REVIEW: The Magicians, S3E3 – The Losses of Magic

The Magicians continued its epic quest in “The Losses of Magic,” with each of the characters dealing with a lot of baggage. The story is divvied up into three parts, with each tying back to the overall theme in some way. Alice’s (Olivia Taylor Dudley) visit to her parents while on the run from the Lamprey has disastrous consequences, Margo’s (Summer Bishil) war of wills with the Fairy Queen escalates, and Penny’s (Arjun Gupta) battle with his super cancer takes a truly unexpected turn.

Penny’s story is the quickest one in “The Losses of Magic,” but also the most shocking. Julia (Stella Maeve) agrees to help Kady (Jade Tailor) perform a demon summoning to save Penny with little to no preamble, but the preparation required takes too long. But of course The Magicians can’t take Penny away from us just like that, so it’s revealed that he astral projected out of his body during the demon’s ‘surgery’ and still has a soul intact. His look of horror as he watches Kady cry over his body was easily the night’s most memorable image.

The rest of the plot was rather simple, but the few moments between Kady and Penny before his death are heartfelt. Their relationship has come such a long way since the first season, and it’s easy to believe they would go to any lengths to keep each other safe. There’s also an interesting incident between Julia and a homeless woman, who declares that she’s missing the signs and will have to be pushed in the right direction. Could this be referring to her magic and its slow development, or perhaps to the quest for the seven keys? Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Penny’s ‘death’ and visit to the spirit realm will play a part in the pushing.

Nobody mess with the High Queen’s crew.

“The Losses of Magic” pulls another fake-out when Elliot (Hale Appleman) and the crew of the Muntjac are intercepted by pirates. What looks to be an exploration of Elliot’s cowardice and squabble with his newfound daughter quickly veers left, as he discovers a keyhole that sends him and his family… Somewhere The Magicians does not follow this week. Instead the episode stays with Margo and her rescue mission, which requires collaboration with the Fairy Queen and soon becomes about saving the Muntjac instead of Elliot himself. Her frustration with the fairies is palpable and Bishil knocks the high-strung performance out of the park, but it also doesn’t stop her from parlaying with the attractive female Pirate King and negotiating like a champ.

Her best efforts still leave the Muntjac in danger, though, and she learns that the pirate ship must essentially rape her boat before the pirates will leave. If she does not order the Muntjac to submit, then her crew will be murdered. It is a true moral dilemma, and to both Margo and The Magicians‘ credit, it is not taken lightly. Margo actually seeks out the Muntjac’s approval and considers its feelings, which doesn’t get her a real answer but does momentarily earn the Fairy Queen’s respect. The pirates are vanquished with the help of some creature magic, but that still leaves the question of Margo’s eye and her kingdom’s autonomy.

The ever so helpful Tick (consistently played with spark and charm by Rizwan Manji) uses his pick-pocketing skills to take Margo’s eye back from the Fairy Queen, but it’s not long before she notices that it’s missing. And while Margo defends her men as bravely as she did her ship, it doesn’t stop her rival from extracting vengeance. Margo even crushes her eye is a disgusting yet epic power move, but the war is far from over after “The Losses of Magic.”

Alice’s dynamic with her parents and standoff against the Lamprey takes up most of the narrative real estate this week, and it’s a tense storyline that leaves the audience with plenty of questions about what kind of person she is now. The bottle episode nature of the plot would have perhaps benefited more from a full hour to tell the story, but it’s still riveting to watch her spiral out of control alongside her parents as the paranoia increases. Poor family friend Carol receives the shock of her life when Alice accuses her of being possessed by the Lamprey, and the stakes only mount when Quentin (Jason Ralph) arrives on the scene.

Daddy Lamprey.

Of course, we know from last week’s episode that Quentin was carrying the Lamprey – but the fact that he makes no moves against Alice before being freed is suspicious. Instead it seems the Lamprey seems to be waiting for something, and The Magicians makes a point to show it listening in as others question Alice about what exactly she did to the parasite and why. She avoids the topic for most of “The Losses of Magic,” but eventually breaks down and admits that she killed its whole family and experimented on them in the name of knowledge. While this is horrifying, the niffin is the one that did it. Alice would never. Right?

A few humorous interludes punctuate the unrest, such as Stephanie crying on a bewildered Quentin before attacking him with her mouth. But the mood turns dark as Daniel goads his daughter to electrocute her mother and Quentin on account of possession; it doesn’t take long to figure out who the Lamprey really is. The surprise is that he really isn’t after Alice’s death, but rather her confession. She didn’t kill his family for knowledge, it was to watch them turn into pretty lights – and she has a full recollection of it. Of course, he also left some eggs in Quentin’s head that promise to hatch and burrow into his brain, but that’s just icing on the cake. Despite a warning that shocking her father could cause his heart to fail, Alice goes ahead and forcibly removes the Lamprey before killing it and gazing at the pretty lights. Guess she and the niffin aren’t so different, after all.

At the end of all this, Quentin and Alice finally get a moment to themselves to discuss their relationship. Whatever she still feels for him, she can’t shake the thought that he wants her to remain the girl she once was. And that would be impossible, a fact which is crystallized when the final moments reveal that Daniel’s heart has indeed stopped because of the electric shock he received from his daughter.

While “The Losses of Magic” certainly packs a punch in each of it stories, at times the momentum of each individual plot was cut short by going from one scene to the next so quickly. Nevertheless, The Magicians is shaping up to serve a quest with higher stakes than ever.