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THE MAGICIANS Season 2 Premiere Recap: ‘Knight of Crowns’

THE MAGICIANS Season 2 Premiere Recap: ‘Knight of Crowns’

Warning: this recap contains spoilers from the season two premiere of The Magicians, “Knight of Cups.” It is a recap, after all! Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Magic is supposed to be awesome, right? I’ve always been envious of the characters from books, movies and TV shows who learn that they’re magical, get sent off to some incredible magical school filled with magical creatures, and generally go on to lead the coolest of lives filled with fun adventures. Yes, I was that girl who cried on her 11th birthday when she didn’t receive a letter from Hogwarts; I spent way too much money on a toy wand when I was in my 20s (no shame in my game). These sort of fantasies have always been my preferred method of escapism, because magic solves everything. Or at least, it used to before one show flipped that idea on its very head. Maybe that’s why I obsessively devoured The Magicians and am so pumped to be recapping season two.

Putting a snarky, comedic spin on Lev Grossman’s dark source material, The Magicians argues that magic actually kind of sucks. It doesn’t solve problems, it just creates new, bigger problems. So get comfy, kids, because season two is going to be one wild ride. Let’s get started with recapping the premiere, “Knight of Cups,” shall we?

The Magicians

As with most season premieres, the hour was largely set-up for what’s to come. (But don’t expect any more episodes this season to be this exposition-filled: the action starts next week and doesn’t let up at all after that. You’ve been warned!) All the loose threads and cliffhangers left open in the season one finale were resolved literally in the first few minutes of the premiere. Then it was just mini-quest after mini-quest as the gang searched for any way to defeat the Beast now that their god-killing knife was gone, stolen by Julia in her quest to kill Reynard.

After making sure everyone was alive after their failed tussle with the Beast, Quentin, Alice, Eliot, Margo, and Penny first had to get officially crowned as High Kings and Queens of Fillory—except for Penny because there were only four crowns and he definitely wasn’t about that life—and then make their way to the castle armory to try and find a weapon strong enough to kill the strongest magical being they knew. Unfortunately, the armory had already been cleared out of all battle magic, so their next mini-quest (taking place next week), was to return to Brakebills to learn battle magic from a proper teacher. Unfortunately that also means it’s time to split the group since Eliot, as High King, can’t leave Fillory. And since time passes differently on Earth than it does on Fillory, there’s no telling how long Eliot will have to be alone in his new home without his friends (as if he needed another heartbreaking aspect to being High King). And with no champagne around to boot! Tragic.

Most of the episode was set in Fillory, and will continue to do so—the show is really leaning into the fantasy elements this year. But back on Earth, Julia and the Beast cemented their new, unholy alliance. They even went so far as to magically seal their agreement: he would help her track down and kill Reynard and once the fox god was dead, the Beast would get the god-killing knife and be on his way.

The Magicians

Magical Musings:

