‘The Magicians’: Luck is my discipline

The Magicians
“The Bad News Bear”
February 6, 2019

“Marina, why do you look like you’re fleeing something?”

Because she is.  Namely, the imminent death and destruction that’s about to be wrought on Kady, Penny 23, and Josh by the Monster. But if Margo wants to take a pass on joining her for a breakfast burrito in favor of saving her friends, Marina will at least give her a tiny assist.

Get the Monster to sit in the gold chair.

Margo walks into the penthouse as the Monster is deciding who to kill first. Penny clearly has to die before Kady, and since Quentin cares about all of them, he has to die last.

Quentin meets Margo at the door and quietly says, “Not. Eliot.”  Margo’s heart breaks into a million tiny pieces. 

The Monster helpfully lounges in the gold chair of his own accord.  Now all Margo has to do is ring the bell on the table to hit him in the face with a load of distilled ambrosia. It’s meth for gods. It won’t kill him but it will knock him on his ass.

The Monster decides that Josh’s round, innocent face will make his death particularly upsetting. Margo blurts that she can give the Monster Bacchus. Josh’s internal organs cease liquifying. He’s hunting gods, right? Margo says if the Monster lets her friends live—all of them—she’ll take him to Bacchus.

The Monster quickly loses interest in her offer. Knowing where Bacchus is doesn’t do him any good.  Bacchus will run away as soon as the Monster appears. It’s easier just to kill everyone. Margo walks over to the gold chair and pulls the vial of ambrosia from its hiding place in the upholstery. 

Josh pulls Margo aside.  Could she please stop trying to kill his friend?  The Monster follows right along behind them.  Friend? Great! Bacchus will never suspect Josh.  


Three Deweys. 

That’s the bounty on the Brakebilliards heads’—dead or alive—so they can understand the position that Marina 23 is in.  She explains that to get enough magic to do anything interesting you have to request it through the Library. If they grant your request they give you a battery in the shape of a coin. The coins have faces of famous librarians on them, but Melvil Dewey, inventor of the eponymous decimal system, is the only one people can remember.

“Well, and Laura Bush, but ‘Bush’ has just never stuck.”

And on the subject of librarians, let’s all just bask a moment in this photo from 2017 of Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, with 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana. It’s moments like this that give me hope that it’s not all just one big dumpster fire.


Quinten says they’ll just pay the bounty themselves. They’ll figure out a way.  They always … sometimes … most of the time—do.  Marina says five Deweys (for the delay) and they have a deal.

In Fillory, Josh tells Margo they can find a way out; Margo tells him to sack up, ho. This is happening. Josh questions why she gave the ambrosia to the Monster instead of using it against him. Margo reminds him they tried that before with Julia’s god-killing bullet. 

All it did was kill the host. 

And if there is a shred of hope that Eliot is still in there, Margo is going to find a way to help him.  She hands Josh the vial and tells him to get to it.

“You know what’s incredible? How you can be such a good friend and such a terrible friend at the exact same time!”

Margo is Schroedinger’s friend.

The Monster approaches behind her. Margo goes still, like a rabbit, and swallows the scream that wants desperately to escape her mouth.  The Monster says there’s not a lot he can relate to in this world … he relates to her.  He groans that he hates being alone. He doesn’t like being left with his own thoughts, such as they are. His voice sounds strangled and then softens. He says he needs friends.

Margo suggests he not murder everyone he meets.

She tries to persuade the Monster to let Eliot go—or at least let her talk to him—but the Monster says no. He likes the way people look at him when he’s wearing Eliot’s skin. And Margo and her friends care so deeply about what happens to it.  Why would he ever leave it?

“Tell a few people you’re leaving forever and look what the ungrateful bastards do.”

They clean out your liquor cart. Dean Fogg pours a drink from an emergency fifth and warns Julia that contacting her friends will put targets on their backs.  Julia tersely reminds Fogg that he put those targets there.  She sacrificed everything to bring back magic—and he betrayed them.

Dean Fogg visits Alice in her cell.  He’s like, hey, the Great Blank Spot has ended! The Library is updating everyone’s books again.  So, if her friends were to get their memories back, the Library would know and they would end up in a cell right along with her—if Irene McAllister doesn’t murder them first.  

