The quest for magic takes a new and unexpected turn in this week’s episode of The Magicians, which plays on the time loop paradox established in previous seasons. From the Tesla Flexion, a device that allows for communication between timelines, to the reappearance of a few unexpected characters, this week’s episode plays on the strengths of the series by revealing yet another alternate universe plot.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode.
This recap contains spoilers.
If you were paying attention to last week’s sneak peek, you may have noticed a few things. When paired with this week’s opening recap, it immediately becomes clear that the past will be an important element in the latest episode of The Magicians. Time loops, a werewolf Josh, the destruction and death of the Beast, and a terrified Alice appearing in a Tesla Flexion all blend together to serve as the lead in, whereupon we quickly go from Fillory to Earth.
While Julia is filling Dean Fogg in on the McAllister situation, she reveals that her god-touched magic has only become stronger as Josh walks in. A flash of electricity places the pair in a Tesla Flexion of their own, a device that allows the caster two minutes to communicate with others in an alternate timeline. Before the duo can investigate, alternate universe Josh appears, revealing that the Beast is at large in his timeline. Not only is he incredibly powerful, but magic has disappeared. Before the spell breaks, alternate Josh suggests that a key may be giving the Beast unheard of magic and visions of the future. Ending on references from Star Wars and Mothra, Josh is convinced that this is the next best step, given the fact that the fairy key is unattainable for now.
Julia believes otherwise however, as the quest to save magic is Quentin’s – when the duo walks through the portal to Fillory to fill the group in on the situation, they find themselves in the namesake for this week’s episode, an alternate timeline in which the Beast is alive and Julia is their only hope – timeline “Twenty-Three”.
Marina (Kacey Rohl) is alive in this timeline and has been working with alternate Josh, as they are two of the survivors of the Brakebills massacre, wherein the Beast killed the majority of the students at the school. Following a few Harry Potter jokes (as Julia from their timeline was the top magician at Brakebills) from Josh that fit his character from the novels perfectly, the duo is drugged and tied up. Marina reveals that the Beast has been searching for Julia, so in exchange for a truce, they will hand her over.
At this point, Julia proposes another solution – a way to kill the Beast, by revealing her god-touched magic. After requesting to see Dean Fogg (if he is still alive in timeline 23), Marina takes her to his office, leaving Josh and his double behind.
When Julia enters his barricaded office, talk of alternate timelines begin in which Julia reveals that the current timeline is the 40th. Fogg is frustrated at the idea of having to live through sixteen more in order to resolve the issue of the Beast, but offers up information about where the the Rhinemann Ultra spell can be found. Although Bigby was killed in this timeline, two students who haunt the library may know a thing or two about the spell, having sought after it to kill the Beast.
In the library, Julia and Marina witness ghost slips, or timelines specific to ghosts in which they relive their past, and are met with two unsuspecting faces – Eliot and Margo. Although their personalities are the same, they prove to be unsuccessful in casting the spell, as a drunken Eliot professes during a breakdown that he was the cause of a misfire that killed Margo. As Eliot drops the handwritten spell, Julia is able to take pictures of it before Marina is attacked by the ghost version of Eliot.
The two girls escape only to come to the realization that they are being followed by Penny, who shows Julia affection through a desperate kiss, revealing that the two were in a relationship in timeline 23. The illusion shatters when Marina hints at the truth – that this Julia is different. Although Penny is heartbroken, he joins the group because he wants to see the Beast die.
Penny briefly converses with current universe Josh, before he rounds on alternate Josh again about his werewolf encounter and the elusive Quickening. Before alternate Josh can reveal anything however, the Beast casually appears, killing him, just in time for Julia to perfect the spell. Although the Rhinemann Ultra hits the beast, it does not kill him – instead it reveals his true identity, which in this timeline, happens to be Quentin.
Julia uses her powers to aid Penny with travel (revealing that magic is necessary for travel), allowing the remaining members of the group to escape. Confused about how Quentin could possibly be the Beast, as Tesla Flexion Alice revealed that his shade (or soul) was stolen when the Beast killed him in timeline 23, the group decides to track down Alice.
On the Muntjac, Alice is defeated, broken and working for messenger bunnies. She reveals that speaking to Quentin through the Tesla Flexion caused her to alter reality. Out of love, she sought out a questing beast and exchanged her life after death for Quentin’s resurrection, fully aware that his shade would not be in tact. The wish was granted, but the new Quentin was driven by fear and magic. Having no moral code or anything that made him Quentin any longer, he killed the Beast in timeline 23. Shortly afterward, he killed Ember and stole his magic, resulting in the loss of magic in that timeline . (In case you were unclear about the reason magic was stolen from the current timeline, Julia reveals that magic was taken away as a punishment from the old gods for having killed a god).
Out of desperation, timeline 23 Quentin did everything possible to ensure that he would not lose Fillory again, turning into the Beast in the process. Determined to make up for her mistakes, Alice has obtained the means of killing the Beast and Quentin, the Blade of Moonstones that was given to the group in the current timeline after Eliot marries Fen.
The group makes haste to Castle Whitespire thanks to Penny, where they uncover Quentin’s collection of Fillory and Further objects – items that were used by the Chatwins during their time in Fillory. Alice confronts Beast Quentin head on and dies by his hands. Julia moves forward and reveals that she has no intention of killing Quentin – she briefly gives him her shade so that he can experience humanity once more.
Quentin despairs at having killed Alice and reveals that the key gave him a dangerous vision – at the opening to the End of the World, Julia, believing herself to be unleashing magic, inadvertently unleashes a monster far worse than the Beast. Struck with remorse, Beast Quentin takes his own life with the god-killing blade.
Julia and Josh obtain another key, this time out of sequence, before opening a door to the current timeline. Penny and Marina slip through, followed by Josh and Julia as the strange, yet incredibly satisfying episode comes to a close.