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Headscratchers / The Magicians

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    ”Bad news bear.” 

  • It’s a little surprising the team didn’t think to duck tape Todd to a chair, and then duck tape the bad luck bear to him.
    • That would kill him. And even Margo was only joking about it during Josh's Quickening.


    "You can do a party trick." 

  • Why does Quentin call Julia's magic "a party trick?" Didn't he see her shoot lightning out of her hands in the pilot? While that's admittedly not as impressive as some of the stuff Brakebills students can do, isn't it still above what one might wave off as a party trick?
    • Quentin only saw her produce a few sparks, and she admitted it took her weeks to get even that right. If you have no magic at all, it's cool, but if you look at it objectively it's little better than static electricity. When Julia thought she was going to be raped and cranked it up to Laser Blade knives, Quentin wasn't around, so as far as he knows she's only slightly more talented than a joy buzzer.
    • On top of this apparent "lack" of Julia's potential (so far as Quentin knew), note that Julia was actually rejected because she seemed to fail the written test. When faced with this fact, she blames the test and thus demonstrates an inability to mentally process that which she isn't prepared for; whether that is or isn't the case isn't the point, merely that this is how she seems. From Quentin's perspective, she is where he has been his entire life: trapped in a world that he doesn't feel he belongs to, obsessing about a world with magic and fantasy. He's spent decades here, with people up to and including Julia telling Quentin to get over himself and accept it's only fair that he tells her what she told him: forget about magic and live your life in the real world.
      • To be fair, this is timeline 40, where Julia was rejected from Brakebills because of Jane Chatwin's timey wimey nonsense. In previous incarnations, she was accepted to Brakebills along with Quentin, and considered the best student they ever had. Conscious awareness of previous timelines is a thing people can experience in the show, so it's not unreasonable to assume Julia was unconsciously aware that she was "meant" to be there (since she'd already been there 39 times).

     Julia's Rejection 

  • Why was Julia rejected from Brakebills? Did they really believe that she didn't have the aptitude for magic? Or, were they afraid of getting another Marina?
    • Episode 12 explains it. Jane was trying another variation of a time loop, and thought it would make her stronger. It was implied in the first episode that both she and Quentin were The Chosen One, so we knew something was up.
    • In the books, she failed the test mainly because she was distracted by the sudden Broken Masquerade. Meanwhile, Quentin had been waiting to find out magic was real his entire life, and was much more easily able to focus on his test.

     "Margo" and "Janet" 
  • The librarian in the Neitherlands implies that in previous iterations of the time loop, Margo's name was Janet, the same as the book character that she's based on. This raises the question: What caused her name to be different this time? There's no sign that anyone else's name has been changed between loops, so it doesn't seem like a side effect of the time travel magic.
    • My first thought was that she replaced someone completely different this loop.
      • That wouldn't explain calling her "Janet" and saying Margo was her name "this time".
    • When Quentin and Julia travel to 1942 in order to follow Jane into Fillory, they come across The Watcher-Woman who is a form of Jane from the future such that she knows Julia and Quentin aren't born yet. This means that the Stable Time Loop at least involves 70+ years of events being set into motion, which could easily result in a "side-character" like Margo being born from a different familial perspective and thus being born with a different name despite being the same person. We don't get the other characters being called differently probably because the maternal and paternal lineages aren't touched as much by the events; Alice comes from a well-established family of magicians, Julia and Quentin are essential to the events that unfold, Elliot is from Indiana and thus his family is harder to be touched by events that take place almost exclusively in London and New York City, and Penny...maybe he had something similar to Elliot in that he's not from New York.

     "Do some damn magic!" 
  • Has it ever been explained how magic can actually be cast? It's heavily implied to be precise finger movements, but doesn't explain how Quentin built a house of cards before he even knew magic was real.
    • Probably much in the same way as Harry Potter and the usage of wands. Wizards can still use magic without being properly trained and without the usage of wands (Harry manages to make glass vanish, regrow his hair, teleport or potentially fly, and turn his teacher's hair blue all before he ever learns he's a wizard) but once they get the proper training, they learn to use their magic in a more directed and refined way. Quentin was going off instinct, not training or learned skill. As for how the magic can be cast, again: emotion and intent. The gestures and words and phrases are probably all just how one builds and directs the magical energy to get the desired effect.
    • The novels explain that latent magicians build up a magical "charge" that the Brakebills tests are designed to trigger a release. Once this latent charge is discharged in the test, the magician requires proper training to be able to access their talent and control it, because they no longer have that latent energy to fall back on. It also serves the purpose of ensuring that baby magicians don't unleash bouts of wild magic by accident.

     Julia's "rehab" 
  • So in season 1, Julia's family is convinced she's doing drugs and force her to rehab. True, her behavior is one thing but surely they would test her first and find no actual drugs in her system. Or is her magic supposed to be the same effect?
    • Also, when Julia is ready to tell boyfriend James about magic, Pete makes James forget he ever met Julia. When Julia is trying to convince her sister of magic, she says, "you can talk to James but he won't remember me." Wouldn't her sister at least have checked on James to find out what he saw of Julia's behavior and realize he had no idea who Julia was?
    • Julia's family didn't send people to drag her to rehab, they just told her to go or suffer the consequences. Yes, she could have made a big stink of it and they would have done a drug test, but in the end that would just confuse them. She's intelligent enough to know she has a real problem, and going to rehab might help—if nothing else, it will get her family off her back. As for talking to her boyfriend, that one's harder. Maybe they were just never that close, so Julia's sister went to Julia first, and when she agreed to go to rehab there was no need to get James involved.
    • Even if Julia's family did try to talk to James and he told them to bug off because he didn't know who they were, they would figure he was being a jerk because he and Julia broke up.
      • The facility would have done a urinalysis as part of her intake. Unless she knows a spell for a false positive drug test, they would have seen she's clean.

    "World without magic." 
  • So, the human magic is shut down. This also means no teleportation. Well, Josh could leave Fillory after Ember's death, before magic is gone, but how the heck Quentin and Alice got back to Brakebills from Antarctica?
    • A plane. Brakebills has quite a bit of money, it's not going to disappear just because magic is gone. Maybe it took a few days or weeks to arrange it, but the epilogue takes place months later.

    Extent of the Wellspring's influence 
  • Is magic shut down in all worlds simultaneously, not just Earth, Fillory and Library? Because otherwise Joseph could just hop to another world. But if it's true, then countless worlds are doomed. Nice job breaking it, hero, indeed.
    • It's unclear how many worlds draw power from the Wellspring. Even on Earth, it's mentioned that most monsters have other power sources (niffins are the exception), and on Fillory the fairies still have magic as well. We don't know precisely how niffin magic works, but apparently just hopping to another world and plugging into a new source of magic isn't an option.

Example of: