DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Magicians episode “Cello Squirrel Daffodil” contains more spoilers than the number of times Christopher Plover was entrapped somewhere for an indefinite amount of time. He has quite a lot of enemies, that one. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Fillorians! The Magicians is back with another episode chock-full of plot twists. This week, we uncovered the most shocking tidbit of the season: The Dark King, a.k.a. Sebastian, is actually a Chatwin. Rupert Sebastian Chatwin, to be exact. Brother to Jane and Martin Chatwin. Naturally, Christopher Plover relayed this information to Margo and Fen. Oh, and Rupert’s immortality is courtesy of Martin himself. “Cello Squirrel Daffodil” also bestowed us with perhaps the goriest scene in The Magicians history – Alice losing all the digits on her hand. I’m fairly certain I was vicariously experiencing her pain during that bit. Meanwhile, Merritt, a.k.a. Plum, and Penny traveled through time, experiencing Brakebills in different eras. We even met Fogg prior to becoming dean! And he appeared to be sober! Shortly after this scene, pigs started flying.
Alright, ready to delve into “Cello Squirrel Daffodil”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Margo (Summer Bishil) and Fen (Brittany Curran) traipsing through the forest in an effort to get as far away from Castle Whitespire as possible. This is post Dark King assassination attempt, and they still aren’t aware that it didn’t take. Margo left her fairy eye with Josh so as to keep tabs on him. Who needs a GPS tracker for your boyfriend when a magical eye imbued with otherworldly creature abilities will do just fine?
Meanwhile, Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Julia (Stella Maeve) are also running through the forest. Julia is slower than normal due to her increasingly pregnant status. Unfortunately, they’re caught by Whitespire guards. Seb (Sean Maguire) saunters forward, much to their surprise. He’s none too pleased that the dude he was crushing on tried to kill him. To be frank, I don’t blame him. Thus, he has the pair arrested and carted back to the castle.
Next, Penny (Arjun Gupta) is rummaging through various knickknacks in the Physical Kids’ cottage. He stumbles upon a Welters ticket owned by one Quentin Coldwater. We hear some Penny 40 unleashed when he pokes fun at his late buddy for being a nerd. Suddenly, Merritt, a.k.a. Plum (Riann Steele), appears out of nowhere. If you’ll recall, she removed the psychic blocker on her neck and then promptly vanished. In real world time, she was gone for three weeks. Penny has her examined by Professor Lipson (Keegan Connor Tracy), who finds Plum to be perfectly healthy. Nothing alarming of note. Plum recalls that after hearkening to the signal, she was sent to a room. It was rife with paraphernalia galore.
Later, Penny and Plum are in a classroom on campus. Penny tries to coax Plum’s traveling abilities by starting out with a simple task – travel them from one side of the room to the other. Unfortunately, this ends with them traveling to a different time period… Brakebills University in 1998. Well, that escalated quickly.
Meanwhile, Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and Kady (Jade Tailor) pop over to the Neitherlands Library branch for some researching. Zelda (Mageina Tovah) is back in charge, and the Library’s attempt to rebuild is going well. We see hedge witches hard at work categorizing books and performing other tasks per the Library’s request. Hedges and Librarians… working together! The world’s gone topsy-turvy, folks. Alice wants to delve into who “the Couple” is, and why they want the elusive plant page that Quentin used to own. Kady knows a guy who knows a guy, which is unsurprising considering her former post with Marina. Surely you meet a lot of magicians with questionable morals while working for Marina.
Next, Margo and Fen return to the apartment in New York. They discover that Eliot and Julia never made it back, and that the Dark King is still alive. Suddenly, a familiar face also falls over the grandfather clock threshold – Fillory and Further author Christopher Plover (Charles Shaughnessy). Last we saw of Plover, he was entrapped in the Poison Room in the Neitherlands. Now, he’s mumbling incoherently and stringing random, unrelated words together. “Cello squirrel daffodil!” he proclaims to the pair. What the Ember is up with him?
