The Magicians Explained, Part 8

The Magicians Explained: Season 02

Hey everyone, it’s Chris. This is episode 8 of my Magicians overview, this time dissecting episodes 11 through 13 of Season 2! You can find the previous reviews here.

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

Episode 11

Sewer Dragons

While most of the circumstances around this are different, the most important moment around the dragon storyline, was the loss of The Button. In the novels Q meets the dragon alone, in venice, at the bottom of a canal.

The biggest difference with the button storyline, is the fact that the dragon already had the button, having purchased it from Josh. The meeting was to try and get the button back from the dragon so that Q could get back to Fillory.

And, the dragon had nothing to do with the underworld.

Penny the Inside Agent

As I have said before, all of this stuff with Penny is new for the show, which in this instance, is a great thing. It allows you to find out more about the Library and what Penny was up to during this time there.

Which is very cool. Of course since everything Penny has done or will do is in his book, I’m not sure how this really could work. Should be interesting.


The whole underworld thing is completely different from the books, and I have to say it is much better in the show. In the novels the underworld, at least the version that is connected to Fillory, which is where they go in the novels, is a weird void, populated by the souls of the dead, and table games like ping-pong.

The bit with Alice’s shade is entirely new and complicates a great many things, but maybe simplifies a great many things as well, given they are going to be bringing Alice back much quicker than they did in the novels.

Having the underworld be a much more interesting construct like we see in the show, built to look more like something you would recognize, seems like a much smarter way to handle things. So, kudos on that writers.

Our Lady Underground

I loved this, it was a nice layer to add to her character. She was barely mentioned in the books, and only really showed up once, while Julia was in the underworld, where she finds out her real purpose.

I do like the reason for visiting the Underworld better in the show than we saw in the books, although I do miss this passport gag from the novels. It will be interesting to see how they handle Quentin’s story when it comes to Fillory in the future, since they have revamped the story, as well as the order of events in this way.

Julia’s Shade

I really dug this. It was another great moment where the show improved upon the source material, and was a great chance to see more about her character and where she might be going. Also having her sacrifice her shade to help Alice and Quentin was rad.
Sylvia from the Library
This was all new for the show, since the entire story is new, but its very cool and could add a lot to the end of this season. I really love the bank heist angle that is forming with Penny and Sylvia.

It was a bummer that she was killed so quickly though, I mean, if she is dead. We don’t really know anything other than presumably Penny left her there as she requested. When moments in shows like this happen, I always assume that the character will make a miraculous return in the future, most likely as a villain.

Episode 12

Niffin No More

As I have mentioned before Alice is brought back, but it’s at the end of the story, in literally the final moments of the story, and just like you see in the show, she is not happy. In the novels they did go to Mayakovsky for advice and help, he and Q have a fight, and in the end Mayakovsky does agree to help.

The “batteries” that he has in the books are coins, so I really like the change to them being orbs that are substantial. He didn’t actually help in the ritual though, it happened much later in the story after they had left him to his cold solitude.

As for Alice, in the novels she didn’t act the way you see in the show, writing things down, etc she basically spends all her time hating Q and trying to not embrace being alive.

The Secret of Ember

Yeah, this is a direct departure from the novels and not one that I particularly like. It’s difficult to talk about any of this without revealing a great deal down the road, but this was not, in any way, how things played out in the novels, and changes so much that I’m not really sure where thing are going to go from here, and not in a good way.

Oh and in case you were wondering, Umber was not hiding in Canada in the novels. He was technically still in Fillory the whole time, in hiding.

Our Lady Appears

This was odd, but not entirely bad. Having them be mother and son was definitely interesting, and went a long way in explaining why Reynard acted the way he did. We really didn’t get any of the “why” from the novels.

Our Lady did appear to Julia in the novels, as I mentioned earlier, when she visited the Underworld with Q in Fillory. It was at this meeting that who and more importantly, what Julia was to become was revealed.

Since they have changed so much of the story, I think this was as good a place as any for Our Lady to appear before Julia, and giving her shade back was a nice touch. I still hope they do they full story of Julia, it’s pretty ace.

Episode 13

Ember the Narrator

Yeah, I hated the opening of this Episode. Turning Ember into this idiotic caricature is irritating and not really that much of a boost to the story. Anyway, moving on.

Julia, Whole Again

This however, was great. Having her get what she wanted, then dealing with the ramifications of that decision, was just fantastic. I also loved that in the midst of this, Eliot walks in and shows again why he is the best character on the show. From a writing standpoint, to the execution by Hale Appleman, It’s all just fantastic.


This was new for the show, and a massive departure from the story, while technically Ember and Umber created Fillory, it wasn’t so disconnected from their own well being. They and their very existence were linked. One couldn’t exist without the other.
So the idea that Umber would make a new word on his own was just not in the cards. He couldn’t really.

The Death of Ember and Umber

While this happened in the novels, at the end of all things basically, this was just.. wrong, and robbed Q of the most important moment in his story, where all the potential that his character had was finally paid off, and he does something truly wondrous, necessary and truly magical on a scale that had never before been attempted, let alone achieved.

In the novels this moment comes after they have saved magic from being shut off by the old gods, as opposed to before. Also, it’s important to note that in the novels both Ember and Umber are killed, but they choose to die for the good of all, as opposed to Ember killing his brother and then being murdered by Q.

The life-cycle of Fillory is tied to death and rebirth. The Fillory we see in the novels and the show is only the current incarnation of that magical realm, there was one before it, with different gods, and presumably will be one after it, if events are allowed to run their course.

But I don’t want to say more until we know where the show will be going. I don’t want to spoil anything.

The End of Magic

This was pretty cool, and weird. In the novels they don’t lose magic entirely as we see in the show, they come pretty close, but are able to prevent it before the end. That being said, I like what they did with the “plumber” a lot.

Apparently humans having access to magic was an unintentional bug in the system that they had finally gotten around to fixing, and not the result of Ember χ

It was a great way to show what is happening in a way we could understand, and do so in a way that is financially viable.

Or Is It?

So I was hoping they were going to keep this part of Julia’s story intact, and it looks like from the ending of this episode, coupled with the exchange earlier between our Niffin Monk and Alice, that they are indeed going to pay this off.

I’ll just leave you with this. Apparently if you are magic, then you still have access to it. Only if you draw on magic from the Wellspring in Fillory, which has been “plugged”, are you no longer all magic-y.

Think about that for a hot minute.