Julia goes into the bodega, goes through to the back room, and Pete says it's time for her to learn some magic, which they have in loose-leaf binders. He says to go slow; she says she doesn't do slow, and is soon shown doing a spell to get money from an ATM.
Dean Fogg, now wearing dark glasses, and strange gloves on his hands, is in the classroom, lecturing to the first-year students: Being a magician has always been about accruing power, over yourself, the elements, the world. Brakebills teaches with a curriculum, because learning things out-of-order is dangerous. (As he says this, we see Julia practicing telekinesis with Marina.) If you lose control, the power can kill you, destroy you, or change you. He then takes off his dark glasses to show his repaired or replaced eyes.
Dean Fogg says they will now test the students to find their discipline, their area of concentration, so that they can be best taught to excel in their talents.
Julia is on the phone, outside the bodega, leaving a message to James to say she's been busy and will get back to him. Pete points out to her how having magic is wonderful; she is doing very well, but needs to manage her life, especially her life with James if she wants it to work out; they don't want James to be following her to the bodega.
Dean Fogg, in his office with Professor March, is examining pairs of glasses, that seem to give him some small ability to see. Alice comes in for her test, and she shows Professor March things she can do in magic; he praises her skill, and says she is excellent in physical magic.
Afterwards, Quentin and Alice meet in the cafe; he is called "Undetermined". Alice has a special trait, "Phosphoromancy", control of light. But it seems they are both now assigned to the Physical Kids' Cottage, Quentin because they have extra space.
Quentin and Alice arrive at the Physical Kids' Cottage, and find the door closed and locked, with a note to "let yourselves in". There is obviously a loud party going on inside, but there is no apparent way to open the door. They try a few things, and Quentin suggests that she use her light-bending talent. She focuses sunlight enough to burn a hole in the door, and they open it, to the applause of the older physical kids.
In the continuing party, Quentin and Alice, now somewhat drunk, discuss the summoning spell for Charlie. Alice is talking as if she wants to try it again, she still wants to know the truth. Quentin is reluctant to do the same spell again, as the last time someone died, but he suggests a locator spell.
Outdoors, Quentin and Alice are walking around with a match, waiting for it to light itself; it does, right in front of the school's "Woof Fountain", which some say is enchanted, or bottomless, or otherwise ill-omened. But they see nothing interesting and walk away. After they do, an arm reaches up from out of the water and gives them the finger.
Kady and Penny are walking on campus; he is grumbling about being classed as a psychic. She says it shouldn't be so bad, but suddenly he stops in pain, looks around, and is annoyed to see Quentin sitting under a tree and reading. Penny stalks over to him, looking like they are about to fight again, when Penny says "Do you know how to close your mind?" Quentin hasn't been thinking quietly enough (and Penny is more than a little annoyed to hear him singing Taylor Swift in his head), but he timidly says he'll work on it.
In their apartment, James and Julia are looking over plans for possible apartments, but her head isn't really into it. They argue about why she's not communicating; she says she's just busy with class, but he says it's like she's ignoring him.
At the Fountain at Brakebills, two students are talking about others who died in the fountain. One is curious and leans over the edge, and an arm leaps up and grabs him, pulling him in. He struggles for a while to get out until he is helped out.
At the classroom, Professor March announces that the fountain is temporarily off limits, it seems to be haunted, they need to adjust the wards.
Quentin and Alice are now concerned that it was Charlie's spirit in the fountain that is causing trouble; but if it was Charlie, Alice expects that he might have given her some signal, and he hasn't. They get to her room at the Cottage, and discover it has unexpectedly been festooned with a dozen animate glass horses: it was Charlie who had taught that spell to Alice long ago.
In the Cottage common room, Quentin and Alice discuss the possibility that Charlie is the spirit doing things in the fountain. Margo offers to help, and Alice dismisses her; she doesn't trust her. They wonder why Charlie might be trying to drown students; maybe he's just confused. Alice has some spells that might help; Quentin suggests getting help from Margo, but Alice still doesn't want Margo involved; Quentin says Margo's discipline is "gossip", Alice should ask for help.
