the magicians season 3 finale recap

‘The Magicians’ Season 3 Finale Recap: Will You Play With Me?

Having obtained all seven keys, the Physical Kids finally make their way to the Castle at the End of the World. With rules of magic that are slightly twisted, new enemies and shocking alliances are revealed and everything falls to pieces when the flow of magic resumes in the season three finale of The Magicians.

Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode.

This recap contains spoilers.

Beginning with a discussion between the entire gang – Quentin, Alice, Eliot, Margo, Kady, Josh and Penny (23), we are presented with another beautiful animation alongside Quentin’s narration of the Tales of the Seven Keys. Serving as a  means to gather clues about where they can find the notorious Castle at the End of the World, the group uncovers a bit of information about the old gods by branching off of topics and themes touched on in the book that has served as their guide on the quest to restore magic.

Before the Brakebills gang can move forward on the quest, however, the messenger god Iris (Madisen Beaty) appears, claiming that Julia has ascended into the realm of god-hood as Our Lady of the Tree. As the keys have been uncovered, Iris has come to take Julia away, claiming that the remaining members of the group can figure out the puzzle on their own.

Although hesitant to leave her friends behind when the restoration of magic is so close, Julia acquiesces, but not before infusing a bit of magic in Quentin, in the event that is serves useful while on the final leg of the quest. Meanwhile, Josh, Kady and the rest of the group are discussing mythos that help to uncover the mystery of the monster locked inside the castle. The Odyssey proves to be a strong starting point, as the Castle at the End of the World is serving as a jail – in order to learn more, they begin to hunt down a woman at an architecture firm who turns out to be Calypso (Michaela McManus).

The meeting with Calypso proves that not everything is at it seems, as the quest to restore magic sprouted from Prometheus, who sacrificed himself with the belief that humans could work with the gods in desperate times. While the Brakebills gang was made aware of the fact that the Castle at the End of the World was a place where the gods placed mistakes thanks to Reynard, Calypso reveals more. The Castle at the End of the World is actually a jail, designed by Calypso to keep a dangerous monster within. Although Calypso does not want to reveal more information, as it is clear that she does not trust the group, she informs the questers of their next location, Castle Blackspire.

Back in Fillory, Fen is serving as the acting Queen while Eliot and Margo are away. Despite the semblance of peace that fell upon the world after last week’s election, things have continued to go downhill for the fairies. The Fairy Queen reveals that fairies have begun disappearing from their new home.

At the same time, Julia and Iris, who are in a somewhat Victorian setting, are starting the next leg in Julia’s journey as a full fledged goddess. Julia will be answering overarching prayers of humanity in the name of the future and to do so, she must break ties with her past.

At the Brakebills Cottage, Quentin, realizing that the jailer of Castle Blackspire must be replaced to gain entry into its walls, uses the magic from Julia to contact Ora (Alexandra Metz), who is currently fulfilling the role. Wiling to sacrifice himself to complete the quest and restore magic, Quentin and Ora strike a deal. He will take her place to ensure that the monster does not escape, if she will open the door to the Castle.

Meanwhile, Fen has set a trap in Fillory in the hope of finding the fairy stealing culprits. Although we aren’t quite sure how Irene and the Order found their way to Fillory, Fen and the Fairy Queen confront them head on, where it is revealed that the duo is poaching fairies to obtain enough magic to power their siphon so that they can control who has magic upon its return.

The theme of the week seems to be sacrifice as yet another character gives up their life in exchange for the greater good. Determined to provide the fairies with freedom once and for all, the Fairy Queen offers herself in exchange for her people. As she wields great power, she embraces death with a bond – no fairy will be harmed by any people ever again in exchange for her life and her power, which will allow the duo to power the siphon.

Back at Brakebills, Alice turns to Dean Fogg, as she is still fearful of what she will become when magic returns. Having heard that Fogg possesses an experimental potion that will alter who you are by stripping you of your memories and personality, she pleads for it – fearful that it is her only chance at survival when magic returns. Although he reluctantly hands over the mixture, believing Alice to be the greatest magician of her time, it is obvious that his mind is on other things as he meets with Irene and the Order, revealing that he has been working with the library the entire time.

Having secured their entrance to Castle Blackspire, the group begins their journey on the Muntjac. Alice reveals the truth to Quentin, explaining her fears and her plans to wipe her memory. The couple finally makes up and shares a kiss, where Alice reveals that she has never stopped loving Quentin.

Thanks to the Mutjac, the group traverses into the alternate version of Fillory, which is essentially a dark mirror of the world above. The entire world is upside down, dark and foreboding, and Castle Blackspire appears to be a mirror image of Whitespire (except in color of course).

While the main group begins to solve the puzzle of the magic fountain, Quentin speaks with Ora about his new role in the jail. Ora reveals that the monster is child-like, yet incredibly dangerous. Ora is only alive to fulfill the monster’s needs – protection and love drive it.

As Quentin approaches the monster, he is asked an innocent question: “Will you play with me?”, but a sinister changing of the being’s eye color reveals that it is not to be toyed with. Having come prepared, Quentin pulls out a deck of cards to capture its attention. Unbeknownst to him, Eliot and Alice have been watching the scene unfold with plans of their own. Having brought the pistol that holds the god-killing bullet, Eliot fires, killing the monster. Ora disappears as it disintegrates and a furious Quentin follows the two back to the main group.

Just as the group is about to unlock the fountain to restore magic, Alice turns on them, using the fairy powder given to her by the library to bind the group and snatch the keys. Believing the world to be better off without magic as she has realized that “there is no good side” she destroys the only means of restoring magic.

Julia continues to think only of her friends and the troubles in the god world, choosing to abandon her life as a goddess to return to them. Having made up her mind to sacrifice her power in the name of the greater good, she binds Alice and recreates every key, causing serious physical pain to herself in the process.

Once complete, Quentin, Eliot, Margo, Penny, Josh, Julia and Kady all take a place at the fountain and insert their key, effectively unlocking the fountain of magic. Before they can rejoice, however, Dean Fogg, Irene and the Order appear, trapping the Brakebills students to attach the siphon that will allow the library to control the flow and use of magic.

Although Irene wants to put an end to the students, Fogg struck a deal to save their lives instead – everyone but Alice will be given the mind-wiping potion and will carry on with life unsure of who or what they are.

At the close of the episode, we transition back to Brakebills, where classes have resumed. Magic has been rationed and has caused problems at the magical school however, causing Fogg to report to the library to request more. While there, he is able to speak with Alice, who has been detained by the library for failing to fulfill her part in the plan.

It is made obvious that Alice has not lost her memory, as she is frantic to save her friends. Fearful that the monster hidden within the walls of Blackspire has escaped, she pleads for Fogg’s help.

In the final moments of the finale, we see each character in their new life, under a new name and profession. Quentin’s reveal is left for last, when he is confronted by Eliot, who seemingly knows who he is. Although we are briefly led to believe that Eliot is trying to push Quentin’s memory in the right direction by bringing up card magic, the unexpected occurs. A simple question, asked in Eliot’s voice, reveals the truth – the child-like monster has taken over his body.

While we are left wondering what has become of Penny (40) and Poppy, the season finale of The Magicians was unexpected and exciting. Although drastically different from Lev Grossman‘s series of novels, the season was a perfect alternate universe that fit into the world established in the books. Full of tense and surprising moments, along with an extremely well-done and eerie finale, it will be hard to wait for the next installment in the series.

What did you think about the season finale of The Magicians?

Share your thoughts on the third season of the show in the comments below!

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Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.