If magic was real, and you were worried that your kids might get into it, then The Magicians would be the perfect PSA to dissuade anyone against anyone getting into magic in the first place. And now, with several major deaths in its latest episode, The Magicians is basically sending a strong message: If you fuck with deep magic, you’re going to get burned.
Spoilers ahead for Season 2, Episode of The Magicians “Divine Eliminations.”
The big news in the latest episode is that Alice bites it. After getting advanced battle magic in the previous episode from an old friend of Dean Fogg’s, you might think Alice could have gone in confident for a showdown with the Beast in this episode. Combined with being juiced-up with god-power from the previous season, and also harboring an emergency-tattoo-demon in her back, Alice was in theory more than prepared to tango. But, she wasn’t. As established previously, if someone does magic too hard in The Magicians, they are in danger of “niffin-ing out,” which means, their essential selves will be stripped away and “only the magic will remain.”
After the Beast tries to kill Quentin (who was trying to protect Alice) the show briefly gives us one of its most satisfying scenes of magic combat yet. As Alice fires off a torpedo-like spell against the Beast, you really think she might actually take him out. As Eliot says, “Alice is going full Harry Potter Part 7/Part 8 over there.” But, like her brother Charlie before her, in an attempt to deliver a badass spell, Alice ceases to be alive and becomes a full-on-Niffin. This, of course, is something she did “on purpose” because only by becoming a creature of pure magic could she defeat him. This works, but after gaining all this power, Alice immediately becomes an amoral killing machine, who after slaying the Beast, threatens Margo and Eliot. In a moment of desperation, Quentin unleashes his secret back-tattoo-demon to stop Alice, effectively killing her a second time.
For book readers, this tragedy was overdue. In Lev Grossman’s novel, Alice sacrifices herself by turning into a Niffin in order to defeat the Beast in their first — and only — showdown. The show makes another big change here too by having Quentin end Alice by sending his tattoo demon to attack her rather than having her just burn up, horrifically, on her own.
Quentin’s increased culpability adds another layer of tragedy to Alice’s death, but it’s not the only tragedy of the episode. In the world of Julia’s Hedgewitch community, her sometimes ally Marina also dies in this episode, bringing the overall death count this week to three. Seriously kids, if you don’t want to see your friends get killed, or sometimes have to kill your friends with tattoos, don’t get mixed up in magic in the first place.
All kidding aside, Alice turning into a Niffin and becoming all powerful is the best thing that’s happened in this season so far. Does anyone really think she’s dead?