Over the past few weeks, my relationship with The Magicians has been rocky at best. There have been moments of pure genius, such as the messenger bunnies, but there have also been moments that have made me question everything I have seen so far such as Penny’s “death” and the exploding kittens. Although this week’s episode, “A Life in the Day” is very much an alternate universe episode, it was the best episode this season, as it actually featured an alternate timeline, an unexpected relationship, and a great deal of progress on the hunt for the seven keys.
Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode.
This recap contains spoilers.
Despite the fact that the Physical Kids’ Cottage is no longer Brakebills property, Quentin, Alice, Eliot, Penny, Kady and Josh are still inhabiting it as if it is their home. As research is being conducted by Quentin regarding the seven keys that will unlock magic, Alice appears holding the most recently obtained key, as it shows the truth.
An awkward scene ensues between Quentin and Alice, where it is made clear once more that their relationship is far from repaired. Alice is on her way to see Kady, who has been placed in a mental health facility after her near-death experience with drugs, and is taking the key and Penny with her.
Although Alice is hoping to provide Kady with closure and relief by revealing that Penny is alive, Kady breaks down when Penny’s presence is revealed – claiming that he is the reason why she is where she is. His death and the decision that she had to make about his body broke her. And while Penny just wants to help, as he loves Kady, she pushes him away, turning the entire situation on him as he watches helplessly, unable to truly help. Instead of a welcome reunion, Kady screams at Penny before dropping the key and walking away.
Back at the Physical Kids’ Cottage, Quentin is filling Eliot in on his progress so far, as Fen and Fray are out exploring the city. Quentin explains to Eliot that the next key seems to be hidden behind a mosaic – a puzzle that must be solved in Fillory that will depict “the beauty of all life”.
As the two discuss the situation, the scene transitions to Fillory, where Margo and Tick are discussing their plot to poison the Fairy Queen during one of her daily baths. Their plotting is interrupted by none other than the Fairy Queen herself, who reveals that a ball is in order, as Fillory needs to forge new alliances.
The ball in question? A marriage celebration – for Margo. This isn’t the first time Margo has been up for marriage in the name of beneficial alliances for Fillory, which is made known by her last suitor, Prince Ess (Arlen Escarpeta).
Margo’s plan of poisoning the Fairy Queen is temporarily thwarted, as royals are swarming the castle. As Margo begins to panic about her impending marriage to a man she has never met, she decides to send frantic messenger bunnies to Quentin and Eliot – which serve as “plot development”, according to Eliot. Not only is the quest for the key sending the group toward Fillory, but so is Margo’s situation.
Going off of what they know from the Fillory books, Quentin and Eliot begin searching for a portal with the help of the remaining key. Thinking quickly, Quentin suggests an old grandfather clock as a potential form of transport, as clocks were known to be portals in the original Fillory books. The key fits into the clock in question perfectly, whereupon Quentin and Eliot find themselves in Fillory.
Despite being transported to Fillory, Quentin and Eliot quickly realize that something is amiss as magic is in the air. Looking in the distance, Quentin quickly realizes that they have been transported to the past, as Castle Whitespire is just being constructed. While exploring, the two stumble upon a very large mosaic in the ground, just as a man is giving up his quest to solve it.
The mosaic itself proves to be a damn near impossible challenge, featuring over 700 movable tiles in at least 12 different colors. As Quentin becomes overwhelmed with the possibilities ahead of him as magic cannot be used to solve the puzzle, even though the potential to perform magic is in the air, Eliot comforts him, reassuring him that there has to be a way. From then on, the two work together to try different combinations and patterns, hoping with each try that they will stumble upon the answer that depicts the beauty of life.
Back in Fillory, the Stone Queen (Dina Meyer) visits Margo, believing that she is merely nervous about the upcoming wedding. She offers Margo a chance to meet her husband-to-be before the wedding, where we are introduced to her suitor, Prince Micah (Markian Tarasiuk) and his younger brother Prince Fomar (Nicholas Coombe). Although Margo was initially hesitant about the arrangement, she finds herself entranced with Prince Micah and begins to go through with the preparations for the wedding.
