This episode featured a pair of particularly violent deaths, one to a furry friend that was extremely NOT humorous in the vein of cancer puppy, and one to a character that I didn’t expect. In my last review, I asked for more Beast, and this episode definitely delivered with Eliot’s new boyfriend Mike being controlled by the Beast and causing mayhem all over Brakebills. I also criticized the action in last week’s episode for moving too slowly, and thankfully, this installment picks up the pace and is still able to deliver on character development, most notably with a glimpse into Eliot’s backstory as he opens himself up emotionally to Mike- and then later is sadly forced to destroy him.
We begin with Quentin and Alice returning from Brakebills South and grappling with the ramifications of their sexual liaisons while they were away. Later, after Quentin wiles his way into Alice’s study group, Penny insults him, calling him a loser who isn’t forward enough in his feelings for Alice, which is a criticism I don’t really get. Usually Quentin does kind of come off as weak, but in this instance, he was very straightforward with Alice—he very honestly told her he wasn’t sure if he loved her, and backed off when she asked him to. What Penny sees as “acting like a loser” is really just Quentin respecting Alice’s wishes and not forcing himself upon her. But I guess that’s the type of attitude you’d expect from a guy who inappropriately, and creepily, made moves upon his teacher earlier in the episode.
I was very excited to see Rick Worthy return in this episode as Dean Fogg, and he delivered an excellent, nuanced performance as he struggles to gain back his magical power after his injury. The scene in his office where he struggles to perform magic, throws his glasses, and then must grope blindly for them on the floor was surprisingly affecting all due to Worthy’s moving performance.
In a key plot development, we get some insight into why the Beast may be targeting Quentin: did Quentin travel to Fillory when he was younger? Possibly? It is definitely implied that he has the ability to travel there now, though, and The Beast wants total control of Fillory—which means getting rid of anybody who has the ability to travel there. Mike, controlled by the Beast and now in possession of a cursed knife from Fillory, attacks Quentin but Penny comes to defend him, which once again shows that Penny doesn’t hate Quentin quite as much as he puts on.
And can we talk about the knife in the rabbit scene?
Pretty hard to watch. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that, just because I can’t stand seeing animals killed onscreen. And the noise it makes! Ugh.
The knife could have been smuggled from Fillory into Brakebills some other way, ANY other way, though I suppose this choice shows the Beast’s depravity and capacity for violence, violence that is fully on display near the end of the episode when he explodes Eliza’s head with his bare hands.
Back in the outside world, Julia has checked herself into rehab which puts her in contact with a chaplain who, surprisingly, graduated from Brakebills and believes in multiple gods and goddesses. Interesting religious outlook for a chaplain. The chaplain opens up a new, loving and peaceful route to magic, and the scene where Julia levitates with the spirit of the goddess was a pretty cool visual. I’m happy to see Julia find a route to magic that may not be so self-destructive.
Near the end of the episode, Dean Fogg tells Quentin, “There are no answers because there’s no way of knowing what happens next,” which is a nice parallel to the series because even if you’ve read the books, there are constant surprises and unexpected new developments pretty much every episode. All in all, this episode was extremely satisfying. There was tons of action, tons of screen time for Eliot, the Beast plot progressed, Eliot and Alice’s relationship moved forward, and Julia’s story moved forward in a nice direction as well.