Unauthorized Magic
Original Air date December 16, 2015
(sneak preview)
January 25, 2016
(official premiere)
Written by Sera Gamble
John McNamara
Directed by Mike Cahill
Episode Navigation
Preceded by
← N/A
Followed by
The Source of Magic

Unauthorized Magic is the first episode of the first season and series premiere of The Magicians that first aired as a special commercial free preview on December 16, 2015 ahead of the series' double episode premiere on January 25, 2016.


Quentin Coldwater - a brilliant, but depressed college student from Brooklyn, NY - learns that magic is real when he is offered admission at Brakebills University, an exclusive graduate school for magicians. Once ensconced in school, he quickly discovers, first hand, the darker and terrifying side of magic.


In the middle of the city, a door opens to reveal a brightly lit forest. A man exits, the door automatically closing behind him. He crosses the street to a small park, where people are playing chess, and sits on one of the benches. A woman approaches and sits with him, claiming that "it's happening" and showing him a dead moth when he criticizes her. He immediately hides the dead moth, and they begin discussing in vague terms about how "They're not even at Brakebills yet" and "Infants, they know nothing...especially him". Before leaving, she gives him a pocket watch and scolds him for losing track of "him".

In a room overlooking the water, a boy makes a quarter disappear and the lady perusing his file compliments him, saying that "[he] must be a hit at parties". The woman, evidently a psychologist of some sort, reviews the reasons the boy admitted himself to the hospital (citing symptoms of clinical depression). He says he's feeling better, attributing his depression to having been unable to accept the reality of adulthood. When she recommends further treatment he claims that they can't hold him since he has never "threatened to hurt [himself] or anybody else".

At a party, the boy makes eye contact with a girl, whom he appears to know. She motions for him to join her in the group of people she was sitting with. He declines, insisting he needs to refill his drink. Instead, he escapes to a bedroom where he begins reading a book called Fillory and Further Book One.

The boy, Quentin Coldwater, starts narrating the events of the book, describing how three siblings find a portal to another world, called Fillory. Martin Chatwin, the first to find the portal, leads his older brother Rupert, a soldier wounded in the war, and Jane, the family skeptic, through a grandfather clock into the world of Fillory, a land of magic. When they arrived, it seemed that Fillory had called them there in its time of need.

The girl from the party, Julia, admonishes Quentin for reading a children's book instead of interacting with people at the party. He claims to be looking at the book, a first edition, one last time before he sells it. Julia, expressing concern, mentions that she called him repeatedly over the weekend and Quentin lies saying that he was at his dads. She kisses his cheek as a man from the party, later revealed to be James, walks in. Aghast, he jokingly points out that Julia, his girlfriend, and Quentin, his friend, are in bed together. Throwing himself on top of them he yells "Three-way!", and is quickly joined by other people from the party until the bed breaks under their weight.

The next day, Quentin and Julia walk to Quentin's alumni interview for Yale, joking that it's going to be a piece of cake because Yale is only "lesser Ivy-league" and that they would probably take anyone conscious. Instead, they find the alum, dead, and immediately call 911. One of the paramedics gives Quentin a package that was left on the Yale alums' table before they leave. He opens the package and finds a manuscript for the sixth book of the Fillory series, which is only rumored to exist. While Quentin is ready to accept the validity of the papers, Julia snubs his enthusiasm and they argue. They part ways, as Julia has to go meet her boyfriend.

Quentin attempts to thumb through the pages, but a breeze catches some of the papers and he is left running after them. At the same time, Julia arrives at a building and pushes the elevator button for the third floor. Quentin follows the flying pages down a dark alley. The elevator pauses before taking Julia down to the basement, where the doors open to a brightly lit hallway. Still chasing after the pages, Quentin enters a grove of trees, which he follows until he finds himself in a sunny pasture, a collegiate-looking building sitting on the other side. Julia, confused, follows the 'To Exam' sign down the hallway, while Quentin walks up to the entrance of the school. A student is waiting for him at the steps, introducing himself as Eliot and saying that Quentin is late. While leading him to the exam room, Eliot explains that Quentin has been offered a spot to take a preliminary test to see if he will be accepted at Brakebills University.

Once everyone is seated, the man from the first scene introduces himself as the Dean and recognizes that a lot of people must have questions, but at the moment their only concern should be passing the exam. Once the test begins, the booklets are shown to have questions that constantly change. At first confused, Quentin quickly grasps the idea, while Julia tries to ask a question before getting shot down by the Dean. At the end, the potential students hand in their booklets and recieve a card telling them where to go for the final test. After turning in his exam, Quentin spots Julia in line and the two embrace and share the story of how they got there.

In another room, Julia meets with a professor and he explains that the exam was a test of her magical aptitude. She starts rambling about how part of her always knew about her magical ability before the man interrupts and says that she may have had magic at one point in her life, but that that wasn't the case anymore. Heartbroken, Julia asserts that she can't go home now that she knows about Brakebills and magic. The professor explains that she won't remember because he is going to take her memory. Before he can perform the spell, Julia cuts her arm in an effort to stop herself from forgetting.



Guest StarringEdit



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