We gave it a B+
The Magicians is a very unpredictable show. It marches to the beat of its own whimsical drum, avoiding obvious melodrama in favor of something more irreverent. That’s part of the show’s appeal. Thus, going into this finale, I had no idea what to expect, especially after the penultimate episode revealed that Ember would end up becoming the finale’s big bad. “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” followed through on the promise of episode 12 while also thrusting the show into unknown territory for the third season.
If you need more proof of how weird this show is, look no further than the opening of the finale, which is a recap of the series’ events narrated by the chaos-loving god himself, Ember. While the entire sequence is very funny, it does point out some holes in the season’s story that weren’t there until the show felt the need to point them out. For example, Ember made sure Fen was ovulating when she and Eliot slept together so that she could become pregnant; he pissed off the guy who guards the river so that he would take it out on Penny; and he’s been causing the magic brownouts all season. All of this stuff didn’t need any added explanation. It made sense that someone would have a negative response to Penny’s demeanor, and the brownouts were explained away by the initial dump Ember took in the wellspring at the beginning of the season. It feels like the nature of Ember’s involvement came a little bit too late.
Anyway, Ember ends his narration by welcoming us to the finale, which he is referring to as “Fillory’s Last Gasp,” because he has grown bored with the world and is ready to destroy it. You remember how everyone’s book in the library had 20 blank pages? Well, this is why. In a way, the finale brings us full circle back to the premiere, which was also focused on saving Fillory, because saving Fillory means saving magic.
While “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” sometimes feels like it’s rushing as it moves the pieces around for the final confrontation, it still makes room for some important character beats, which are the best part of the episode. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these moments often feature Eliot and/or Julia. Well, the first one involves both of them. Eliot pays Julia a visit to ask for an amulet that can hide him from a god. Noticing Julia is having a hard time because her shade is back — the memory pops of her trauma are particularly effective in conveying her current struggle — Eliot asks her to come with him because he’s concerned about the unhealthy relationship she’s currently developing with her couch. His invitation surprises her given her past betrayal, but Eliot points out that was so long ago. And he’s right about that.
Eliot’s reconciliation with Margo — who returns from the fairy world with Josh and a plant that will lure out Ember, but without Fen because she refused to leave her daughter — isn’t nearly as easy. Eliot appreciates the lengths to which Margo went to fix her mistake — she had to give up an eye in order to leave the fairies’ plane of existence — however, it’s still very hard for them to just fall back into their usual habits, and Margo points that out. “It’s not the same. Let’s not pretend it is,” says Margo, which is a very mature observation on her part. If there’s one thing The Magicians needs to work on next season, it’s Margo. She’s an entertaining character, but this season I had a hard time keeping track of what exactly she wanted, apart from helping Eliot rule. Anyway, Margo and Eliot decide to put their strain on hold because right now, they need to party like the world depends on it.
After a pep talk from Eliot, Quentin gets his head in the game and goes to ask Umber for his help. Instead of helping him, Umber takes Quentin into the Pocket World Formerly Known as Cuba and asks Quentin to use his “caring too much” power to help him build this new world. It turns out Umber isn’t much of a world-builder without his brother; this pocket world is rather bland and linear. Quentin suggests he ask Ember, the god of chaos, to help spice things up, but that simply angers him.