“We Have Brought You Little Cakes” has a striking prologue: instead of a quick recap of clips from what has gone before, Ember’s bombastic three and a half minute recap covers many of the important plot points from season one and two, especially having to do with Raynard, The Beast, and Alice. So while this is the season finale, it also makes “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” an excellent jumping-on point for those that don’t watch The Magicians.
Quentin looks in through a door window to see Alice scorching her hand over a candle. Quentin then searches Alice’s room, removes a few implements of self-destruction, and forces her to drink a potion that makes her unable to harm herself. When Alice asks why Quentin saved her, he retorts “Why do you keep asking me that? I watched you almost die trying to bring your brother back. You loved him. I love you.” Alice tells Quentin that she’d like to be alone.
In the Brakebills infirmary, Professor Lipson tell Penny that not only are his lungs seriously injured from his exposure to The Poison Room, but he now has spinal lesions: “Call it cancer plus.” The magical growth will kill Penny in two or three weeks. Hearing this, Penny says that he isn’t going to stay in a hospital bed, and after a bit of a struggle, stands up.
When Lipson leaves the infirmary with Dean Fogg, Kady enters. After Kady tells Penny the unsatisfying conclusion of her vengeance against Raynard, Kady and Penny commiserate, although she seems to grieve more that Raynard isn’t dead than that Penny soon will be. “Why can’t anything just be fixed,” she cries.
“Life, I guess,” answers Penny.
Julia curls up on her couch, flashing to her rape and the gore-cleaning aftermath of Raynard’s killings. When Eliot arrives, and politely asks how she is doing, she explains that she’s processing all the guilt that was returned to her when she reunited with her shade. When Julia bluntly asks Eliot why he’s there, Eliot answers that he wants Julia’s amulet, so that he will be invisible to Ember. Then Eliot tells Julia that she shouldn’t be alone, and invites her to come with him to Fillory. “Wanna put some pants on and help me save all of magic?”
Penny and Kady arrive at Brakebills, where Penny tells Eliot that he has just read Eliot’s book, which has twenty blank pages at the end of it. Whatever Eliot is planning to do, Penny says, “do anything else.”
Penny is then summoned back to the library, where The Librarian tells him to say his goodbyes to Kady. All the librarians have returned to the library, because “Knowledge is at stake.” Mid-conversation, in which she tells Penny that she is unhappy with this turn of events, Kady finds herself back in Brakebills.
Margo and Hoberman find Fen, who is unwilling to escape without her baby. When they are discovered by a fairy guard, he leads Margo and Hoberman to The Queen of Fairies, who gives them a fairy herb to bake into little cakes. The Queen assures them that this will catch Ember’s attention, then obliquely refers to a toll Margo will pay to return to Fillory.
When Eliot asks Quentin for help, Quentin replies that he can’t leave Alice. Eliot says:
You know what you learn when you’re a High King? Screwing up is inevitable, and there are some fuck ups that you can never un-fuck up. It is infuriating, and it is heartbreaking…I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, but Fillory needs you….We have a plan, but we needs someone that speaks fluent fanboy.
The scene cuts to Umber finding Quentin on his doorstep.
Eliot returns to Fillory, puts the guards to sleep, and orders Prince Ess to vacate the throne. When King Idri enters as well, Prince Ess surrenders the throne and leaves the throne room silently. King Idri then says he must return to his people to prepare them for what is coming. Eliot suggests their engagement may survive the shake-up of their kingdoms, and Idri and Eliot kiss.
When Quentin asks Umber to return to Fillory, Umber’s answer is an invitation to “the pocket world formerly known as Cuba” that Umber has built, ship in a bottle style, in a snowglobe. Quentin appears to decline, but Umber won’t take no for an answer.
When Margo and Hoberman appear in the throne room, Eliot is shocked to see that Margo’s right eye is gone, having been the cost of doing business with the Queen of Fairies. While Fen wasn’t willing to return without her baby, they show Eliot the bait for Umber.
Margo covers her magical wound with a jeweled eye patch, and she and Eliot exchange sarcastic quips about the patch, and how it makes her look like a famous Disney pirate and a renowned Marvel Comics spymaster. Their banter breaks down. and they recognize that things are not the same between them. Margo traded Eliot’s baby to fix the wellspring in the thought that it would save Eliot’s life, Eliot threw her in the dungeon when he discovered the offense, and their friendship has suffered from the distrust that ensued. Eliot says that they have to do what they do best, though, or there will be no future. When Margo asks what they do best, whether it is to “act out with a total lack of empathy, and impulse control,” Eliot answers that they have to “party like the world depends on it, because Bambi One-Eye, it do.”
At Eliot and Margo’s soiree, Hoberman rolls in a tray of little cakes. “I know they’re irresistible. It’s the candy fairy hemp. But resist! These are for the guest of honor.” However, Ember does not appear.
Quentin looks down on a symmetrical row of skyscrapers with equally symmetrical, lighted, rectangular windows, from a skyscraper restaurant in Umber’s snow globe cube-world. Asked what he thinks about Umber’s recent creation, Quentin says “It’s really, really, linear.”
Umber keeps taking notes. “How’s the linguine?”
Quentin samples the new world’s fare. “There’s nothing wrong with it…It’s maybe a little bland?”
When Umber asks if bland is good, Quentin says “Bland is never really good or bad.”
