Jason Ralph, Rick Worthy / Carole Segal, Syfy
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This episode shall henceforth be known as “The One Where Quentin Kills a Puppy.” And if you like the idea of a symbolic puppy, Julia loses one as well, by the end of the episode, when it turns out her fellow hedge witches wiped her from James’ memory before she could tell him the truth. Tonight’s episode is all about the costs of magic, and how important it is to have people who have been through it before to guide you. Quentin has the dean and friends (Margo, totally unexpectedly) to bring him back from the edge. Julia does not.

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Watching Quentin reconnect with his dad is also one of the first times we’ve seen him go through a little personal growth. Instead of assuming he knows better than anyone else, he actually accepts that he can’t save his dad and decides to give his father what Papa Coldwater wants (namely, to see him happy and fulfilled) rather than what he wants for his dad. Sure, there are likely to be consequences for telling someone about magic, but for once, he’s taking the more mature route, and accepting that there are certain things he just can’t have.

Julia’s lesson, as always, comes with no such resolution. Do we think Pete was really acting in her best interests by sending Marina to erase James’ memory? He claims it’s to protect him, but it seems an awful lot like James was the last remaining thing keeping Julia connected to reality. Granted, her connection to reality was tenuous at best (see: setting her own hands on fire), but she’s now left with no one. And good ol’ pal Quentin, despite a small amount of personal growth, is not going to come help her. This has been Julia’s deal for a while now, but hopefully the next episode will move her a little further down the path, rather than continuing to build up what we’ve known for a while: She’s alone and desperate.

This all ends up playing a lot like a lesson about the importance of college, especially given Alice’s talk with her aunt about figuring out what she wants to do with her life. It’s a bit of a pat resolution for her, considering she just watched a classmate trap her demonic brother in a box. Alice, much like Penny, doesn’t get quite as much attention on the show as she should for what she’s going through, but there’s a limit to how many subplots one show can juggle.

Speaking of things we’re not spending enough time on, what the heck was that welters game? Why introduce a concept only to spend so little time on it, and have the whole thing deflate immediately as soon as the big game begins? We get to see a very brief glimpse of the Physical Kids in what is apparently quidditch gear purchased from Forever 21, and then Quentin shuts the game down with an assist from Alice. The whole bewildering mentor concept could be enough story for another episode, not something to shoehorn into the background of Quentin’s issues with his father.

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The welters misfire is also a wasted opportunity for the show to have a little fun. Quentin and the other characters say over and over again how important magic is to them, but we see so little of them actually enjoying magic. True, Quentin is hardly in the mood to joke around with his classmates, but there’s no reason we couldn’t have seen the other Physical Kids getting a little more into the game.

Overall, this didn’t exactly bode well for the likelihood of the show giving all its plots room to breathe. If Penny is somehow going to be the key to the plot moving forward (as suggested by his newfound ability to travel to Fillory), ideally he’ll get integrated into what’s happening with Quentin and the others a bit more.

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Stray Observations:

  • Every time people team up on TV shows, it makes me think of the Best Friends Gang on 30 Rock. I hope Penny, Kady, Alice, and Quentin are just as effective at capers as Kelsey Grammer, Jenna Maroney, and the immortal Kenneth Parcell.
  • Speaking of Kady, I would like a little progress on whatever is going on with her ASAP, please. Did Marina encourage her to get Penny to team up with Quentin, or was that her move? Also, for the book readers who enjoy mild spoilers: She has the same last name as someone in the books, which seems unlikely to be a total coincidence. Did Amanda Orloff become Kady Orloff-Diaz?
  • Nice to see that Brakebills has its own college brochures. Guess competition for tuition fees is fierce in the magicians’ world, too.
  • Why not partner Alice and Quentin up in a class taught by Professor Sunderland for the “lab partners” plot? Introducing yet another professor seems like a waste of time. We’re spending so little time in the classroom that bringing in new faces just adds to the confusion.

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