Content Warning: this review discusses spoilers and character death as depicted on the show.
Alice and Quentin are under siege by the Lamprey, meanwhile in Fillory, Eliot and the gang are getting sacked by pirates. Things come to a head in “The Losses of Magic.”
Nothing makes you quite so homesick like having your new cat explode. Alice pays an overdue visit to her parents with her new-new kitten in hopes of getting some help with the whole Lamprey sitch.
Like most viewers, I totally forgot Quentin’s dad was dying. But get ready to forget it again, because this episode we’re just using it as an excuse for Quentin to be AWOL while he’s possessed by the Lamprey. Gotcha. He makes his way to Alice’s, where she’s already in the process of torturing her mom’s friend with a makeshift taser. It comes out that the poor lady isn’t possessed by the Lamprey of course. But yeah, Quentin sure is. He disappears just as quickly as he shows up. With the Lamprey taser already dead, Alice makes a dash through the house to jump start it using the car battery.
It wouldn’t be a naval adventure without pirates, right? The Muntjac gets sacked, but just as Eliot and gang are cowering in fear, a magic keyhole appears. Huh. Just the perfect size for a certain magic key Eliot recently acquired. Looks to be some sort of magic door. Margot gets wind of the Muntjac’s sack and twists the Fairy Queen’s arm to speed on over there. She arrives expecting a hard parlay for Eliot’s life, but turns out Eliot and the fam jumped ship and left the mapmaker to play imposter for the pirates.
Julia tracked Kady back down to Brakebills, where she’s got Penny holed up and ready to enact some sort of cancer-cleansing demonic ritual. There’s a chance it might use up Mayakovsky’s last magic battery, but Julia is willing to team up to save Penny’s life. Looks like they’re in for a pleasant surprise… the demon actually seems kinda nice? Free of charge, it just sticks its pointy little fingers into Penny’s stomach and pulls the “cancer” lump out. Too late, apparently. Penny passes. Only he still seems to be sentient in some sort of Traveller, astral-projection form of himself.
Just as quick, Alice finds that Quentin is free of the Lamprey. Why? Well, through an outburst from Alice, we learn Niffin Alice went and tortured its entire family. Safe to say this might be an eye for an eye sort of thing. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess where the Lamprey is, but after shocking her mom and Quentin unconscious, there’s only her dad left. Alice is able to shock the Lamprey out of him, then barbeque it with the same makeshift taser. There’s one problem down. Except not really, because it turns out the shock to Alice’s dad was too much. Only hours later, he has a heart attack and passes away.
Margot and the Pirate King parlay, but it turns out it’s not just a matter of money. Apparently, the pirates’ magic boat wants to rape the Fillorians’ magic boat. Literally. Because, you know, magic boats. The Muntjac’s “scent” is allegedly what drew the pirates to Eliot and gang in the first place. Margot goes to talk to the Muntjac’s heart itself to ask it what it wants to do. No answer, but her little speech sways the Fairy Queen into killing all the pirates and collecting their teeth as a bonus. One small catch: the Queen knows Margot had Tick pick-pocket the eye she had hanging off her little charm bracelet. And she wants it back. Infuriated, Margot squashes her own eye like a Gusher before handing it over. It won’t do any good though. The Fairy Queen has other ways of spying on Margot. So much for that.
Sometimes, I wish the show spent a little more time digging into the heart of characters, and having Alice visit home reminded me yet again why. As fun and zany as all this plot stuff is, it loses its shock value after a while, as well as becoming a little bit unrelatable. Case in point: Quentin’s dad. He went cancerous last season, and it hasn’t been touched on since. Rather than sweeping this under the rug, it should be used as a character moment. This isn’t even a critique on Quentin not visiting his dying dad, really. But if Quentin is going to prioritize Fillory and saving Alice and all that other stuff, you have to shine a light on that. There needs to be a moment where Quentin voices how he feels guilty, or struggles with the decision. Otherwise, it just comes across as sloppy, and convenient to plot.
Also, the Lamprey. Can we talk about the “it-can-get-in-any-orifice-including-skin” thing, which then prompted Alice to cover every part of her body EXCEPT for her ears, nose, eyes, and mouth with saran wrap? Did the executive producers really just want to see the actors wrapped up like a mummy on set? It comes across like a gag that’s missing the laugh-mark. It’s ridiculous without being in context or making any sense.
It’s okay, though. The writers redeemed themselves with their Margot line to the heart of the Muntjac: “I thought the pirates were really cute at first, in a Johnny Depp kinda way. But turns out it’s all really dirty and fucked. Also in a Johnny Depp kinda way.” I’ve always appreciated that about the show’s writing. At times it can be wickedly funny, sharp, or heart-felt. This tends to shine through in the show’s character moments, when it honestly isn’t attempting to pander to its “fanboy” audience.
Still, we have some more keys to find. Based off our “Next Week On” promo, Eliot’s magic door on the Muntjac might just have spirited him back to the Neitherlands. But what does that look like, without magic? We’ll find out next week.