Lesser Evils is the ninth episode of the second season of The Magicians. It is also the twenty-second episode overall.


Quentin nears what could be a literal dead end to his Alice situation. Eliot risks his life for his kingdom, and to protect him, Margo promises something that isn't hers to give. Julia, Kady, and Penny find Reynard's son, but their discovery comes with serious consequences.[1]


We open with Quentin (Jason Ralph), who is locked in a cage. He is also shackled via the ankles, in case you needed more evidence that he’s in a dangerous state. Professor Lipson (Keegan Connor Tracy) is performing an examination, making sure all of Q’s cogs are in working order. Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) is also there, as well as Kady (Jade Tailor) and Penny (Arjun Gupta). Quentin makes an offhanded joke that he’s not a werewolf, to which Josh (in the cage next to him, seemingly half-werewolf) who explains that his lycanthropy was sexually transmitted. Well, then. Who would’ve thought simply boinking could lead to supernatural abilities? Anyway, werewolf boy takes offense. Professor Lipson reveals that Niffin Alice is killing him. He would do well to release her. Quentin, as usual, refuses.

Penny, meanwhile, is rummaging through Q’s satchel and swipes the Fillory button. He takes Kady’s hand and whisks them both away to Fillory, leaving Q at the mercy of the Brakebills teaching staff.

Meanwhile, Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Margo (Summer Bishil) are holding another council meeting. Suddenly, the magic infused in the throne room begins to waver, then dissipates. A councilwoman comments on how it is the third “brownout” that week. Basically, the Wellspring is on its last legs. They bring up the out of commission Wellspring, and how it must be fixed for magic to continue. Margo dismisses this (ain’t nobody got time for that) and aims for a more relevant subject: Fillorian soldiers deserting the monarch. Then, the council reveals a potential solution to their Lorian problem: a duel between rulers. Eliot takes on the King of Loria in combat. Our High King is ultimately taken with this idea. He asks Tick Pickwick (Rizwan Manji) how popular he would be. As it turns out, Kings who triumph in combat tend to be very popular.

Then, Margo warns him of the dangers of combat, but it’s too late. Eliot’s ego has already inflated drastically. “I hereby decree,” Eliot declares, “rulers done gonna rumble.”

Later, we see Kady and Penny arrive at Castle Whitespire. Kady popped her “first time going to Fillory” cherry! She is in awe that Eliot is King of an entire realm. The pair are heading toward the dungeons. Kady magically knocks the guard unconscious. We see Julia (Stella Maeve) waiting inside said dungeon. Kady reveals they’ve found Reynard’s son and are here to rescue her. I love me a good dungeon escape. Julia, intrigued by the prospect of finally meeting Reynard’s son, tags along as they zap back to Earth.

Meanwhile, Quentin is sitting in his cage. He appears to be one step closer to Death’s door. We see Niffin Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) sitting next to him. She is trying to persuade him to let her go. Niffin Alice reminds Q that, according to Friar Joseph, not all niffins are the same. She just wants to practice some otherworldly magic. Q has a decision to make. He refuses to release Niffin Alice into the world because of the potential damage she may cause. On the other hand, if he boxes her he’ll never see Alice again. However, he will continue to waste away if Niffin Alice lives inside him. Decisions, decisions!

Later, Eliot is practicing his mad sword skills in the throne room. Margo peers in and observes his technique. She goes into “Mama Bear” mode and reminds him that physical combat is vastly different than magic. There are sword spells, but those can take months to master. She reveals that King Idri has fought fourteen duels, with all opponents slain. Uh oh. Our El is in scalding hot water now.

Meanwhile Julia, Kady and Penny are researching Reynard’s son on the internet. We see that his spawn is a US Senator named John Gaines (Christopher Gorham). He is charismatic and a true champion of the people…who has no idea he’s a demigod. Penny remarks how magic radiates off him. Julia is already concocting a plan to snatch him. I love Shade-less Julia.

Later, in Fillory, Fen (Brittany Curran) waltzes into the bedchambers with a gift for Eliot. She reveals a beautiful sword, forged by her grandfather for a High King that never claimed the throne. Fen adds that her family had been keeping it until another worthy King appeared. Eliot grasps the sword, sending a prayer to Ember as he does this. The sword blazes with a yellow glow. Eliot remarks that he feels “marginally less fucked now.” Yay for having a surer grasp on life! He promises to return to her alive this time.