Eliot interrupts them and drags Quentin away, he needs help immediately. Eliot has a box which seems to be rattling. He's learned that Professor Sunderland had come to the Cottage library for a book, and it's missing; Eliot has distracted her, but they need to find it. Books at Brakebills are important, if one goes missing the faculty will do serious investigation to find it, and that would be trouble for the Physical Kids and the wild parties they have. The box is still rattling; Eliot opens it, and out flies a book, which flies madly around the room. Eliot explains that the missing book is Volume One; the one they have (flying around) is Volume Two, and "she's going to lead us to her mate."
Julia is practicing magic at the bodega, trying to unlock a lock, and not succeeding; Marina says it should be easy, Julia is just distracted. Julia says she has a lot going on; Marina says all that matters is the spell, don't get distracted by boyfriends or anything else in life, just do magic.
Alice finally asks Margo for help to find out what happened to Charlie; Margo remembers there was something about him and the fountain, she doesn't actually know anything, but maybe Emily Greenstreet from Charlie's year might; when he died, she took it hard and dropped out. "Fogg set her up with a job, which is how you know they're hiding something big."
At the Consciousness Building, psychics are meditating blissfully, as Penny enters; a student named Camille welcomes him, since she knew he was coming. They have coves for meditation, enclosed places "to cry and process", all the things a psychic needs. All this isn't Penny's thing; he doesn't want psychic power, he wants to learn to shut it out and control it. Camille shows him a place to meditate and let his mind wander. As he does so, he hears more voices whispering, and then a voice calling for help. He opens his eyes, stands up... and realizes he is on top of a building in Shanghai.
On a street in New York, Emily Greenstreet is walking; Margo and Alice call to her. Emily says they are from Brakebills, and that part of her life is over. Alice says Charlie was her brother, and Emily agrees to talk with them. Emily tells them of how while she was attending Brakebills, she had fallen for a professor and they had an affair. The professor was married, and when he broke things off with Emily, she thought she would use magic to make herself prettier to better attract him. It would be dangerous, but she figured it was the only way. After weeks of work, the spell went awry, twisting her face in an awful way. She went to Woof Fountain to kill herself, but was stopped by Charlie who had seen her leaving the Cottage in tears. He told her he would find a way to fix it. Charlie quickly assembled a spell, totally unadvised and untested; he raised a lot of energy, more than he could handle, the spell went out of control, and burned him with blue fire until he was gone. She said he had become a "Niffin", when too much magic runs through you; it destroys you, leaving only the magic. The professor fixed Emily's face, and she gave up magic.
Outside the bodega where Marina's group works, Eliot and Quentin are carrying the box with the jumping book in it; it gets very excited at the door, so Eliot uses a spell to check out the bodega, and finds it strongly warded. Eliot figures it must be a group of Hedge Witches, "sad and desperate people" who have magic, but aren't good enough to be trained at Brakebills. They go in, and Eliot convinces the attendant to let them into the back room, where they find a half-dozen witches ("pathetic") attempting simple (to Brakebills students) magic. One of them is Julia.
Eliot says they are from Brakebills, "we're classically trained and we want our book." When the witches say they don't have his book, a door breaks open and a book comes flying out into the room. The book in the box breaks out of it, and the books fly together, land, and... start mating. (The books look rather like the book that Kady stole from the Physical Kids' Cottage and gave to Marina.)
Eliot and Quentin walk out of the bodega, the two books safe and quiet in the box. Julia dashes out to talk with Quentin. He doesn't understand why she's there, she's better than them. She says she has no choice, she didn't get magic handed to her like Quentin got. Quentin again says at Brakebills they can do serious magic, but Julia can do party tricks. They argue about how they treated each other in their earlier school years. He says she should stop messing with magic, grow up and do something else. She asks if magic is what he really loves, what's really filling his heart; it is for her.
