The Brakebills crew must face a season's worth of journeys to collect the sixth and final key on The Magicians Season 3 Episode 12.
Sometimes finales sneak up on you, but "The Fillorian Candidate" felt like a very blunt and obvious pre-cursor to the end.
The group got their key (and bullet) for the boss level challenge at the Castle of the Gods, thus concluding their "restore magic" quest. The Fairies are no longer a violent threat.
Fillory has its first democratically elected leader and a semblance of order as it enters a war.
Not to mention, it resolved Julia's residual anger with Reynard, saw Fogg's eyes healed, firmed up Fen's role in Eliot's life, all the while firmly planting Penny 23 into the current timeline (goodbye original Penny, so sorry Kady).
Alice also confessed to why she was actually being so secretive all season while simultaneously giving up her mission for The Library. And Quentin? Well, he faced the reality of his father's illness.
Some of it felt too neatly and quickly tied up, especially with the amount of time that went into building up the arc through The Magicians Season 3.
We had been waiting for some time to have the real root, if you will, of the fairies efforts to terraform Fillory exposed. It happened in this episode to almost no fan-fair.
The fairies don't have children, and they need them to keep their race going. Hence, all the eggs. It was great to finally have that tidbit confirmed, but the reveal felt like a bit of a tiny throwaway in an episode stuffed with revelations.
I also loved Alice's confession that she had spent the entire season struggling with her time as a niffin, not the loss of it.
With everything she had done, it seems justified and totally like Alice to want to stop something like her former self from ever happening again.
But as I think back, I wonder how much of that clearly came through her episode-to-episode development, and if that moment deserved something a bit bigger than her quiet argument with Quentin.
A moment that eventually became about Quentin choosing whether his father would live or die with the return of magic. That was yet another powerful scene – with such a touching, eye-watering ending – that I honestly feel should have been given a bit more time and focus.
I think about how much was spent on questing early in the season and how much screen time was given to these pivotal character moments, and I'm left to wonder whether there was a bigger balancing issue this season than I realized.
Or maybe I just want to think there was more in these moments screen time wise than there really was.
On the other hand, other episodic developments felt better delivered. Margo, Eliot, Fen, and Fray all help resolve the issue of making the fairies feel secure in their existence in Fillory, thus securing the sixth key.
They do this by thrusting the land, at Josh's great suggestion and with some serious magical support from Julia, into a democratic election.
Eliot deems himself the appropriate candidate due to Fillory's patriarchal society, shutting out Margo. Their "flier" war (Thanks, Kinkos) sees the campaign becoming a commentary on the current state of U.S. politics until the results are revealed with Margo actually clinching the win thanks to write-ins.
The series points to a moment earlier in the episode when the group visits Frey and her bear boyfriend at a bar. There we saw Margo chatting it up with Humbledrum, who we learn is very prominent in Fillory.
It's that moment that supposedly seals Margo's win as she listens to a group of Fillorians others have neglected, but it's actually symbolic all of her work during Season 3.
As I wrote about previously, Margo gave up parts of herself to keep Fillory together. She took the time to figure out what was going on, with almost no support and as people (and faeries) were constantly trying to undermine her.
The reveal itself also speaks volumes about Margo and Eliot's entire seasonal arcs as rulers.
He eventually takes a knee and pledges her has his king in charming and proud Eliot fashion, but the entire sequence illustrates how Eliot has spent part of the season pushing the women in his life (Fen and Margo) to the side.
And before he takes a knee, Margo apologizes. This speaks to how women feel the need to apologize for their greatness. Lucky for her, not only does she get a kingdom, but she also gets her eye back from a very grateful Fairy Queen.
Back on Earth, Julia is dealing with her growing powers. Her kindness in the face of what we've seen from other gods definitely makes me feel proud of her, but am also concerned about it.
Am I supposed to trust the idea that she can really answer everyone's prayers without consequence? If that was a thing, why aren't all the old (good) gods doing it?
She's pulled away from this endeavor though to help with research about what awaits the crew at the Castle of the Gods. At the suggestion of Zelda, Kady and Penny 23 decide to reach out to Reynard about the castle's contents.
To do that, they ask Julia for an okay and help locating him. She agrees and after they find him being a faux feminist pizza delivery guy, both she and Kady get a moment to see how justice and karma handled the creature who destroyed parts of their lives.
It was, much like Margo's, and somewhat Alice's, moment, a nice payoff that was due.
It also helped them get a god-killing bullet, which the team plans to use on whatever was created before they created us, tucked away at the castle at the end of the world.
Josh also gave us an excellent Taco Tuesdays joke and inspired Julia to recreate a Fillorian forest, a rather beautiful scene.
I wasn't sure how the Fairy Queen would understand the meaning and connotation of "Eat my ass" enough to send it through a messenger rabbit (while not knowing other basic Earth sayings), but that was still funny.
I appreciated Fen not necessarily sticking by her man, but sticking by her land. She may not have been brought up to be a ruler, but she is certainly in this whether Eliot thinks she is or not. The very same could be said of Josh, which is also why I like him.
Side characters are often treated with less respect by the narrative, and both Fen and Josh have demanded better in canon dialogue throughout the season.
I also really liked Alice not just choosing choice, but choosing not to kill Julia. Furthermore, I just don't see how The Library – with how Penny, Harriet, the fairy dust, and so many other things, ended up – would be the right people to be "in control."
Finally, I'm not entirely sure we've seen the last of original Penny. When Julia, Kady, and Penny 23 go to see Reynard, he reveals his father, Hades, gave him the god-killing bullet.
Hades is the same god that convinced Penny to stay in the Underworld. That can't be a coincidence, right?
If you have thoughts about The Magicians' latest episode, "The Fillorian Candidate," 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.