Content Warning: This review discusses spoilers, attempted abortion, and forced violence.
Just how does a bank heist of all things fit into this season of The Magicians? You might be surprised.
Quentin’s back at Brakebills, but he’s got a new friend. Or should I say a new frenemy? Niffin Alice takes pleasure in making a nuisance of herself while he scours the Brakebills library for answers on saving Alice. Plus to the rest of the world he looks batshit, seeing that Niffin Alice really only exists in his head. Or rather in his tattoo. It’s complicated. She wants Quentin to let her take his body for a joyride. Eventually he convinces her to keep her trap shut – or he’ll trap her in a Niffin box, where she’ll never see sunlight again.
Despite Dana’s warnings about her unborn child holding the only power to banish Reynard, Julia goes ahead with Plan B. Kady brings her to a butcher’s shop in Chinatown, where some very powerful magicians might be able to exorcise the demigod baby for her. Small catch. They’ll only do it for a million. In gold. Bewitching ATM machines to cough out cash ain’t gonna solve this one, girls. They might just have to rob a bank.
Back in Fillory, Margo and Eliot receive the news that Loria is on the war march. And the Well Spring is still bust. Oh yeah. And Fillory is broke.
Julia and Kady scope out a bank, only to find that it is covered in magical wards. The Haxon Paxon starts to go berserk in the trunk of their car, but before the girls can investigate, Kady is flung and Julia is pinned down by some invisible, magical being. Haxon Paxon breaks out just in time to free Julia from a chokehold, but even this two ton hulk of flesh and muscle isn’t up to par with this enemy. The creature stabs it through the stomach – with a wooden spoon – and makes off. So ends the adventures of the Haxon Paxon.
Julia and Kady hightail it to Brakebills, the only place with wards thick enough to stop creatures like the one that attacked them from getting to Julia. Foggs gives Julia a place to crash in none other than Alice’s old room. The girls bump into Quentin at the Physical Kid’s house, and Kady catches him up to speed with the sitch on Julia. Things might be rocky between the two of them, but Quentin holds firm on his promise to help Julia in whatever way he can. Let’s just say invisible Niffin Alice is pleased as punch to hear that Julia’s first request involves a bank heist.
Kady and Penny bump into and then bang each other in the Brakebills library. Kady explains the plan with Julia and the bank heist while they cool off, and while Penny isn’t exactly Julia’s biggest fan, he’s up for some criminal shenanigans. Margo and Eliot join the Brakebills party – Eliot via his new Earth golem – and hearing Fillory’s money troubles, Quentin invites them in on the heist.
The Brakebills gang is reunited, sans Alice, and with the addition of Julia. Turns out Margo’s actually busted into a bank in her lifetime, and she knows a thing or two about it. In addition to the bank vault being protected by two bank manager’s fingerprints and a passcode, once the safe is cracked, a countdown from ten minutes begins before shit hits the fan, and a Battle Magician is summoned. Not to mention the anti-Traveller wards set up in the safe room to suffocate any Travelling Magician who sets foot on the floor.
Margo’s got a plan for all of this, but their steak out on the bank is interrupted by yet another invisible creature attack. Kady stays behind to kill it, grabbing yet another bloody wooden spoon. She brings it back to Chinatown, and her hunch is right. The butcher shop magicians are responsible for the attacking goblin, and they’re not going to stop it until they get their gold. That exes Julia out from the bank heist.
Kady and Quentin grab two of the bank manager’s fingerprints, and the next day they get to work. They infest the bank with a swarm of bees, then go in undercover as a bunch of exterminators. Julia safely watches from Brakebills via an enchanted necklace of Kady’s, while she tinkers with the magical time travelling device she and Quentin had used in “Thirty-Nine Graves” (01×12) to travel back in time in Fillory. The gang succeeds in lifting the first protection via the manager fingerprints, but Penny’s Travelling into the bank safe goes horribly awry. His feet touch the ground, and now not only is his air running out, but the clock is counting down.
Quentin, Eliot, and Kady rush to the safe, only to find it protected by a safecode too complex for any of their magic to possible disarm. Unless, of course, you were Alice. Or more accurately, Niffin Alice. For the price of one hour a day at the driver’s seat in Quentin’s body, Niffin Alice agrees to help him crack the safe. They get to Penny in time to stop him from suffocating, but not soon enough to avoid tripping the Battle Magician.
Julia arrives on the scene with Margo, but she’s only been able to rig the machine to travel back 15 seconds at a time. Quentin and the gang make a break for it, but with every attempt, and every time rewind, one of them still winds up biting the dust at the hands of the Battle Magician. Down to their last rewind, they break loose, but Eliot’s golem is struck down. The gang bolts, leaving the golem behind, not knowing that in Fillory, real Eliot seems to be feeling the effects of his golem’s death in a very real way.
Julia and Margo are under attack – again – by the invisible goblin, and Quentin and the gang barely gets to them in time. Julia’s pretty banged up. She loses consciousness, and comes to back at the Chinatown butcher shop with Kady at her side. They went through with the exorcism. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s been a major complication.
Okay. So maybe the bank heist plot makes a little bit of sense.
Still not a whole ton.
It’s all in context, which was personally my biggest concern. But it’s not really the heist that is so much my problem as the way it was executed. The set up is logical: Julia still wants that abortion. After what happened at the abortion clinic, it’s not too far a jump to understand why anyone – Magician or no – would ask for an obscene amount of money to make attempting the abortion worth their time. Not only does the specific request for gold make sense, but now so does their motivation to rob a bank – where else are you gonna get one million’s worth of that shit?
Even the ominous Battle Magician fits into the picture. If banks didn’t have magical wards and countermeasures to prevent Magicians from busting into them, what else would stop Magician’s from cracking safes the same way we’ve seen Julia hack into ATM machines? Banks would never not be getting robbed blind.
I’m still not buying the readiness with which all the Brakebills gang takes to the idea of robbing a bank.
It seems either very or slightly out of character for them, depending upon the person. The lack of contextual motivation is what really feels shoehorned and out of place here. Sure, Margo and Eliot want the gold for Fillory. Quentin is willing to do whatever to help out Julia, and the same goes for Kady. Still hard to swallow how fast they turn on a dime at the idea. That being said, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to go along for the ride. It’s a fun episode, which I’m sure is what the writers were angling at. And right before shit really is about to hit the fan.
What complication is Kady talking about here? Does it have to do with Julia’s health? Is she still stuck with the demigod baby? Plus it seems that the gang are about to discover the true consequences of letting Eliot’s golem die in our next episode.
It’s looking like both Julia and Eliot’s life may be hanging in the balance next week, and to top it all off, Quentin now owes Niffin Alice a joyride. She’s already done him one favor. Now that the genie’s out of the bottle, will Quentin be forced to ask for yet another favor? But what is the consequence for that?
Contrary to her claims of innocence and apathy, chances are Niffin Alice is in this for the long con. If there’s hell to pay for this week’s shenanigans, than you can bet that it’ll be Quentin’s pound of flesh to be sacrificed.