The Magicians: A Life in the Day

The Magicians: A Life in the Day | Season 3, Episode 5 | Rating: 9/11 |

Wow. There was a lot to unpack in this episode, wasn’t there? Addiction, mental health, love, consent, murder, life, death, the full scope of the human existence in one 43 minute episode. Where to begin? A Life in the Day begins with Alice taking Penny to visit Kady, so let’s start there.

Jade Tailor what a shining moment for Kady, or a breakthrough one might say. Something to love about this show is they don’t sugar coat any of the harsh realities of life. Kady is a recovering addict. Recovering addicts are always in recovery, and the reason “one day at a time” is so commonly used in twelve-step meetings is that anybody could reach their breaking point and fall back on old habits at any time. Writing this as someone with experience in recovery, it was impressive to watch Jade depict such an accurate portrayal of an addict. Addiction is often fueled as a way to escape and not deal with ourselves. There’s a lot of blame on outside components: other people, situations, and circumstances. Here Kady blames Penny while taking a stand for herself, that’s a breakthough moment. She’s absolutely right too, she does need to put herself back together. Kady can only give to someone else what she has herself and right now she’s lacking in self worth, self love and self care. Hopefully Penny will still be around/alive when Kady replenishes her own cup as they do make quite a great couple.

Then there’s Alice. Alice’s tormented soul and awkwardness around Quentin is getting hard to watch. Quentin & Alice were initially the dynamic that kept me watching this show, I related to their relationship and especially to Quentin (still do!). But now when Alice is on screen it’s nearly unbearable. This is the genius of Olivia Taylor-Dudley; you have to be a great actor to bring out that kind of emotion in your audience that formerly adored you. What we have to realize here is how conflicted Alice must be. Her identity has always revolved around magic. Being human again Alice is realizing how her power-hungry attitude as a niffin affected those around her, and you can see feelings of regret, remorse, loss, empathy and maybe even embarrassment for her niffin actions as she embarks on this new journey of self discovery. Who am I? Where do I belong without magic? Meanwhile, trying to fix things with those she hurt (thinking if she returned to old habits with Quentin everything would be fine) and generally just helping others (like helping Penny visit Kady). Alice didn’t change, she’s just growing.

Meanwhile, back in Fillory the Fairy Queen has arranged a marriage between Margo and the Prince of the tribe of the floating mountain that is no longer floating. This Prince is handsome and he respects women in a way no man on earth ever has. In his tribe, “Women are leaders. They are the cave, full of wisdom. Men are the boulder, full of strength.” Margo is in lust at first sight. But things go awry when the Prince’s little brother beheads him during the marriage ceremony and, due to royal marriage custom, fills in for his brother as Margo’s husband. Yikes! Talk about plot twist (yes, that was an intentional bunny messenger reference. Who caught that?).

All of that aside, now, let’s talk about Quentin and Eliot. Setting off on their own quest to find golden key number three, the grandfather clock wound by golden key number one transports them back in time to Fillory. Hold on, The Magicians are time traveling now?! YES!! They went so far back that the north spire was still being constructed, we’re talking decades before the Chatwin’s even made it to Fillory, and now they have to create a design that reflects the beauty of all life via a mosaic tile pattern. But the combination possibilities are endless and we watch Quentin and Eliot spend an entire lifetime working on this. Literally. Quentin gets married to Arielle, has a child, Arielle dies, the child – now a man – leaves the nest, Eliot dies, and Quentin solves the mosaic finding key number three.

Wait – I forgot one thing. One really important super amazing moment that happens before all of that: Quentin and Eliot kiss! On their one-year anniversary of trying mosaic combinations a nervous-yet-forward Quentin leans in to kiss Eliot, and an experienced Eliot takes over from there. A beautiful moment, beautifully done and their relationship dynamic from there is spot on. This is both a bonding moment and an awakening.

Don’t worry, Eliot isn’t dead though. Quentin has the foresight to somehow write a letter to be delivered to Margo on her wedding day decades later. A letter that would send Margo in Jane Chatwin’s direction to retrieve the key Quentin gave up to her decades prior. Using a time loop, Jane sends Margo to Brakebills to dig up Jane’s bones (as she was buried with the key) just before Eliot & Quentin set off on their aforementioned Fillory quest.

Before Jane sends Margo off though there’s this great exchange between them that plays like a moment from the feature film The Holiday, you know where Kate Winslet says “You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of you’re own life for god’s sake.” Women empowering women, right on.


  • Kady tries to the leave the mental hospital at the end of the episode. They won’t let her because they play back security footage where Kady appears to be talking to herself while holding the key Alice gave her. This security footage has audio. I love that the hospital staff doesn’t seem concerned that Alice handed her a key, Kady grabs it, sees Penny and freaks out. Alice tells Kady she has to hold the key, Kady takes the key and sees Penny again. Then Alice says she’ll leave the two of them alone. She says outloud “the two of you” and then leaves the room. All of this should be on that same footage but none of the staff want to sedate Alice and keep her locked up in the hospital too? Granted Kady was screaming hostile threats to “nobody” but Alice would still seem crazy to them.
  • After all of that mosaic creating, all the different beautiful patterns, all the decades spent, all they needed was one specific tile (that they didn’t even know was missing) that was buried somewhere in the ground to be placed on the empty canvas to reveal the key?! The mosaic didn’t even seem to be missing a tile piece in any of their creations! And they literally only needed that ONE missing piece?! Talk about frustrating!

Episode 6 airs Wednesday, February 14th at 9/8c.