There’s a lot to remember about the first season of Syfy’s hit show The Magicians. It’s packed to the gills with all kinds of spells, sex, intrigue, backstabbing, drinking, mystery, and magic that you may have forgotten how all of it fits together. With Season 2 on the horizon, here’s the perfect primer for what you need to remember heading into the continuing adventures of Quentin Coldwater and his magic friends at Brakebills University.
5. Fillory is Very Real and Time is Not on Quentin’s Side
We’ve known about Fillory since the pilot episode, “Unauthorized Magic,” as main Magicians dude Quentin Coldwater daydreams over the Narnia-esque Fillory and Further book series that he loved growing up. Much to his surprise, Quentin has visions of Jane Chatwin, the youngest of the four Chatwin children at the heart of the Fillory books, who gives him hints throughout the early episodes that Fillory is an actual place. He’s gradually lured into the world of Brakebills University by the grown-up Jane under the guise of a magical advisor calling herself Eliza. He eventually discovers that the magical locale from his childhood is real. But it isn’t easy getting there.
Jane is the key to getting Quentin to Fillory, but unfortunate for him she’s killed in “The Strangled Heart” by a Brakebills student under a spell by the series’ main bad guy, the Beast. The Beast is supposedly Christopher Plover, the author of the Fillory and Further series — but, surprise(!), the Beast, who is attempting to shore up all magical powers for himself, is actually Jane’s brother Martin. Jane Chatwin possesses the ability to futz with time, and used it to lure Quentin into the magical world to help defeat her brother 39 times and failed each time. In each time loop reset, Jane would change some detail in hopes that it would be different enough from the last time to kill the Beast, but since Jane died and could no longer reset time, it’s up to Quentin to make it to Fillory to get the job done himself.
In “Thirty-Nine Graves,” he and Julia learn how to bend time, and go back to 1942 when the Chatwins regularly visited Fillory as seen in Plover’s books. They follow her into Fillory via a real world doorway, in this case a magical British phone booth, and it leads them to Quentin’s childhood fantasy world made real. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
4. Penny Lost His Two Most Important Magical Assets
Penny is the guy who makes magic look good, thanks in part to his being what’s called a traveler. A traveler is a rare and supremely powerful witch or wizard who can transport themselves to anywhere in the universe — like, say, Fillory.
Penny had a tough time coming to terms with his power, and not only because the Beast began targeting travelers like him to take advantage of their powers. Penny’s tough but fair mentor Stanley — the first Brakebills traveler in a quarter of a century other than Penny — ended up killing himself in “Remedial Battle Magic” just to get the Beast’s voice out of his head and to prevent the Beast from using his abilities for his nefarious ends.
But that all came to a head in Season 1’s finale, when Penny and the Brakebills squad were ambushed by the Beast at Martin Chatwin’s cabin at the source of all magic in Fillory. The Beast basically left everyone for dead, but Penny might have gotten the worst of it: He cuts off Penny’s hands, rendering him powerless. In the world of The Magicians, nearly all spells, even if you’re a traveler, requires some sort of hand movement to work. Wands be damned.
3. Quentin and Alice Had a Big Falling Out
In the finale, Quentin realizes that Alice is much more magically powerful than he is, and makes a dire choice. They’ve commissioned a powerful Fillorian dagger to kill the Beast, and, in one of the more gross yet hilarious touches in the show, have procured Fillorian god Ember’s seed (read: magic nymph jizz) as a way to temporarily give the person who wields it enough power to do so. We figured Quentin would be the finale’s hero, but since Jane Chatwin said he tried and failed 39 times in previous time loops he gives Alice a shot at ending the Beast’s reign of terror, but it isn’t a friendly transfer of power.
The former couple was in a rough spot in the relationship after Quentin’s emotion potion threesome with Margo and Eliot in “Remedial Battle Magic,” which caused the emotionally devastated Alice to bed up with Penny an episode later in “Thirty-Nine Graves.” It was a contentious time for the group before the Beast and Julia went and ruined their plans in the finale, and the strife between the core members will seriously play into Season 2.
2. Julia is Out for Hedge Witch Revenge on Reynard the Fox
For a minute there, it seemed like Julia wasn’t jealous that Quentin had been chosen to go off and become a member of the magical Brakebills community. She was unfortunately left to her own devices trying to learn back alley spells with hedge witches like the shadiest of the shady Marina and, later, trying to summon benevolent goddesses with her fellow wayward and vulnerable magical humans in the Free Trader Beowulf group.
But just as Julia met back up with Quentin in Fillory to supposedly use her surprisingly powerful newfound abilities to aid in taking down the Beast, she let one huge character motivation drop on everyone.
What the Free Trader Beowulf circle actually summoned was Reynard the Fox, a mischievous trickster god who killed all the members of the group and raped Julia, leaving her for dead. This is what caused her to seemingly turn on Quentin’s Brakebills group in the waning moments of “”Have You Brought Me Little Cakes” after she grabs Alice’s dagger and cuts a quick deal with the Beast to spare his life to kill another god: Reynard. Both better watch their backs in Season 2.
1. Eliot Isnt Enjoying Being the High King of Fillory
In the finale, Eliot finally found a bigger purpose, but it turns out being a king isn’t something he ever really wanted.
The dagger that Quentin needed to make to kill Master Magician extraordinaire, the Beast, needed to be made of moonstone, which cost a pretty penny and take years to forge. But Quentin doesn’t have to spend any money for a Fillorian swordsmith to make the blade. All he has to do is insure someone in the swordsmith’s family to eventually be a King or Queen of Fillory, something only Earth-based magicians can become. Eventually it’s Eliot who has to take up the High King’s mantle, but there’s a catch: He has to marry a Fillorian female named Fen and can never return back to Earth. Whether he’ll be up to the challenge to be the High King remains to be seen.