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The Magicians - The Fillorian Candidate - Review: “The Quest For Unity” + POLL

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As the penultimate episode of the season, this one had a lot of ground to cover to setup the season finale. The prior episode turned everything upside down in the best possible way. While this episode triggered a change that led directly to everything that went down in this hour. What Julia learned regarding the monster in the castle was a major plot point in this hour. The need for answers drove them all forward. As Kady pointed out, without answers the quest was at a hard stop. Also, a major driver of the hour was the existence of Penny-23. Also, Alice’s real agenda was finally revealed. And then there was the big Fillory election which ended with a surprising yet perfect winner. There is a lot to process from this episode, so let’s dive into it.

The title of the episode gave away the existence of a Fillory election long before the details of the hour were known. What wasn’t known was how truly amazing this storyline would be. It was everything and more than could have been hoped for. Early on, Eliot made a point to remind Margo that Fillory was a patriarchal society. He wasn’t being mean or misogynistic, but simply stating the facts of how things had been up to that point in Fillory. That led him to be named the prime human candidate as he went head-to-head against Tick. He pulled out all the stops as did his opponent. They kept trying to one-up each other with promises that neither could possibly uphold. Margo didn’t like the fact that she was sidelined, but she loves Eliot and loyally stood by his side as did Fen. Little did any of them know, but Margo would never again play second fiddle to anyone ever again.

In the process of arranging the election, the group encountered Fray who is now a bartender. She is in love with her boss who just so happens to be a talking bear. They wanted Eliot’s approval and he gave it to them without hesitation even though he isn’t Fray’s biological father. What they didn’t take time to realize is the fact that talking animals number in the millions in Fillory. Despite Eliot getting off on the right foot with his pseudo-daughter’s boyfriend he didn’t really get to know the bear. Margo took the time to get to know him and chat him up. As such, she won over the animal population and easily won the election as a write-in. And just like that deposed-Queen Margo became King Margo.

After winning Margo pardoned Tick to a degree. He’s still not trusted, but she isn’t going to have him executed. He seemed genuinely relieved, but this is Tick and he has proven to be a very good actor, so who knows what is really going on in his head. Someone not good at hiding their feelings is Fen. She was very broody throughout the episode. Even the moment she had with Eliot early on took an intense turn when she pointed out that it’s basically because of him that she can never go home again. Brittany Curran is brilliant at playing comedic moments, but when she locks into a serious moment for her character she is fierce. In fact, one might even argue that she is terrifying. There is a darkness brewing inside Fen that could make for some interesting storytelling next season.

Since Margo won she might be able to help Fen return home if she wishes. Also, by winning the election Margo was also able to secure a treaty with the Fairy Queen. In Fillory, the fairies can reproduce whereas they can’t do so in their own realm. Thanks to Fray revealing the lack of children in the fairy realm the group was able to leverage that bit of information in their favor. Once Margo was in control of the kingdom everything fell into place. Not only did Margo get the final key for the group, but she also got a new eye. Her new eye is a fairy one, so who knows what that may mean for future storylines. The Fairy Queen made it very clear that it was a special eye. Summer Bishil is probably quite happy to be able to utilize both of her eyes again when acting. What is magnificent about her portrayal of one-eyed Margo is that she managed to be just as emotive if not more so just using the one eye. It was actually a bit weird seeing her onscreen with both eyes again. Perhaps Margo’s new eye will come in handy during their final mission to turn magic back on.

