The Magicians Season 3 Episode 3 Review: The Losses of Magic

The divided storylines have developed their own enticements as new conflicts arise to reinforce the central quest in The Magicians.

This The Magicians review contains spoilers.

The Magicians Season 3 Episode 3
Although each of the three story arcs in this week’s The Magicians was completely separate, each had its own wow moment, making it difficult to say which was most successful. In many ways, the stage is being set for previously unknown conflicts even as the main quest continues to move forward, which is surprising for such an early episode. As a result, “The Losses of Magic” raises the stakes or adds new dynamics for several characters that we could not have predicted even as it hearkens back to earlier seasons by including elements like Alice’s parents or Penny’s psychic powers.

Penny’s plotline is by far the most pat, but only in terms of his super cancer, which wasn’t the most compelling conflict anyway. Trading that dilemma in for his apparent death (although the audience knows his spirit is intact) is a much more intriguing prospect. The demon summoning was perhaps a bit too benign, but Asteros’ hunger for the excised tumor upped the creep factor just enough. The idea that Kady and Julia might believe Penny to be dead has some enticing emotional possibilities, and what Penny might accomplish, encounter, or have difficulty with as an astral projection is anyone’s guess.

As for Alice, having her revisit her parents as the lamprey continued its pursuit was a smart move, bringing a sort of closure to their earlier involvement with her time as a niffin. Having Alice’s father help with the research while exploring the aftermath of the loss of magic on full-time magicians on Earth broadened the context of the overall problem this season presents. Stephanie Quinn’s self-centered doubt and resentment of her daughter plays well with the invisible, body-snatching enemy as both the characters and the audience struggle to figure out who has the lamprey inside them.

Thankfully, the Quentin-as-double-agent idea didn’t last; it wouldn’t have worked well long-term anyway. And Alice’s final confrontation with the lamprey was so deliciously tragic on many levels. First, there was the slow reveal that her niffin-inspired quest for knowledge ended up being a study in torturing the lamprey’s family simply to produce pretty lights. Then there was the death of the weak-hearted Daniel Quinn — the more supportive parent — at Alice’s own hands. The lamprey may be vanquished, but it appears to have gotten the revenge it sought.

And finally, there was her conversation with Quentin about their growing estrangement. The pair’s relationship has never been even remotely solid, but Alice’s characterization of Quentin’s offer of support as a gesture to the person she used to be is undoubtedly accurate. Will anyone be able to help Alice other than Alice herself? The lamprey can’t possibly be the last enemy she will face, but although it’s impossible to predict what’s next for her, viewers are fully on board to find out how the continuing tragedy of Alice Quinn will play out.

It’s the quest for the seven keys, though, that needs to carry us through, and oddly enough, the mysterious departure of Eliot as the After Island key created its own magic door was the perfect accent to Margo’s tangential storyline. It’s starting to become clear that the Fairy Queen wants Margo to undergo some sort of evolution as a leader, and although that supposed mentorship is still remarkably cruel, the prospect of Margo’s special brand of bitch somehow maturing into a ruthlessness deserving of her “Destroyer” epithet no doubt fills the audience with anticipation.

Plus Margo is already pretty tough! Her skillful manipulation of the pirate king, who never could control herself around a one-eyed girl, was quite the spectacle, and her wisdom in asking the Muntjac what it wanted before agreeing to submit to the pirates’ demand for a forceful mating of the two boats is the hallmark of a thoughtful queen. She even attempted to take blame for the theft of her eye to save Tick, and destroyed it rather than let her enemy win! Whatever the Fairy Queen has in mind for Margo, good or bad, it could only make her more magnificent.

The latest episode of The Magicians is all about anticipation and building excitement for what’s to come, and “The Losses of Magic” succeeded in doing just that. And let’s not forget the old lady who told Julia, “I thought you’d be further along; we’re going to have to push you.” A foreshadowing of divine involvement in the hedge witch’s life? Talk about the perfect set-up! The separate storylines could easily have come across as disjointed, but they each contained their own enticements, putting the series on the right track moving forward.