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The 5 queerest episodes of The Magicians

Contributed by
Sep 25, 2018

In the golden age of television, there are more shows than any person could possibly keep up with. That’s why your friendly neighborhood FANGRRLS have pulled together a list of the queerest episodes of one of our favorite shows, The Magicians. Whether you’re a first-time viewer or a die-hard mega-fan, these episodes will make your heart sing with queer glory — and with so much TV to watch, why not cut to the good (read: queer) stuff?

The Magicians takes place in a world much like ours where a handful of young graduate students are plucked out of their ordinary lives and given an opportunity to try their hands at being magicians. The best of those, the ones who pass the entrance exam, become students at Brakebills. The washouts have their minds erased, which works perfectly except for one very special student.

Quentin Coldwater passes his entrance exam and enrolls in Brakebills alongside Alice Quinn, Penny Adiyodi, and Kady Orloff-Diaz. His best friend, Julia Wick, is denied entrance but remembers that magic exists, setting off on her own journey to become a powerful hedge witch.

When all but Julia enroll at Brakebills they meet Eliot Waugh and Margo Hanson, the coolest, most nonchalant-about-magic magicians.

What proceeds is a fraught adventure through familiar magical worlds. Echoes of Harry Potter and Narnia abound through the series, yet somehow the world they live in is entirely new. The Magicians is one of the sexiest, most sex-positive shows on television at the moment, and it also happens to feature three main characters who are queer.

How little time these queer characters spend justifying their sexualities to anyone may be one of the very best aspects of the show. Quentin, Eliot, and Margo simply enjoy who they enjoy when they enjoy them, and don’t judge anyone—human or talking animal alike—for the people they choose. Furthermore, Margo is a self-possessed, bisexual woman of color at a time when queer women of color are wildly underrepresented on TV.

That’s not to say the show has been above reproach. There is a lot of violence mixed in with sex in The Magicians, the most problematic instance almost certainly being when Julia is raped onscreen by a trickster god. However, Julia’s arc as a survivor of sexual assault rings true. There are other problematic examples, as when Eliot kills his boyfriend with magic because his boyfriend is helping the Big Bad of that season. That said, The Magicians just keeps getting better and better the further it gets from the source material.

In celebration of the sex-positive magic of The Magicians, here are the five queerest episodes.

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Season 1, Episode 7: “The Mayakovsky Circumstance”

As part of their training to become magicians, first-year students Quentin, Alice, Penny, and Kady are transmogrified into geese to fly to the Antarctic. While there, the sexual tension between Alice and Quentin, which has been building over the last six episodes, reaches a head. Despite the fact that students aren’t permitted to speak and undergo what is most certainly a form of torture in order to sharpen their use of magic, the first years bond in new, exciting, and foxy ways.

Meanwhile, Eliot and his new boyfriend Mike skip out on a trip to Ibiza to get a little more intimate.

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Season 1, Episode 11: “Remedial Battle Magic”

The bulk of this episode has to do with learning about battle magic and bottling emotions (quite literally), but at the very end, our three queer heroes Quentin, Eliot, and Margo have a threesome. In fiction, threesomes are often used to convey carnality and/or corruption of a relationship, both of which could certainly be said about this instance; however, their sexual encounter illuminates something different about each of the characters. Quentin realizes he has an intense attraction to both Margo and Eliot, but that he loves Alice. Eliot finds he cannot sex his way out of heartbreak and depression. Margo refuses to feel any guilt or remorse for enjoying her sexuality. What could have been treated as a throwaway mistake becomes a turning point for these characters and the whole narrative of The Magicians. 

The fallout from the threesome continues in Episode 12, “Thirty-Nine Graves,” if you’re feeling particularly masochistic.

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Season 2, Episode 9: “Lesser Evils”

Alice, now a magical creature absent a soul, aka a niffin, is trapped inside Quentin’s body with him. Niffin Alice and Quentin, who broke up after the events of “Remedial Battle Magic,” have stricken a deal that allows her total control of his body for half an hour a day. While enjoying possession of their shared body, Alice makes a deal with Julia to fight and kill her rapist, Reynard the Fox. Quentin and Alice grapple for control of their body. Can it get any queerer than a magically infused woman possessing a bisexual man’s body and fighting for body autonomy?

Oh wait. Over in Fillory, the magical kingdom akin to Narnia, Eliot engages in swordplay with King Idri of Loria. (And, yes, I mean both kinds.) It turns out the antiquated Fillorian laws that required Eliot to take a wife, the adorable Fen, also permit him a husband. Who wouldn’t be game for an alliance with King Idri? 

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Season 3, Episode 5: “A Life in the Day”

While searching for a magical key, Quentin and Eliot travel back into Fillory’s history and complete events they read about as children in the Fillory and Further series. Their quest sets off a new timeline as the two try to solve an impossible puzzle. Early on in their lifelong effort to attain the key, Quentin kisses Eliot, a simple gesture that sets the events of the rest of their lives on this timeline into motion. The episode is a beautiful meditation on queerness, family, and sacrifice.

If you watch no other episode of The Magicians, this is the one to see. 

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Season 3, Episode 12: “The Fillorian Candidate”

Eliot runs against a local Fillorian named Tick for the position of High King of Fillory. (A lot has happened over the last three seasons, including the loss of all magic and the Fairies manipulating Margo into being a puppet leader.) Because he believes Fillory to be a backward place that doesn’t respect women, Eliot decides it’s in his best interest to leave Margo off the ballot.

Margo accepts her supporting role, spending time with a magical talking bear at a bar during Eliot’s campaign. Without even meaning to take a political stance, Margo endorses human-talking animal romantic relationships (the implication being that this endorsement applies to magical relationships only). She tells the bear and his girlfriend, Frey, that as long as it’s consensual, she’s on board. Eliot also expresses acceptance, saying, in true Eliot style, “I will say what I wish my father had said to me: I'm so happy you're dating a bear.”

Damning evidence about Eliot’s true feelings about Fillory comes to light and it is almost certain that he will lose the election. But, it turns out that there are more talking animals in Fillory than humans, that all those animals are eligible to vote, and that they love Margo — who they elect as High King, largely because she took the stance that love is love.

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