REVIEW: The Magicians, S3E9 – All That Josh

The Magicians just keeps topping itself, and “All That Josh” takes the show and its characters to new heights while pushing the plot forward just a little more. It’s been awhile since anyone’s seen Josh Hoberman (Trevor Einhorn), but this weeks more than makes up for that lost time by making his absence essential to the Quest of the Seven Keys. While the hour does not confirm whether Harriet is dead or not, nor does it free Penny (Arjun Gupta) from his Library confinement, it does advance both Julia’s (Stella Maeve) magic plot and reveal Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Margo’s (Summer Bishil) post-trial fates.

Upon narrowly escaping the Library, Kady (Jade Tailor), Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) must contend with the next phase of the quest almostly instantly. And with the help of Kady’s background in music – thanks to her mother’s showgirl days – playing the right piano keys transports them to an alternate version of their house that’s filled with partying students. It’s important to note how disconnected all three are at first, which is amplified by their familiar yet alienating surroundings. Quentin no longer trusts Alice after he found her working with the Librarian, and Kady is mostly focused on learning whether Penny made it out alive.

We were not ready for this woman’s voice.

These cross-purposes are put aside when Josh Hoberman appears crooning the musical number no one knew they needed, all about how he’s the demon of glitter and glam. In retrospect, that was a great clue to what’s going on, but in the moment it’s just a great song. The Magicians soon learn that they’re trapped in this party house, where the vibe is “fun under the sun, and don’t throw shade.” But since these characters live for shade, they often trigger the dancers to stop in their tracks and glare menacingly until Josh’s pervert-in-arms Todd (guest star Adam DiMarco) calms them down. Apparently magic is back in this new world order, and they can therefore party to their heart’s content as long as they don’t ask too many questions.

But our heroes are nothing if not askers of questions, so they quickly realize the only magic available to them is party tricks and there’s literally no escape. Songs continue to provide methods of distraction, from Alice’s cringy rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Kady’s show-stopping showtunes number, while the group eventually works out that they are stuck in a pocket dimension that’s feeding of Josh’s joy. And since Josh wound up here after being ditched and dismissed by none other than the Questers, they have to work together to pull him back to their side to escape. Kady’s music knowledge strikes again and leads them to the fifth key, which also happens to be the key of “E” that the so-called Todd – who’s really a demon in disguise – is obsessed with. Once they obtain it, the exit appears and the entire group of main characters are able to hear one another’s thoughts. Which makes this the perfect time to check in on what they’re up to!

Back at the actual house, Julia and Fen (Brittany Curran) borrow the Truth Key so that Julia can help Sky without having to make a deal with faeries. Fen remains skeptical given how she’s been treated, but Julia’s will is strong enough to convince them both. Since Sky doesn’t know faeries can do magic, Julia resolves to teach her how. I have to admit, I was concerned that she would turn cruel like the Fairy Queen once she learned how, so I was on Fen’s side most of the episode. But the sequence in which Sky imagines the flower and watches it actually bloom before her is beautiful… Until her necklace starts choking her and she starts bleeding from her eyes, that is. Even more shocking is Julia freezing her before she dies, but using her eyes rather than her hands. Which is the perfect moment to get a telepathic call from Quentin.

Sing for your life.

Meanwhile, Margo and Eliot are found guilty after a trial by wombat rather than combat and are now allowed to choose the manner of their execution. Margo cleverly asks for the death that takes the longest in order to give them more time to escape, but unfortunately the “infinite waterfall” comes with razor-sharp rocks as well. They expect the loyal Tick (Rizwan Manji) to help them, but he unveils his master plan: to take Fillory back from the insufferable humans and rule it himself. It’s quite a blow, but at the same time it’s nice to see that Fillorians were thinking for themselves this whole time.

Expecting to die any moment now, Margo gives the pep talk of a lifetime and reminds Eliot of everything they’ve gone through together – including the one hot minute in which they actually made Fillory a better place. It’s a perfect, touching scene between the couple that (whether platonic or not) are often the sarcastic heart of the show. They get linked up with the others just before plunging to their deaths, so naturally they are less than thrilled to help the other Questers in any way they can.

Even Josh is linked to the others, and the only way to continue the quest is for all of them to sing “Under Pressure” together in a show of unity. It’s slow-going at first, but soon even Penny joins in from the Library, and so does Josh while getting pummelled to death by ‘Todd’s’ army. The Les Miserables number from last season was the best moment of the show up to then, but this one may just beat it. And it’s punctuated by incredible plot twists: Julia heals Sky with her magic as she sings, while Margo and Eliot are flown out of the waterfall by the Muntjac at the last second.

“All That Josh” is an excellent way to restore hope to The Magicians, and it manages to reunite five of the Questers with renewed purpose even if it ends with Quentin still unable to trust Alice.