The Magicians Explained, Part 5

Hey everyone, it’s Chris. This is episode 5 of my Magicians overview, this time taking a look at the first 3 episodes of Season 2! You can find the previous reviews here.

If this is your first time here, I take shows and movies based on books, and compare and contrast them to the source material.

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Okay, by now hopefully you know the drill, let’s get into it.

Episode 1

Let’s Make a Deal

So, yeah. This entire storyline is new for the show. So, I hope it goes without saying why Julia was able to hold the knife, given what we learned from the exchange between Ember and Alice.

Although this is new, I loved every minute of it. The Beast is such a great character in the show, and this new storyline that has Julia and Martin working together to find, capture and kill the beast allows for some pretty amazing moments.

Scooby Gang Resurrected

This was new for the show as well, and almost felt like deus ex machina, or the Hand of the God, so it wasn’t my favorite thing. They went through the trouble of creating this moment of real jeopardy for our heroes, and then in literally 30 seconds reverse it all, because “I’m God Powered”.

Just feels like lazy writing. There should have been some sort of struggle to achieve the saving of them all. The one thing I did love was Penny floating around in the background still in a state of “holy crap, I lost my hands” shock.

The Attack on the Hedge Witches

Going hand in hand with the new storyline of Julia and Martin going after Reynard, we find that Reynard hasn’t left, but is instead targeting more hedge’s that are trying to invoke Our Lady. As the counterpoint to the Julia/Martin storyline, this too was added for the show, and I must say, I dig it.

It always seemed strange that he just up and vanished after the run in with Free Trader Beowulf.

Penny’s Hands

This was, odd. In the novels Penny wanders off into the Neitherlands, sans hands, after their run in with the Beast, and disappears from the narrative for quite a while. When we see him again he has joined the Order of the Librarians, and fashioned new hands out of magic.

And he was still a jerk. A jerk with glowy hands.

The Knight of Crowns

I mean, this was hilarious, especially the end bit with “The Swayze”. This might have been what happened in the original story, we don’t know. The first book of the series ends with Quentin having retreated to the mundane world to while away his time at a nameless company, having given up magic.

The closing moments of the novel are Eliot and Janet/Margot and Julia floating outside his thirty story window, crowned as King and Queens. They had come to take him back to Fillory with them to take his place as the second King of Fillory.

Martin’s Shade

This was very interesting. This is from the novels, but not in the way that it plays out here. We don’t find out about this specific part of the story until the last book and it plays out much differently and has even darker connotations, if you can believe that.

And man, Martin is so much more charming and dangerous in the show than he ever was in the books. And I have to say, I love the whole singing thing.

Episode 2

The Curse of the Thrones

This was fun, clever and added some much needed drama to the kids from Earth taking the throne. In the novels it just all worked out, and there weren’t any real problems like magic failing, which affected the crops, etc, when they assumed the throne.


I loved this change from the novels. In the books Bigby is a male pixie and the unofficial faculty advisor for the physical kids. Making Bigby a past lover of the dean was great, as was having her hide the battle magic so Fogg would have to come to her was great.

Seeing the joy from Fogg, and then how comfortable they were together on the couch, was lovely.

Back Demons

This was fascinating, specifically where they chose to include it. In the novels the addition of the caco demon was done on the eve of a magicians graduation from Brakebills, and kept secret from the other students.

Kind of a last resort when they magicians has their back against the wall, and there is no way out that they can see. In the novels you are there for the ritual that embeds them in each of them, but it wasn’t described in vivid detail.

Episode 3

The Curse Falls

I loved the pace that this set for the show, and I really did love the way the curse was designed. Paranoia is a very potent thing and when it runs unchecked it is destructive as we see here.

And I mean, I love paranoid Eliot. Usurpers.

And I love that Penny and Fen are the ones that figure out how to beat the curse, and more importantly, that Janet is the one that wins. Because of course she would be.

The Fox vs The Witch

Although this seemed like a waste of her character, it was nice to see the interplay between the two, to see Marina not cower in fear in Reynard’s presence. But man, killing the cat was a dick move.

It seemed crappy, with all she went through, and the steel she showed in resisting Reynard, that Penny would just pop in and steal him, allowing Reynard to kill Marina. Just a waste.

Alice the Niffin

So first, Ember taking a crap in the Wellspring, yeah that was not in the books. As I have mentioned before Ember in the show is not really god material in my opinion. I mean, come on. Defiling the source of all Magic in Fillory.

So in the novels Alice becomes a niffin, but it is intentional. When all hope is lost, she chooses to overpower her self, triggering her transformation into a niffin, which would give her the power necessary to finally end Martin, which I find more compelling than her over estimating her ability and becoming one by accident.

And the end bit where Quentin uses his caco demon on her wasn’t in the novels either. She kills Martin and then disappears, not to be seen or heard from again for a very, very long time. I mean, a caco demon wasn’t even going to inconvenience her as a niffin.