Be the Penny is the fourth episode of Season 3 of The Magicians. It is also the thirtieth episode overall.


As Eliot is hunted, Quentin and Julia discover a powerful secret tied to the history of Brakebills.[1]


(Penny is in nearly every scene, whether the others notice him or not.)

Penny is dead, and Julia and Kady try to revive him. They can't see or hear Penny's astral projection, though he makes efforts to explain to them that he's here, and that he wasn't in his body when he died.

At the Cottage, Quentin, Julia, Dean Fogg gather, and do a bit of a memorial about Penny. Penny looks on and is aghast at its poverty: didn't they know him better than that?

Penny travels into the Library, but it is broken, looted, trashed, and he can't touch anything there either. Two looters arrive, searching. They remark there is fresh meat "upstairs" (the fountains area of the Neitherlands), and it's been two weeks since they ate the librarian.

At the Neitherlands fountains, the fountains are frozen. Eliot, Fen, and Fray appear, and talk to the looters. (Perhaps these royals are the "fresh meat.") Eliot says they got there by magic key, but they've been stuck here for days since the fountains are frozen over.

At the Cottage, Quentin and Alice discuss her father, who died. Quentin's father's cancer appears to have vanished, it seems it was inherently magical. Quentin tries to interest Alice in the Quest to restore magic, but she's not convinced that doing so is really worthwhile, in the grand scheme of things magic hasn't done all much that's good anyway. Quentin wants to tell those in Fillory about Penny; he gets a bunny, whispers to it, and it walks away. (Penny follows the bunny.)

In Fillory, the bunny drops to the floor (and so does Penny). The bunny announces to Margo: "Penny's dead. Sorry."

Penny jumps to Kady's bedroom, where he finds she is getting ready to shoot heroin. He says he's not for this, and says goodbye to her.

At the Cottage, Todd comes up to Julia; his eyes look possessed (like the homeless lady in the previous episode), and he tells her "help her." Julia breaks into Kady's room, where Kady is spasming. Julia puts her hands on Kady's chest, there's a glow, and Kady awakens and throws up. Behind Penny, someone who looks like a college student says "Gross". Penny hears this, and he and the new guy realize they can see each other.

He introduces himself: Hyman Cooper, the "pervert ghost of Brakebills", once a student in the 1920's, like Penny a Traveler and an astral projector. His body died while he was out of it, so he's now a ghost, he hangs around and snoops on people. Penny tells him he's not a ghost, they're different, ghosts have unresolved issues and relive their deaths over and over, you and I don't do that. Julia comes in and tells Quentin that Kady is all right; Quentin says, he's looked in the books, and he thinks the second key is here on Earth.

Julia and Quentin explain the Quest to Dean Fogg (who is drinking). They recall that in the books, Rupert Chatwin had the second key, and brought it to Earth, and they believe that he gave to fellow-soldier Lance Morrison, who then went to a "magic school", perhaps Brakebills. Dean Fogg sends them to look in the Brakebills records.

A man appears and announces that he is from the Order that runs the Library. He explains that Penny has a life-and-beyond contract, and though he died his soul has not reported for duty at the Underworld branch of the Library, he is likely in the process of becoming a vengeful spirit. His soul is tethered to his body for seven days, and the Library has a corpse-eater who can use the tether to force the soul into the Underworld Library.

Penny tells Hyman that he really needs to communicate with someone. Hyman says that he tried for years, and found that it was better not to try to move an object, but to "be" the object, to place all of his self into it. Penny, with great effort and practice, "becomes" a penny, and wants to try something bigger.

On the Muntjac, Penny appears there, and tries to "be" one of the bunnies (they talk, after all). While there, Margo is complaining about the Fairy Queen to Tick Pickwick and Benedict Pickwick. She tells them that when they get back to Fillory, she wants Tick to go get that material the fairies are allergic to, grind it into powder, and they'll put it in the Fairy Queen's bath.

Hyman explains to Penny that possessing a thinking being usually doesn't work. At the Cottage at night, Penny finds that Todd has the Margo golem (not working), in his closet, and tries to "be" it. The next morning, the Margo golem walks clumsily into the common room, groaning and roaring, so the others destroy it. Hyman tells Penny he told him so.

Quentin and Julia have found Lance Morrison's records: he was at Brakebills for one semester, and then died, either by suicide or explosion, so since he died on campus, the key might be here. Dean Fogg says his dorm was invisible and magically off limits, so they can search for it now that magic is gone.

Julia and Quentin search the old dorm, and find a not-ruined bedroom with ghosts. They seem to be doing the reliving-critical-moments repetition of ghosts. The ghost of Lance Morrison welcomes the ghost of Rupert Chatwin, who gives Lance a key. (All through this, Penny is trying to talk to the ghosts and get them to speak to Julia and Quentin.) Rupert says the key "reveals the honest truth of things, shows them as they truly are." Then Rupert is gone, and a middle-aged man is there, complaining about how Lance sullied the McAllister name. The man takes the key from Lance and kills him with magic.

In New York, Alice and Kady talk to Harriet, who says not to trust the Library or its corpse-eaters, it would be better to burn his body than to let them continue to enslave him.

Dean Fogg explains to Quentin and Julia that the McAllisters were, and are, on the Brakebills board of trustees. They all visit the McAllisters. (They notice that the house seems to still have the benefits of enchantments, and Irene McAllister says that they have magic her grandmother stored up, but it won't last.) In the restroom, Julia does a locator spell for the key; she follows it to a room, searches it, and finds the key, which she pockets. [As she touches the key, two fairies appear behind her, but she doesn't see.]

In the Neitherlands, Eliot has a plan: he'll use the First Key to make an illusion of a shadow-bat monster, that will scare away the looters, so we can get to the chute to the Library, and find a portal. Eliot activates they key, but there's no monster, there's... Eliot's father, ranting at him.

Kady is outside someplace with Penny's body, and a supply of gasoline. Penny arrives, but as usual is undetectable. Alice says it's not too late, the corpse-eater will be here any minute and could get Penny's soul to the Library. Penny says (only to himself) that all of the options are bad, but the least bad is to burn his body so he goes to the Underworld like all the other dead. Kady has a candle ready to light the fire. Penny possesses the candle, lights it, and knocks it over onto the gasoline-soaked body. The body burns brightly.

In the Cottage, Quentin says he checked the Quest book, and it has unlocked Chapter 3, so they really have the Second Key now. Dean Fogg enters, drinking (as always), and says the board of directors has put Brakebills up for sale, the school will be closed, he's out of a job. (Penny is seeing all of this, as usual.)

The Cottage door opens, and in dash Eliot, Fen, and Fray; there are noises outside, as if they just ran through a portal from a mob. Eliot says the First Key creates illusions of what you most fear, which in his case was his father.

Quentin describes the Second Key, and calls it the Truth Key. Eliot picks up the Truth Key, holds it, and says he doesn't see anything special; he notices Penny across the room, and says "Oh, hello Penny."


Quentin's father developed cancer of the brain, as described in "Mendings, Major and Minor". Quentin searched for any magical cure, but found none.

In "Homecoming", a heartbroken old boyfriend of Margo had created a golem of her, which she confiscated and kept at the Cottage. It was never a part of the later story (unlike Eliot's golem, which had a role in the Earth story). Todd kept it for her when she was off in Fillory. It seems to be destroyed now.

The bunny rabbits of Fillory were introduced in "The Tales of the Seven Keys". They are said to be able to jump between worlds, and speak English (a little), and can carry verbal messages. It looks like there was at least one hanging around in the Brakebills Cottage, for Quentin to send messages with.



Guest Starring