the magicians season 4 episode 3 recap

‘The Magicians’ Season 4, Episode 3 Recap: The Bad News Bear

A deal is made.

While identities have been restored, a threat still remains in Eliot, whose body remains in the possession of the dark creature found in Castle Blackspire. Now that the creature’s game is up, things are bound to get darker in this season of The Magicians, especially after Quentin unwittingly revealed his allegiance to Elliot over the being inhabiting his body.

This recap contains spoilers.

Tension remains high at the start of this week’s episode, as the beast inside Eliot is committed to killing the magicians present in Marina’s apartment. Having been thrown out of Fillory by Bacchus (Ryan McDonald), Margo appears just in time to confront Marina in the open foyer of the apartment complex, who reveals that a creature with the power of a god just smashed through her wards.

Aware of the fact that she died in the current timeline at the hands of Reynard (remember, Marina 23 hopped timelines last season, which explains her presence now), she’s implemented a fail-safe defense system. To save her friends, all Margo has to do is get the creature to sit in the golden chair. Ringing a golden bell will unleash a lethal dose of ambrosia, drug of the gods, effectively solving the problem.

Determined to help her friends now that she has regained her identity, Margo heads upstairs only to be confronted with the creature for the first time, whereupon she realizes that it is in Eliot’s body. Heart-broken, Margo cannot go through with her plan as she believes that Eliot is still somewhere deep inside.

When the beast attacks Josh (having been busy determining a proper order to enact revenge on the group for attempting to kill him in Castle Blackspire), Margo breaks and offers up the only thing she can – information on Bacchus’ whereabouts.

With a solution temporarily in place, the scene transitions to Brakebills, where an angry Julia is confronting Fogg about his deal with the Library. He betrayed the group despite the sacrifices they made to restore magic, and Julia cannot forgive him, as she gave up her own god-touched powers to do so, stripping her of her ability to perform magic.

Unafraid of the Library, Order and Irene McAllister (all established as villains last season), Julia demands that Fogg take her to her friends before another transition occurs, wherein Fogg enters Alice’s prison cell in the Library to offer a thinly veiled message – the Great Blank Spot has ended; personal books will now continue to be written and the Library will be able to gain information from them once more.

Inspired to hatch a new plan for escape, Alice begins plotting, but before we learn anything more, Marina’s apartment comes into focus. Worried about Eliot’s intentions, Margo pulls the vial of ambrosia out of the chair, but Josh calls her aside, fearful for Bacchus (who he knows from the party scene). Despite Josh’s good intentions, the creature overhears and hatches a new plan – Josh will be the one to poison Bacchus, as the god would never expect to be betrayed by a friend. Plan in action, Eliot disappears with Margo and Josh before they can protest.

Marina returns shortly afterward and reveals her true intentions. Aware that the Order had a bounty on the magicians’ heads, she was determined to break the spell to reap the rewards, which happen to be three miniature batteries in the form of coins called Deweys (a clever play on the Dewey Decimal system). Desperate, Quentin offers to pay the bounty himself (claiming that the group will find a way); Marina accepts but raises it to five.

Back in Fillory, Josh, Margo and Eliot reach the outskirts of a party, and Josh’s previous connection to Bacchus makes it easy for him to detect that he is here – there are followers everywhere. Although angry, he reveals his plan – craft a margarita (Bacchus’ favorite drink) and use ambrosia in place of salt on the rim. On his way in, he’s confronted by a woman he knows, who reveals that Bacchus has not been himself recently and that he could use a friend, but before we meet the god, we see what’s unfolding between Margo and the creature-possessed Eliot.

Eliot reveals that he feels a connection to Margo, suggesting that they are both lonely, afraid and are in desperate need of a friend, which is something that he has not been able to find (especially after Quentin’s betrayal). Aware of the fact that her bond with Eliot runs deep, he propositions that they become friends so that he can learn how to be more like his host. Margo reveals that she loves Eliot, but that she could never be the creature’s friend, though she could try if he will allow her to speak to the real Eliot. The beast declines, and while Margo attempts to manipulate him, he’s having none of it – he will never leave Eliot’s body, too many people care about him.

