Magicians Recap: S3E01 “The Tales of the Seven Keys”

This Recap Contains Spoilers for The Magicians Season 3 Episode 1: “The Tales of the Seven Keys”

Hello and welcome to another edition of Gaby’s Magicians recap, where I deliver a sassy play by play of Syfy’s most angsty show. In this episode, Eliot and Quentin communicate via rabbits, Josh and Julia bond at a god’s party, and Alice gets her blood sucked by a weird vampire. (For a lil’ refresher, you can check out our Season 2 finale recap here).

Nothing much has changed in Fillory

the magicians recap season 3 episode 1 the tales of the seven keys syfy review

© Syfy

Eliot, Margo, and their subjects are still taken hostage by fairies in their own kingdom. The good news is that a plan is put in motion to get rid of the menace. As with a game of chess, Eliot and Margo take their time to consider their next move. The Fairy Queen is somehow stalking them / reading their minds / or… aha! using Margo’s eye to spy on them.

What are two magicless magicians to do with a stalker fairy? Issue a restraining order? Nope. To divert the Queen while they figure something out, Eliot and Margo communicate via the finest pop culture references this show has given us to date. Everything from Harry Potter to Buffy to Game of Thrones is used to strategize right before the Fairy Queen’s prying nose. Their strategy boils down to “What would Quentin Coldwater do?” And we all know the answer to that one.

In Fillioran books fashion, Eliot wanders into the woods trying to find the White Lady. Instead, he stumbles upon The Great Cock of the Darkling Woods, because Magicians couldn’t resist another dick joke. “Have you not seen a cock before?” the Great one asks in perfect synchronicity with his spreading feathers. “I’ve seen a few,” Eliot replies. And just like that, Eliot is given a quest to find the seven keys. To do this, Eliot must visit the magical lands of… the New Jersey Public Library to find a book. However, since Eliot has no way of traveling to Earth, he must reach Quentin and Julia via rabbits (don’t ask) so they can take care of business on the other side. Which brings us to…

Quentin, Julia, and Josh party with Bacchus

the magicians recap season 3 episode 1 the tales of the seven keys syfy review

© Syfy

For the first time since the very beginning of Season One, Quentin and Julia are bffs. They’ve been working together to decipher how and why Julia has access to limited magic, and with Alice out of the picture and Julia losing the bitch attitude that plagued her since she was rejected from Brakebills, Jules and Q feel as natural and compatible as Bonnie and Clyde. After exhausting all their research options, the duo decides that the only thing that could bring magic back is the same thing that took it away: a god.

But how do you find a god? As it turns out, finding one is far simpler than Quentin and Julia might’ve thought. All it took was consulting master partier Josh. For him, poppin’ happenings are easy to find, and if there’s one god that loves a good party, that’s Bacchus.

When our magicians arrive at the scene, however, only Josh is cool enough to gain immediate access. Julia and Quentin are forced to get drunk outside until they turn their lame into a strange 10th-grade dance that amuses Bacchus. The thing is, their little dirty dancing would prove to be the easy part of the night. Before they can get any word out of Bacchus, Julia and Quentin need down all kinds of shots and cocktails. At one point, Bacchus even pops a pill in Quentin’s mouth, turning the episode into an exquisite show of psychedelic shots.

One of the prettiest scenes all episode was a confrontation between Quentin and Julia under the UV lights over whether or not it was a good idea for Julia to have revealed to Josh that she still possesses some magic. In the end, they learn from Bacchus that there is sort of gate or door, probably located at a brothel, that once opened can bring magic back. Coupled with the knowledge that the book they found at the library is titled “The Tales of the Seven Keys,” the gang feels they could finally be up to something.

Back at Brakebills, Dean Fogg is being pressured by the board

the magicians recap season 3 episode 1 the tales of the seven keys syfy review

© Syfy

Magicians Season 3 promises to bring in many new faces like Felicia Day as Poppy. Another new face is that of Irene McAllister, played by The Punisher‘s Jaime Ray Newman. Irene comes on behalf of the board, who are obviously concerned about the lack of magic and believe there is no point in exhausting Brakebill funds teaching students when every penny should be allocated to searching for a way to regain magic. And speaking of pennies…

Penny  could use the blood transfusions Alice is gladly giving

the magicians recap season 3 episode 1 the tales of the seven keys syfy review

© Syfy

Penny has abandoned his deathbed at the Brakebills hospital to continue his work at the library. This isn’t because Penny is somehow really feeling up to working with Zelda and the rest of the crazy librarians who lethally poisoned him, but because time doesn’t pass at the library, which keeps his cancer from spreading. Of course, any time he’s given a job that takes longer than an hour, Penny returns coughing up blood and looking like he’s one inch closer to his grave.

Kady is desperately trying to find a way to help him, but without magic, there’s not much anyone can do. That is until Harriet pops up, who we still don’t necessarily like, but she comes bearing Penny’s only hope. She hands Kady a book containing a spell that can presumably revert Penny’s illness. But, she’ll need to hurry in finding somebody who can actually perform this magic. Our guess is Mayakovsky, who everyone is on the lookout for having the only magic reserve known to the magician community. He did kind of have a soft spot for Penny, so maybe this will work out?

I mean, it better. If Penny dies, I’m not watching this show anymore.

As for Alice, she’s currently on the run and meeting with strange vampires. Her plan, apparently, is to give them a little go at her wrist in exchange for information. However, all she’s gathered thus far is that “The Lampery” is after her. Next thing you know, we cut to a sad Alice Quinn sitting alone at a diner pretending she’s in an Edward Hopper painting. Good riddance.

The Verdict

the magicians recap season 3 episode 1 the tales of the seven keys syfy review

© Syfy

“The Tales of the Seven Keys” showed some of the best writing we’ve seen so far from The Magicians. The plot was tight, we didn’t linger on slow storylines for too long, and the episode did a fine job of setting up an interesting quest for this season. I think the show will greatly benefit from putting the Alice drama on the backburner and allowing us to go back to basics with Quentin and Julia.

At the same time, we’ve already grown used to the Fillory arc so the fragmentation of our main characters might not weigh the show down as heavily, especially since this quest promises to involve all of them pretty equally. Will the whole season retain this level of quality? We can only hope so. In the meantime, let’s just revel in the fine episode we’ve been given. Magic-barren or not, The Magicians still has some aces up its sleeve.

“The Tales of the Seven Keys” Episode Vitals

MVP: The Great Cock, for a great entrance
Biggest Annoyance: The Fairy Queen’s eyes are really starting to bug me
Favorite Moment:  Eliot and Margo’s pop culture conversation
Funniest Line: As much as I hate to admit, the dick joke

To read the Magicians Season 2 recaps, click here.

The Magicians S3E01, "The Tale of the Seven Keys"

The Magicians S3E01, "The Tale of the Seven Keys"







Visual Appeal





  • Awesome shots at Bacchus' party
  • Our Magicians are back, which puts me in a benevolent mood


  • Penny's still dying. Get this fixed at once.
  • Not too sure about Alice's plotline just yet



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