The Magicians - The Art Of The Deal - Review: “Quest For Freedom” + POLL By Aimee Hicks (March 15, 2018, 2:01 am)
The musical episode was a spectacular episode, so surely the show couldn’t deliver better than that. Well, the writers apparently didn’t get that memo, because they delivered yet another outstanding standout episode. These writers continue to impress week in and week out. What is so refreshing about this show is that it doesn’t pull any punches. It says what it wants to say and tackles the topics it wants to. This week they dove full tilt into the topic of slavery. They’ve been gradually building up to this storyline and the payoff was a spectacular and profound story. It also completely changed how many people will likely view the Fairy Queen. The being who started off looking like a big bad turned out to be much more than what was initially portrayed.
This episode saw the secrets of the McAllistair family revealed in horrific fashion. All this time Irene has been building up a drug empire at the expense of her fairy slaves. Seeing that things were rapidly deteriorating for Skye and the other fairies, Julia knew that she and Fen had to act fast. Unfortunately, even despite the relieved hug from last week when Julia saved Skye, Fen still isn’t fully onboard with helping Julia save the fairies. It takes some time, but Fen does finally come around to play a small part initially.
This episode gave Brittany Curran some great moments to shine and she nailed every single one of them. She was hilarious portraying Fen learning about emojis and deadly serious when she confronted the Fairy Queen to force her to listen to them. Fen is an interesting character because she can be acting like a petulant teenager one moment then be a badass serious warrior woman the next. Curran had to cover that entire array in this single episode and with terrific writing and her outstanding acting she portrayed a great amount of character growth for Fen. She also captured in a painstakingly realistic way the pain and anger of a mother that has lost a child. The moment where Fen stood strong and forced the Fairy Queen to listen was a profound character defining moment. There was so much hatred in her eyes and her voice yet the essence of who Fen is was still firmly in place. She has a huge heart and ultimately that won out as she came to the conclusion that not all fairies are the same and some do deserve help. It was a nice touch that the one person who has the deepest hatred for the fairies is the one that gets them to help.
Fen’s powerhouse moments didn’t end there as she continued to be fierce throughout. Even after helping to get the Fairy Queen to return with them to see the slaves, Fen is still not wholeheartedly in on this mission. That is until she saw the fairy have his head chopped off in the name of harvesting fairy essence faster. Witnessing that moment took the ember of anger that was already smoldering inside Fen and gave that anger the oxygen it needed to explode. Fen grabbed the McAllister’s longtime fairy slave, Dust, with the ferocity of a force of nature. There is no doubt that without Julia’s intervention she would have used whatever force necessary to get him to fess up to what was going on. And she stood firmly by Julia’s side as both women tried to use their own bodies as shields for the fairies they were desperately trying to protect. In the end, neither woman got to lift a finger against the McAllister’s, as they both got knocked unconscious, but they inspired a bloody rebellion after getting the Fairy Queen to free the McAllister fairies from the debt caused by Dust and his family. The rebellion ended with the McAllister family nearly destroyed with the exception of Irene who managed to escape. Her escape almost certainly secures her status as a sinister big bad. We have not seen the last of her, not by a long shot, and the next time she appears she will likely be out for blood. But it seems likely that the fairies won’t let her get away with much as she’s likely top of their most wanted list. And as a result of what happened to Irene’s family, the whole bloody rebellion actually seems to have possibly redeemed the Fairy Queen.
This season started off with the Fairy Queen as the obvious big bag. She wasn’t one dimensional though and the signs were there that there was more to her. It was really hard to see any good qualities in her as she was tormenting Margo and Eliot, but the writers slowly and covertly started adding more layers. With a slick slide of hand that would make the most masterful magician envious the writers pulled a bait and switch shifting big bad status to Irene McAllister and her family. Before anyone realized what was going on, suddenly the Fairy Queen was a character worthy of rooting for. It was sly and brilliantly executed. Candis Cayne pulled off the writers’ sneaky trick through some very precise and beautifully calculated acting. It happened very gradually, but as the hour wore on she started to soften her performance ever so slightly to help sell a different side to the Fairy Queen. The evolution of this character is thanks to a perfect marriage of smart writers and a talented performer.
As this episode progressed it was obvious that the Fairy Queen isn’t harsh on humans just for the sake of being harsh on them. They have earned her hatred through vile acts against her people. It doesn’t justify all the horrible things she has done, two wrongs don’t make a right, but at least it explains a lot about why she has acted the way she had. Seeing what the McAllister’s had been doing to the fairies left behind on Earth should have soured her even more too all humans, but it didn’t. She helped to massacre the McAllister family, but the rampage ended with them. Fen, and especially Julia, showed the Fairy Queen that there is some good left in the human race. These two women helped save innocent fairies for absolutely no personal gain on their parts.
