Penny 23 and Marina 23 wake up in warded cages in a workshop; they were both captured by someone who sold them to Daniel, who is a horomancer, a Magician also known as "Stoppard" specializing in time manipulation, and he doesn't want to hurt them, but their presence in timeline 40, even the subatomic particles in their bodies, are messing up his magic, so he's going to send them home. He has made a cube-shaped widget that allows him to move between timelines. He drops a Dewey into a convenient slot in the widget, twists a control, and zap, the three of them are in the equivalent of Daniel's workshop, but in timeline 23.
Daniel discovers that his magical tools don't work in timeline 23, there's no magic there, which means the magic holding Penny in his cage is gone; he Travels out and decks Daniel. He frees Marina, not because he trusts her, but because she says she knows how to work Daniel's timeline widget. She uses it to change timelines, but it goes wrong, instead of timeline 40, they get to another time we'll call timeline 36, where the muggles know about magic, and have outlawed it. They go outside and find the streets well supplied with soldiers enforcing the no-magic laws and arresting suspected magic users. They have the idea of finding the Daniel of this timeline for help with the widget, he's the only horomancer they know.
In the Manhattan apartment, Quentin and Julia aren't sure if they should be helping the Monster with the idea of assembling stone "organs" into a body, but Quentin says if it works, it could get the Monster to leave Eliot and go to the new body, and that's at least some progress. They look at the stone things the Monster has shown them, and they have Egyptian-style hieroglyphs (even though they came from Greek-pantheon gods). The hieroglyphs have a symbol of a certain yellow fruit in common. They do some web research, and find an article on a recently-uncovered Egyptian tomb.
Alice has followed the World Book to a house in Modesto, California, where there's a sign for a room for rent. She greets the owner, Sheila, and rents the room. She asks Sheila what people do in Modesto, to which Sheila says "Nothing."
In Fillory, Tick Pickwick shows Margo and Fen a purple flower; he's learned that since magic came back, this species of flower has been blooming all over Fillory, and its pollen stops the talking animals from speaking. There is a remedy, it's the juice from a certain beet grown in Codswall, but Lady Pike, its ruler, is known to be difficult.
In Modesto, Alice goes to a convenience store, in part to pick up all of the local activity brochures there, and notices the store's clerk, Dylan, has hedge witch tattoos on his arm. Trying to stir up some common feeling, she asks how he's getting by with the magic shortage, but he brushes her off.
Alice is searching the web about Modesto, and finds a video from a local pastor hoping for money to provide leukemia treatment for a young girl. She asks Sheila if she knows the pastor, and it turns out he's the pastor of Sheila's church, a good person. Alice is occasionally glaring at her World Book, as if to ask "Why did you send me here?"
It's night, and Alice notices Sheila smoking outside, when Sheila seems to get an idea or a feeling, looks around, then holds up a hand like she was sensing something. She follows her feelings into a wooded area, where she finds a stone, under which is a metal box with money in it. Alice has quietly followed her and sees this. She follows Sheila as she goes to the church and leaves the money box on the front steps.
The next day, Alice shows Sheila the local paper, with a story about the church finding money for the girl's treatment, and confronts Sheila with using magic. Sheila has no idea what Alice is talking about; she stands up, accidentally spilling her coffee. Alice does a spell, and the coffee un-spills itself, and Sheila is dumbfounded. Alice says she does magic, and Sheila does too, she just isn't trained. Sheila says it started a few months ago, she can find things by just sensing where they are. Alice knows that discipline, it's called a quaeromancer.
Just then there's a knock on the door, and it's two people who want to talk about an opportunity for Sheila's "new-found talent". They leave her a brochure for the New Modesto Valley College Library. After they leave, Alice explains about the Library, and how Librarians can't be trusted, anything they are offering is a way to keep tabs on her. Sheila feels like she's got a chance to do something worthwhile in her life for once, and magic could be it. Alice is still traumatized by how much bad magic has done, but after a while she's willing to start training Sheila in magic.
In Fillory, Margo invites Lady Pike in for a talk, and it's clear that Margo has no idea where Codswall is or what it does, which bothers Lady Pike enough that she plans to sell all their beets to West Loria. For a while Margo is angry enough to start a war with West Loria, but Josh gets her to try diplomacy, which she is quite unfamiliar with, it requires empathy, which Josh says he has plenty of.
