'The Magicians' Explores The Repercussions Of Saving The World In "Acting Dean"

Just six episodes into the fifth season of The Magicians, and the gang has already saved the world. I suppose that's a good thing—but what strife or calamity will keep things interesting for the back half of the season? Turns out, there are plenty of other things that are effed up enough to keep things interesting. For starters, magic is still messed up on Earth—the gang moved the moon to stop Armageddon, but in doing so screwed up spellcasting. Now, every time a magician tries to do magic, their spell goes wonky. Throw in the random magical surge or two, and magicians on Earth will now be risking their lives if they do magic. Don't worry though—Alice is on the case. She's researching a fix at Brakebills, where Penny23 has been made interim dean during Fogg's absence. Penny, like every other professor at Brakebills, doesn't want to be dean. He's overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the job, and when he finds a red button Fogg marked as "for emergencies only," he's tempted to press it. Julia ultimately presses the button for him, and they all hope Fogg will come back to Brakebills to set things right. And Fogg does come back. Well, a Fogg does at least. Turns out the button summoned a Fogg from another timeline, one who blew up his own Brakebills and wants to port over this timeline's school to his. Penny23, Julia, Alice and a botanist (AKA Alice's new love interest) confront Fogg and foil his plan. Even better, Alice thinks she's figured out how to fix spellcasting, although it appears that the moon is being, well, moody, and continuing to move around. She'll stick around Brakebills to work on the problem while Penny23 will stay on as dean. Julia, however, is off to Fillory at the end of the episode, which also means she and Penny23 are breaking up. The end to this romance has been expected given their interactions so far this season, with Penny wanting to take things easy after the whole harmonic convergence thing was sorted out. Julia, however, can't say no to saving the world and becomes immediately focused on the impending doom the sexist pig shared with Todd. And so she's off to Fillory, where Margo, Eliot and Fen have already had their own adventure this episode. I'm sorry to see this relationship end; it was sweet for both of them to find each other last season. But them moving apart also makes sense from a character perspective—they want different things out of life, and their breakup was a mature one that makes me excited to see how Julia and Penny23 will continue to grow on their own. We also have to talk about Fillory this episode—the focal point of the show's next Armageddon. This week, the storyline in Fillory revolved around ousting the Dark King's second in command, the bigoted Pickwick. The Dark King needs gold, and Pickwick claims the fairies are hoarding it and should be eradicated. Eliot pleads the Dark King to first try  diplomacy, and gets his way. Meanwhile, in the forest, Margo finds Fen and the fairies. The fairies hate Margo—they blame her for their realm being destroyed and for their current predicament of being hunted by humans. They argue, and then they hide, as a talking bunny sent by Eliot warns them of bigoted Pickwick's upcoming "visit." Bigoted Pickwick finds an empty fairy camp, but also "finds" some gold, though Eliot and his noncorporeal sidekick Charlton are sure Pickwick planted it there. Turns out they were right—Pickwick has a secret collection of gold-pooping beetles (long thought extinct), and has been framing the fairies in order to foment his own little genocide. Eliot shares this evidence with the Dark King, and he arrests Pickwick while giving Eliot complicated emotions about how he feels about the Dark King. The fairies make things less complicated for Eliot, however; grateful to Margo, Eliot and Fen for getting rid of bigoted Pickwick, they show them the truth: The Dark King is a bad dude. Turns out, that gold was for him to create a steady supply of Takers, the creatures who have been terrorizing Fillory for the last 300 years. Why is the Dark King doing this? It could be for 100% nefarious reasons, but I'm putting money on there being at least some ambiguity around his motives given the effort the show has done to make him a more complex character than a mustache-twirling villain. Maybe Eliot will get him to see the error of his ways? Or maybe Margo will cut him down with her axes sooner rather than later. One thing is certain—we'll have to wait a week (or more) to find out.