It’s a message and a warning for her own escape plans.


Some time later Alice decides it’s go time.  She pulls a small metal bowl from under her mattress.  It contains chips of anti-magic paint that she has peeled from her cell’s walls.  She uses a little spit to bind the chips together and a straw to blow them into the cell door’s keyhole.  Anti-magic paint to lock pick a magic lock.

Alice and Nick follow the cockroach map into the section of the stacks with the Books of Everyone.  Nick grabs his book, but the rest have all been removed from circulation for revisions.  They slip into Zelda’s office and Alice tells Nick to go.  She’s going to stay and find her friends’ books. Nick says, for what it’s worth, she’s still on his nice list.

Josh strolls up to the manaed standing sentry outside of “Ember’s” tent.  He tells Shoshanna to cut the crap.  It’s him! Josh! From the Bed-Stuy party.  Bacchus is relieved to drop the Ember pretense and delighted to see his friend.  He says he and Josh are the same.  Born to be the perfect hosts, making sure everybody has a good time, but nobody does the same for them.

Bacchus raises his cup to Josh. Josh bats it out of his hand.

He goes back to Margo who can’t believe he nut sacked out.  She demands the remaining ambrosia and tells him to pussy up and take one for the team or she’ll dose everyone at the bacchanal.  Josh weighs the lives of 100 innocents against that of a god and poisons Bacchus.

The Monster drags Bacchus off into the woods.  Does the god remember the Monster?  Because the Monster doesn’t remember himself.  Not his name or where he came from … but he remembers Bacchus.  The god took something from him.  Something important.  

“It was a part of me, and now, it’s a part of you.”

The Monster slices into the god. Josh looks away. Margo doesn’t flinch. The Monster roots around in Bacchus’ meaty bits and pulls out a stone. It gently pulses and glows from the inside.  Margo hisses in pain and presses her hand to her fairy eye.  Whatever the Monster is holding, to a fairy it’s like staring straight at the sun.

Julia regroups with the penthouse gang and everyone gets up to speed.  Kady says the McAllisters have a free pass to unlimited Deweys, supposed repayment for their “heroic” efforts to turn magic back on.  The hedge witches call them “black cards”—no limits, no questions asked. That might be their best shot at paying off Marina. 

Penny 23 says he used to know a guy, a master counterfeiter. The Beast killed him, but Frankie is still alive and kicking in this timeline—and picks up when Penny calls.  

There’s a knock at the penthouse door.  Frankie gets up to answer it, opening and closing the door in the face of the sweepstakes prize committee.  

Actually, on second thought, he will take the gift basket with the low top kicks.

“Are they even in your size?”

“They’re always my size.”

Frankie says fooling regular dopes is simple; duping an object to fool a magician takes some special sauce.  Duping a black card will take extra, but he can do it, for the low, low cost of 5 Deweys.  

He’ll need at least 2 minutes with a real black card to use as a mold, 2 Philly cheese steaks, 4 liters of cherry soda—not store brand, that’s a deal breaker—and at least 1/3 of a Dewey coin as seed magic to get them started.

And to get that bit of coin, their friendly forger suggests trying their luck at that night’s high roller game of Push.  Any of them good at cards?


Quentin buys in by staking exclusive use of Penny’s traveler services for 1 month, no questions asked.  

Don’t worry, he won’t lose.

“But you’re a loser.”

Playing magic cards.  Playing magic cards.  Playing magic cards. Quentin wins. Kady and Penny lift a black card off a lady who lunches and the dupe is made.  But here is where the special sauce comes into play. Frankie says most forgers used complicated illusion work, but that’s not his jam.

There’s a tap tapping at the window.  Frankie pokes his head out on the balcony and collects a small white lunch bag from a pigeon.

“Did a bird just bring you a sandwich??”

Yes.  Luck is Frankie’s discipline.  His forgeries give the bearer insanely good luck, so no one ever even checks to see if it’s a fake.  But luck is zero-sum, so all the bad luck has to go somewhere.  

It goes into a bear.