Then, Penny and Plum decide to go to Fogg (Rick Worthy) for assistance. At this point in his career, he’s still a professor… and he’s remarkably sober. What a peculiar sight. He knows they’re travelers from another time period, and he offers to help them. Fogg leads them to a time machine akin to the one Stoppard crafted. They utilize it to, hopefully, get home. But, in true The Magicians fashion, it’s never that cut and dried. Penny and Plum land in Brakebills… in the 1920s. Bring on Prohibition and flapper dresses!
Meanwhile, Eliot and Julia are sequestered away in Whitespire jail. Eliot attempts to free them via magic, but Julia reminds him that their cell is magician-proofed. She also reveals that she’s got a bun in the oven. Sebastian ruins the celebratory moment by asking them for a favor. Always in need of something, that dude.
Next, Alice and Kady are poring over books regarding the Couple and the strange plant page. Essentially, the plant is a seed that’s capable of building entire worlds, just as the moths told Alice in the previous episode. Speaking of insects, Margo brings in her questionable veterinarian friend, the one who examined Josh when he was a fish, to take a gander at Plover. He reveals that Plover’s under a curse of sorts. Fen notes that there are insects in Fillory that have the ability to scramble the mind. Thus, when one speaks, their words come out in the wrong order. Margo’s vet pal peers into Plover’s ear and finds a whole swarm of them chilling. Yay for ear bugs!
Then, Penny and Plum seek out Hyman (Dustin Ingram), the former’s pal who’s perpetually stuck in the astral plane. He would still be alive in the 1920s, and he’s still just as sketchy as ever. Still a peeping Tom, too. Penny asks for Hyman’s aid in gaining access to the Brakebills library. Hyman is also overtly racist, as is everyone else in that time period. Yay for the crushing white patriarchy of the 20th century!
Later, Julia and Eliot are mulling over parchments regarding a spell the Dark King wishes to cast. It’s a necromancy spell. Seb wishes to raise someone from the dead, and Eliot has an idea as to who that is. If you’ll recall, Seb confided in Eliot his overwhelming grief for his dearly departed lover. Meanwhile, Penny and Plum encounter the same time machine as it’s being invented. Perhaps they could help piece it together in order to get back home.
Now, Alice and Kady are still brainstorming solutions to the Couple issue and the magical surges problem at hand. Kady broaches the possibility of creating a new moon. Yes, she wants to construct a new celestial rock that circles the Earth. Especially since their current moon is being overly hormonal and royally forking up their ambient magic. Alice ponders over whether it’s really “that easy.” The solution, that is. Perhaps they’re finally catching a break?
Meanwhile, Penny and Plum solve their traveling issue – they need to be in contact with a material object from their time period. Both riffle through their belongings for something from 2020. However, they keep coming up short. Finally, Penny recalls Quentin’s Welters card from the beginning of the episode. Eureka! But, there’s just one issue – Hyman. Apaprently, Hyman is being expelled from Brakebills for peeping on women. Penny realizes that this isn’t a good thing. Should Brakebills follow through with the expulsion, Hyman as an astral being will cease to exist. That will affect a good chunk of events leading up to the present. Penny vows to alleviate all that, much to Plum’s chagrin.
Next, Penny has a chat with Hyman when he notices the latter is packing his belongings. He convinces Hyman to stay at Brakebills and fight back against the expulsion. Oh, and there’s a female Welters’ tournament that very evening! It’ll be a smorgasbord for the eyes. I cringed just typing out that line. Hyman eagerly agrees to stay on that alone. Later, Penny and Plum knock Hyman unconscious while he’s astral projecting. Plum reveals she has a vintage watch that’s imbued with a stasis charm. This means the wearer of said watch will essentially be frozen in time. She suggests they hide Hyman’s body and wrap the watch around his neck. Boom! Besides, nobody ever located his body. Perhaps they were the ones to hide it! Freaky! Thus, our pair does the aforementioned. Magic and time are saved!
