The Magicians season 3 continues apace with episode 5: A Life in the Day. As is usual with the recap, there’s SPOILERS!
The ‘previously’ on this episode brings in a few reminders from previous seasons and episodes: Q (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) talking to Jane Chatwin (Esmé Bianco) about the time loops, Margo’s (Summer Bishil) previous dalliance with Prince Ess of Loria (Arlen Escarpeta) and her plan to kill the Fairy Queen (Candis Cayne), Kady (Jade Tailor) failing to save Penny (Arjun Gupta) and his subsequent marooning on the astral plane, Julia being given messages by ‘possessed’ people and saving Kady from an overdose using magic, all finally leading to Eliot’s arrival at Brakebills, with him seeing Penny while holding the ‘truth key’.
Opening in Brakebills, Q and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) awkwardly bump into each other, and it is clear that they still haven’t worked through the issues since Alice’s return from being a Niffin. Alice then departs with the truth key, and with Penny in tow.
At the psychiatric hospital, Alice gives the key to Kady so she can see Penny. They argue about the nature of his existence, with Kady very angry that her failure to save him has broken her. Although Penny sees his current predicament as a minor positive, Kady blames him for being in the hospital, and can’t face talking to him.
Back in the Brakebill’s cottage, Eliot and Q are researching their next step, and are also discussing their personal lives – Eliot has sent Fen (Brittany Curran) and Fray (Madeleine Arthur) into the city with Todd (Adam DiMarco), while Q hopes Alice will return to ‘normal’ when they fix the current crisis.
They discuss the nature of the ‘one step at a time’ nature of ‘The Tales of the Seven Keys’ book, and how all the latest pages point to a mosaic puzzle, which is situated in Fillory.
In Fillory, Tick (Rizwan Manji) meets with Margo and shows her his progress on scraping the poison from the walls of the passageway, which they intend to use to kill the Fairy Queen. Summoned by the Fairy Queen to the throne room, the Fairy Queen informs her that she needs to marry a prince from the ‘Tribe of the Floating Mountain’. They are interrupted in their conversation by Prince Ess, who warns her about the marriage undermining the alliance with Loria, and takes the opportunity to flirt with her. The groom’s family arrive and set up camp in the passageway where the poison is located, forcing Margo and Tick to rethink the murderous plan.
In the cottage, Q and Eliot use the key in the Chatwin’s clock, which is also a portal to Fillory, and travel there, but find out that they have also gone back in time several decades. They figure out that in the Fillory books Jane Chatwin arrives at the mosaic and someone has already solved it, which potentially could be them. They set about working on solving the mosaic, but realise that there are an extremely high number of possible configurations and it may take some time.
Back in the throne room, Margo meets with the Stone Queen (Dina Meyer), the mother of her groom, Micah (Markian Tarasiuk), who it turns out Margo is attracted to, despite initially thinking the groom was his much younger brother, Fomar (Nicholas Coombe). Chatting with him, Margo discovers that the ‘Tribe of the Floating Mountain’ is a matriarchal society and she now sees the wedding in a different light.
During the preparations for the wedding, there is an assassination attempt on Prince Micah, which Margo assumes is the work of Prince Ess, so she imprisons him.
At the mosaic, Q is frustrated with not being able to solve the puzzle quickly, and Eliot convinces him they need to be patient, and they reconcile themselves to the fact it may take some time. They begin to work on the puzzle, slowly trying combinations one by one. As they work, they settle into the routine and after a year of trying they find themselves having a romantic encounter. Now committed to the long haul, they forge a life for themselves in Fillory, with Q even having a son with a local, Arielle (Kylee Bush), although Arielle dies. After many years, with Q’s son growing up and leaving them, they still toil away at the puzzle, and Eliot dies before they can complete it. Digging a hole to bury Eliot, Q discovers a buried golden tile, which solves the puzzle and reveals the key. The young Jane Chatwin arrives at that moment and Q gives it to her, as she needs it to power her watch, which creates the time loops.
Back in the cottage, Julia’s research has taken her into new realms, investigating religious texts, when she is visited by Alice, who suddenly becomes ‘possessed’ telling Julia that she needs to help Alice. They go for a drink together, and after discussing how Julia has magic, they decide that Julia could try to find the provenance of her magic using the key and a mirror, to focus it. In the mirror, Julia sees her eyes have changed, and she is suddenly transported to a different version of the bar, where ‘Our Lady Underground’ (Garcelle Beauvais) is waiting for her. She explains that she planted a seed from Reynard in her, which Julia states she doesn’t want, but ‘Our Lady Underground’ says it’s hers now and it doesn’t matter where the power came from.
At the wedding in Fillory, all seems to be going well, until suddenly a swinging axe kills Micah and Fomer, the killer, steps forward to take his place, ‘as per custom’. Frustrated and putting off consummating her marriage to Fomer, Margo is opening all the wedding gifts when she discovers a letter from Q containing the keys he had, as well as explaining what to do next. Margo visits the older Jane Chatwin, who lives in a ‘space outside of time’, who informs Margo that the key is with her body at Brakebills. After being sent to Earth and finding the key, Margo stops Q and Eliot from going into the clock, and they ruminate on the existence of an alternate timeline.
Meanwhile, Kady is trying to check out of the psychiatric ward, but cctv footage of her apparently talking to no one, when she was actually talking to Penny, has convinced the doctors that she is disturbed and needs to be sedated.
Returning to Fillory with Margo, Eliot and Q both begin to remember much of their lives from the alternate timeline…