REVIEW: The Magicians, S4E12 – The Secret Sea

The Magicians didn’t shy away from its theme throughout “The Secret Sea,” which was very plainly that growing up doesn’t mean giving up on one’s past self. Whether the show was dealing with Quentin’s (Jason Ralph) complicated feelings for Fillory and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) or Margo’s (Summer Bishil) complicated feelings for Josh – or even Julia (Stella Maeve) and Eliot (Hale Appleman) being taken over by monsters – the battle between characters’ past lives and present circumstances could be felt. Perhaps the only downside is that the character pushing this idea most was the pedophile author who just won’t go away, Christopher Plover.

Family that kills together stays together?

Despite Julia calling upon Our Lady Underground for help and the goddess telling her she had a choice, she still got possessed by the older twin. Not Eliot’s interactions with her from then on were rather surprising, because he reverted back to his childlike self but without any menace to him. Not Julia saw humans as even more worthless than Not Eliot did, and revenge was still on her mind even as her brother wanted nothing more than some sibling bonding. So they headed off to the Library to kill some Librarians and unlock the secret to destroying the Old Gods, which perfectly set the stage for the season finale showdown next week.

“The Secret Sea,” meanwhile, doubled as a reference to the aquatic reservoir of magic as well as the title of Plover’s fourth Fillory book. The only problem was that to make good use of his secrets for the save of saving their friends, The Magicians had to rescue him from the Poison Room. Specifically Henry Fogg (Rick Worthy) came to get Kady (Jade Tailor) and Everett safely out only to be coerced into bringing the pedophile along himself – and then he got trapped by the Librarians himself, leaving him vulnerable to Not Julia when she made her appearance. Speaking of Kady and Zelda, the two ladies also spent the episode disagreeing about the effect of past actions on the present. Kady wanted to dismantle the fascist system of the Library entirely, while Zelda thought things would be difference once she herself in charge. It’s unclear who the show thinks is right, but I have a feeling we’ll find out in the finale when Everett is defeated.

Library takeover!

Aside from trying to convince Kady that dying to be with her loved one was not worth it, Penny (Arjun Gupta) also joined Quentin on a trip to Fillory due to Fen’s (Brittany Curran) request. Once they were updated on the magical reservoir, and how it had turned Josh into a dying fish, they were forced to work with Plover to make a special garden grow that would provide the cure. On the other hand, Margo was stuck watching Josh lest he die from neglect if an eye wasn’t on him for more than ten seconds. While the struggle between being herself and being in love with Josh was easy to understand in “The Secret Sea,” it rang a little hollow only because Margo has never had an issue sacrificing herself for Eliot while still maintaining her Head Bitch In Charge status. Why should Josh be any different just because she also sleeps with him?

Nevertheless, Margo admitting her feelings for Josh led to Quentin and Alice reaffirming their own feelings for each other. It was a sweet scene that also helped Quentin find his center when it came to appreciating the idea of Fillory rather than its ugly reality, but it is quite a blow for those who were hoping to see Quentin and Eliot take things further. Alice’s solid advice about how being an adult doesn’t mean throwing away what you used to love served as a metaphor for the entire show while also specifically focusing Quentin’s energies on what Fillory used to mean to him. In the end, the magical compromise accepted his compromise and decided that his theoretical love for Fillory was enough to blossom. Could “The Secret Sea” have also been speaking about Quentin and Alice’s relationship there? Time will well.

So thanks to a childhood love of magic, Margo was able to restore Josh while Alice and Quentin inoculated themselves against the magical water. Thus they could take in its magic without facing its consequences, allowing them to reach Not Julia just in time to prevent Henry’s death and perhaps to save the Old Gods in the long run as well.

The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on SYFY.