Setting up for an exciting season finale The Magicians Season 4 Episode 12 balances some of the relationship stuff that we've been watching unfold all season and mixes it with a dose of action to keep the audience engaged.
First, let's talk about Julia. The Monster grabbed her at the end The Magicians Season 4 Episode 11 and is getting ready to turn her into a new body for his sister.
Julia has had such rotten luck over these last four seasons that this seems like another layer on a very poorly baked cake.
She has no say in what's about to be done to her and given what we know after The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5 it's going to lead to Julia being trapped in her body.
And in true form, when Julia is in trouble Our Lady Underground appears, but she can't help her except to give her a few cryptic words about what happens when she chooses to be either a human or a god.
You will not fail as long as the decision is yours.Our Lady Underground
Apparently, the choice has to be Julia's, which doesn't seem to be the case given that this is the same character that has been raped, told to grow a seed of magic, and now can't do magic.
This all came after the timelines were manipulated and this version of Julia didn't get into Brakebills.
There are a lot of forces messing with Julia's life, and it would be great if she could take the reins for once. How is she going to do that now that she's possessed?
While Julia's possessed, Kady and Zelda are stuck in The Poison Room. Their protection has worn off and they may only have days or hours to live depending on if they can escape.
It's ironic that Kady is stuck in this room given what happened to Penny in The Magicians Season 3. Even after they're freed it feels like she would rather die than keep living without her Penny.
Perfect, so I'm going to die in the most ironic way possible. Just like Penny.Kady
While Penny-23 says that Kady's death would be a waste it's hard to discount the events The Magicians Season 4 Episode. I am still not entirely convinced that it wasn't Kady inside the elevator when the doors opened.
And yes, even though Zelda said that The Library may have a cure, who knows if Zelda will be able to procure it.
(Plus, is no one else concerned about the fact that Zelda is walking around almost completely unaffected when she also had no protection?)
But Kady's fault is the only thing to result from the time in the poison room, Zelda also has a meeting with Everett who seems convinced he can fulfill gaps in The Library's knowledge by becoming a god himself.
This plot feels a little rushed and is perhaps introduced a little bit too late unless somehow this was all planned well in advance and somehow it was taking this long to save the magic needed to kill The Monster and harness his powers.
Fortunately, there's a way to beat The Library and keep anyone from getting The Monster's powers.
There is a small problem, the reservoir of magic under Castle Blackspire is enchanted to turn you into a fish because everything in Fillory is that apropos.
Poor Josh spends the entire episode as a fish and this time, but at least this means that Margo can confront some of the feels she's been pushing down.
Shit, maybe I do love this goddamned guppy.Margo
Fillory's wildlife has the strange power to be just to the right of ridiculous.
It's a humor that The Magicians has always steered into well and it's worked for them. The fact that Josh is a literal "Dying Fish" adds a slight dash of comic relief to a very serious plot.
But it also shows some of Margo's character growth. We haven't really seen Margo in a relationship, and that's okay because not every character has to be paired off romantically.
When Quentin tells her that she doesn't have to separate her badass side from her loving and caring side, it feels like a breakthrough. I don't expect Margo to ever not say what she thinks and to do what she wants.
That doesn't mean she has to be alone for the entire series run.
She's always been paired with Eliot, but honestly, with Eliot's absence there's something that's been missing with Margo and I think that she needed someone else to bring it out.
Letting her have another person to share her soul with is good for her and doesn't have to change her character on a fundamental level.
But saving Josh means that they have to find a cure and fortunately the expert on all things Fillory is also in this episode.
While Zelda and Katy are stuck in the poison room they meet Christopher Plover. Plover is an unlikely ally and made more unhelpful by the age suspension spell put in place by Martin Chatwin.
Plover has two functions in this episode. The first is being the unforgivable pedophile who proclaims that he wants to atone for his sins.
Pedophilia is terrible, and we haven't followed Plover enough to know if he is truly genuine about changing his ways.
Yet, considering he's sitting opposite an authoritarian regime and Kady and Zelda are worried about how to topple the library, he's a pretty solid example when it comes to the reason the perception of The Library is in the toilet.
Plover: The problem is, no one will ever let you change. People will always see you for what you've done. Never for who you are. So at the end of the day no matter what you try to become, some judgemental blonde bitch always shoves you down a poison well.
Kady: Yea, well then I'm Team Blonde Bitch.
The other way that Plover is useful, is when it comes to Fillory. He's the voice of reason when it comes to the harsh realities of the world he supposedly "created" in his books.
Plover's presence in this episode delivers a deep account of where fact and fiction end and how fiction is made. He was writing children's books and some of the harsh realities of Fillory wouldn't have played into the genre.
In a way, it plays at the idea of selective censorship in the stories we tell children. And considering we met Santa Claus earlier this season, it's a pretty strong point to make.
Of course, the way the magicians have to save the day is by using a flower to access the reservoir. Of course, the only way to access it is to truly love Fillory, and the only person who can get the flower to bloom is Quentin.
Quentin had a genuine love for Fillory back in The Magicians Season 1, but it very quickly soured when Alice died and he discovered that Plover was a child molester, who the beast was, and lost Alice.
Finding out that your favorite author isn't who you thought they were and that your favorite place isn't as perfect as you expected is heartbreaking. And it's tough to get over given how Quentin idolized him,
Alice is very good at talking him up so he can get the flower to bloom. Her encouraging speech to Quentin about how being an adult doesn't mean giving up with you love is inspiring.
The proceeding moment where Quentin tries to get the flower to bloom results in a truly gripping performance from Jason Ralph.
His monologue about his love for Fillory feels like everything that The Magicians has been leading up to all season, and feels like the perfect penultimate speech for the main character to give before the fight.
Which might be happening sooner than expected when The Monster and His Sister infiltrate the library to get a scroll from The Poison Room.
The final few minutes of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 12 are a scramble to rally the troops and ice axes.
The most surprising bit of this action is Margo.
Once so keen to join the fight after the events of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 10 Margo stays behind to make sure Josh doesn't die, leaving Alice and Quentin holding the axes and facing off with Julia.
The Magicians is no stranger to cliffhangers so this ending is entirely expecting, but it's going to be a long week until we can see the conclusion.
However, given that the scroll The Monster and His Sister stole it feels like either Julia or Eliot may be heading to the realm of the Old Gods next season.
There's a lot for The Magicians to tie up as they wrap up Season 4. There's getting Eliot and Julia back, toppling The Library (although I wouldn't discount Sheila in that fight), and finding out what will happen to Kady.
Will all those questions in the air, next week's finale is sure to be explosive!
Lauren Busser is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.