DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Magicians episode “The Bad News Bear” contains more spoilers than the number of times our heroes have stolen a magical item to solve a magical problem. You know the old adage: more magic, more problems. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Fillorians! The Magicians continues its winning streak with another twist-filled episode. This series never ceases to surprise me. One of the many aspects I’ve enjoyed is the show’s ability to deviate from the source material while still remaining faithful to it. Of course, it’s a loose devotion to said source material. I’m an avid fan of the novels by Lev Grossman, but I really dig how the TV adaptation has found its own niche, crafting their own elements to instill in an already existing mythology. This week, the magicians sought out a way to avoid detection by Irene McAllister now that their identities/appearances have been reinstated. Meanwhile, Alice finally escaped her Library prison cell and thankfully she didn’t forget to let Santa loose. Freeing him is really the only way to end up on the Nice list.
Alright, ready to delve into “The Bad News Bear?” Just be sure to steer clear of Margo now that she’s on the Monster war path. Hell hath no fury like a best friend scorned.
We open with Margo (Summer Bishil) running into Marina (Kacey Rohl) as the latter is exiting her apartment building. Marina quickly briefs Margo on the inevitable chaos ensuing in her apartment. You know, that the Monster has inhabited Eliot’s body and he’s hellbent on slaughtering everyone. She also reveals that she’s hidden a vial of ambrosia, a drug that’s lethal to gods. All Margo has to do is coerce the Monster into the golden chair in Marina’s apartment, where the ambrosia is lying in wait. Ring a bell, and let the drug take hold. Marina scampers off to avoid the eventual bloodshed.
Next, Margo finally meets Eliot Monster (Hale Appleman) and reunites with Quentin (Jason Ralph), Kady (Jade Tailor), Penny (Arjun Gupta) and Josh (Trevor Einhorn). The gang is almost back together! Margo insists that Eliot is still inside his own body, watching the slaughter fest unfolding courtesy of the Monster. Eliot Monster decides that he’s bored, and commences Operation: Kill Quentin and His Friends (working title). However, Margo stops him with an offer he can’t refuse. She knows Eliot Monster is determined to kill off the gods in search of what was “taken from him.” So she offers him Bacchus. Margo vows to escort Eliot Monster to Fillory so he can murder the god of partying and debauchery. Murder time!
Later, Julia (Stella Maeve) is discussing her next move with Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy). He reveals that, since the spell is broken, Julia and her friends are moving targets. Irene McAllister will now be able to track the group down, with the Library presumably in tow. Julia feels the need to warn her friends. She urges Fogg to cast a locator spell so she can find our magicians.
Meanwhile, Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is still plotting her escape. We see her dutifully scraping paint off the walls and collecting the paint chips in a bowl. She hastily conceals her bowl once Fogg enters her cell. He subtly warns Alice of the dangers awaiting her friends now that they have their memories again. Since the Great Blank Spot has passed, the Library can resume their records of everyone’s books. Thus, they’ll know of the magicians’ location and subsequently track them down to “protect them.” You know, from the Eliot Monster. Santa Claus (Tom Wright) is taken aback to hear of the Library’s extensive records of everyone who lived. He conspires with Alice to steal his own book before he leaves. Santa, that’s how you end up on the Naughty list.
Next, we see Margo, Eliot Monster and Josh hightail it to Fillory to murder Bacchus. Marina returns to her apartment, informing Quentin and co. of her deal with Irene McAllister. She was enlisted by the McAllisters to track the magicians down, and now that they’re spell-free Marina’s job is very much simplified. Our magicians offer to pay Marina whatever Irene planned to dole out, ensuring the latter will keep their location a secret. Marina reveals that they need to get their hands on Dewy coins.
Now, the Library gives out coins named after famous Librarians, and they’re intended for magical use. Since magic is rationed, obtaining said coins ensures that magicians can cast spells. Those higher on the magical ladder, like the McAllisters, possess a Library black card, which grants unlimited access to magic. So, our heroes need to snag some coinage. That should be easy, right?
