This Recap Contains Spoilers for The Magicians Season 3 Episode 2: “Heroes and Morons”
As the title states, this week’s episode featured some heroes and some morons. Although, if we’re to be honest, it was more our heroes acting like morons as the quest for the seven keys commences.
Eliot saves a village, buys a boat, and meets his grown-up daughter
I have to admit that what I love about The Magicians is how ridiculous most of its plots and tropes are. While Fillory is still under Fairy control, the High King and Queen discover they are completely bankrupt and need to find a solution not involving magic. The solution involves a sentient boat (meaning it’s made out of wood that thinks for itself and does what it wants) and sailing to nearby lands to conquer them and collect taxes.
The Fairy Queen, of course, isn’t going to allow for smooth sailing and forces a new member onto the crew. The new recruit is none other than Eliot and Fen’s daughter, who is now a full-grown teenager. The excuse is that humans grow at a scary pace in Fairy Land, and while Eliot dismisses the ploy as an over-used cliché, Fen is delighted to be holding a real-life human instead of a tree stump. And the girl’s name? Frey, short for Frail Human. Unfortunately, Aunt Margo has to stay behind.
The family trip leads them to a strange little island supposedly being terrorized by a monster. A priest claims to be safeguarding the villagers through his mystical powers, powers that are stored in a sparkly key dangling from his neck. Before Eliot is able to snatch it, “the monster” attacks the village, and everyone is forced inside the tiny cabin they call a hideout. The priest steps outside to “fight off” the monster (which is a violent, dark wind that slashes people), but can’t save the one villager who couldn’t hide in time.
After the “battle”, Frey points out that these attacks are not characteristic of the creature the priest claims the monster to be. Fen corroborates by adding that the slashes are definitely made by a blade, which she would know for she’s a blade-maker’s daughter. In the end, Eliot uses the key to prove the priest has been using illusion magic to subdue the villagers, quickly winning their favor. What good this will do him is yet to be seen.
The Brakebills Gang track down the source of a weird YouTube video
While Eliot is working on getting ahold of the first key, Josh, Quentin, and Julia keep wracking their brains trying to find any source of magic that could amplify Julia’s. With enough magic, they can activate the cock teleporter and return to Fillory to help Eliot. The target is simple: find Mayakovsky and his secret stash of magic battery orbs. But where in the world is that Russian con artist? Apparently being turned into a bear at a local bar. The event, of course, was documented and posted on YouTube, garnering Bear Mayakovsky immediate fame.
The segment quickly becomes a chase of lovers’ past as Quentin seeks Emily in hopes she knows of Mayakovsky’s whereabouts. What Quentin finds out is that Emily is married to Mayakovsky but has no idea of where he went after he was turned into a bear at the bar. The whole ordeal boiled down to Mayakovsky showing up with his new wife at a bar where an ex-lover was present. Who’s this former lover, you ask? Professor Lipson, who is now about to jump off a building with what could be the last orb.
Even though Quentin manages to save Professor Lipson, the orb shatters. What the gang does gain is precious intel from Lipson, some of it indicating she was the one who helped Mayakovsky create the batteries in the first place and some of it revealing Emily herself must be in possession of an orb. Yet, by the time Quentin, Julia, and Josh make it to Emily’s apartment, Kady has already snatched the orb from her. Our last shot of Kady is her reaching Penny and attempting to use the orb to cure him.
Alice’s kitten explodes, and Quentin faces off the lamprey
The thing with our magicians right now is that very few of them trust the other. After everything, it makes sense that Kady doesn’t trust Julia to use the magic to save Penny, and in this case scenario, I do support Penny’s health being prioritized on this journey. I don’t say so only because Penny is my favorite character, but also because a healthy Penny can serve as the transportation the gang needs to reach Fillory.
Alice still hasn’t asked her friends for help, even after being assured that the lamprey is after her. Instead, she’s relying on a kitten that will explode as warning if the lamprey is in close proximity. Of course, just when Quentin and the gang are done being interrogated about Professor Lipson’s case, Alice’s kitten goes off leaving Q to explain how the cat was “very ill” which could cause him to “explode” at any moment.
Alice immediately runs away leaving her friends flabbergastered. While we don’t see much of her thereafter, we do end the episode with an aloof Quentin walking outside at night. He opens the Seven Keys book to find the second chapter is beginning to write itself, but is attacked and possessed by the lamprey before he even gets a chance to read the first sentence. Do you know what that means? We’re getting more Alice x Quentin drama. Lord have mercy on our souls.
I think this episode had a lot of good concepts, but the execution was lukewarm at best. The turbulent love triangle between Lipson, Emily, and the now-turned-bear Mayakovsky could have been presented in a much more serious tone and perhaps deserved to be more central to the plot of “Heroes and Morons.” Instead, even Lipson’s suicide attempt is brushed off as a moment of rage. Alice and Kady are shadows in this episode even though they detonate two of the central plot points.
We don’t know why the gang runs into Alice, and we spend more time convincing Kady to help the gang in finding Mayakovsky’s batteries than on her actual betrayal. The tight writing we all celebrated last week unraveled in “Heroes and Morons,” leaving loose ends in the overall disjointed narrative. Then again, this was only the first key. The Magicians has six more mini-quests to prove they’ve got this thing under control.
“Heroes and Morons” Episode Vitals
MVP: Quentin, for saving a life
Biggest Annoyance: Emily never getting her life together
Favorite Moment: The Fairy Queen introducing Frey, the Frail Human
Fen: “She has your eyes.”
Eliot: “As in she has two of them facing forward? Yes, she has my eyes.”