In timeline 36, Penny and Marina get to the apartment of Daniel 36 and are welcomed in by his mother, Sonia, who they notice has hedge witch tattoos. They show Daniel the widget, and he's amazed by it; as he examines it, Marina notices a booklet on a shelf and steals it. Suddenly Sonia staggers into the room, saying something is wrong, and Daniel says something is going wrong with her spells. While Daniel helps Sonia, Penny grabs the widget and Travels Marina and himself away.
They go to the Physical Kids Cottage at Brakebills, and like many magical places in timeline 36, it has been destroyed by the muggles. They search for books but find nothing useful. Marina examines the booklet she stole, and says it's Sonia's notes, she was a genius who basically pioneered horomancy, and these are her plans for useful things. One is a device that opens a window in time, though it uses cinnabar, which is both dangerous and banned; Marina thinks Sonia has been overdosing on cinnabar for years, which is what's causing her problems, after a long while it gets your brain unstuck in time, and eventually you die. Sonia was wearing some tools to control it, but the presence of Penny 23 and Marina 23 interfered with them. They realize that Daniel 36 will do anything to get rid of them.
They make the window in time device from the notes, and turn it on, to look at Sonia 36 at an earlier year in the timeline. They talk to her, say they're friends of Daniel, and say the cinnabar is causing her trouble; she says she knows that, but she has work to do. They turn off the machine.
Penny and Marina argue about going back to timeline 40; if they do so, that will continue to harm Sonia of timeline 40, and Penny doesn't want that. Marina doesn't care about Sonia, but she has a lover in timeline 40 she doesn't want to lose. They race to grab the time widget; Penny gets it first, and in a flash he's gone.
Quentin and Julia go to a museum at night, to a room full of Egyptian artifacts, and search for anything interesting. Then they notice the Monster standing there, drinking; he says his body loves drinking, and anyway he's bored with their lack of progress. They ask him if he knows anything about the yellow fruit hieroglyphic, and the Monster has no idea, but then suggests they ask someone who was there: he puts his hand on a coffin, and a wrapped mummy climbs out of it.
The Monster is able to get the mummy to start explaining something, we see the mummy writing symbols on a glass wall, but there isn't much real communication going on. Quentin does find a link between some of what the mummy writes and symbols he finds on the web, to perhaps connect the fruit with a god of magic and medicine, and there could be another stone in someone's tomb, which was looted long ago. The Monster tells Quentin and Julia to figure this out.
In Modesto, Sheila and Alice are working together on a simple glass figure, and take a break. They discuss more about how magic can be used for fixing things, but also breaking things. Alice gets some water from the tap, and Sheila tells her not to drink it, the city water has lead in it from their old pipes, so everyone uses bottled water. Alice waves her hand in a spell, and purifies her glass of water. Sheila asks if they could do that, do magic to fix the water system, and Alice says there wouldn't be enough free, ambient magic for something that big. Sheila says she thinks she can feel where there's a magic-carrying pipe nearby, and she says she can feel a leak in it.
Margo invites Lady Pike to dinner, with Josh providing diplomatic advice via magic. He gets her to have enough conversational skill for Lady Pike to be at least willing to talk (for instance, expressing an interest in the alpacas that Codswall gets lots of wool from), but not enough to get her to change her deal with West Loria.
In an aside, Josh tells Margo she's doing great at diplomacy, better than Eliot. Margo says she has a better idea.
Margo goes back to Lady Pike, waves a knife, and threatens to skin and eat all of Codswall's dear alpacas if they don't sell their beets to Fillory. Lady Pike nervously agrees.
Penny 23 finds himself in a white room, in no perceivable timeline or world, nothing there but white chairs and a white table. In walks another Penny, in a Librarian suit, it's Penny 40, more relaxed and confident than we've ever seen him. He says he's dead, technically, but this white room is an in-between space so they can talk. He has a professionally-printed booklet on The Stoppard Cube, which he verifies is the time widget that Penny 23 brought with him, but he gives the cube back to Penny 23. His message is that Penny 23 needs to go back to timeline 40, he's needed there for something crucial Penny 40 won't talk about. There's stuff going on due to Penny 23's presence there, and it matters. But Sonia 40 is going to die anyway, she has a month to live, there's nothing that can save her. Anyway, timeline 40 needs Penny 23, it's not Penny 40's home anymore. Penny 40 sticks a Dewey into the cube and tells Penny 23 to turn a dial 3 clicks to the right.
