Are you still crying? I’m still crying. The Magicians Season 4 made a series-changing move in its season finale. In the episode’s final act, Quentin died sending the second Monster into The Seam and keeping Everett from becoming a god. Let’s break down the ending of The Magicians Season 4… If you can stand to relive this misery.
Quentin’s death happens so fast, as Quentin notes after the fact. How did we get to the moment when Quentin dies?
Well… after using Margo’s axes to trap the Monster and his Sister inside of the Incorporate Bonded-containers, Quentin, Alice, and Penny travel to the Mirror Realm. As they learned from the liasion to the Old Gods, the Mirror World has access to a place between our Verse and the Anti-Verse. This place is called The Seam, and (in theory) should be able to hold the Monster and his Sister—beings who are unable to be killed, but can be stopped.
While, as Josh points out, this is barely a plan, it all might have worked out if not for Everett. After Quentin throws the first Incorporate Bonded-container through the portal and into The Seam, Everett appears, so close to fulfilling his own centuries-long quest to achieve god powers. He physically throws something at the portal, cracking it closed to keep Quentin from sending the second container through.
Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), Quentin’s magical specialty is Repair of Small Objects (you knew that was going to come up again before the end of the season, right?). He repairs the portal using a minor mending spell and throws the second Monster into The Seam. Before doing so, he tells the telepathic Penny 23 to grab Alice and makes sure they both get out.
Either because Quentin is using magic in the Mirror World (we know that it goes wrong in this realm) or because Quentin is unable to fully repair the portal before the container goes through, The Seam portal erupts. Destructive sparks fly, destroying Everett and Quentin’s bodies as Penny pulls Alice to safety.
Following Quentin’s death, he arrives in the Underworld, greeted by Penny 40—a moment we first saw from Penny 40’s perspective in “The Side Effect.” Quentin is the person he met at the Underworld elevator, telling the off-screen individual: “Hey. Been a while. Welcome to the Underworld.”
As you may remember from “The Side Effect,” Penny 40 was promoted to the Secrets Taken to the Grave department. In this new role, he gives a confused and distraught Quentin “the deluxe package,” allowing him to watch his own memorial service so that he may answer the question of the true motivations behind his death: “Did I do something brave to save my friends or did I finally find a way to kill myself?”
As Quentin watches his friends grieve for him, he understands how much he was loved and knows how much he loved in return. Discovering magic didn’t keep Quentin from being actively suicidal; finding a family did that. He answers his question—he did it to save his friends, his family—and can therefore move onto the next phase.
What is the next phase? We don’t know yet. (It’s one of the big questions we have going into Season 5.) Penny 40 doesn’t know, either. He gives Quentin his Underworld MetroCard and Quentin goes through the portal… to Season 5. Or maybe Season 6?
According to interviews, Jason Ralph has left the show. If Quentin is coming back to the show, then The Magicians creative team is playing very coy about it. The executive producers released this statement in regards to Quentin’s death:
“Before we began this season, we entered into a creative conversation that included the writers, executive producer and director Chris Fisher, Lev Grossman, our partners at UCP and Syfy, and Jason Ralph. The choice for Jason to leave the show was arrived at mutually, with much respect for the story, fans of the show, and a shared sense of deliberate, essential creative risk.”
They continued: “We want The Magicians to visit strange and fascinating new places, and we know we can’t get there by treading the same garden path others have before us. So, we did the thing you’re not supposed to do — we killed the character who’s supposed to be ‘safe.’ In real life, none of us are safe.”
The fate of Fillory
While Quentin’s death was arguably the biggest development in the Season 4 finale, there were quite a few other twists that. Following Quentin’s memorial service, a recovering Eliot and Margo return to Fillory only to find it much changed.
They are 300 years in the future from the Fillory we knew. Fen and Josh are no longer in control. Instead, the Dark King reigns. As a random Fillorian family tells Margo and Eliot, Fen and Josh were overthrown three centuries prior. “The gods curse them.”
The nervous way the Fillorian family answers Margo and Eliot’s questions imply that the Dark King has authoritarian control over Fillory, and the mention of “the gods” implies that the Old Gods might have something to do with this development.
What’s next for The Library?
Meanwhile, at the Library, Zelda is relinquishing control in favor of giving it to Alice. She was no doubt influenced by Kady’s fierce arguments in the second half of the season about how Zelda has been a part of The Library’s reign of terror under Everett’s selfish control.
Earlier in the episode, Kady tells Zelda that The Library can’t be fixed, but needs to be torn down and something new built in its place. In the Season 4 finale, Zelda seems on board with this plan. Hopefully, Camryn Manheim sticks around, too. And we get to see Jewel Staite again. This show has a habit of casting excellent guest actors, and we’d love to see more of them.
When Penny 23 first makes the decision for Julia to walk the path of mortality versus the path of godliness, she loses all of her magic… Or so it seems. In the Season 4 finale’s final act, we see that the pain she feels over Quentin’s death has rekindled magic inside of her. Because, as Eliot tells Quentin in Season 1’s “The Source of Magic”: “Magic doesn’t come from talent; it comes from pain.”
If there’s any happy ending in the Season 4 finale, it’s in the return of Brakebills University to its former glory. Classes are back in session without The Libary’s limit on “ambient magic.” Dean Fogg continues searching for new students around the world. This was all made possible by Quentin’s sacrifice.