A proper goodbye as everything came together in a flood of tears and love left us wondering if Quentin is really dead in the season four finale?
The season four finale raced by in a flurry of wrapped up storylines that often felt hurried. All season long we have watched as The Monster abused Eliot’s body and anyone around him he felt like. We learned he had a twin who, like him, was all-powerful only an even bigger asshole. The evil siblings were unstoppable, but our gang had to try once it became clear Eliot was still in there somewhere. They gathered tools and supplies in a magical vision quest all the while knowing they were likely tilting at windmills. In the blink of Margo’s fairy eye that all changed last night. It took little more than misdirection, a confusion spell, and an exorcising axe to dispatch of not one but both monsters.
That’s when the real magic started. Sure, there are still lingering questions. Why show Dark Eliot ruminating on the beauty of the human world to toss him into the Seam minutes later? How did Dark Julia get defeated so quickly? She hardly put up a fight especially for an unstoppable killing machine with a nasty mean streak. Was her season-long debate over Goddessness versus humaness really answered by a decision a man made while she was unconscious? What kind of God would Everett have been?
After the Magicians Across American group cast provided the juice to imprison The Monster, Kady got an end to her storyline as well. She was the subdued catalyst for the collective world effort. It wasn’t much of a conclusion to the Hedge Witch rebellion, and maybe more will come of that next year, but for now, there is a period at the end of that sentence. Like most of the wider arches this season, broad strokes were applied to race to the meat of the episode. So many things swept under the rug as one cruel twist took that rug and pulled it out from under us.
True to form, Q chooses to go into the Mirror World to deliver the demon jars into the Seam. The Magicians is nothing if it is not honest with its characters. This is a task he would never leave to anyone else. It isn’t even a question. A tender moment with Alice was made even more poignant seconds later when he was forced to use his minor mending spell to fix the mirror Everett broke before the second demon jar could be tossed in. Quentin wasn’t just willing to sacrifice himself as he has been so many times, he actually did it. It was shocking, to say the least. It was also a beautiful slow motion, black and white sequence that was as emotional as any scene on television. Of course, his minor mending would come into play in the battle with the Monsters. That was obvious from the moment he discovered it was his discipline in episode 11. What was a surprise to everyone was the finality with which season four wrapped up.
In a star-shot burst of retaliatory magic, Quentin and Everett were killed in the Mirror World. Finally giving an answer to who Penny 40 saw in the elevator earlier in the season Quentin greeted his old friend who heralded him through the death process. In case you are wondering, yes Quentin is really dead. In a statement from the executive producers, it is made clear that this is final. There will be no “fooled ya” that will reset everything in season 5. The always true, incredibly relatable, and sweet as the day is long Q is dead and in the Underground for good. There will be no Quentin 23 or 45 or 72. He’s just gone, and it stings, like a lot.
All the rushed conclusions and choppy story beats like Julia’s anger and then acceptance of Penny 23’s decision in what felt like a hot second, were all forgotten as Aha’s Take On Me surprisingly gave us the musical number we craved earlier in All That Hard Glossy Armour. It was heartfelt, sad, and for a cast that by and large has no vocal ability outside of Jade Tailor and Hale Appleman, very harmonious.
As one after another of Q’s friends tossed a meaningful item into the fire, Quentin watched with Penny 40. When Eliot emerged from the dark limping and leaning heavily on Margo, Quentin’s pained expression conveyed everything we would ever need to know about the love these two shared. We will miss Queliot and the promise of what it could be. Each item was a painful reminder of the greatness of Jason Ralph. His Quentin was everything we wish we could be mixed with everything we hate about ourselves. He was perfectly flawed, and the group will not be the same without him. As one memory after another was shown the enormity of Q’s death hit.
Eliot’s peach, Margo’s crown, and Julia’s cards that echoed Quentin’s own experience using magic for the first time all pulled on our heartstrings with precision. Jason Ralph could not ask for a better tribute to the character he has so convincingly created in these four seasons of The Magicians. One last look over his shoulder at his friends in Grover’s Corners and it was done. Save for one final trick that left us with even more questions as season five was set up.
The importance of the tribute fire and the finality of Quentin receiving his Underground Metrocard stole nothing from the scenes that came directly after. Fillory was claimed by the Dark King 300 years ago in Eliot and Margo’s absence. Who is the Dark King? Where are Josh and Fen? If they have aged 300 years, and whether they are dead are all left unanswered. No Better To Be Safe Than Sorry may have thinned the proverbial magic herd, and it may be the last we see of Trevor Einhorn and Brittany Curran, which would be a real shame. Josh and Fen both provided much needed comic relief and innocence to the group. The OG group is so jaded the lightness those two bring is necessary to balance the dark.
Alice may be running The Library. I can’t think of a better job for the woman who knows everything. She also has a dash of the same arrogance as Everett so it could spell trouble moving forward. Julia and the rest of the world have magic again. From the looks of it, magic has come back stronger than ever.
For all the sadness there is hope. When the writers can produce scenes that read so true as Quentin’s bone-deep fear to Penny 40 that he wasn’t really a hero that gave up his life for his friends, but a coward that finally figured out a way to end it after so many years of struggle, I can’t help but be optimistic. There were times this season that the wheels came off a little. Plot resolutions that were too jarring or convenient and strangely hollow early betrayals all made the back half of season four disjointed, but scenes like this help keep the faith.
Who knows what season five will look like without Quentin Coldwater. He’s been the heart and soul of The Magicians since the beginning. He tied everyone together. Will they scatter to the wind without him or will they band together to honor him? Who will step in and give the earnestness to the group that Q did? Will the writers continue what they started with Julia and Kady? Their change just got started as one ended. There wasn’t a dry eye that watched the season four finale. It was the episode embodiment of Quentin himself, imperfect perfection.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.