Just when I thought The Magicians adaptation was taking a turn for the better and returning to its roots, a number of insane twists showed up in this week’s episode. Last week we were lead to believe that the quest for the seven keys had finally begun, and while that is most definitely the case, on Earth a few unexpected characters have appeared than have temporarily thrown the original story line to the winds once more.
From the reappearance of Professor Mayakovsky and his renewed relationship with Emily Greenstreet, to Alice’s adoption of a pet, and an emphasis on finding a magic battery, this week’s episode of The Magicians, “Heroes and Morons” is entertaining to say the least.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode.
This recap contains spoilers.
“Heroes and Morons” starts off beautifully, entrancing viewers with an animated retelling of The Tales of the Seven Keys paired with Quentin’s narration of the magical volume found in the New Jersey Public Library last week. The story, which describes the journey that befell the daughter of a captured knight, recounts the importance of the seven keys. In order to save her father from the evil witch, the girl must find the keys to open an enchanted gate, where she will find her father safe and sound. Buzzing with magical energy, it becomes clear that the keys must be found, and the quest to revitalize magic begins, on Earth and in Fillory.
After the story of the seven keys is narrated, Josh, Julia and Quentin discuss leads that may bring them into contact with magic, landing on Professor Mayakovsky (Brian F. O’Byrne), the only teacher at Brakebills South, who was known to be storing massive amounts of magical energy in batteries in the event of disaster. Quickly, the trio uncovers his whereabouts, discovering that he was transformed into a bear at a bar known for magical patrons. As Kady (Jade Tailor) is more familiar with the street scene, they enlist her help, playing on her emotions for Penny in exchange for information regarding Mayakovsky’s mysterious transformation.
Shortly after the quest on Earth is revealed, the transitions become incredible fast, jumping back and forth between Fillory and Earth with very little time for reflection or pause. Although this approach seems natural, as both worlds continue onward concurrently, the sheer amount of information conveyed during each scene makes following the small details difficult, giving the entire episode a rushed feel.
While Quentin and company are researching Mayakovsky’s whereabouts, in Fillory the quest for the seven keys is well on its way. As the kingdom is out of money and magic is no longer available, Eliot and Margo have made arrangements to colonize Fillory’s outer islands, a quest that will be taken on by Eliot and his wife Fen, who have been reunited with their now teenage daughter, Fray (Madeleine Arthur), thanks to weird fairy magic.
As the loss of her infant daughter has left Fen in shambles, the appearance of the teenager is met with open arms. Quite literally, in fact, as Fen will not leave her side despite Fray’s harsh outward demeanor and complete and total lack of emotion in regard to her parents, as she claims that the Fairy Queen (Candis Cayne) is her ruler.
In between these revelations, we are given glimpses of Earth. While Alice is off adopting a cat, Kady has made her way to the bar that has been destroyed by the magical bear believed to be Mayakovsky. At the scene of the crime, it is revealed that a woman was with him, who is later revealed to be Emily Greenstreet (Abby Miller), a former Brakebills student that had a romantic relationship with him. As Quentin briefly worked with Emily, the Earth bound Brakebills students visit her in the hope of obtaining more information.
Meanwhile, Eliot is given a tour of the magical ship that will transport the Fillorian royals to the outer islands of Fillory. The Muntjac, as it is called, turns out to be a stunning work of magic that is alive, featuring a full grown tree at its heart. Eliot is briefly warned that the Muntjac has a temperament of its own and can be known to be quite the asshole, before leaving Margo behind as he sets sail for After Island in the hope of colonizing new people and bringing wealth and supplies to the dying state of Fillory.
Back on Earth, Emily reveals that she has been in correspondence with Mayakovsky, who showed up at her apartment claiming that he is now able to give his heart to her. After getting married, the two visit the bar, where Mayakovsky is transformed into a bear. Distraught and upset, Emily claims that she does not know what has happened to her husband.
Following rumors of other strange circumstances that have occurred on Earth, Quentin and Julia temporarily split from Josh and Kady to cover two different areas of New York. Josh and Kady visit a hospital for children, where the young inhabitants inform the duo that a dinosaur has appeared just outside the hospital walls.
At the same time, Quentin and Julia arrive in a park, where intense make out sessions are occurring between an alarming number of people. Hoping to find out more, the duo splits up to question various couples, who, in ecstasy, invite them to join in on the fun. Quentin, ever awkward and still in love with Alice, declines as he is merely searching for information about the strange phenomenon when Alice appears, holding a cat carrier. Although tensions run high between the two of them, Alice grudgingly reveals that she has been visiting scenes of unusual magic in search of Mayakovsky’s batteries as well, whereupon Alice joins the team.
In Fillory, Eliot and company has landed on After Island, where they have found the first key. There’s a strange presence in the air however, which is only enhanced by the cult-like personalities of the residents on the island, who follow a man named Father Poe (Haig Sutherland). Despite Eliot’s insistence that the key be handed over, Father Poe refuses and a shadow descends upon the land. The residents and royals are quickly rushed inside while Father Poe holds the key aloft, driving the creature, a shadow bat, away.
On Earth, things have taken a drastic turn for the worst. While researching, Julia, Quentin and Alice learn of a woman who has been spreading magic by the means of a small device. They uncover that she has asked where the tallest building is, and in an incredibly depressing scene, Quentin is quick to reveal the perfect place, as he considered jumping off of it in his darker times.
Although we are initially lead to believe that Emily will be the woman encountered on top of the building, Quentin is met with Professor Lipson (Keegan Connor Tracy) from Brakebills. It is revealed that the professor (who is not a member of the original faculty in the book series), has romantic feelings toward Mayakovsky and helped him to obtain the materials necessary in order to create the magical batteries. After learning about Mayakovsky’s relationship with (and marriage to) Emily Greenstreet, Lipson takes one of the batteries and uses the magic inside to do things that Mayakovsky never would have done (creating a dinosaur; flourishing love between strangers) as a form of revenge. Shortly afterward, Lipson, in regret and fear, tries to end her life by jumping, only to be saved by Quentin. The battery that she is holding is dropped in the process, leaving Alice and Julia devastated.
Josh, Julia, Quentin and Alice are later shown in the hospital, where they discuss their options now that the battery is broken. During this time, Alice’s cat begins to panic, making tormented noises, resulting in a traumatizing explosion. The strange and depressing situation reveals that the Lamprey is close to Alice, resulting in her sudden disappearance. The scene quickly transitions to Emily Greenstreet’s apartment, where is is revealed that Emily turned Mayakovsky into a bear and stole the only battery he had, which has, in turn, been stolen by Kady in order to save Penny.
After the success of last week’s premiere, “Heroes and Morons” felt a little out of place this week. Although a number of important events happen, none of them really line up with the plot so far and an incredible number of questions were left unanswered. How is Eliot going to obtain the key from Father Poe? Where will magic be found if the batteries are missing? Is Fray really Eliot’s daughter? What is Margo up to in Castle Whitespire? Last but not least, when will Penny (Felicia Day) make an appearance?
Despite its startling pace, “Heroes and Morons” had its fair share of characteristic humor. From Eliot’s servant Tick’s struggle with slang, as he misuses the word asshole numerous times (assditch, asstrench, asshole) to the continued use of fantasy pop culture references in Eliot and Margo’s speech, which is seen in their commentary on children magically aging in Buffy, Angel and Twilight, The Magicians still has its characteristic charm.