“A Flock of Lost Birds”
January 23, 2019
The Monster and Brian stand beside an ice cream truck. They’re both spattered with blood. The Monster says Brian got so much on him from that boring waiter. He can get cleaned up when they get to the temple in Greece. They have to hurry now.
The boy in the truck holds out the Monster’s order. A scoop of pistachio with jimmies. The Monster quietly says he wanted sprinkles. Brian quickly says jimmies are sprinkles, but the Monster isn’t listening. He turns and slashes the air with his index finger. A bloody gash open across the boy’s throat. Brian gets more blood on him. The Monster takes the cone out of the dead boy’s hand.
Huh. Jimmies are sprinkles.
Brian carefully asks if there’s another game they can play. One where they don’t flay the flesh off of anyone? The Monster says the god deserves it. He knows why. Just like the friends of the sad little man they’re calling Brian now, know.
But they can’t talk about it.
The Monster says Brian not Brian’s glamour gets very angry if he says his name too much. And it’s better that Brian doesn’t know. The Monster is going to kill these friends and he has to assume it’s going to happen in front of Brian, so. It will hurt less if he doesn’t know who they are.
Kimber D’Antoni sorts through her mail as she walks down the street. She stops at the large manila envelope with her name hand-written in large ornate script. Inside is a single sheet of paper marked with an arrow and a single word.
A gust of wind catches the paper and snatches it from her hand. Kimber chases the paper as it tumbles down the street, always just out of reach. She gives up after it blows through a locked gate … and then turns right back around and scales the fence.
When she hits the ground, it’s daylight and she’s on Brakebills’ campus. She’s welcomed by Todd—who tries and fails at adopting Eliot’s insouciant cool. He tells her she’s been offered a preliminary exam for entry into the graduate program. And she’s late.
Kimber’s grip on what she thought of as reality slowly begins to unspool.
But she rolls with it, bursting into the full and pin-drop quiet exam room. The test begins and Dean Fogg joins proctor Sera Siege at the back of the room. She complains about the extra hours of staff time required to test in batches rather than just all at once. The Library could just give them the magic …
A line of red ‘X’s appear on the grading sheet. Sera Siege says it looks like Kimber is a dud—even though she shorted out the globe. Never seen that before. Dean Fogg holds up a glass with three colored lenses and peers at Kimber. The amber lens cracks. Through the cracks we see Julia sitting in Kimber’s seat.
Dean Fogg says they’ll keep the dud for now.
Alice flops onto her gray cot in her gray uniform in her harshly lit gray cell in the Library. A voice from another cell says that even her breathing is depressing today. Alice tells the voice to go fuck itself. She’s not there to entertain him.
Oh, really? Because her recent escape attempt was hilarious.
Dean Fogg delivers the new student files to Head Librarian Zelda. He lingers until she’s forced to fill the uncomfortable silence with an update on Alice. Zelda says she’s fine. Depressed and surly but fine. Dean Fogg says Alice is fixated on the “thing” she saw in Castle Blackspire and worried about her friends.
Zelda tuts that Dean Fogg’s spellwork was masterful. She can’t think of anyone better protected. And since she can’t do anything to stop Irene McAllister from killing them all if they resurface, his students will just have to stay where they are, as they are.
Josh driving an Uber. Penny 23 DJing. Margo boss bitching. Kady undercover copping.
Dean Fogg takes comfort from one thing—that when his attempts to protect them inevitably fail, their blood will be on Zelda’s hands.
Detective Sam Cunningham is vexed—VEXED—that one of her arrests is walking, because he always walks away. Nothing ever sticks. It’s not something that Sam can let go of. She chases Mark into an electronics shop where he seems to disappear. She takes note of the star tattoo on the clerk’s wrist and eventually finds herself on a web page about hedge witches.
Her mouse shorts out, zapping her with a painful shock.
She goes back to the page and her monitor dies.
She jots down a research note and her mugs tips over, spilling coffee all over the page.
The Universe would very much like Kady to stop scratching at the wall.
Kim meets with Dean Fogg about her progress—or lack of. She says everyone received their disciplines except her … which isn’t surprising given that she hasn’t been able to do a single piece of magic. But she wants to keep trying. Kim says the moment she found out magic was real was the moment she discovered who she is.
Fogg says Kim reminds him of a young woman he once knew. One he rejected from Brakebills. He believed he was doing the right thing, but left on her own she was badly hurt. Fogg says he chose not to protect her. He’s simply not willing to repeat that choice with Kimber. He counsels patience.
The voice on the other side of the wall tells Alice everything is going to be okay. She tells him not to lie. The voice says he knows. He’s been where she is.
He tells her he was imprisoned for perfecting a spell to find good people. It was a way to feel less alone. He eventually realized that there are almost no good people, so he turned his focus to children. He just wanted to find some good kids and reward them in some small way.
A time came when he needed a book from the Library’s Poison Room. It was bad … he says the room killed some of his friends. He was working with some elf gentlemen—sweet guys. All the weird sex stuff you hear about is only partially true.
All the little pings in Alice’s brain combine into one big jingle. Is … is he Santa Claus?
Well, he’s not not Santa. But he doesn’t like that name. It got very commercial. Very shopping mall. Just call him Nick.
Nick says he tried to escape early on, but he got lost in the stacks. And that’s when he tried to end his life. The point Nick is trying to make is that he’s glad he’s not dead. He says he’s not going to die in this grim, gray cell.
And neither is Alice.
Nick says Alice was a good kid. He knows that she’s hurt people, and she thinks that means she should hurt. But he knows. Nick knows Alice is not a bad person. He asks her to promise him that she’ll hang in there.