SPN_Wishful Thinking Bear Why

Kady and Penny prepare to put the dupe card to the test.  Kady is wearing a short blond Pretty Woman wig. Penny looks like he’s wearing a Super Mario cosplay he found in the dumpster.  They’re stopped before they’re barely in the door.  The man says Penny has a fresh look.  Has he considered modeling?

Quentin is holding the bear. Julia brings him a bowl of soup. No risk of choking. Not scalding.  Totes safe.  Quentin reaches for the spoon.  The handle slides into the soup.

Kady and Penny join the long line at the bank. Penny suggests going all in for 20 Deweys. The McAllisters will still be out there after Marina and Frankie are paid. The Brakebilliards will need some major cloaking spells.  Kady points out that using that much luck could kill Quentin.

A man announces there’s a truck outside giving away free ice cream.  The line evaporates. Kady reconsiders.  Two extra coins couldn’t hurt.  Could it?

The soup spills.  Julia hands Quentin a roll of paper towels.  He gives himself a vicious paper cut.

Kady and Penny sit down in front of the branch manager and request 12 Deweys. She looks at their dupe card and says everything is in order—she just has to check one little thing.  She pulls the ledger of banned magicians from her desk drawer.  She flips open the cover, knocking over her candy jar. She gets up and the photo of Kady flies out of the book and into the shredder.

Quentin wrestles with a python.  “WHERE DID IT COME FROM?”


The branch manager submits the requisition to the home office.

Quentin’s phone that hasn’t been working starts buzzing.  It’s a voicemail from his mom.  He starts to wonder if it’s about his father, but Julia cuts him off.  He’s not holding the bear.

The requisition is returned, flagged for follow up with a supervisor.  That supervisor is traveler librarian Gavin, who totally knows who Penny and Kady are.  They grab for each other’s hands, ready to bounce if necessary.

Quentin picks up the bear.

Gavin asks if they’re going to blow themselves up.  No?  Request approved!

A light fixture slowly begins to detach from the penthouse ceiling.  Quentin is laying on the floor directly beneath it.

The branch manager drops the coins into Kady’s hand.  Julia’s phone dings.  Quentin tosses the bear across the room.

Frankie accepts his payment and says he had a feeling things would work out … because they always do.  He tells them to destroy both the bear and the card asap.  Kady says she’s on it.

Later, she and Penny meet Marina in the park to pay the bounty.  She walks away, coins in hand … and notices one of them has a bear on its face.  

This Marina may not be the one who killed Kady’s mother, but it’s still not something she can let go.

Kady tucks the black card in her back pocket.  A woman offers her a box of free puppies.

Quentin sits in Marina—now Kady’s—penthouse staring at his phone.  He still hasn’t listened to the message.  He says the other him—Brian—lost his dad when he was too young to understand.  Witness protection was like that. No sharp edges.  

But look at the price they’ve paid.  

Julia gave up being a goddess.  Quentin gave up his father.  What did they get in return?  Magic is back, but not how they wanted.  Quentin wonders how Julia isn’t furious.  She says she knew what her part in it would cost.  And that for everyone else the world is a little brighter, even if they don’t know it.  She would do it again—even it Quentin wouldn’t.

The Magicians airs Wednesday at 9/8 p.m. on SyFy.

Whitney also watches Supernatural and Legacies.  Follow her on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

2 thoughts on “‘The Magicians’: Luck is my discipline

  1. It took me a bit, but I’m feeling good. Which is why it’s taken me so long to reply–I had to binge watch the 6 episodes I was behind so I could answer honestly! My complaint with this season–if you can even call it a complaint–is that the story lines don’t hang together as well as they did last season. I really enjoyed S3’s Quest for the Keys and how it tied all the stories together. This season I am LUUUUUUURVING Margo’s story but I’ve been lukewarm on Julia (who is reliably one of my faves), and don’t really care about Kady and the hedgewitches. But last week’s episode nimbly brought all the threads together and I think we’ll see some payoff in the final two episodes and a nice set up for next season.

    Huh. Having a plan, giving multiple characters their own stories and time to breath, and tying it all together in a satisfying way. That’s something that SOME SHOWRUNNERS (ANDREW DABB) could learn from.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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