  • I love how useless Quentin always is when it comes to saving the day. The premiere opened with him running through the Fillorian forest searching for help, thinking all his friends were dead. But Alice once again proved to be the real badass hero of the group, using her god powers to magically resurrect herself, Eliot, and Margo and cauterize Penny’s handless wrists. Seeing the look on Quentin’s face as he arrived back at the scene of the crime thinking he was going to save everyone, and they were all already alive like, ‘”Yo, where’d you go? We were worried about you!” was truly hilarious.
  • Also I’m sure that giving the healer a vial of his blood without a second thought will come back to bite him in the butt. Stop making such hasty decisions in the heat of the moment, guys! I thought we learned this lesson last season, but Quentin is a slow learner.
  • It was disturbing to see how quick the group jumped to villain-izing Julia, but at least Quentin (feebly) spoke up to defend her given that he knew the horrible truth that motivated her team-up with the Beast. However, his only argument that she was “not sane right now” isn’t exactly the right stance to take. She may have left everyone in a bad situation, but that poor girl definitely had her reasons. She also made sure that everyone was safe from the Beast in the terms of her agreement. They may not know that, but still. She’s not blindly on a course for revenge, she’s thinking clearly. She even thought up of some loopholes in her agreement with the Beast: after they kill Reynard, all she has to do is put the knife down. She doesn’t have to actually give it to the Beast. She can still pick it up and try and kill him afterwards. Julia ain’t no fool!
  • Magical wellspring smoothies are now officially off the menu, as the Beast has been imbibing a little too much. It’s almost completely dry, and if it runs out, so does magic. That means Fillory will be destroyed, and there’s no telling what that means for magicians on Earth either. Basically, you do not want anyone or anything to mess with the well anymore. The Magicians
  • Watching Penny numbly walk around for most of the premiere, holding a box containing his chopped off hands, was downright chilling. Especially since everyone else didn’t really bat an eye that a member of their squad was thoroughly, painfully, physically, and emotionally traumatized at what was happening. They were ready to go off on a quest without even trying to help him first! Jerks. Although he definitely has some learning to do himself, seeing as how he gave attitude to the man at the healing torrent who helped him put his hands back on his wrists. The man sent some kind of curse at Penny as he walked away that seemed to mess with his control over his hands, so that’s definitely not good. But the mysterious man did drop an interesting tidbit about the future: apparently Penny is going to occupy a position where he needs to know that actions have consequences. If he’s not one of the four Kings or Queens, what position could he fill?
  • It’s hard not to take the Beast’s obsession with children’s playgrounds as creepy, because his emotional growth was clearly stunted and he never truly grew up as a result of his own sexual assault as a kid. But wanting to hang out in a ball pit discussing murder while children play around him is just disturbing. That is made doubly disturbing when you also take into account that the way he coped with his trauma was by destroying part of his soul, a.k.a. his shade (it’s what makes you feel pain and love and anything that makes you human). He tried to convince Julia to do it too, but thankfully she turned him down …at least for now. She knows she can’t lose herself in this quest for revenge, but how long will that emotional strength last? Will her grief get the better of her?
  • Rupert Chatwin helped win WWII at the Battle of the Bulge with powerful Fillorian magic he found in the castle armory. So there are real-world stakes and consequences for anything found in Fillory. Good to know.
  • The rainbow bridge is stunning. I can’t stop watching that scene over and over. The setting, the music … everything comes together to make it a series highlight. And it’s only a few seconds long! The Magicians
  • The way Eliot assumed the throne of High King of Fillory was by performing Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing speech. Penny’s annoyed reaction while Eliot prepared to wow the Knight of Crowns was just perfect for both of these characters. And so were everyone’s official monikers: High King Eliot the Spectacular, High Queen Margo the Destroyer, Queen Alice the Wise, and last but certainly not least, King Quentin the Moderately Socially Maladjusted (Q was dubbed by Margo, because of course).
  • While they’re not back together, Quentin and Alice took some steps to repairing their relationship after Q cheated on her last season with his magical drug-induced threesome with Eliot and Margo. Alice opening up to Quentin about how the biggest reason why she was mad at him was not for cheating, but the fact that he made her lose him after what he did to their relationship, was heartbreaking. We’ve all been there before. Someone hurts you in some way and you’re not mad at them for the specific action but instead for destroying the trust and relationship/friendship you shared. It’s hard to get over that feeling, and Alice put that hurt into the perfect words. Hey, it’s why she’s Queen Alice the Wise!

The Magicians

Quality Quotes: 

Penny: Are you even officially affiliated with the current? You’re a con man. Same in Detroit. Same in Mumbai. Same in Fillory. Sorry. Try it on the next sap who needs this natural resource on public property.

Margo: The Beast is gone, our squad is a joke. What plan, exactly?
Eliot: We’ll figure it out. We always do.
Margo: When it’s a final to cheat on, not when we’re stuck in some epic fantasy that likes to behead its heroes halfway through season one … if we even are heroes. [In horror:] We might be comic relief.

Margo: So we are f–ked without grace.
Quentin: It sounds like us.
Eliot: Must be a Monday. Onward to glory.

Eliot about his new wife after she offers to make everyone a snack after their battle with the Beast: I think I like her. I hope I like her.

Alice: Oh my god, those horses are so beautiful. I just really love horses. [She meets the horses:] Those horses were so rude!

The Beast: Tweet? Birds have computer accounts?
Julia: Don’t worry about it.

The Magicians

Eliot about his crown: This feels as natural as underwear.

Quentin after everyone got crowned: Royalty, b—hes.

Eliot: Do you know that they don’t know what champagne is here? I plan on inventing it. I’d like to be known as the champagne king.

Eliot to Quentin during their emotional goodbye: You know it’s considered extremely disrespectful to touch a king without permission. But, um …I think you should probably hug me right now. I’ll also be okay if you give my ass like a little squeeze.

What did you think of The Magicians season two premiere? Tweet me your thoughts and opinions at @SydneyBucksbaum!

Images: Syfy

The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.

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