Meanwhile, Eliot Monster, Margo and Josh arrive at Bacchus’ (Ryan McDonald) party lair. Josh is Bacchus’ friend, so he’ll concoct a special margarita and line the rim with the ambrosia. This should successfully render Bacchus immobile. Of course, Josh doesn’t feel great about essentially leading a friend to his death. Margo and Eliot Monster chat, and the latter reveals that he can be a suitable Eliot replacement for Margo. Bishil and Appleman are the best they’ve ever been in my humble opinion. Their chemistry is electrifying, and the subtle nuances they’ve added to their performances speaks volumes of their talents. To me, they steal the show.
Then, Julia arrives at Marina’s apartment and reunites with her best friend Q. Everyone’s happy! Well, as happy as one can be while avoiding a grotesque death from a formidable monster. Julia reveals that Irene will soon be on their collective tail. They need to pay off Marina, and fast. Penny chimes in with a helpful tidbit. He knows someone who’s adept at forgery, someone who may be able to snag Library black cards for them. Once our heroes have the black cards they can petition a request to perform a hefty spell to the Library.
Next, Penny’s friend Franklin arrives. Penny breaks down the situation to Franklin, and the latter explains that he’ll need payment. Dewy coins should do just fine. He informs our crew of an underground magicians group who plays the card game Push for Dewy coins. If you’ll recall, Quentin is quite adept at cards. Thus, Q embarks on a card playing mission with Penny in tow, just in case he needs to be zapped out in a jiffy.
Later, they arrive at their destination. First, the duo needs to present a significant item that can be wagered. Quentin hands out Marina’s protection amulet. Unfortunately, the dealer feels it isn’t worth enough. Q, on the spot, vows to offer Penny’s Traveling service, no holds barred, for 48 hours a month. The dealer feels this is worth the price of entry, and Q strolls off to play some magical cards.
Now, one thing that caught my eye about this scene was the card playing and the caged black crow. Very much an Easter egg from The Magician’s Land, the final book in The Magicians trilogy. I love it when this series sprinkles minor details within its story arcs for book fans to gobble up. It makes my literary heart happy.
Next, Quentin goes up against a handful of opponents, managing to win his games. Of course, since these are magicians, magic usage is encouraged. Lastly, Q squares off against the dealer. He creates a blast that short circuits the magic in the atmosphere. Meaning, magic is zapped out of the room, rendering spell casting obsolete. Now, the duo must play cards the old fashioned, human way. Quentin reigns victorious and secures the Dewy coins he earned.
Later, Penny and Kady are on a mission to steal a Library black card. Franklin has been successfully paid for his services, and now the real work begins. Once they obtain a card, Franklin can use it to make accurate copies. Kady spots a woman, who happens to be a McAllister, with massive amounts of energy emanating off her. Penny distracts her while Kady nicks the card.
Then, Franklin makes copies of the McAllister woman’s black card. He explains that now our heroes must disguise themselves and officially put in a request to perform spells. Franklin reveals that his discipline is luck, meaning he’s literally the luckiest person alive. All of his “anti-luck” is focused into a teddy bear. So, whomever holds the unlucky teddy bear will experience the worst luck imaginable. Franklin informs the crew that one of them must stay behind to hold the unlucky bear while the request is carried out. Think of it as a balancing act: dark and light, positive and negative, etc. Holding the bear ensures that the plan will work in their favor. Julia initially offers to hold the bear, but it’s revealed that her former goddess status is clashing with the bear. Quentin is now the unlucky lucky stuffed animal holder.
Meanwhile, Alice performs a spell with the paint chips from her cell wall. She mixes them with her spit and, via straw, aims them at the lock on her door. The “anti-magic” of the paint counteracts with the magical door lock, thus freeing Alice. Success! Alice frees Santa and the two set out to find their books. While there, Santa quickly snags his book. Unfortunately, Alice finds a note stating that our protagonists’ books have been sent to the Revision room for editing. Plot twist!
