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THE MAGICIANS Recap: ‘Lesser Evils’ Went Full LES MISERABLES

THE MAGICIANS Recap: ‘Lesser Evils’ Went Full LES MISERABLES

Warning: the following recap contains major spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of The Magicians, “Lesser Evils.” It is a recap, after all! Don’t say we didn’t warn you …

Big musical number, game-changing alliances, best friends betraying each other… could you tell we are nearing the end of The Magicians season two?! Every storyline reached an emotional climax, and I’m very worried about where this season is heading as we move towards the finale in just a few episodes.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. “Lesser Evils” was an incredible hour in its own right, and no matter what happens in the next few episodes, I’ll always remember the exact moment I jumped off my couch to sing along with Eliot, Margo, Fen and the rest of Fillory to sing Les Mis‘ “One Day More.” It’s like the week of TV musicals, isn’t it? What a time to be alive!

This week’s hour dealt mainly with three storylines: Eliot’s decision to forego a giant battle with Loria and settle their war with one-on-one combat with the Lorian king; Quentin’s decaying body as he continued to try and keep Niffin Alice trapped; and the discovery of Reynard’s son. Each storyline was connected by the Magical Wellspring blackout (Ember’s poop is just the horrible gift that keeps on giving).


Once Eliot discovered there was another way to end the war with Loria without going to battle (because the Fillorian troops kept deserting after Julia’s “arbicide”), he leapt at the chance to be the “greatest leader” Fillory has ever had by winning hand-to-hand combat against the Lorian king … even though it was a sword fight to the death. He was blinded by the chance to finally be loved by his kingdom, and with Fen’s help and a magically enchanted sword along with the confidence boosting musical number, he actually held his own against Prince Ess’ father. He almost even won!

But when the Wellspring crapped out, so did his magical sword, and things got pretty dire, so Margo made a deal with the fairies: they would fix the Wellspring once and for all, but in exchange, they’d get Fen and Eliot’s baby to raise as a fairy. Fen agreed without knowing that part of the deal — Margo made sure to keep her in the dark and got her blanket approval for any way to keep Eliot alive — and the Wellspring was finally healed. Margo knew she was definitely going to regret that later, but desperate times called for desperate measures (although the way she called herself a “manipulative c-t” really cut deep, because you could tell she really believes that about herself). What neither Margo nor Fen knew was that Eliot and the Lorian king reached their own kind of deal that didn’t end with bloodshed: they were going to get married. I believe Fen’s reaction best sums it up: Wait, what?!

Turns out the Lorian king bat for the same team as Eliot, and was forced to marry a woman in his kingdom long ago. She had since died, and was extremely interested in Eliot. He also clued Eliot in to a Fillorian rule that monarchs could have both a wife and a husband, so it was time for some magical polygamy.


Meanwhile, Penny, Kady, and Julia found Reynard’s son: the most popular U.S. Senator, John Gaines, who has never failed in passing a bill in his life. Apparently he was stronger than all the magicians in the world combined, but had no idea that magic even existed until Penny, Kady, and Julia exposed their world to him and kidnapped him. They brought him to Brakebills, tipping off Reynard to his identity, and he tried to break in to get to his son. When the Wellspring blacked out, the magical wards around the school dropped, and Reynard simply walked right in.

Shade-less Julia decided the only way to kill him was to let Niffin Alice out of Quentin’s body, so she basically fed Quentin right into Reynard’s arms. She hoped his desire to survive would outweigh his fear of letting Niffin Alice out, but she was wrong, and Reynard almost killed Quentin. Luckily, John accepted his godly parentage at the right moment and came out to appeal to Reynard’s love for his son, asking him not to hurt anyone. Reynard obliged, and teleported the two of them somewhere, leaving everyone, thankfully, alive.

Of course, everyone was super pissed at Julia for betraying her best friend and almost getting him killed, so they locked her in the clean room — a room without magic — to figure out what they were going to do with her. Even Kady couldn’t deny that Julia’s actions were out of control and dangerous to anyone that wasn’t Julia.

And speaking of Quentin, after his body started shutting down from the stress of holding a niffin inside of it, he finally made the heartbreaking and definitely questionable decision to let Niffin Alice go. He did it in the hopes that she wouldn’t hurt anyone, but just join Niffin Friar Joseph in doing some beautiful magic and leave him alone. But the look she gave him after he freed her suggested otherwise. We can’t trust Niffin Alice. She’s not Alice, but Quentin has not been able to see the difference. He didn’t want to box her because he couldn’t imagine a “world without Alice,” but he’s already living in a world without Alice. Oh Q, what have you done?!



