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Episode Recap: The Strangled Heart
The Beast hatches a deadly new plot against the students of Brakebills, and not everyone will survive.
There is a lot of relationship drama at Brakebills all of a sudden: Eliot is super into Mike, even though they don't have very much in common. Mike is also still doing some pretty messed up stuff and might be possessed by the Beast? Meanwhile, Alice and Quentin return from Brakebills South and are busted for having had sex as foxes. Alice tells Quentin she doesn't know if it's him or the fox pheromones and tells him they ought to take a break. Even Penny and Professor Sunderland have the hots for one another. Penny suggests that maybe they should start traveling together from now on. And maybe they will…
Back in New York, Mike wakes up and tears the head off a bunny that's come to visit. He pulls a pretty serious knife from inside the rabbit. All that while Marina stops by the rehab place where Julia is convalescing and tells her that basically, if there's anymore Julia funny-business, Marina will kill Julia and everyone she loves.
At Brakebills, Everyone's course load doubles and study groups become mandatory: yep, Penny, Alice and Quentin – all grouped together. Sigh. The squad that can't seem to not squad. Eliot and Mike are so into each other that Eliot confesses he's not really a snooty New England type but a farm kid from Indiana. Seconds later, Mike turns up at Quentin and Penny's study group with his bunny-knife and tries to stab Quentin, who dodges – but the knife gets Penny.
Penny is rushed to the infirmary and the school leaps into action to figure out what's happening with Mike, who is locked in a room where nobody can do magic. The stab wound is starting to grow black roots out of Penny's side. Quentin and Alice realize that what's happening to Penny is familiar – something they've seen before – in a Fillory book. The answer in that case was to burn a doll that belonged to Jane Chatwin so the vines would transfer to the doll. So they make a Penny doll and…it doesn't work.
Professor Sunderland does a favor for Eliot and lets him speak to Mike in the magic room - Mike is a wreck, doesn't remember any of what he's done, and it turns out – might have been blacked out when he and Eliot started dating. Eliza returns and Dean Fogg tells her that this is her problem to solve. That whatever has been visited upon the campus is something she's responsible for fixing. Eliza, in turn, tells Quentin the real deal about Jane's doll in Fillory – that the doll wasn't JUST a surrogate version of Jane - it was her most prized possession.
The chaplain at Julia's rehab, meanwhile, turns out to be Brakebills alum and calls her out on her hedge witch star tattoos. He hands her a piece of paper with a spell on it that allows her to call a local field spirit. After Julia casts the spell the chaplain gave her, she is lifted off the ground and says it's like touching the main power source to magic. The chaplain tells her that in order to receive absolution for messing with Quentin's mind, she has to do penance and she agrees.
Alice and Quentin, meanwhile, search Penny's room for the possession he prizes most and they find the candy wrapper that he shared with Kady. Turns out, Penny's just a big softy. It works and breaks the spell! And then here's a surprise: it turns out that Mike is actually possessed by The Beast. And when Eliza confronts him, he reveals HER true identity – she's actually Jane Chatwin and she's been looking for The Beast for a long time. We didn't see this coming! But even more, we didn't see the part where Mike kills her.
As Mike escapes and starts to try and murder Dean Fogg (who's still having trouble casting spells with his newly –regrown hands) – Eliot turns up and snaps Mike's neck with a spell. We were SO INTO this relationship before it turned out Mike was possessed by a crazy evil murderous Beast. Finally, after Dean Fogg tells Quentin that the next step seems to be that everyone dies and he doesn't know how to fix or stop it, Quentin freaks out and makes out with Alice, because fox pheromones or not – this is big love, team.