Back on Earth, the group was busy trying to figure out how the progress the quest in the wake of learning what Quentin-23 told Julia regarding a monster being unleashed when they turn magic back on. They decide to try and leverage Alice’s connection with the Library for more information. But since none of them currently trust her, for good reason, they sent Penny-23 to spy on her using his astral projection ability. What he learned was that the Librarian gave Alice strict instructions to place a magical siphon in the first thirty seconds of magic being back. The catch is that to power it Alice has to get Julia to offer up her magic to power it and that could very well kill Julia. Since Penny-23 is in love with Julia he is very quick to reveal that information to the group leading Quentin to confront Alice about it. She seems to be relatively straightforward with him regarding what the Library wants. But, to be honest, at this point, it is impossible to know if Alice is actually telling the truth or not. One thing is pretty obvious, giving the Library control over that much power seems like a really bad idea. Quentin was right to take the siphon away from her, but that device will almost certainly make an appearance in the season finale.

During Quentin’s confrontation with Alice, she pointed out to him that if magic returns then his dad’s cancer will return. On any other show that would lead Quentin to sabotage the final stage of the quest. Instead, he takes a little trip to go see his dad. Surprisingly he is very open and honest with his dad about everything. He doesn’t go asking for permission to restore magic, but instead, he comes to apologize. The quest has changed Quentin and made him into a stronger man. He started off the quest branded as “The Fool” and he’s come a long way since. As he told his father he “lived a whole life”. Bringing up his son again was a really nice touch. He talked about him with so much love and the fact that his son was named after his father was a beautiful tribute. Even though he was full of love for his other timeline son, this Quentin is definitely more icy and stronger than when the season started. The writers have done an amazing job taking him on this evolutionary journey. Jason Ralph has been utterly brilliant throughout this storyline and seeing determined fierce Quentin in the season finale should be fun. It’ll be very exciting to see what Quentin ultimately ends up doing with the siphon. He has proven he is willing to sacrifice people in the name of restoring magic, so will he sacrifice Julia? That is certainly something to anxiously anticipate in the next episode.

The other two big storylines of the hour interwove together. These storylines involved the trio of Kady, Julia, and Penny. The episode opened with Josh giving a “previously on” breakdown of everything to Penny-23. In that opening, he specifically mentioned Kady and Julia’s ex-Best Bitches status as well as everything that went down between Kady and Penny-40. All of that information would play in big to the events of this episode. It was also a nice recap for Penny-23 to receive in order for him to feel like an organic part of the story. One quick recap and he was able to dive into the thick of things.

Julia’s story actually seemed to weave in and out of all the main storylines as she popped in when needed. She even came to the aid of the human campaign in Fillory by helping to repair the destroyed forest and awe the people into voting. She also healed Fogg’s eyes. And she’s the one that convinced Penny-23 to spy on Alice. Though to be fair, that one wasn’t her idea, she simply just went along with it. She also spent the hour trying to help anyone that she felt was in distress. Oddly, and perhaps for a reason, she has yet to heal Kady of her addiction. It’s possible that Kady doesn’t want to be healed and Julia can sense that. It would be nice to see it addressed as to why she has healed almost everyone else, including Marina-23, but hasn’t healed her on-again-off-again best friend of a serious addiction. Though, to be fair, at the point where Julia was going around healing people Kady was busy still being angry at her.

The fact that Penny-23 arrived at the same time that Penny-40 went silent only further managed to make Kady angry with Julia. It was yet another thing for Kady to be angry about and somewhat blame on Julia. It was heartbreaking when Kady ran up and hugged Penny-23 only to realize that he wasn’t her Penny. The way that Jade Tailor and Arjun Gupta played this scene was perfectly done. These two have impeccable chemistry so the fact they were able to deliver their scenes sans their usual chemistry was remarkable. They pulled way back in the chemistry department yet managed to still deliver a really dynamic connection between their characters. Gupta did a terrific job throughout the episode working to set Penny-23 apart from who Penny-40 was. The way Penny used to look at Kady and try to protect her is now how he looks at and tries to protect Julia. An intricate storyline like this requires impeccable chemistry amongst the performers involved and Tailor, Gupta, and Stella Maeve nailed every complex moment of their interactions. There are so many conflicting emotions surging through this trio that it was going to be hard to also sustain the Kady and Julia rift while also further developing this new storyline. Characters can only maintain so many drama inducing storylines at a time and this group was already at its max. Something had to change to allow this new storyline to fully start to blossom and break free to blow up into something epic.

