Warning: If you don't want to know what happened in this episode, don't read this photo recap!
The dean of Brakebills University and this mysterious woman have a quick chat on a bench. There are big doings afoot. Magic ones. And these two seem to know how to help. It seems to involve a boy they have their eye on. But who is that?
This is Quentin. Is he the boy they’re talking about? Either way, he’s someone we should pay attention to. He’s a sad bear. And a dude at a party that he is not enjoying. He’s on his way to Grad School at Yale, and has also just been released from some sort of psychiatric hospital because he had some serious despair issues around growing up and being a disaffected millennial.
The Fillory books involve some adventurous British siblings named the Chatwins: Rupert, who was wounded in the war; Jane, the family skeptic, and Martin; the adventurer. There are quite a few of these books. Quentin has read them all. A lot.
When Quentin and Julia swing by a fancy house for a grad school interview, the place has a clock that looks just like the one from Fillory! AND! A dead guy! The guy was supposed to interview Quentin. But alas...he is dead!
The paramedic who comes to take the body away is a gorgeous British lady who looks not unlike that nice lady from the bench with the dean, no? Before Quentin leaves, she hands him an envelope. And in it, is an unprinted 1952 Fillory book. It’s a rare find and Quentin's a little overwhelmed by it.
And then something impressive happens. While reading the special edition of his Fillory book, a wind blows through and takes a page of the book with it. Quentin chases the page through a bramble of bushes and winds up coming out the other end on the campus of…
Quentin meets Eliot, who is bitchy and smoking a cigarette outside on the lawn. Eliot tells him where he is and that he’s here to take a preliminary exam for entry into the graduate program at Brakebills.
Julia doesn’t make the cut and is sent home by one of the teachers. He gives her a magical alibi for her missing time, wipes her memory, and she cuts her arm so that she’ll remember the incident. And make no mistake, she is really bummed that she doesn’t make it.
Quentin, on the other hand, HAS passed the test and is brought before a board of teachers, where in a fit of anger, he produces a crazy impressive magical house of cards. They let him into the school - yay!
His first night at the University, Quentin has a dream that he’s in Fillory and facing one of the clocktrees as Jane Chatwin hangs out there and tells him that time is difficult magic and that he’ll die if he “stays on the garden path.”
The next day, all of Quentin's questions are answered. The dead guy worked for Brakebills and the paramedic is a “freelance scout” for the school. Magicians are real and this is just a place for them to learn. The dean’s last condition of entry is that Quentin has to say yes right away. There’s no question – Quentin signs.
Quentin returns to his room to find his Fillory novel missing, and he also meets his roommate, Penny, who dresses like Lenny Kravitz and is a bit of a tough guy. Eliot introduces Quentin to Margo, who looks like a ton of fun. They take him out to show him the school.
Also, a thing about Brakebills: you might die. Turns out the entire third year class went away as a group of 20 and only 4 came back. And then, Margo mentions that Quentin should: “Stay on the garden path.” Sound familiar? Then, everyone walks off to get stoned.
Meanwhile, you know who’s not doing great? Julia. She’s been searching for magic things on the Internet, and when James, Julia's boyfriend, tells Quentin to come to her birthday party, she tells him she remembers Brakebills and wants in. Quentin, however, isn't willing to help her because he doesn’t want to get kicked out.
At her birthday party, Julia has a tricky time in the bathroom when a magician turns up, sexually aggresses her and then says he was just trying to make sure she really knew how to do magic. Looks like she has found her way in to the world of magic...just not through the University.
Through a door in the library, Quentin finds himself back in Fillory, speaking with Jane Chatwin, who definitely wants him to leave Brakebills. She wants him to start learning how to fight with magic. When the dream is over, he finds a mark burned into his hand.
The only other place where Quentin has seen the symbol that is now burned into his hand is in one of Alice’s books. She’s been researching how to contact the “other side.” And it turns out, Penny and his girlfriend also get a sense that they should be helping Alice, and it leads them all to the same place.
Turns out, Alice’s interest in the “other side” is to find her brother, who died at Brakebills. Though the team boil some smelly things and pull out all the other stops, it turns out the spell they were casting didn’t work. Or did it? Once they leave the room, a creepy smiley face turns up in a mirror.
So…okay, the spell sort of worked. Except 12 hours later. When time stops, everyone is frozen, and a creepy shuffling man turns up with his face obscured by giant moths. When Dean Fogg tries to intervene, the man (called The Beast) plucks out his eyes.