“It appeals to all tastes.”
“Sure. But sometimes creatures who can think, gods even, like the unknown, the unexpected, even the offensive little bit of…” but trails off as a displeased Umber folds his notebook and sets it aside.
“Chaos,” says Umber, and to illustrate, scoops linguine onto the white tablecloth, where it makes a grease spot. “Happy now? You know who would love this? Who would create an entire world out of this greasy stain? My brother.”
“Yes. Ember would make a mess.”
Umber strikes the table, and says “Do not speak to me of Ember. I like you, boy, but I have a temper.”
At the party, Eliot and Margo briefly consider a human sacrifice to attract Ember. When Ember arrives, fashionably late, and crams a cake in his mouth, Eliot and Margo present their pitch, that instead of destroying Fillory, he should shake it up instead. In parallel shots, Ember and Umber talk trash about each other, after which Ember decides he is done with whimsy, and proceeds to destroy Fillory. Fillory’s castle, trees, and mountains shudder at his outstretched hand.
Eliot begs Ember to stop. “Maybe if I didn’t have to do it alone,” says Ember, and in more parallel footage, each of the divine brothers describe each other in more complimentary terms, after which Ember says it’s no use, because Umber is dead, and Umber tells Quentin that it’s no use, because he could never go back.
Quentin says, “Actually, we’re already there.” Julia walks in Eliot’s throne room with the snow globe and shakes it. This causes chaos in “the pocket world formerly known as Cuba” not unlike what is happening in Fillory–suggesting that Fillory, too, is a ship-in-a-bottle world–and when an enraged Umber begins strangling Quentin, both appear in the throne room. Umber stops choking Quentin and looks up, abashed, at his brother and the gathered Fillorians.
Ember is delighted to see his brother, but at Umber’s frightened reaction, he puts two and two together, saying “Martin told me you died when he banished me…All this time I thought Martin so powerful, but no, he was merely a brilliant deal maker. My banishment for your life, your puny petty putrid nothing of a soul spark.” Ember kills Umber, sneering “You always were the weak one.”
As Umber dies, Julia draws a sword from its display place in the throne room and casts the deity-piercing spell from The Poison Room, which causes Umber’s soul to embed in the blade and magical script to burn down its length. Julia taunts Ember, and the enraged deity advances upon her. Quentin summons the sword to his hand and stabs Ember in the back. Ember dies, and his last words are, “Quentin, you always surprise.”
Eliot congratulates Quentin, saying “Q, I think you just saved the whole world.” If the episode ended here, we would have a storybook ending to the second season of The Magicians, but in the ten minutes that remain in this episode, we discover that their joy will be short lived.
Eliot addresses his advisers in a tidied-up throne room, saying “we are officially a land of godless heathens, making today the first day of our societal adulthood. I for one am slightly terrified and equally excited and trying not to break into Hamilton.” Margo announces that Fillory needs a constitution, and provides the councilors many sample constitutions to plagiarize as they create their own.
Quentin visits Alice with a plate of bacon; Alice can’t resist the aroma and tears into it. Afterwards, Quentin and Alice discuss the pros and cons of being human. Alice comments that “with every good thing, no matter how small it is, it’s always married to something so completely disgusting. You can’t escape it.”
“You’re right,” says Quentin. “It’s gross. We are animals.”
When Quentin grabs a cloth and wipes Alice’s greasy fingers, she asks “why does it feel so good,” and moves on Quentin with more gusto than she did the bacon.
Kady tracks down Harriet (of FuzzBeat, the magical click-bait site) and tells her that if Harriet can provide a cure for Penny’s poison, she will pass on library secrets from Penny to Harriet. Penny would never know, but everything that he told Kady, Kady will tell Harriet. Harriet agrees.
Lying in bed, Quentin tells Alice that it was an “ok day”; he killed a god, saved a world, and saved magic. Alice freaks out, saying that when she was a Niffin, she knew the plumbing of the universe, and that Ember and Umber’s parents, the creators of the universe will send their agent to avenge the death of their offspring.
“There’s an actual plumber?” Quentin says, incredulously. “Like a Mario Brother of the Gods?”
In shots parallel to this footage, we see the Plumber of the Gods walking around Brakebills, the library, and Fillory to cut off the magic supply.
Two months later, Dean Fogg is teaching Brakebills students magical theory, as that is all they can learn until magic returns.
Joseph the monk appears to Alice to warn her that The Lamprey is coming after her.
Back in Fillory, Margo tells Eliot that democracy should take a back seat until magic returns, because the people are unhappy, and their heads might roll if they do not rule absolutely. Fen returns at this moment, fighting her way through the guards, who do not recognize the bedraggled woman as the spouse of their monarch. Eliot asks how she escaped, and she says she gave them her toes. While she wanted to stay close to their daughter, she had to warn Eliot that they’re coming.
“They’re here,” exclaims Margo. The fairies have arrived in force at Fillory: swordsmen surround King Eliot and Queen Margo in the throne room; mounted fairies camp outside Castle Whitespire.
True to form, The Magicians does not end on this suspenseful note, like another famous fantasy TV show would. The season ends instead on an subtly upbeat, anticlimactic moment, as Julia sneaks into Brakebills to touch base with Quentin, give him a hug, and show him that, despite the ban of the elder gods, she can still do a magic trick. Roll credits.