The writers seemed to get that and they started the process of Kady healing by having Penny-23 confront her regarding Julia. There really was no one better to have Kady open up to. He is in many ways an impartial party as he is still acclimating to this new timeline. He is swayed towards Julia, but he is more open than anyone else. He did the one thing no one else has really done this season, not even Penny-40, and he listened to Kady. Like she pointed out, she has never been able to process her anger over Reynard. There is a reasonable chance that Kady’s anger isn’t all because of Julia letting him live. Julia was simply the best target she had to lash out at when she couldn’t process her own feelings. Both women were profoundly hurt by Reynard. Julia was violently raped while the fierce warrior Kady was brought to her knees unable to do anything to help her friend. That was probably the most vulnerable and helpless Kady had ever felt which is why she was driven to drugs to cope. Then she was frozen in place while Julia let Reynard go and once again she was left vulnerable and helpless to impact the situation. Simply put, Kady was traumatized, and that was the final blow that broke her. That’s not something that a warrior like Kady can admit easily so she lashed out to try to cope.

The truth is that Julia wasn’t who Kady has spent all season angry at. It seems like Kady was turning a lot of her anger inwards towards herself and the spillover of anger just got targeted towards Julia. By talking about everything and going into detail with Penny-23 she was able to release a lot of the anger and frustration that had been festering inside of her. Kady started off trying to make an argument why Julia-40 is different than Julia-23 and there wasn’t actually ever a solid argument to that fact. She just needed to vent and Penny-23 gave her that opportunity. In fact, it seems like she might have actually further endeared Julia to Penny-23. When he next saw Julia he was even more sensitive towards her than their prior encounters.

What was fascinating was how Penny-23 noted that Kady is a lot like his Julia. If there is a Kady-40 she never encountered him, so we don’t know what she was like. If they ever go back to Universe-23 it’d be worth the show showing Kady-23 just to see what she is/was like. Kady and Julia have always been a lot alike so it’s actually quite fitting that in Universe-23 Julia took on some of Kady’s characteristics. Let’s just hope that both Kady and Julia have a far better outcome than what happened to Julia-23.

It doesn’t help their odds when they go looking for trouble. That’s exactly what happened when Kady allowed Penny-23 to convince her that Reynard was their best resource to learn about the monster behind the door. But to find him they needed Julia’s help and the only person that could ever convince Julia to partake in a mission like this was Kady. Luckily Kady’s venting to Penny-23 seemed to mellow her out a bit in regards to Julia. For the first time all season we got to see Kady addressing Julia in a calm and civil way. She knew that going after Reynard would not be high atop Julia’s list of things to do and she was right. It took a bit of prodding and an offer to go after Reynard herself to get Julia to participate. It was a nice touch that the one thing that convinced Julia to help was the simple fact that she didn’t want Kady to go alone. Even though they were on the outs they still had each other’s backs in this situation.

The fact that Julia so easily transported them all to Reynard’s vicinity was yet another major example of how powerful she has grown. The confrontation between them and Reynard didn’t go at all like expected. Before they left Brakebills, Kady reminded Julia that this time around she had all the power and Julia clearly took that advice to heart. She got in Reynard’s face and made sure he knew that she had more power than he could have ever dreamed about. Even as her power has grown Reynard has continued to haunt her. Seeing him as a lonely pizza delivery guy seemed to empower her to action. This was her regaining the last smidge of power that he had held over her. And it was a glorious and satisfying moment to see the abused make the attacker feel so small and pathetic.