This was a very heavy storyline. Something that none of these actresses are unfamiliar with, but none more so than Stella Maeve. The writers have enjoyed putting Julia through one heartbreaking gut-wrenching moment after another all of which Maeve has handled with incredible acting. This was actually tame compared to other things Maeve has had to guide Julia through, but it was still an intense storyline even for Julie. After all that she has been through, this season has been about Julia coming to terms with who she has become as a result of everything she has survived. For perhaps the first time this season we got to see Julia be truly at peace with her magic. She has come to accept that this is hers now and it doesn’t matter that it originated from Reynard because she is using it for good to offset all the evil he did with it. Julia worked tirelessly to try and free the McAllister fairy slaves. She put herself and Fen in several precarious positions all in the name of doing the right thing. She just couldn’t turn her back on Skye and the others.
The scene near the end between the Fairy Queen and Julia showed how far both characters have come. Julia’s selfishness also earned her the insight on where one of the final keys of the quest is. Unfortunately, the Fairy Queen can’t let Julia and her friends have it because it is the very thing holding the fairy realm together. The Fairy Queen actually seemed remorseful not being able to repay Julia for all she did. Will this setup a new showdown with the fairies or will Julia find some way to use her magic to offset the key and allow the realm to exist without the key? This storyline is far from over and it’ll be interesting to see what route the writers take the story in the coming episodes.
While all of this was happening on Earth things were getting quite complicated back on Fillory. The Fairy Queen left Eliot and Margo in quite the bind. With their kingdom at war and a cowardly Tick holding their throne, these two are left trying to work back channels to save everything they worked so hard for. Eliot tries to leverage feelings left from his past relationship with Idri while Margo tries to use her forced marriage to get the Stone Queen to stop attacking Fillory. They both make some pretty big promises all dependent on the return of magic. At the very least they need to prove that there is some magic left. Since there is only one human with magic at her disposal these two better hurry up and get Julia to Fillory. She is their only hope to stave off a full-on war until the group manages to restore magic. Now that Julia has taken care of her own business with the fairies they might be able to convince her to help. More important, given all Julia did for the fairies she might just be able to convince the Fairy Queen to help get Eliot and Margo reinstated. No matter the outcome of this desperate last-ditch attempt these two are proving that they way better leaders than Tick could ever be. They had the chance to continue on with the quest and they instead chose to try to help the people who deposed them.
Even though Eliot and Margo declined to help find the next key, Quentin, Josh, and Alice still went after it. This was an awkward trio, but that made their story more compelling to watch. Alice and Quentin have some serious trust issues to work through. It’s understandable given how shady Alice has been acting lately. Her confession that the Library was just trying to help them with the quest is a bit shady in and of itself. Alice hasn’t had the most spectacular track record lately. She did make a compelling argument about why she didn’t want to originally go on the quest. However, there was another interesting parallel made as well. At the start of the episode, Alice was complaining about Quentin being willing to trust Kady, a drug addict, with a key whereas he wouldn’t even trust her with the book. Kady is a drug addict, but there is an argument to be made that Alice herself is an addict. She craves magic every bit as much as Kady craves drugs. The big difference here is that Kady has owned her addiction and has been trying her best to fight against it. Alice keeps running towards her addiction. Sadly, addicts can be notoriously unpredictable and untrustworthy when in the grasps of a relapse. She could very well be telling the truth about the Library, but things aren’t totally adding up just yet. Alice keeps popping up in the story in unexpected places. There is definitely so much more to her story and until more information is revealed it might be wise for Quentin to hang onto the book himself.
Another interesting bit about this episode is that it connected the McAllister story on Earth to the Library. We know that Irene and her family are the ones who have been manufacturing and distributing the fairy extract magic drug. We also know that the Library had an enormous stash of the stuff. Could the Library have been the buyers that made Irene and her family willing to massacre who knows how many fairies to fulfill the order? We know that the Library requires some degree of magic to keep operating. The Library might be willing to help with the quest because pure magic is better than manufactured magic, but at the same time, if the questers fail then they surely will want to stockpile a backup. There is some shady stuff going on in regards to Alice, the Library, and fairy magic. Until the team gets more answers it would not be smart for them to put too much trust in the Library or any of its supposed agents.