While Micah and Margo are preparing for their wedding day, an assassination attempt is made on Micah. Margo, distraught, immediately blames Ess, believing him to be jealous. She sends him off to the dungeon before we transition to Alice and Julia, who are page deep in research regarding astral planes and Julia’s god-touched magic.
Alice is briefly possessed, wherein a spirit informs Julia that Alice needs help and that once again, Juila is the only one that can perform the task.
In Fillory, the royal wedding between Margo and Micah is taking place. An interesting ceremony takes place in which the joining of two tribes is emphasized by a binding rope – Micah of the tribe of the floating mountain that is no longer floating, and Margo of the tribe of Hansen. The strange, yet humorous scene takes a turn quickly, when Micah is decapitated before Margo’s eyes by his own brother.
Fomar steps in immediately claiming that “when tragedy befalls a royal wedding, a sibling must take the place”. Margo, horror-stricken, immediately refuses, but is forced to go through with the ceremony by the Fairy Queen, who obviously intended for Margo to be with Fomar from the beginning.
Quickly we are transported to Fillory of the past, where a beautiful scene is unfolding. As Quentin and Eliot tirelessly spend years working on the mosaic, they become closer, starting a romantic relationship of their own. Years pass by, whereupon a woman named Arielle (Kylee Bush) appears. Quentin and Eliot’s relationship expands when Quentin falls in love with Arielle – the two have a child together, but Arielle dies just a few short years later, leaving Quentin and Eliot to raise the boy together.
As they grow old, the two live a full life. They continue to work on the mosaic and see their son off into the world. In old age, the quest continues, where it is unexpectedly solved when Eliot dies. As Quentin begins digging a grave for his lover, he finds a single golden tile. Upon placing it in the center of the mosaic, the key is revealed.
Young Jane Chatwin (Rose Liston) causally appears, claiming to need the key to power the pocketwatch that will allow her to create time loops. Quentin, being the only one that can remember that time loops actually exist, reluctantly hands the key over, knowing that that is what needs to be done.
Back in Fillory, Margo is handed a letter on her wedding day that contains a key and an urgent request from Quentin, who briefly explains his time in Fillory of the past. Margo sets off on a quest of her own that leads her to the Clock Barrens of Fillory, a place where time stands still. She meets with an older version of Jane (Esme Bianco), who reveals that the key that Quentin and Eliot obtained by solving the mosaic and living a beautiful life, was buried with her when she died. Using another time loop, she sends Margo to Brakebills, where she is able to dig up Jane’s body and stop Quentin and Eliot before they can enter the grandfather clock.
Meanwhile things are not going well for Alice or Kady. Julia coaxes Alice into telling her what is wrong, whereupon Alice reveals that the loss of magic is killing her. She is haunted by her life as a niffin, where she had everything she could have ever wanted, and finds it difficult to be human again. She is envious of Julia, who still has magic.
Julia confesses that if she would give her magic up if she was able to. Alice, ever determined, instructs Julia to try using the key in a mirror. Conveniently, there is a mirror next to their table in the bar and Julia reluctantly holds it up, where she sees the image of Reynard (Mackenzie Astin). She is immediately transported to another version of the room where Our Lady Underground (Garcelle Beauvais) reassures her that her magic is god-touched – she was given a seed that was taken from Reynard. It is her job to use it well.
In the mental hospital, Kady is trying to sign herself out. Her efforts are quickly thwarted as the hospital staff has a recording of her talking “to herself” from when she encountered Penny earlier in the day. She puts up a fight, but is restrained and detained.
Margo, Eliot and Quentin head back to Fillory, where Margo realizes that she is still married to Fomar. Quentin notices a letter in a basket of peaches and is immediately given a very vivid image of his past life with Eliot. The episode ends on an emotional moment between Quentin and Eliot, as they sit and reflect on their former relationship.