The loss of magic takes on a whole new meaning as characters scramble to save each other with mixed results during The Magicians Season 3 Episode 3.
The first three episodes of The Magicians Season 3 have done a pretty decent job, in my opinion, of illustrating the personal impact that the loss of magic has had on various characters and even institutions of magic.
But what does a loss of magic look like beyond enchantments and interdimensional travel? As we see in "The Losses of Magic," a world without magic—or protection from it—can be deadly.
For the first time this season we really got to spend time with Alice. While it was great to see her back on my screen for more than three minutes, it was unfortunate that it was essentially resulting in her just fighting with one parent and watching another die.
I wasn't surprised that her relationship with her mother was still as tumultuous as it was before she became a niffin (her mother doesn't seem like the mature type), but I was surprised to see her father die in a slight "gotcha!" moment.
Alice: Hi, mom. So, I’m alive.
Stephanie: Oh, I know. Quentin called us after it happened. And you’re just visiting us now.
Alice: I’ve been meaning to come by.
Stephanie: Excuse the mess. All our architectural exchanments collapsed when magic vanished. But then, you’d know that if you ever called.
Alice: Who’s she?
Stephanie: That’s Carol.
Alice: That’s Carol?
Stephanie: Well, maybe you didn’t realize that she used a lot of illusion work to keep herself looking thin. So now she drinks. [Pause] Carol? You remember my daughter, Alice. She used to be dead. Now she isn’t. And it’s only just now that she’s decided to visit us. And she brought a cat.
Of course, it makes sense in light of what Alice knowingly and monstrously did to the Lamprey's family, even if it is a weird and evil parasite. But the death wasn't entirely intentional (a parallel to Penny) and wasn't immediate, making it more difficult to ingest.
Perhaps the one good thing we got out of the process of Alice fighting the Lamprey was getting to spend time in her headspace. Her discussion with Quentin about being "changed" was a particularly strong episodic moment.
It was a direct call out how we frame the lose of "our youth." While it's good to like who you were, the path to adulthood isn't necessarily about getting better at being who you were when you were younger.
It can be more about coming to grips with the way life dramatically and permanently alters that person, shaping us into the people we can no longer be, but also people we still might want to be.
While Alice was trying to save her family, Margo was busy trying to save Eliot after his boat got taken over by pirates.
Since becoming High Queen, it's felt like Margo has spent more time (than I certainly like) being a strong, capable woman in a tight spot. And in the moments where she is working out of her element and more in Eliot's—like much of her dealings with the Fairy Queen—it's been difficult to watch.
This episode begins to show us why Margo earns the name The Destroyer. In an admirable showing, the High Queen stands up multiple times to the Fairy Queen and the Pirate King in an effort to save herself and the people (and ships) she cares about.
Of course, the Fairy Queen ends up punishing a member of Margo's court for that courage. But that shouldn't take away from the fact that Margo pretty fiercely negotiated and out-maneuvered all of her enemies at one point during the episode.
She even destroyed her own eye in the process, proving that she wasn't going to be pushed around. It really felt like the Margo I love, and it was great, even if it didn't entirely work out, to see that again.
I saved discussing what happened to Penny for last because that still has me a bit shook. Not only was I not expecting this season to (sorta) kill one of its main characters or in this way (I'll explain), but it left us on a cliffhanger to deal with the possibilities of that.
The fight to save Penny brought Julia and Kady back together, which was a positive because honestly they're a great team, even if they turn on each other every now and then.
But it has also now landed Penny in a really peculiar and difficult spot. Yes, Alice "died" once on this show, too, but mostly everyone could see Alice as a niffin. Not to mention she still had a body to go back to.
Penny: What’s with the candy? You gonna summon some kind of chocolate loving demon to save my ass?
Kady: The scent of chocolate makes them less likely to eat us. I hope.
Can an astral projection re-animate a body? Can people actually see Penny? Will he be able to communicate with them to let them know he's still alive? And how long is the show going to leave him like this?
Beyond the big dramatics, it's also always worth noting some of the episode's wildest and funniest moments, even if I don't talk about them at length. The Magicians has so many that it's hard to not give them recognition.
A moment that stood out the most to me was, not surprisingly, the pop culture reference about the best and worst of Johnny Depp, delivered by Margo to her ship.
Another scene I really enjoyed was the moment in the bedroom between Penny and Kady, where she admitted she needed to save him. I've always liked their romance, even if it seemed to be built on a somewhat shaky foundation.
This show can be so much about interpersonal and intrapersonal chess to save your own skin or get what you want that the small moments when people choose each other become more meaningful.
Fray: What an odd way to make a living, pirating.
Fen: We can make our stand here. Fran, get behind me. I won’t let them harm you and neither will your father.
Benedict: If we fight, they’ll kill us.
Eliot: Plus, are we super totally sure that talking to them won’t work?
Fen: Pirates take. That’s what they do.
Fray: Will you not fight, father?
Fen: Your father is a powerful magician, but when magic disappeared--
Fray: Is father a coward then?
Eliot: Father’s a survivor.
I appreciated that Eliot corrected Fray about when one should fight, and one should be smart. When you're without magic in a world of magic, throwing your fists at the first person who brandishes their sword isn't a good look.
I would give Alice an award for the fact that she literally electrocuted every single person (beyond herself) in her parents' house, but I wouldn't want to encourage her new-found propensity for violence first, questions later.
And speaking of the Quinns, I'm still not sure why that entire make-out between saran mummy Quentin and Stephanie Quinn had to happen. I think the scene would have been just fine without that added (and somewhat throwaway) development in an otherwise really great episode.
If you have thoughts about The Magicians' latest episode "The Losses of Magic," comment below! And if you haven't caught up, you can watch The Magicians online.
Abbey White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.