The theme of friendship creates a transition to the present day, where we witness Julia reach Marina’s apartment. After embracing Quentin (who immediately asks about Alice, as she is the only one from the group missing), she sits down with the remaining magicians to discuss the threat of the Library and the McAllisters.

Through connections unknown, Kady reveals what she knows of the situation; the Library officially recognizes the McAllisters as responsible for restoring magic. To repay the family, they have issued Black Cards (library cards that will allow users to take out as many Deweys as they want). If they can get a card, they can repay a debt, which is where Penny 23 (current timeline Penny died and was banished to the Library last season) chimes in – he knew a counterfeiter in his old life.

As the majority of friendships seem to have remained intact across timelines in some form or another, it’s not surprising that Penny has a relationship with the counterfeiter (Frankie), who reveals that he can help at a cost. He’ll replicate the Black Card for five Deweys, but he’ll need at least two minutes with a real Black Card, two cheesesteaks, four liters of cherry soda, and at least a third of a Dewey as seed magic.

At a loss, as they have no way to obtain a Dewey without entering the library, Frankie offers a way out – card game betting, which gives Quentin a chance to shine for once. While Quentin plays Push, a card game similar to War, Frankie narrates, filling us in on the rules of the game. Two players draw cards; high draw wins the hand, but the art of the game is in knowing how to cheat. Manipulating odds, playing with probability and even sleight of hand all matter, which gives Quentin a leg up when things become a little too tight in round three.

When faced against the odds in a tie during the last round, Quentin conjures a brief snowstorm, using up all of the ambient magic in the room before revealing his final trick, a sleight of hand that wins him the game in a queen that bears Alice’s face (in a wonderful and much needed nod to Lev Grossman’s books).

Dewey obtained, the group begins the next quest – obtaining a Black Card. Tasked to Kady and Penny, the two pull the feat off easily in a two-part distraction on the street after Kady detects strong magical energy coming off of a woman walking out of a library. Card in hand, they return to Frankie who uses his discipline (luck) to pull off the counterfeit. He reveals that his copies, imbued with luck, and are never checked, which guarantees that they will be able to enter the Library. His discipline comes at a cost, however – all of that bad luck has to go somewhere, resulting in a teddy bear infused with a bad time that ends up in Quentin’s hands.

As the heist unfolds, alternating viewpoints show us where the magicians are in the plan. While Kady and Penny (donning disguises) are trying to obtain 12 Deweys (five for Marina, five for Frankie, and two as a safeguard for the group), Alice and Santa have gained freedom and are searching the bookstacks for their own books (using clever tactics and small traces of magic found in the walls, after a brief, amusing scene in which she runs into a wall Harry Potter style), and Quentin (with Julia’s help) is dealing with incredible bad luck (a snake from the toilet appears and tries to strangle him, and he receives a voicemail from his mother, even though his phone is broken).

At first glance, the heist seems to be going well for Kady and Penny – luck is in their favor until Quentin drops the bear. Just as they are flagged for a follow up, Quentin realizes his mistake and luck returns, allowing them to pull off the heist just in time (as Quentin was almost killed yet again).

Meanwhile, Josh fails in his first attempt to drug Bacchus. When Margo threatens to dump the remainder of the ambrosia in a tankard from which the entire party is drawing from, he does what he has to and returns with a new drink – one that causes Bacchus to keel over immediately. At the same time, Alice and Santa encounter trouble in the Library – the magicians’ books are missing. Determined, Alice sends Santa on his way (through the chimney, as that’s his specialty), but is kidnapped before she can find the books she desires.

Loose ends are wrapped up very quickly – Bacchus did not die from the dose, but is subject to the monster inside Eliot, who wants to know who he is. Unrelenting, Eliot kills Bacchus and rips out his heart. Before we can learn about why he wants it or what is inside, we transition to the present day, where, debt paid, Kady claims Marina’s apartment (and obtains a puppy).

As the episode comes to a close, Quentin and Julia reflect on the loss of magic and its cost before he listens to his mother’s voicemail, which reveals that something has happened to his father.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Magicians?

Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.