Now, Plover is cured. Well, thanks to Margo’s quick thinking and her ice axes. He explains to her and Fen how he came to be afflicted with the magical insects. Plover knows the Dark King quite well – he also knows the latter’s true identity. Once the Dark King ran into Plover, he had the author infected so his secrets would remain concealed. As it turns out, Sebastian is actually Rupert Sebastian Chatwin. If you’ll recall, Rupert did sit the throne in Fillory for a time. Martin, a.k.a. the Beast, cursed Seb with a sleeping curse, and he awoke after the former’s demise. Of course, over the three centuries of his reign, Seb turned a bit villainous. Live long enough to see yourself become the villain and all that.
Meanwhile, back in Fillory, Eliot and Julia successfully aid Sebastian, a.k.a. Rupert, in his quest to pull off a necromancy spell. We see a spirit inhabit Eliot’s body. It’s that of Lance Morrison, Rupert’s lover from centuries ago. Remember when Julia and Q witnessed a young Rupert and Lance in a dorm room at Brakebills having an (at the time) illicit love affair? And Lance’s father sauntering in to break it all up? That Lance. Now, Lance is in Eliot and he reunites with Rupert. It’s a tearful moment. Rupert vows to fully revive Lance, but the latter can only stay in the present time for a minute or two. Suddenly, Lance disappears and exits Eliot’s body. Can everything and everyone just stop possessing my dear El? Leave his body be!
Later, Alice and Kady meet the Couple, who’s just one guy with a penchant for torture. He reveals that he’s reset the timeline countless times, and enacted acts of violence against Kady and Alice in each one. They’re stuck in a time loop. He demands Alice hand over the plant page, but she resolutely refuses. Suddenly, the trio are inside a dank room. Kady is unconscious and tied to a chair. Alice is awake, and the Couple threatens to slaughter Kady should the former abstain from giving up the page. Then, he begins cutting off Alice’s fingers…one by one. It’s grotesque and vicariously painful. However, Alice eventually relents and gives him what he wants. It was more so to save Kady’s life than her own digits. New “best b*tches,” I wonder?
Now, Julia gives Rupert what-for after he almost grievously injured Eliot with his necromancy stuff. They both reveal they’re grieving (Julia for Q, obviously), but Rupert is just acting plain irrational. Move on, bud. Back in New York, Plover takes his leave of the apartment – but not before Margo sicks the horde of infectious insects on him once again. Can’t have that pedophile wandering around with a coherent mind. Good on you, Margo.
Meanwhile, Penny and Plum use Q’s Welters card to help them get home. Success! That is, until the duo wind up in an undisclosed location…trapped in a room with various paraphernalia. Sound familiar? It’s the same room Plum ended up in after hearkening to the signal!
The twist in this episode of The Magicians may be one of my favorites thus far. Not to mention, I love that Merritt is actually Plum Chatwin, which is a lovely nod to the book trilogy. Another book nod is Hamish Bax, who befriends Quentin at Brakebills. My only true gripe is Kady. I still feel as though the writers don’t know what to do with her. Apparently, the Reed’s Marks crisis was solved, albeit offscreen.
Now, she’s once again stuck aiding a main character as a side character, although she herself is labeled a series regular. I also feel that Kady is the only character who hasn’t progressed arc-wise. She’s perpetually stagnant, stuck in a plateau of sorts. However, there are four episodes left after this one, so hopefully her story is resolved in a satisfying manner? Now, with The Magicians suffering cancellation, it should be interesting to see where the story goes and if loose ends are properly tied up.
Do you think Rupert can be killed, and will our heroes successfully figure out how to do so? Where did Penny and Plum go, and who sent that signal? Will Alice and Kady be able to retrieve the plant page from the Couple? Join me next week as I recap The Magicians, here on Geek Girl Authority.
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 10pm on your SyFy affiliate.