Wednesday, March 28, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Magicians' - Julia Tracks Down a God While Eliot and Margo Hit the Campaign Trail in 'The Fillorian Candidate'

Syfy's The Magicians - Episode 3.12 "The Fillorian Candidate"

The political situation in Fillory comes to a head. Julia makes amends. Alice makes a confession.

When Julia retrieved the seventh and final key from timeline 23, it came with an ominous warning. The Beast told her that he received a vision of her opening the gates to the castle at the end of the world and releasing a creature far more powerful than any threat she has ever faced before. It would be so reckless if Julia just casually dismissed that vision. It came from an unreliable source. She can't trust what The Beast told her. No one has received any additional visions while holding the key. And yet, the keys continue to operate very randomly. Just because Kady picks up the key that allowed everyone on the quest to hear each other doesn't mean they are suddenly connected like that again. Meanwhile, the time key doesn't always send the characters where they wish to go. The keys are all pushing them forward because they want to unlock whatever is awaiting them. The characters embarked on this mission to bring magic back to their world. It's a mission they are all devoted to even though they have no idea what the consequences will be once magic is restored. They are trying to think through their actions a little bit more right now. They are so close to achieving their ultimate goal. They are unlocking the eighth and final chapter right now. It will lead them to the castle and the lock. But now, they have to decide if this is something they are still willing to do. The characters on earth have that luxury. They have time to reflect on what has happened on this quest and if they are the people they are suppose to be for it. In Fillory, things are much more comical and in-the-moment because Eliot and Margo are trying to retrieve the key from the Fairy Queen. It's all very precise work that lays the foundation nicely for next week's season finale.

"The Fillorian Candidate" opens with an amusing summation of everything that has happened on the show as told by Josh to the new Penny. And yes, it is awkward that there is a new Penny in this timeline. It's especially confusing for Kady. Their grand love story has burned so bright. They were both willing to make incredible sacrifices just to be with each other. In this Penny's timeline, he had that spark with Julia. But now, nothing is the same for any of them. Kady is so immediately happy and relieved to see Penny again. But she can sense right away that something isn't quite right. Penny opens up right away about where he came from. He doesn't even know Kady in his timeline. He has never met her before. That's scary to her. She is seeing the love of her life right in front of her but it isn't the same person. She still feels the need to rescue her Penny from the Underworld. She is so desperate to rescue him. She doesn't know that he's basically resigned his fate to sit out the rest of the quest and just fulfill his contract with the Library. She's left in the dark about what's going on with him. The rest of the world is telling her to move on. Everyone else is focused on the quest. She's the only one fighting to rescue Penny. But even the keys are prompting her to replace him with this alternate version. When the key that connects their minds finally works again, it's an emotional moment for her because Penny is replaced in that psychic connection as well. That's the most tragic moment because it's proof that this love is gone. She'll have to find a way to live without it that doesn't include drugs.

It's ultimately Kady and new Penny who come up with the plan to ask a god about what's trapped in the castle at the end of the world. When summing up what happened to Julia to Penny, Kady talks about Reynard and the trauma he inflicted. Julia emerged victorious in that fight. She now has his spark that has grown considerably. At the beginning of this season, Julia was afraid of her power. She needed intervention from Our Lady Underground. But now, she is as powerful as a god. She may be too powerful. She can do things that magicians were never capable of doing safely - like heal Dean Fogg's eyes. She can travel to every world without needing to be connected to a traveler. She can make an entire forest grow to make it seem like magic has been restored to Fillory. She can even stop time. She's very powerful and is confident with that power. She makes promises she hopes to keep while also knowing the threat that comes from this quest succeeding. She is feeling the pull to answer people's prayers. She's powerful enough to appear whenever and wherever people need it the most. She still has a personal reaction upon learning that Kady and Penny want to track down Reynard and ask him about the castle. It's a mission that comes together very quickly too. Julia heads into that situation knowing that she has all of the power. Reynard is still a god and can't be killed easily but he no longer has powers. He's just living amongst the humans delivering pizzas. Julia doesn't really believe him when he says he's changed and is becoming a feminist. It's mostly just a trick to try and kill him. And yet, that twist presents something really interesting. He was gifted this magical bullet that can kill a god by his stepfather Hades. Hades is the god who convinced Penny to stay in the Underworld. So, he may be the old god pulling the strings behind everything that's currently going on. Julia is able to stop Reynard before he fires this gun. She sees it as a weapon powerful enough to kill whatever is lurking behind the castle locks. But should she be that confident? Only time will tell if it's a smart decision to go to the castle with the seven keys.

Plus, the Library has their own plan for how to change the world if magic is restored. They've been so desperate to keep things operating at the status quo. They've made shady deals just to have some magical abilities to protect themselves and the secrets they have at the Library. And now, they truly believe that the best way to have magic in the world is to assess who is worthy to wield it. They view the problems that escalated to magic being turned off could have been avoided if there was a screening process. They essentially want to be like an admittance exam just like the one at the start of the series to decide who got into Brakebills. Of course, that system was flawed and could be manipulated. There's no guarantee that such a system would work. But they believe in heavy regulation and need a powerful source in order to channel it. As such, Alice is working to power that device. It may mean taking Julia's powers away from her. That's an incredibly daunting task - especially if Alice only has one vile of fairy dust to power herself. It's not a secret mission for very long though. Quentin and company know they can't trust the Library right now even though Alice has aligned with them. So, they send Penny to spy on this meeting. He comes back with a full report. Quentin confronts Alice about what she's doing. He knows that he no longer understands everything that is fueling her actions. But he also knows that the freedom for magic is the best way to handle things. Sure, it can cause so much chaos and destruction. But it can lead to many beautiful things as well - like the bonds of friendship that have formed between these characters.

Finally, Eliot and Margo are in deep negotiations with the Fairy Queen to get her key. The Fairy Queen formed this deep connection with Julia. She is aware of the quest to restore magic. She knows how dangerous it can be to give humans the powers they once used to hunt fairies. She doesn't want to jeopardize the future of her people. She believes she has time to wait as the humans of Fillory kill each other. She doesn't believe Eliot and Margo have the power to make any deals with her. As such, they need to win an election. They need to bring democracy to Fillory. It's Eliot's plan to bring this world into the 20th century. He wants to help modernize it. He does so by making a ton of campaign promises he can't reasonably keep. Meanwhile, Tick is boring everyone with his talk of economic growth. It's a very amusing story that goes back-and-forth on all of the ridiculous things that define this campaign. And in the end, it comes to a very surprising but rewarding conclusion. Margo emerges victorious as the new king of Fillory via a write-in campaign orchestrated by the talking animals. Apparently, they appreciated her being the only candidate who talked openly to them about an issue they take seriously - bestiality. It's such taboo subject matter that is just as forbidden in Fillory as it is on Earth despite the animals being able to talk here. But apparently, the animals voting far outnumber the humans. Fillory didn't know that until this election. As such, Margo is the rightful ruler of this land. She keeps Eliot and Tick around as advisors. It's the position she has really made her own. Her ruling style is just so much fun. It's entertaining while still being serious when it's required. She has strong relationships with her neighboring rulers. And now, she is able to keep her promise to the Fairy Queen that the fairies will have their own land in Fillory to grow their children. As such, she gets the sixth key and can reunite with her friends on Earth just as they are about to embark on this final mission of their quest.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Fillorian Candidate" was written by Noga Landau & David Reed and directed by Joshua Butler.
  • Quentin's father has been mentioned a couple of times throughout this season. As such, it seemed inevitable that he would appear at some point. And yet, it was difficult to recall how much of this world he was aware of. Here, Quentin still has to confirm to him that Fillory was real and he has gone on all of these adventures. But he also understands that magic exists and its disappearance is what led to remission with his cancer.
  • It's still a powerful moment when Quentin visits his father though. Quentin does so not knowing what he should do. He doesn't know if he's the person he is suppose to be for the quest or if he has been tricked by the old gods once more. He doesn't know what will happen to his family once magic returns. But he's not asking for his father's permission to finish this quest. Instead, he's just sharing his love after already coming to his decision.
  • And of course, Julia is already promising that she will do whatever she can do if Quentin's father is stricken with cancer once more. Right now, she can't do anything to prevent the return of the disease. She has the power to heal. At the moment, there are just too many unknown variables. She can answer people's prayers. But she can't take preventative action right now. Plus, she may not have these powers forever despite doing so much good with them.
  • The Library notes that it has another potential power source for this cipher that Alice is currently handling. Of course, there's a time crunch on them being able to enact their plans as well. They have to have this system up and running thirty seconds after magic is restored to the world. If not, then it will be just like the previous world. The show setting all of this up now likely means a twist is coming.
  • The Fairy Queen gifts Margo with a new eye. It's another sign of her appreciation. She has really come to respect the children of Earth. In the beginning, she saw Margo and Eliot as rulers she could manipulate. But now, her interactions with them and Julia allow her to see them as potential allies who aren't trying to hunt her kind. Of course, she can't give Margo her own eye. Instead, it's a fairy eye which will gift her with new abilities as well. That's very exciting.