In Shanghai, Penny is wandering through the crowded streets, looking lost, and a truck stops in front of him. Its driver, Professor Sunderland, tells him to get in, where he finds Dean Fogg in the back. Penny asks what's wrong with him; they say nothing's wrong, he's not just psychic, he's a "Traveler", a rare discipline, one who can, with training, go anywhere, instantly, even between worlds. "If the gift does not kill you first." Dean Fogg tells him it's time to end his self-pity, he no longer has the luxury of messing around. Penny accepts, and asks now do we "drive all the way back to Brakebills?" Professor Sunderland says "we're already there", and Penny looks out the window to see they are no longer in Shanghai, but at the fountain in front of the main entrance of Brakebills. She says they'll start one-on-one tutorials immediately, before he accidentally transports himself inside a volcano.
Back at the Cottage, Quentin is lamenting to Eliot about how his relationship with Julia got so bad. Eliot reduces it to "you found out who you are, she found out who she's not." All through this conversation, Kady has been trying to get into the Physical Kids Cottage. She finally causes an explosion that smashes the door in, and Eliot welcomes her in.
Alice is collecting materials, and shows Quentin a hand-sized wood box, which Quentin calls a "Niffin Box"; you bind a Niffin into it with a chant, which is easy... once you've done the month-long incantation to prepare the box. But she says they're not going to use the box: they're going to bring Charlie back. Quentin is reluctant, this is dangerous, he's been doing research too, Niffins aren't alive, there's no literature that suggests reversing a Niffin is possible. Alice says nothing says it isn't, so they're going to do it, with spells she has been crafting together. He says this is way beyond what's known; she says it's only beyond him, not her, and she's doing it. He pockets the Niffin box.
In Julia and James' bedroom, she awaits James; when he arrives, she covers up the many star tattoos she now has on her arm. He is surprised she called, she has been putting him off for a long time; she has something to talk about, but doesn't know how. She says she's been involved with something that made her want to give up everything. She lies that it's Adderall, she's been using it for a while, but is now going to meetings. (As she says this, she's using magic to change the emblem on her key ring from "J" for "Julia" to "NA" for "Narcotics Anonymous".) She shows him the key ring. He is loving and accepting; she looks like she got away with something.
Julia and James are asleep in bed, and she is awakened by her phone. There is a message: "Have a new one for u. Bodega - 20 min." She immediately gets out of bed and leaves.
At night at the fountain at Brakebills, Alice and Quentin arrive; she calls out to Charlie to appear, using spells she has worked out. As she finishes, in the fountain there appears a mysterious figure, emanating smoke; they draw near, and it's Charlie. He addresses her, she is overwhelmed to have him back, as smoke still emanates from him. But he grasps her hands, and smoke and lightning appear; he laughs and taunts her with magic power. Quentin is sure it's not Charlie, just a Niffin; he gets out the Niffin box, and Charlie appears in front of him and knocks the box away. Alice tries to use magic to stop Charlie, but he seems untouched, laughing as he threatens and attacks both of them. As Charlie is attacking Alice, Quentin chants something to the Niffin box, which glows and absorbs Charlie into itself. Alice is still sure that was Charlie, and Quentin just bound him to the box. "I was so close, and now he's gone."
Alice goes to her room, packs her things into a suitcase, and leaves. "I'm done here."
- Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater
- Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn
- Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh
- Arjun Gupta as Penny Adiyodi
- Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson
- Rick Worthy as Henry Fogg
- Jade Tailor as Kady Orloff-Diaz
- Anne Dudek as Pearl Sunderland
- Kacey Rohl as Marina Andrieski
- David Call as Pete
- Michael Cassidy as James
- Ben Esler as Charlie Quinn
- Abby Miller as Emily Greenstreet
- Hiro Kanagawa as Professor March
- Ingrid Nilson as Camille
- Edwin Perez as Eugenio
- Oliver Mahoro Smith as Ralphie
- Sachin Sahel as Surendra
- Ryan Beil as Robert
- Jesse Haddock as Smith
- United States of America
- Shanghai, China
|Unauthorized Magic • The Source of Magic • Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting • The World in the Walls • Mendings, Major and Minor • Impractical Applications • The Mayakovsky Circumstance • The Strangled Heart • The Writing Room • Homecoming • Remedial Battle Magic • Thirty-Nine Graves • Have You Brought Me Little Cakes?|