– I loved how Kady kept trying so hard to see the good in Julia even after everything she’s done without her Shade. She clearly took their “Best B-hes for life” motto to heart. But after Julia betrayed Quentin, almost getting him and Penny killed, Kady could no longer live in denial that Julia was the same person who sacrificed her own life to let Kady escape Reynard. I think I was most heartbroken to see Kady’s realization that this wasn’t the same girl she became best friends with this season.

– I’m a little uncomfortable with the implications surrounding Julia losing her humanity after getting a magical abortion. I know, I know, the show called it an “exorcism,” not an abortion, but still. The story is still the same. Julia exorcised a fetus growing inside of her, and lost her humanity in the process. I’m sure the show didn’t mean to make that kind of statement, but there it is. I would have rather watched Julia make the conscious choice to lose her Shade at some other point and not have that loss come as a result of her abortion, but too late now.

– Margo cutting the lines from “One Day More” that don’t apply to their current situation is the most Margo move ever.

– And speaking of “One Day More,” can The Magicians please do musical numbers every week?! That was fantastic. The writers figured out a way to include a musical number that made sense in the story (Eliot needed a confidence booster before his big duel and he loves musicals), only incorporated cast members who could sing and gave it some real-world stakes (the Lorian king didn’t understand why Eliot kept singing “One Day More” at him when the duel was scheduled for that day). The choreography was flawless, the lyrics made sense for each character who sang them and I love getting to see Eliot happy so this was an all-around win.

– I’ll repeat myself from last week because it still applies: Jason Ralph playing Niffin Alice controlling Quentin’s body is just a trip to watch.



Quentin, locked in a cage while being checked out by Professor Lipson: I’m in a cage. You don’t think this is a tad … redundant?
Dean Fogg: Protocol.
Quentin: Yeah, for werewolves.
Werewolf in the cage next to him: OK, technically, I have sexually transmitted lycanthropy. A very mild case. Would have been cool to actually fully wolf out, you know? Awooo! Either way, it’s totally curable.
Dean Fogg: Treatable. There is no actual cure.
Penny: Well … silver bullet.

Professor Lipson: Quentin, you’re dying.
Quentin, sarcastically: Yeah, well, aren’t we all?
Professor Lipson: You’re dying quickly.

Margo: We may be the least trusted monarchs in the history of Fillory. Thank god they don’t have polls here.

Margo: One problem at a time, OK? Our soldiers are deserting us in protest thanks to Julia committing tree genocide.
Tick Pickwick: Pardon me, your majesty, for the official records, may I suggest a slightly less incendiary term? Perhaps “arbicide.”
Eliot: Sure, if you can also recommend how we fight a war without an army.
Palace advisor: Your majesty, there is one option. A rather obscure, law based —
Margo: Less words.
Palace advisor: One-on-one combat between monarchs.
Eliot, smiling: A duel?
Margo, rolling her eyes: El…
Eliot: With Ess’ dad? He’s got to be at least 50. And I’m pretty buff from all the living without technology or decent wine.
Margo: Slow down.
Eliot: Is there any rule about not using magic?


Tick Pickwick: You’re likely to, well … die.
Eliot: Mm-hm. Tick, if I did this, how popular would I be?
Tick: No king has ever volunteered for one-on-one combat. If you were to prevail, you would easily be the greatest leader in Fillorian history.
Everyone in the throne room: The greatest.
Margo, rolling her eyes again: God. He’s already seeing the statues.
Eliot: I hereby decree: rulers done gonna rumble.

Penny, jailbreaking Julia: Why are you in here, anyway?
Julia: I killed trees.
Penny: Seriously.
Julia: That could talk.
Kady: They have talking trees here?
Julia, laughing: Not anymore.

Eliot, severely underestimating how long it will take him to master sword fighting: It’s a giant butter knife.

Penny, talking about Senator John Gaines: Dude has more magic coming off him than every magician on Earth combined. And knows not one thing about magic.
Julia: Well he’s sure gonna.

Eliot: If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be venting to my wife while preparing to do battle on behalf of my mythical kingdom … I’d have done a lot more drugs.

Penny: We are not — Not! — killing a U.S. Senator. But we will commit a felony just as stupid.

Margo: What’s wrong?
Eliot: Wrong?
Margo: Your face. I’m an obsessive fan. So tell.

Professor Lipson: Is that Senator Gaines?
Dean Fogg: Probably. I mean, why not?

What did you think of this week’s The Magicians? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum!

Images: Syfy

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

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