Another glorious moment was seeing Kady stand by Julia’s side like old times. Minus the fact that Penny-23 was lurking in the background everything else was very reminiscent of their Season Two adventures. When Reynard pulled that gun Kady was quick on her feet to try and stop him from harming Julia. There wasn’t even a small hesitation. Kady is a complicated character. She can be utterly pissed and angry at someone and still feel compelled to care for them and try to protect them. But it seemed more than that. By this point, Kady seemed well on the path to putting to rest her issues with Julia. For the first time all season they were on the same page. Maybe it was Penny-23 allowing her to vent or seeing that Reynard had indeed been punished, but she rapidly softened to Julia again.

Then came the moment when Julia discovered the God-killing bullet and these two were back in sync with each other. Jade Tailor and Stella Maeve have spent all season having to portray this intense push and pull between their characters. And in an instant, they slid back into unison and that magical spark that made Kady and Julia endearing Best Bitches was back. They locked eyes and were immediately on the same page regarding what needed to be done and the best use of the bullet. They even stood as a unified front when Penny-23 wanted them to kill Reynard. Kady got the vindication she needed by seeing how far Reynard had fallen and that satisfied the anger inside of her. The fact that the writers had Kady and Julia just understand the plan without having to say anything spoke volumes to the deepness of their friendship. They hadn’t shared a moment like this since Julia lost her shade. It was a lovely parallel that the bullet that played a huge part in destroying their friendship helped to start healing it. They still have some stuff to work out but things are looking promising for them.

The new issue is what is going to happen with Penny-23. He did not like the fact that the girls let Reynard live. He knows what Reynard did to Julia and this will almost certainly not be the last we’ve seen of Penny-23 confronting Reynard. He’ll likely go off on a vengeful kick and jeopardize things. It’s a good thing that Julia and Kady have started to genuinely mend their friendship because it might take both of them working together to keep Penny-23 in line.

One must also wonder if the friendship can continue to heal in the wake of Kady finding out that Penny-40 has been officially replaced by Penny-23. This was a completely heartbreaking bit of acting by Jade Tailor. Hearing Kady confess all of her love to Penny was heartwarming. Her desperation was palpable. Then when she found out that she was talking to the new Penny it was heartbreaking to see the pain of loss that overcame her. She doesn’t have the luxury of falling into a drug bender this time. They need her to complete the quest, but it’s obvious it is not going to be easy for her to work side-by-side with him now that her Penny is potentially gone forever.

Going into the finale here is where things stand. The group has all seven keys finally and can go open the door to magic. They know that doing so could unleash a deadly God-like monster. They have to go to a mysterious castle at the literal end of the world put there by some even more mysterious Architect. That’s about as sinister sounding as possible. Luckily Julia and Kady are now in possession of a God-killing bullet. Hopefully this time Julia will give the gun to Kady and let the warrior of the group pull the trigger this time. The Library also wants to put Julia’s life at risk in order to have the soon to be restored magic filtered through them. Quentin is in custody of the siphon and he’s proven that he’s must colder than ever before, so there really is no guessing what he’ll do when it comes right down to it. He said his goodbyes to his dad, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still change his mind. Margo has a Fairy eye which might help them. And, much to Kady’s dismay, Penny-23 seems to have officially replaced Penny-40 at least according to the keys. How this season will end is really anyone’s guess. What will the monster be? Will they be able to kill it? Can they all remain united long enough to restore magic? Quentin pointed out that the quest only requires seven participants, so someone on the team is technically expendable. Does that mean someone won’t survive or will betray the others? One thing is guaranteed, this season finale is going to be one hell of an intense episode that will likely leave everyone counting the seconds to Season Four.

Do not miss the final push to restore magic when the season finale airs next Wednesday, April 4th at 9/8c on Syfy.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. What is Marina up to in her new timeline? Will Penn-23 try to kill Reynard? Will Julia be sacrificed in order to restore magic? Will magic be restored? What is the monster behind the door? Is Penny-40 really gone for good? Do you like Penny-23? Will Julia and Kady’s returning friendship be able to overcome Kady’s pain over realizing Penny-40 is actually gone?

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