The Magicians – We Have Brought You Little Cakes
By: Sharon Kurack
In complete Magicians fashion, the season finale opens with a random “break-the-fourth-wall” recap done by Ember (Dominic Burgess) himself. It’s not just a recap, though, as the god of Fillory adds his own flair to the story along with the explanation of why things are going down in Fillory (Fillagree, apparently, when you’re not drunk.). It seems he was bored. And as we found out last week, a bored Ember is a dangerous thing for Fillorians. He also explains that he is behind what the Order calls “The Great Blank Spot,” as everyone’s books end in twenty blank pages, signaling as abrupt ending in Fillory.
Speaking of the Library, our librarian Penny (Arjun Gupta) is now in the infirmary at Brakebills due to the Poison Room literally being poison. Sadly, it’s a lot worse as he has lesions growing on his spine like the “Cancer Plus” that it is, giving him maybe two to three weeks to live if Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) and company can’t crack the apparent magical code of it. Still distraught and unsatisfied over the events with Reynard, Kady (Jade Tailor) checks on Penny, although she is not fairing well mentally. They comfort each other and decide to figure out both of their situations, as that has worked better in the past. (Stronger together. Just saying, kids!)
Kady isn’t the only magician processing trauma as we see Julia (Stella Maeve) back in her apartment, taking up real estate on her couch. She’s whole (with her shade returned), but suffering immensely and processing the pain she had been weeks without. Eliot (Hale Appleman) comes to visit as he needs an amulet she has to make himself invisible to Ember in order to return to Fillory. But he doesn’t just retrieve it and leave; El cares about Julia – enough to pull her from her near-catatonic state. She shouldn’t be dealing with her emotions alone so he gives Jules a purpose to put pants on and save magic. (Sweatpants are so apropos for this.)
Despite being more or less separated this season, here is where most of our magicians rejoin one another to work towards a common goal. Quentin (Jason Ralph), Penny, Kady, El and Jules come together and discuss what’s going to happen to Fillory. Penny had read Eliot’s book in the library and found that it, too, ended in twenty blank pages. After speaking with Umber last week, El realizes that the twenty blank pages when Ember will destroy Fillory. Despite things being written in the book as “set in stone,” El decides to do anything other than what the book has written, opting for Free Will. But will that be enough?
Kady, wanting to be anywhere but there after all she and Penny had been through, insists that they both should be done now with Fillory after warning Eliot and company. At this point, the Library summons Penny and all the librarians claiming that the knowledge at stake is more important than any one of them so he can’t be “done.” Despite Kady’s protests, the library ports her back to Brakebills before she and Penny even got a chance to say goodbye.
Eliot and Q have a sobering but necessary conversation about taking responsibility for your actions and what that means for them as kings of Fillory. Q is starting to have second thoughts about bringing Alice back as she seems to be mentally suffering from “being human.” So much so that Q gives her a potion to keep her from physically harming herself. Because of her suffering, Quentin feels like all he has done is screw up despite his good intentions. Screwing up is inevitable, but learning from it is a choice. Really sound advice, El. The two kings decide to have Q petition Umber once more for help while El returns to Fillory to try and petition/convince Ember not to destroy it. Upon his return to Fillory, El easily reclaims the throne from Prince Ess (Arlen Escarpeta), whose father, King Idri (Leonard Roberts), follows closely behind so an all-out brawl doesn’t happen. Yes, Idri is no longer a rat and, even better, has faith in El to save Fillory. Finally able to sit on the throne and plan, Eliot finds that he’s not sitting for long as Margo (Summer Bishil) and Josh (Trevor Einhorn) appear out of nowhere from the fairy realm.
It turns out that the fairy realm basically exists on top of Whitespire (the castle) and Margo had been busy trying to bring a reluctant Fen (Brittany Curran) back. Upon being caught by the faeries, Margo met with the Queen of the Faeries (Candis Cayne) to discuss not only Fen and her baby daughter, but also the fact of Ember’s bordem with Fillory which affects everyone. The Fairy Queen instructed Margo to offer something to Ember rather than ask, in which a hemp-like plant is given to the High Queen to bake into little cakes and draw out the god. Such a plan almost sounded as if the faeries wanted to help, until the toll for crossing realms was extracted. Without Fen (who wouldn’t leave without her daughter), Margo and Josh returned with the plant and Margo with one less eye. (You can still see “BS” a mile away, girl.)
Eliot and Margo chat while Josh goes to bake those irresistible little cakes. It’s a long overdue chat which shows how not only this relationship has been strained, but also most of the relationships among our magicians have. However, like El and Jules, they decide to press on and work together to throw a party like the world depends on it, because it does. (Party like it’s 1999, anyone? R.I.P. Prince)
While the preparations for the “Party of the Ages” are being completed, Q pays Umber a visit for one last plea to help save Fillory. Umber still refuses and takes Q to his new world, “Cuba,” to gauge a reaction of how it is. Without Ember, it’s like only having your “left brain” functioning, with no creativity, no aesthetics, and no chaos. The world is very black and white, and very linear; in other words, it’s very neutral — even the food is bland and unoffending. Despite his apparent disdain for his brother’s chaos, Umber knows he needs him for balance.