Next, we see Josh chatting it up with Bacchus. However, just as Bacchus is about to ingest the ambrosia-laden margarita, Josh gets cold feet and smacks the drinks out of the god’s hand. He cites that he urinated in the alcoholic drink, which is a normal thing to do. Josh flees the scene.
Later, Kady and Penny arrive at a bank for the Library in disguise. Penny is sporting a massive mustache, and I’m actually for it. Everything is going swimmingly, for the most part. We see that Quentin is having the worst luck ever: a large python somehow wraps itself around him, he cuts himself, trips and a chandelier nearly pummels him. Of course, that can only mean Kady and Penny have good luck on their side. That is, until Quentin accidentally cast the bear aside. We see an employee review Kady’s black card and send her request up the mail shoot to the official Library. However, once Q released the bear we learn that Kady’s request was “flagged.”
Suddenly, Gavin (Daniel Nemes), the always brusque Traveler, waltzes in to examine the situation. Thankfully, he approves the request without recognizing our duo. Kady and Penny leave with a plethora of Dewy coins in their pockets.
Then, Franklin orders they destroy the unlucky teddy bear. Kady offers to do the job, but instead imbues it with an unknown spell once she’s outside the apartment.
Next, Margo orders Josh to “pussy up” and get the Bacchus job done. He marches back inside the god’s tent and poisons Bacchus with the ambrosia. Now, the god is left for Eliot Monster to, erm, play with. Success?
Meanwhile, Alice bids her farewells to Santa. He urges her to join him, but Alice cites that her next move is tracking down her friend’s books, as well as her own. Santa disappears up a chimney, book in hand. However, before Alice can resume her book search, she’s carted away by a stranger.
Suddenly, we see Santa flying over the Neitherlands in his reindeer-powered sleigh. It’s Christmas all over again! Side note: Firefly fans will undoubtedly spot the wonderful Jewel Staite cameo in this scene. Shiny!
Later, Eliot Monster drags Bacchus into the forest while Margo and Josh observe from the sidelines. He insists that Bacchus has taken something vital from him, but he doesn’t know what. Thus, Eliot Monster resorts to ripping a glowing orb resembling a heart out of Bacchus’ chest. Margo’s fairy eye negatively reacts to the sight of it, for some reason. RIP Bacchus – literally. We hardly knew ye.
Next, Kady hands Marina enough Dewy coins necessary to call off the manhunt. Well, to shut Marina up at least. As Marina is leaving, she’s stopped by a stranger who inexplicably knows her name. Meanwhile, Kady takes a cardboard box filled with puppies back to the apartment. As Quentin, Julia and Penny return, Kady reveals that the apartment now belongs to her. She “took care” of the Marina problem. Uh oh. Methinks my sass factory was murdered by stranger dude.
Then, Quentin and Julia chat about a voicemail the former received from his mother. Naturally, Q assumes it’s regarding his father. Since magic is back, chances are his cancer has returned. Julia vows to sit by her best friend’s side as he finally listens to the voicemail. Unfortunately, his worst fears are confirmed. Quentin’s father has passed away.
The Magicians truly is one of the weirdest series on television. Weirdly wonderful, that is. A teddy bear that curses the human holder with a torrent of bad luck? Who thinks of these things? This show has a penchant for originality, and I’m constantly impressed with just how detailed the mythology really is. Those little details don’t go unmissed. I can’t wait to see where Season 4 takes us, and I’m waiting with bated breath for the annual musical episode.
Do you think Eliot is still alive, being held captive by the Monster? Who do you think took Alice captive? Will the Monster finally gets what he wanted from Bacchus’ heart? Join me next week as I recap The Magicians, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9pm on your SyFy affiliate.
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