Marina is still in the Cottage in timeline 36, when Penny 23 appears there. He doesn't know how to explain his experience, but says he knows what they need to do now.
In Modesto, Alice goes with Sheila through the neighborhood as she senses the magic conduit, and points to a place on a wall where it must be, though there's nothing visible. They look through some magic glass and see the pipe and utility box, and can see a crack. Alice does a spell, which broadens the crack into a big break, spraying magic into the air. They both feel more magic around them.
At the convenience store, Dylan also feels the increase in magic, and calls a friend.
Back home, Sheila and Alice do a spell to make a liquid and pour it into the sink, which cleans the city's water and fixes the corrosion in the pipes. They did something worthwhile. Alice looks uneasy, and says it's because she can't remember the last time magic actually fixed something.
Quentin and Julia go back to the apartment, and find the Monster there going through bathroom drawers, and finding a bottle of prescription pills. Quentin sees this and grabs the bottle away, but the Monster gets them again. The Monster is bored, and if alcohol isn't enough maybe pills will be better, and even if the pills kill his body he can just take a new one. Quentin tells him no: if he kills Eliot, Quentin and Julia will stop helping him. When the Monster threatens Quentin some more, he sees Quentin doesn't care if he lives or not, he cares about Eliot. The Monster says fine, he'll take care of Eliot's body, they should get on with things.
In Fillory, Josh complains to Margo about how she threw out their diplomacy plan, and Margo is unusually upset about something. Josh's comment about "out-Elioting Eliot" seems to have struck a nerve, and Margo now doesn't care about him or anything he does, they're no longer a couple. He leaves.
In timeline 40, Daniel walks out of his workshop, and finds Penny 23 there, holding a dandelion. It took Daniel time to get back from timeline 23, the magic there was scarce. Penny explains that there's nothing to be done for Daniel's mother, but there are bigger things going on, so he and Marina are staying. The dandelion is from another timeline, if he just blows it, the seeds will develop everywhere, impossible to eradicate... and it was just a talking piece, Penny 23 had already scattered ten dandelions around before Daniel arrived, so there's no going back. Penny 23 leaves.
As Alice and Sheila walk in the neighborhood, they come to a spraying fire hydrant, and a bunch of kids not playing in it, they know open water is bad for them. Sheila takes a while to convince them it's all right now, it's fixed, so they start playing in the water like kids do. Sheila goes home, but Alice stays to watch.
Dylan is met by his friend, Whitley, and they arrange something for "all of us". Shortly after, outside the Modesto Valley College Library building, we see magic rush towards it, and the building explodes. Dylan and Whitley watch and nod to each other.
Sheila gets home and finds two Librarians, one of them the Traveler Librarian, Gavin, waiting for her. Gavin says she's "been a busy girl."
Alice sits on the park bench, watching the kids play in the water, and, after a little uncertainty, has the best smile she's shown in a long time.
- Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater
- Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn
- Hale Appleman as Nameless
- Arjun Gupta as Penny Adiyodi / Penny 23
- Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson
- Brittany Curran as Fen
- Trevor Einhorn as Josh Hoberman
- Kacey Rohl as Marina Andrieski
- Rizwan Manji as Tick Pickwick
- Daniel Nemes as Gavin
- Miranda Frigon as Lady Pike
- Daniel Yang as Stoppard
- Camryn Manheim as Sheila Cozener
- West Duchovny as Whitley
- Ben Sullivan as Dylan
- Donna Soares as Sonia Kikuno
- Camille Legg as Librarian Laurel
- Michael Smith as Librarian Paul
- Kareem Alleyne as Soldier #1 36
- Shauna Hansen as Scared Woman 36
- Kwesi Ameyaw as Minister Ted Grayson
- Antonio Cayonne as Librarian Muhammed
- Keith Arbuthnot as Mummy
- Kidnapping of Penny and Marina Andrieski
- Escape from the Library of the Neitherlands (mentioned)
- Lorian Civil War (mentioned)
- Modesto Act of Terror
- World Book
- Atros Flower
- Sonia Kikuno's Watches
- Taussig's Primer
- Time Window
- Alpacas (mentioned)
- The article Julia and Quentin read is written by Patrick Lo, the graphic designer for the show.