Nick bangs on the walls of his cell shouting for help and calling Alice’s name. Alice is laying on the floor. Large pools of blood stain the floor under her wrists. She wakes up in the infirmary. Her hands and arms are encased in magical healing bubblewrap mittens. Alice was looking for a way out of the Library and she spots it soon after she opens her eyes. She flings herself out of bed onto the floor and scoops the large cockroach into her mouth.
A little more digging and Sam finds a hedge witch safehouse. Mark watches her enter the warehouse and gets a nasty shock of his own when he tries to cast a spell to see what she’s about. His magic bounces back on him, knocking him off his feet like he’s been struck by lightning. His hands are smoking as he picks himself up off the ground.
Sam confronts Mark and tells him she knows what he is and knows there are more of him. A satellite dish detaches from a building and falls on top of them. It’s prevented from crushing them by the protection charm Mark is wearing. He says he has no interest in poking Sam’s witness protection spell. It tried to kill him just for looking at it.
Mark pulls the charm from under his shirt and Sam snatches it from around his neck. And then Mark runs into the path of an oncoming truck.
That’s going to leave a mark.
Later that night, Sam puts on dead Mark’s protection charm and gingerly types her name into a not!Google search bar. At the bottom of the page, she finds a link for “A Flock of Lost Birds,” a graphic novel about Detective Sam Cunningham, a hard-nosed, determined straight arrow with a penchant for corgis and men’s cologne.
Fashion editor Janet is asleep at her desk at Hipbone magazine. She’s awakened by a voice urging her to arise. Arise, your majesty, arise! She walks out of her office and into the throne room at Whitespire. She’s more than a little taken aback by the pantsless horned goat god reclining on a settee, but wait … is she at Jeff Goldblum’s house right now?
She is not. She’s still asleep and dreaming. The emanation of chaos god Ember explains that this is a broadcast of the Fillorian Emergency Alert System, activated by a disturbance of great magnitude.
Great ill is afoot!
Emanation Ember isn’t exactly sure what that great ill is. It could include world war, pandemic, arrival of hostile or uninvited gods onto Fillorian soil, revolt of dwarves, or mass rising of the dead. Fix it please. NOW.
But editor Janet has bigger fish to fry, starting with the color correction on the model in the layout that’s so bad it’s racist. Her harried assistant Sophie makes a note and tells Janet that Dr. Liu called. He said all the tests were normal. Janet says her eye is weird. Colors are weird. How is that normal?
Janet doesn’t know it’s normal if you’re carrying around a fairy eye in your socket.
Sophie hands Janet a black eye patch. Dr. Liu suggested she wear it until the problem resolves. Also, the Amazon account locked her out and every book store she’s called is sold out of Fillory and Further. Janet snaps at Sophie to just get it done and declares that she has now seen this season’s ugliest accessory.
She’ll deal with it. It’s fine.
Sophie scurries away as Janet pulls the brooch from her jacket and pins it to the patch. All hail the High King.
Janet is waylaid in the lobby by Sam. The detective explains there is something Janet needs to know and bad shit is going to start happening as soon as Sam tells her. She pulls out a copy of the graphic novel and tells Janet to flip to Chapter 3. It’s her life.
The glass in a nearby mirror cracks.
Sam cautions that the writing isn’t award-winning. Janet says her boobs look insane. “A man wrote this, correct?” Sam tells her to focus on the details.
Every light fixture in the room explodes.
Kim the architect, Nigel the bastard son of a British lord, and Brian the English professor all seem to be missing, but Sam and Janet are able to gather two others characters from the book, Uber driver Trevor and DJ Hansel.
Hansel questions how having all of them in a room together isn’t courting disaster. Sam says they have to poke the whole fake identity thing pretty directly to cause a reaction. She tells them to talk around it.
Janet suggests they find the author of the novel. James Tiberius R. Martin is clearly a pen name but maybe he knows something. Trevor questions that tactic. He says the book was written 14 years ago and he has memories from before … but they’re not really his? Because he’s not really him?
A section of ceiling collapses, sending a large piece of ductwork crashing to the floor.
Hansel asks about the guy who walked in front of the truck. Turns out Mark survived. If he’s still alive, they can ask him some questions. Marina 23 walks up and joins their conversation. She says she wishes they wouldn’t. They’re already done enough to her good friend who was borrowing the protection spell that Sam snatched. But it’s cool. Marina 23 is there to help.
She leads them all through a magic portal mirror into her penthouse apartment. She tells them to make themselves at home while she casts a protection spell on the room. Then Marina uses a series of colored glass shards to perform an initial diagnostic. She says whatever it is, magic is dripping off of them at a level that’s not even legal.
Marina holds the protection charm and wraps the chain around her hand. She’s just going to take a little peek under the spell to see what they really look like. Marina 23 dismisses Sam’s warnings that the spell doesn’t like to be poked. Marina says the room is warded up to the vage and she’s very good at what she does.
She walks around the glamoured four casting her own revealing spell. The charm begins to glow orange from the heat of the magic bouncing off of it. Marina breaks through and a rebound pulse explodes through the room. The four gasp and choke for air and collapse unconscious to the floor.
Janet is awakened by the impatient tapping of a cloven hoof. The emanation of Ember tells her again some more to fix it. Whatever the matter is in Fillory, FIX IT. After telling Ember to go fuck himself, Janet points out that she’s not in Fillory. Ember rolls his eyes. Why didn’t she say so?
Janet gasps herself awake—alone—in the forest in Fillory.
The Magicians airs Wednesday at 9/8 p.m. on SyFy.