At the same time Q is in “Cuba” (or Q-ba), Ember appears at the party, drawn out by the little cakes. It almost seems successful as Eliot’s appearance in Fillory despite being banned is a lovely twist to the god. However, it’s short lived as the High monarchs try to convince Ember not to destroy Fillory, mentioning Umber, which sets him off in an apocalyptic rage. Said rage affects Q and Umber in “Cuba” because (plot twist) Jules pilfered the snow globe of “Cuba” and traveled to Fillory. She breaks the globe, which causes Q and Umber to appear right in front of Ember. It’s a family reunion until Ember realizes the truth behind how Umber survived, calling it a “family betrayal,” and attacks his brother ultimately killing him.
Everything starts crashing down as Julia takes the sword meant to kill Reynard and enchants it with the energy she had collected from his son, enough to kill a god. Taking a brave stance, Julia taunts Ember by throwing really great truthful one-liners at him, enough to distract from Q’s purpose. Ember places Julia in a telekinetic choke hold and just when you think it’s over Q pulls a Jedi move, the sword appearing in his hands, and kills Ember. There are two dead gods in Fillory, the now land of the “godless heathens.” (But, it was spared destruction.)
To end the “okay day,” Q returns to Alice who still seems content with lying on the floor. As gluttony is one of the more awesome parts of being human, Q brings a whole plate of BACON, which Alice ultimately can’t resist. (Not many can!) She’s clearly pleased with the bacon until she realizes how greasy and unclean her hands are and becomes extremely pessimistic. Tenderly, almost lovingly even, Q wipes Alice’s hands with napkins and the touch gives her another good part of being human. It’s as though she’s touching him for the first time, overwhelming and a bit awkward, until they kiss for the first time in what seems like ages. Of course, one thing leads to another. (Sex being another great part of being human.) In the afterglow, Q also tells Alice that he killed a god.
Alice freaks out when she realizes he’s not joking, as her perspective, her knowledge of magic, the universe and the hierarchies were at her disposal as a niffin. There’s clear cause to worry: Ember and Umber’s parents (the old gods who created the universe) will come after them. (The repercussions of killing a god that Persephone spoke of?) When mortals are harmless they’re usually ignored, but when they get too strong/considered malignant and threaten the balance, the gods intervene and call a “plumber.” Cue a creepy Luigi-looking plumber that travels to Brakebills, the Library, Fillory and Mayakovsky’s to flip a switch that “shuts off” magic.
Two months later reveals Quentin, Alice, and Josh in a class at Brakebills with Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) conducting a lecture. Magic has disappeared without a trace, but the university will continue studying magic until its return. After class, Alice runs into Friar Joseph (Jamie Harris), the first niffin to escape, who seems to be dying from the lack of magic. Not all creatures are lost (dragons, etc. are still alive); it’s only those who relied upon the Wellspring that were affected. He also issues a warning to Alice: any enemies she made as a niffin know that she is weak, her whereabouts and will seek revenge. Frightened, Alice drops her books and runs off into the night.
Fillory doesn’t seem to be doing well, either, without magic. The people are terrified and the High monarchs are at odds with one another on deciding how best to govern (monarchy with martial law or more of a democracy). Fen finally return; however, without her daughter and toes (toll for the return trip) and warns that the faeries are there to conquer Fillory. As if on cue, faeries surround them inside and outside the castle. Were they affected by the “magical shut off?”
Lastly, back at Brakebills, Q is brooding outside class when Julia sneaks in (easily due to there being no more wards at this point). They talk about how they both share the blame in killing magic. Is magic truly gone? Without it Q seems lost but at least has Brakebills and Jules has law school, right? Nope! She quit law school because magic still exists and we get the proof when she creates sparks from her hands, golden this time (perhaps like the energy from Ember?). She makes Q promise not to tell anyone and we’re left with some hope of magic’s return in Season Three.
Episode Thirteen was a great way to not only tie up loose ends, but also create new loose ends in the process. Everyone started together but are now separate again. Will Season Three follow the books? How will Harriet (Marlee Matlin), the “clickbait site” magician, be able to help Kady save Penny? Will the deal Kady made with her to save Penny’s life strain their relationship? And how is Julia able to create sparks when magic is technically gone? Let the theories fly like Margo’s comebacks, fellow Fillorians, as we’ve until 2018 to find out!
Honorable mention: The fact that Season One Episdoe 13’s title was “Have You Brought Me Little Cakes” while this episode’s title was “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” has NOT gone unnoticed. Well played writers. Well played indeed.