The Magicians: Twenty Blank Pages!

THE MAGICIANS — “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” Episode 213 — Pictured: Hale Appleman as Eliot — (Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

The penultimate episode of The Magicians: Season Two (Syfy, Wednesdays, 10/9C) finds Eliot banished from Fillory; Quentin and Julia have broken Alice’s shade out of Underworld; Josh found himself high-fiving an Eliot who was suddenly not there); King Idri and a good many Fillorians are rats, and Senator Gaines has reached his limit with his dad.

In other words, same stuff, different day.

Ramifications opens with Q (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) paying a visit to a certain curmudgeonly Russian magician Mayakovsky (Brian F. O’Byrne) – seeking his aid in returning Alice’s shade to Niffen Alice.

Then Penny (Arjun Gupta) learns that his new supervisor at The Library, Sylvia (Roan Curtis), has something in common with him – she wants to get into the Poison Room, too, for reasons of her own.

In the meantime, Senator John Gaines (Christopher Gorham) learns a lesson in mind control from poppa Renard (Mackenzie Astin) in one of those everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong kind of scenarios – which leads him back to Julia and Kady (Jade Tailor).

THE MAGICIANS — “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” Episode 213 — Pictured: Brittany Curran as Fen — (Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

Eliot (Hale Appleman) is frantically trying to figure out a way to return to Fillory – where Josh (Trevor Einhorn) has decided, as the last Child of Earth in Fillory, to take a Hakuna Matata approach to governance. Sadly, great highs turn out to be a hindrance to great governance.

To make everyone’s day complete, Alice is thoroughly pissed at Quentin – who has no time for that because he’s got to help Eliot figure out a way back to Fillory without the button he gave to the dragon last week! (Millennials, indeed!)

As Season Two of The Magicians heads into it final episodes, stakes have never been higher and, for some characters, desperation has never been higher (and remember, this is a show that used an elevator door closing as on TV’s best cliffhangers of year to date.

Written by David Green & Christina Strain and directed by Chris Fisher, Ramifications serves both a set up for a no doubt twisted season finale as well as an illustration of the concept that no good deed goes unpunished – the episode’s multiple arcs deepen the characters (Eliot definitively stating ‘Fillory is my home!’; Q being despised by an Alice he has reunited with her shade; Penny learning that the Poison Room isn’t just a room full of quarantined magic books, and a now permanently shadeless Julia asking Kady to help her being a few examples).

THE MAGICIANS — “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” Episode 213 — Pictured: (l-r) Jason Ralph as Quentin, Nico Evers-Swindell as Umber — (Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

Despite the full-tilt boogie pacing, Ramifications mixes in emotionally true beats that are heartbreaking in their honesty –while not forgetting that humor is an essential part of the mix that makes the show work (I give you Josh fending off invaders in the castle…).

Although she’s only in the ep briefly, Summer Bishil does a superb job of showcasing Margot’s courage and maturity – even as she hides it behind the façade of the woman she was before she learned Filory was real.

For those hanging on that arc, there is a not-quite-satisfying resolution to the Renard story line – or so it seems (I wonder how much Lev Grossman was influenced by Pedro Almodovar…). It gives Julia a chance to test her resolve to try to be a better person (even without her shade).

With everything that happens in Ramifications, it could easily have been a season finale, but that’s next week. I am expecting it to be even more fun.

Final Grade: A