It was good to get some answers about what Alice has been up to. Who knows how much truth there is to what she was saying, but at least Quentin got her talking. Maybe with a little more talking she’ll provide more answers instead of questions. At least her bickering with Quentin did finally afford Josh the opportunity to finally learn about what happened to Victoria. Learning about her loss impacted Josh hard, but at least he had his well-stashed drugs to turn to. It is the use of those drugs that allowed him to see the whereabouts of the key they were searching for in the first place. And since the “Previously On” at the start of the hour provided a reminder that his drugs provide an insight into the fairy realm it is safe to guess that he was seeing the location of the key that the Fairy Queen told Julia about. If they go rushing in guns ablaze then they might very well undo all the goodwill that Julia managed to establish with the fairies. The Fairy Queen might afford Julia and Fen a bit of leniency in this scenario, but it’s doubtful she’ll extend any courtesy to their friends if any harm comes to her realm. This will either turn into a full-on fairy war or through Julia’s intervention could prove to create a powerful new alliance to restore balance in Fillory.
While the quest was continuing, Penny was left to deal with his own issues in the Library. After Slyvia’s betrayal, he is understandably angry with her. But she does have a compelling reason for her actions. She just wanted to see her family sooner than later. That doesn’t do much to lessen Penny’s anger as all the people he cares about are still alive back on Earth. He might be angry with Sylvia, but she does prove to be quite useful yet again. Through her, he learns about a metro system that delivers souls that have completed their contract to whatever comes next for them. Penny is able to trick someone out of their card. That earned him a one-on-one visit from Hades himself. Surprisingly, with a chance to leave, he chooses not to. He gives the card to Sylvia so she can go to see her family again. Hades did say some very interesting things. The Gods are definitely playing some sort of game with the magicians seeing as they can restore magic whenever they really want. It seems like they have orchestrated this quest to test them all. They have all been tested in some pretty extreme ways and for the most part, they are all rising to the occasion. Perhaps that was the whole point, to make them better people so they’ll better appreciate magic when they get it back. But that is far too mundane a resolution to all this, so it’s likely way more complex than that, but it still is a possibility to consider.
All the episodes this season have ended on interesting notes. This one, however, had the oddest ending of them all. The episode closed with Penny going to the book club. He took a bite out of some cupcake that was mentioned several times throughout the hour and the episode faded out. That cupcake better have some sort of magical component to it given how much it was hyped. Could fairy dust be the ingredient? Perhaps it’ll help him reach out to the others because they need him as part of the quest and hopefully it’ll at least let him reach out to Kady because she needs to hear from him.
Kady was absent from this episode, but as Quentin noted, there is no doubt that she was off looking for Penny. That’s why she took off with the key in an attempt to reach out to him. After all these two have been through this season they had sure as heck better find each other again in the flesh. They have become the very definition of a star-crossed couple. With the season starting to wind down things need to start happening to get Penny back. Also, there needs to be some resolution in regards to Kady and Julia. Despite all Julia has done this season and the fact that she saved Kady’s life these two still haven’t had solid resolution to all that went down last season. Kady accepted an uneasy truce to try and save Penny, but they haven’t had any time to hash things out since then. With a guaranteed Season Four it’s possible this plot point could carry over, but hopefully, it is slated for some screen time before the end of this season. It’s really the only big plot point from last season that hasn’t gotten much time this season. That seems intentional, the writers have gone out of their way to keep Julia and Kady’s stories separated for the mass majority of the middle part of the season. Perhaps forgiveness amongst the group, between these two as well as Quentin and Alice will open up the door for them to find the final key and restore magic. It would be a nice bookend to all the emotional trauma they’ve all been through if coming together is the answer to solving the magic issue.
This show likes to cover a lot of story in a single episode and they certainly did that here. No new key was found, but the whereabouts of at least one of the final keys is now known. Alice might have revealed a big secret about the Library’s involvement in the quest. Julia and Fen helped stop a fairy massacre and earned a possible future ally in the Fairy Queen in the process, pending Quentin, Josh, and Alice don’t screw things up. Penny chose to stay in the Library instead of making a big grand escape. There is so much more story left to be told and only three episodes left in this season. At the pace this season is going they should have at least one more key by the end of the next episode. Anything can happen at this stage, so hang on for what is sure to be a wild ride to the finish of the season.
Don’t miss the next episode when it airs on Wednesday, March 21st at 9/8c on Syfy.
Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Will Penny decide to stay for good or will Kady convince him to fight to get back? Is Alice telling the truth about the Library trying to help? What will the next 2 keys do? Will the Fairy Queen be an ally or turn enemy again if the magicians go after the final key holding her realm together?