room literally being poison.)
In Fillory, being the only child of Earth left, Josh (Trevor Einhorn) is now High King. He works with the Cabinet to try and locate Margo (Summer Bishil), but fails. Another issue is that half of the court, including King Idri, is still rats so the only logical way to handle things is by evoking “Hakuna Matata” and getting everyone high. (Seems legit. Even Mayakovsky says that “drugs are fun.” Nothing could go wrong…) Luckily for Margo, it’s the type of buzz that allows people to see other realms and Josh is able to see and hear her tell him to find Rafe (Sergio Osuna) to get her back. This results in Josh getting another potion from Rafe to take him to the Fairy Realm, although the question of the possibility of returning remains. With no time to really decide on a plan of action because Prince Ess’s (Arlen Escarpeta) rash, bloody search party for his father, Josh takes the potion and disappears.
Although it may look to be so in this episode, the final showdown isn’t Faeries versus Fillorians; it’s Team Best B*tches versus Reynard (Mackenzie Astin). Julia and Kady realize they both need each other and Julia, now shadeless again, truly wants to do good believing that Kady will help her. In the midst of this touching conversation, John Gaines (Christopher Gorham) shows up and informs them of Reynard’s vendetta with Persephone (Garcelle Beauvais). The trio decides to lure Reynard and use John to kill him once and for all. However, this time they decide to teach John how to fight his father by using magic. Killing John is off the table. Believing in this new plan, John returns to his office at the Senate where his father awaits him with a “gift.” This lovely gift is what’s left of John’s wife; a result in Reynard knowing his son went to Jules and Kady. According to him, neither John nor Julia would ever be able to go back to who they were before Reynard entered and essentially ruined their life.
Upon his return to Brakebills, John’s determination to kill his father by any means necessary drives him to use his powers of persuasion on both Julia and Kady. Julia is sent away to get pizza as a mercy (after all she’s been through because of his father) while Kady is controlled into performing the ritual to take a demi-god’s power, thus killing John. When Julia returns with the pizza, she finds a traumatized Kady with John’s blood on her hands and his power collected. With renewed resolve, Julia promises her best friend that she would handle the rest with Reynard as she makes a single bullet from John’s power. They only get one shot at killing the fox god. New plan: create a lightning storm as an illusion of Persephone to lure Reynard, and shoot to kill. Simple enough, right?
Like a moth to the flame, the fox god takes the lightning bait and appears, looking for the Queen of the Underworld, and is essentially a sitting duck…err..fox. However, Julia is unable to get a clear shot and needs to get closer. As a distraction, Kady confronts Reynard, telling him about his now dead son. This gives Julia enough time to aim, but she hesitates when the storm suddenly dies. Persephone, after decades of being missing, returns and pleads with Julia to spare Reynard’s life because he is her son. It also turns out that the Queen of the Underworld knew what the fox god was doing and did NOTHING! In a rage, Julia calls her out and says that she had lost everything because of him. He needs to pay for what he has done. There are consequences to killing a god, according to Persephone, but it is ultimately Julia’s choice. Our Lady Underground also points out that Julia is still capable of mercy at this point and warns her not to let him take that away, too. This strikes a chord in Jules and she lowers her gun. Persephone then takes her son away to deal with him, leaving Julia with a furious Kady. After everything, Reynard gets to live? Persephone isn’t without mercy either, however; she sends Julia’s shade to her. But is that enough to repair the damage between Kady and Julia now?
What a ride this episode (this whole season, really) has been! It all comes to the forefront in the season finale. With Alice magically incapacitated, Penny down for the count and Margo MIA, our magicians are left with few resources (other than Julia finally being whole) against whoever they are going to confront. Q and El need to face Ember otherwise Fillory’s fate is sealed. How will things come together as everyone is separated from one another? Will El and Q be able to face Ember with just the two of them? (Cue “Just the Two of Us” here) Will everyone be able to eventually come together and defend their “home?” Will Umber really stand by and watch his beloved Fillory fall? So many questions still left, but will they be answered in the finale…or next season?