REVIEW: The Magicians, S3E12 – The Fillorian Candidate

The Magicians kicks into high gear from the moment Josh (Trevor Einhorn) begins a hilarious recap in order to catch Timeline-23 Penny (Arjun Gupta) up with his doppelganger’s life. “The Fillorian Candidate” then immediately switches from wacky to tragic when Kady (Jade Tailor) arrives with high hopes only to realize the man she’s looking at isn’t her Penny – and worse, he’s in love with Julia (Stella Maeve). Not to mention that they still have no way of recovering the final key from the Fairy Queen. What else can go wrong?

When you love someone but they’re replaced by another timeline.

Julia debates with Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Alice (Olivia Taylor-Dudley) on whether opening a mysterious door to magic is the wisest move. Alice is tasked with getting information from the Library, but Penny-23 is then tasked with astral projecting after her to make sure they’re not getting played. It’s cute watching Julia get all flustered about the other her hooking up with Penny, but at the same time she’s been a lot closer to Quentin lately. Love square for season 4?

The Librarian cannot share any information about the Castle at the End of the World, but instead offers a syphon where Julia’s magic can be implanted – though doing so may kill her. To her credit, Alice does not wish to hurt Julia, but she must attach the syphon within thirty seconds of magic return. For what reason, though? It’s been awhile since The Magicians has been this mysterious. Penny-23 encounters Kady in the process of trying to find her Penny, and they share an intense moment reminiscing about their particular loves and the ways their lives have differed. Kady still harbors resentment against Julia for the Reynard situation, but what Penny gets out of it is that he’s one powerless god they could still find and extract information from.

Kady and Penny ask Julia for help locating Reynard, and much to their surprise she agrees to take them to him. They find him delivering pizzas and reading feminist literature, but he’s still able to provide a few hints about the Castle at the End of the World. Turns out it’s the place where the gods put all their mistakes, which can’t be a good sign, but thankfully they manage to wrestle a god-killing bullet from Reynard’s stash in order to battle whatever monster they find there. One of the most poignant moments of the night is when Penny questions why Kady and Julia don’t kill Reynard for what he did to them, but the women are united in their purpose for the first time all season. Rotting among humans with no power and no escape is enough punishment for the ex-god, and they have a world to save.

One of the few missteps in “The Fillorian Candidate” is the argument between Quentin and Alice, which resurrects the idea of his father dying once magic returns. It’s hard to imagine Quentin risking all of magic for his father given how far he’s come this season, and it’s almost jarring to hear Alice bring it up as a last resort when we haven’t heard about the man since the premiere. But it works as a way to loop Julia into his story again, and she comforts him as he weighs the sacrifice of someone he loves against the needs of the magical world. And, of course, it leads to a sweet scene with his father at the end of the episode in which he shares his journey thus far and explains what he must do next.

Saved by the Children of Earth.

Over in Fillory, Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Fen (Brittany Curran) visit their not-daughter to ask her to connect with the Fairy Queen while Margo (Summer Bishil) flirts her Fray’s bear boyfriend. In exchange for Eliot’s blessing for her interspecies relationship, she brokers a tense meeting with the Queen in order to join the faeries with Fillory and win the key from her. The only problem? They need Tick’s approval to speak on behalf of the kingdom of Fillory.

Margo plots to force Tick’s hand in calling an election with well-timed posters from Kinko’s, but the patriarchy keeps her down when Eliot suggests he should run for King alone. On the bright side, Julia uses her godlike gifts to restore one of Fillory’s forests and thus helps further their cause. Her powers have been increasing the more selflessly she uses them, such as when she healed Dean Fogg’s (Rick Worthy) eyes. The episode soon becomes a montage of both political parties outdoing each other in a perfect mockery of American political campaigns, which may have come too late for the latest big election but is nevertheless just as relevant. Unfortunately, this petty squabbling culminates in Eliot’s trial transcript leaking and costing his the election. That certainly sounds familiar…

At the end of day, Margo wins by write-in thanks to actively listening to the talking animals and their hope for the future of bestiality. It’s definitely a satisfying conclusion to their quest for Fillory’s improvement and hopefully means good things for the end of the quest for magic, even if it’s painful for Eliot to lose. Even better, Tick is allowed a seat on the cabinet alongside the faeries, because Margo knows they all have to work together. And best of all? Margo gets a fairy eye that allows her to see more than ever before!

Not everything works out perfectly in “The Fillorian Candidate,” though. When Kady picks up the unity key, she learns that her Penny has been replaced by Penny-23. How will she ever get her man out of the Library now?