There’s a lot of Chatwin action in this week’s episode of The Magicians, “Cello Squirrel Daffodil,” and not the usual appreciated cameo we usually get each season from the time-turning hedge witch, Jane Chatwin.
One newly introduced Chatwin we spend time with is Plum Chatwin, Penny23’s traveler student who reappears in Brakebills three weeks after she first disappeared trying to find the source of the mysterious signal she keeps hearing. Plum’s time away from Brakebills is a blur—all she remembers is a room with no windows and no doors—and Penny23 decides she should travel back to the room and take him with her to gather more information.
Things go wrong, of course, and instead of traveling through space they travel through time. As it turns out Plum is the rarest type of traveler—a time traveler. Their first time stop is Brakebills in 1998, where they meet a much happier, much less bald Fogg. Fogg tries to help them, but instead of traveling to 2020, they find themselves in the casually racist 1920 Brakebills. Stuck in the wrong century, Penny recruits the help of his old friend Hymen Cooper (AKA the Pervert Ghost who died while stuck in the astral plane). With his help, Plum and Penny eventually figure out how to get back to 2020 (they needed an object from that time to channel Plum’s powers). Just when they get back though, the signal pulls them away again—and we end the episode with them stuck in the door-less room Plum recently escaped from.
Plum, however, isn’t the only Chatwin drama going on this week—back in Fillory, the Dark King (AKA Seb) is still alive and still has a lot of mystery enshrouding his identity and motives. While Margo and Fen escape back to the gang’s NYC hideout, Eliot and Julia get captured by Seb (Josh remains off-screen this episode hiding in the woods with Margo’s fairy eye to keep him company). Seb doesn’t kill Eliot and Julia, however—he needs their help for a mysterious séance-like spell, which Eliot realizes will help Seb connect with the lost love of his life.
Who is Seb’s lost love? And more importantly, who the eff is Seb? Eliot and Julia eventually find out, but Fen and Margo find out sooner when everyone’s least favorite children’s author and pedophile Christopher Plover stumbles through the grandfather clock and into the gang’s NYC apartment. Plover is speaking gibberish (his first words—“Cello Squirrel Daffodil”—are this episode’s title, in fact), and it turns out he’s been infected by little bugs called tongue twisters for centuries. Fen and Margo disinfect him with the help of a wonderfully inept veterinarian, and he tells them that the Dark King is no other than…a Chatwin! Rupert Sebastian Chatwin to be precise—he’s the brother of Jane and Martin Chatwin, the latter of whom became The Beast who terrorized the gang in the first two seasons.
Rupert had tried to stop his brother back in the day and tied himself to Fillory (this is why he can’t be killed—the conduit is all of the realm, not just one tree). All was well and good until the magic surges woke him. Once awake, he wanted nothing but to be reunited with the love of his life, Lance Morrison, another Brakebills student who met a violent end in the 1920s. (We met Lance as a ghost in Season 3 when Penny was stuck in the astral plane and aided by no other than Hymen, the Pervert Ghost! The connections are all over the place this episode!)
All the Dark King wants now is to be reunited with Lance—he talks to him briefly during the séance spell Eliot and Julia help him cast and tells him to “wait by the door.” Seb’s grief is all-consuming, and he’s willing to hurt others—many others—to get his love back, yet another nod this season to how grief can impact a person.
There are some non-Chatwin goings on this week as well–Alice and Kady end up getting stuck in a psychic time loop where The Couple is trying to take Quentin’s plant paper from Alice. After several attempts (18, to be exact), The Couple is successful once it changes its method to straightforward torture—after Alice bears the pain of having her fingers cut off, she eventually succumbs when the evil entity threatens to kill Kady. Now the plant paper is in evil hands, and perhaps more importantly, Alice and Kady are pissed.
“Cello Squirrel Daffodil” is a deep-cut episode, with lots of callbacks to events that happened in previous seasons that bring to mind the intricacies of a long-running soap opera. For long-time fans, however, figuring out how all these plot points and callbacks interconnect is one of the joys of the show. Will the Chatwin family drama be the underlying, interlinking tie of the season (it already links to another major theme of the season—dealing with the grief of a loved one)? How does Alice’s plant paper tie into all of this? And what the hell is Josh doing in the woods with Margo’s eye? We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
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