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Meanwhile, we see Senator Gaines sitting in his office, steeped in work. The doors to his office burst open as Penny, Kady and Julia waltz inside. Gaines, of course, is taken aback by the trio’s badass entrance. Next, they each perform feats of magic to prove its existence. Julia snaps her fingers and the doors close. Penny disappears and reappears next to Gaines. Kady knocks everything off his desk with a spell. I love it when we see the magic on this show. They are magicians, after all. Gaines is still in disbelief even after the displays of magic. Julia pulls a blade, intent on gutting Gaines like a fish. Penny and Kady realize Julia’s plan wasn’t simply to kidnap the senator, but to kill him. She insists they need his energy to banish Reynard.

Suddenly, in his refusal to accept death, Gaines goes Dragonball Z and knocks the trio backward with his power. He then loses consciousness. Penny remarks on the felony they’re about to commit, as they sneak Gaines’ body out of his office.

Meanwhile, Margo meets with Abigail the Sloth, who is a national treasure and should always remain on her council. Margo informs her they have a sword spell, but they need the Wellspring to work in order to sustain said spell. Abigail reveals, with reticence, that Margo should petition the fairies. The fairies exist outside their realm, but possess enough power to patch up the Wellspring. Margo is irritated she was not informed of this sooner, and demands Abigail never keeps secrets from her again. She must contact their human ambassador to arrange the deal. Fairies are apparently notorious for their complex deals. This should be fun! Finally, we get some fairies!

Later, back at the Physical Kids’ House, Todd (Adam DiMarco) bounds down the stairs to find Gaines sitting in a broom closet, unconscious. Our trio is in the process of restraining him. Todd has a ton of questions, which the gang artfully evades. Julia shoos him off. Penny tells Julia to stay away from the senator. Julia goads him on, which results in Penny subtly threatening her. Julia, on the other hand, laughs it off. I repeat, Shade-less Julia is the best Julia. After she leaves, Penny tries to persuade Kady that her friend is not who she was before.

Meanwhile, Eliot is practicing his combat skills with his newfound sword. Margo enters, asking him how he feels, since he will soon face King Idri. Eliot feels great, but is questioning whether he really can take on an undefeated monarch. Margo has an idea. She reminds Eliot of a video of him playing Valjean in Les Miserables. She also informs him of her extensive research into singing and how it boosts the confidence of soldiers going into battle. Our High Queen has a trick up her sleeve. With a simple spell she flicks on the orchestral music to “One Day More,” hoping Eliot will burst into song. She hopes his worries will be alleviated. El is initially taken aback but is soon belting the lyrics to Valjean’s part in the song.

Suddenly, Fen bursts into the room, singing Cosette’s part. Margo soon joins the duo in song. Then, a chorus of various royal staffers swarms around them, as a beautifully choreographed routine is executed. They all join together and make their way to the battle. Eliot says goodbye, well sings goodbye, to Fen. We see the chorus march into the fray, reaching the climax of the song. They finish “One Day More” right as they meet King Idri (Leonard Roberts) and Prince Ess (Arlen Escarpeta). King Idri seems to be confused. Prince Ess comments that he loves Les Miserables, and played Javert in a production on Earth. Of course he did.

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King Idri and Eliot brandish their swords. Eliot recites his prayer to Ember to enchant the blade. Suddenly, the two are fighting, swords clanking and swiping. Kin Idri breaks from the melee and darts for the forest. Eliot follows him.

Later, Julia visits Quentin in his cage at Brakebills. She soon realizes she’s talking to Niffin Alice, who’s driving Q’s body at the moment. Niffin Alice knows Julia is missing her Shade. She tries to convince Julia to set her free. Julia notices Quentin is bleeding. Quentin passes out from the blood loss.

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Meanwhile, Reynard the Fox is approaching the area where Brakebills is located. He checks the wards for any weak points. He finds a spot where he can easily communicate telepathically with Gaines. Gaines wakes up in the broom closest to the sound of his father’s voice. Kady goes to check up on him and sees he’s flustered. Gaines asks who Reynard is, and why he is in his head.

Kady and Penny take Gaines to the medical ward, where Professor Lipson is already overseeing Quentin. Dean Fogg is also there, but seems unperturbed when the two enter with a famous senator in tow. They reveal Reynard is right outside the wards. Kady chastises Julia for even thinking about meeting the trickster god.

Meanwhile, Eliot and King Idri are fighting in the forest. Margo is observing them from a pool of water which reflects the scene. She is elated El seems to have the upper hand.

Later, Dean Fogg divulges to Penny that they took harsh safety measures after The Beast (RIP), so Reynard shouldn’t be able to get in. Penny reminds Fogg that Reynard is also a god. Gaines is struggling with his discovery of magic, and rightfully so. He tells Kady he hopes he’s in a mental ward.

Meanwhile, Margo is informed that the human ambassador to the fairies is waiting for a meeting. Margo is reluctant. Eliot is winning the duel, and finally has King Idri cornered when a magical brownout occurs, severing his sword spell. Eliot panics, kicks the Lorian King’s sword aside and heads for the proverbial hills. Mama Bear Margo snaps into action.

Back at Brakebills, the wards are broken as Reynard meanders onto the campus. Penny and Fogg redirect students into the labs for safety. Reynard smirks, triumphant. That bastard!

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Later, Margo meets with the human ambassador to the fairies. She can only meet the fairies face to face when the bargain is concluded. He insists the fairies can repair the Wellspring, but for a price. They demand a baby born of Castle Whitespire. The fairies would raise said baby as their own, and they would possess great magical abilities. Margo initially offers herself, but the ambassador will only accept the son of the High King. Uh oh. El and Fen would not be happy about that. She tells him hell no. Her council then informs her she has offended the ambassador. Now, she must make amends.

Meanwhile, Kady tries to convince Gaines that he is indeed a demigod. She asks him if he’s ever failed at anything he’s set out to accomplish. Gaines responds with a no, and ponders on who he really is.

Back in Fillory, King Idri finds Eliot nestled up a tree. He tells El he can’t stay up there forever, and begins attempting to chop down the tree.

Later, Margo approaches Fen with the harrowing news of El losing his spell. She tells the High King’s wife that the Wellspring has gone dark. Fen makes Margo promise to do anything that will save Eliot. Anything. On the flip side, Margo demands Fen promise to do exactly as she says when magic is restored. Margo doesn’t reveal her plan to give Fen’s future baby to the fairies. This sounds like it will end well. She later tells the ambassador to fix the Wellspring.

Meanwhile, King Idri reveals he doesn’t actually want to kill Eliot. Eliot throws in his wife and future baby in the conversation in the hopes it will change the King’s mind. Unfortunately, one of them has to go. Eliot reveals he thinks the King is a “total DILF,” which he is. And El would totally age like a fine wine. King Idri remarks that his love for his late wife prevented him from finding a husband. He also admits that he finds Eliot attractive, but continues tree chopping nonetheless.

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Later, Julia and Quentin are outside, still on campus. She reveals she spoke with Niffin Alice, who is a killing machine. She shoves Q outside the wards and tells him to negotiate with Reynard, then release Niffin Alice so she can kill the trickster god. Q falls on the ground before Reynard. Reynard grabs Quentin, threatening to kill him. Q pleads with Julia for help. Niffin Alice pops out and asks Q to release her so she can banish Reynard.

Suddenly, Kady and Penny show up. Penny rushes outside the wards to save Quentin. Senator Gaines appears. He is drawn to his father, who takes his son’s hand and they vanish. Niffin Alice is angry, telling Q he missed his chance to get rid of the god.

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Meanwhile, the fairies do their magic and the Wellspring is restored to full power. Finally, that shit is fixed (pun very much intended)! Note to self, never seek a magical well as a source for bathroom duties. Anyway, Eliot hops off the tree, ready to duel once more.

Later, Julia wakes up in a dungeon…again. Kady reveals she put her friend there, coming to the realization that Julia is dangerous. The latter is trapped in a dungeon that is impervious to magic. Kady plans to keep Julia there for the unforeseeable future. But, with Julia going the way of The Beast, I imagine nothing will be able to contain her for much longer.

Meanwhile, Eliot makes his triumphant return. Fen and Margo embrace him, elated to see him alive and well. King Idri appears as well, to everyone’s shock. Our two Kings struck a deal – Eliot and Idri will be married. Apparently, in this otherworldly realm, it is not uncommon to take a husband and a wife. It will create a union between the two lands, and a 50/50 split usage of the now operative Wellspring. Margo questions Eliot’s choice. We also see a group of fairies appear in the wings, but they are only visible to Margo. Something tells me Margo hasn’t seen the last of them.

Later, Quentin is outside alone. He is really struggling with his decision to release Niffin Alice. He smashes the only box that can contain her, and frees her from his back. We see Niffin Alice in corporeal form once again, glowing. She smirks at Quentin and disappears into the night. I also don’t think we’ve seen the last of Niffin Alice.



Guest Starring



  • This episode features notable references to the musical Les Miserables.