‘The Magicians’ Ends Its Season on a Beautiful, Shocking, and Heartbreaking Note

Last night, The Magicians signed off its fourth season on an incredible note. All day, I’ve been hopping on Twitter, hoping to read more, find out more, see what others are saying. It was a fantastic hour of television, topping off with the unexpected to one of the key players of the season.

[SPOILERS AHEAD. Do not read if you haven’t watched “The Seam.”]

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Quentin Coldwater has passed on. After spending a season trying to free Eliot from the Monster (or more accurately, trying to get the Monster out of Eliot’s body), Quentin sacrificed himself to not only throw the Monster into the Seam, but also rid the world of the Monster’s sister and bring down the wannabe-god Everett.

For anyone who has watched The Magicians, this came as a shocking twist. Quentin has easily been the center of the show, the one who first brought us to Brakebills and introduced us to Fillory. It was his belief that pulled us through the story of The Magicians, and to see him gone, well…

To say it was surprising is an understatement. For one, people don’t tend to stay dead in The Magicians. Alice is the perfect example. Second, he’s Quentin Coldwater. Even as the story was developing, my husband and I were asking, “Do you think he’s leaving the show?” in disbelief. What is The Magicians without the person who started it all?

While we have few answers (some hints, though: Margot and Eliot visiting an overthrown Fillory, Alice as a potential head librarian, Julia with power again), we have to wait until 2020 to see what the show will really look like without Q. Until then, let’s take a moment and look back at this season to see what really led to this development.

I want to start with the brilliance that is the Underworld. Imagine how much thought went into creating this world, so Quentin could naturally pass through it with no question or exposition. We first saw Penny-40 observe the room where Quentin would later share the secrets that he took to the grave. We saw him as he learned about and passed on the metro pass for someone to move on to their afterlife. We had an episode dedicated to side characters that ended with Penny-40 getting promoted to his position in the Underworld, all so that when Quentin shows up in the elevator, we could naturally take Quentin to the doorway that took him away. It was so subtly done that, despite the complexity of the supernatural, it was easy and understandable. It was very smartly put together.

And Quentin himself was one to watch. As he questioned if he was really heroic or if he had just found a way to kill himself, it was heartbreaking—and yet so true to him. We began this journey with Q as he dealt with suicidal thoughts. He found an out with magic, but somehow those thoughts still haunted him. It was only natural that he’d wonder if his heroism was real.

But seeing the memorial at the bonfire… my heart! He could truly see what he meant to these people and who he saved through his final act. The song was beautiful. The symbolism of each gift tossed into the fire was beautiful. His reaction was priceless. Overall, such a wonderful tribute to the character.

But I wouldn’t be Raked if I didn’t bring up a few nitpicks. While this episode in and of itself was amazing, I do wish we’d had a little bit more of a buildup for certain elements. For instance, the Monster’s sister had barely possessed Julia by the time they released her. And Everett, he was barely a threat. His “power” had barely been shown, so much so that I was even left wondering why not give him the bottle to handle? Could he really be as bad as the Monster and his sister, even as a god? What was the real threat here?

I would’ve liked to have seen some of the front end of this season condensed, just so we could have spent more time with these threats, so we could have emphasized how much a shitshow the world would have been with them and Everett in them. It just wasn’t quite all there for me.

But the way they were taken down, using Q’s gift of mending small objects—perfection. It was heartbreaking, shocking—and while I’m going to miss Quentin—a perfect ending to the character. While I know the show will never be the same, I like the idea of Quentin at peace, to know that he’s finally ok and the weight of he world can finally be taken off his shoulders.

Photo by SYFY/Eike Schroter