This article contains MAJOR spoilers for The Magicians season 4.
Fans of The Magicians are having mixed feelings after the tragic sacrifices made in the season 4 finale, and it’s not all about a major character having died. After all, Penny and Marina died in season 3, and the nature of the series allowed copies from another timeline to rejoin the cast with different personas. Quentin’s heroic demise, however, was made much more final by the announcement that Jason Ralph has decided to move on from the series, but the secondary shock comes from finding out that his departure was kept secret even from fellow cast members.
According to an interview Ralph did with Entertainment Weekly, the decision to keep things on the down low was specifically designed to avoid any chance of spoilers leaking ahead of The Magicians season 4 finale. The cast found out Quentin’s death was actually final only two days before the finale. “I’ve been wanting to talk to them about this for a year now, and [executive producers John McNamara and Sera Gamble] wanted to get it all done and have it finished in order to stop any spoilers from getting out,” Ralph explained. “John and Sera just finally let everyone know [Monday], so after my call you with you, I’m going to be contacting everybody else and just saying goodbye.”
Apparently, there was a false ending filmed that undid the sacrificial death to throw cast and crew off the scent. “There was a dummy scene at the end of the script that washed all of that away and found a way for Quentin to survive,” Ralph confirmed. “So, everyone… was under the impression that’s what was actually going to happen. They were playing it like he died for real. They just didn’t know it was going to be a forever decision.” As evidenced by the Tweet below from Arjun Gupta, who plays Penny on The Magicians, the ploy worked.
With many cast and crew members at a viewing party for the finale, the news must have been nearly as hard for Ralph’s colleagues on the show as it was for the viewing audience, and we’re left wondering what the secret ending was that never made it to air. Although Alice got the reconciliation she was hoping for in the end, those wishing for a more complete story for Quentin and Eliot, whose deeper relationship was only hinted at in The Magicians seasons 3 and 4, may have to wait until season 5, and even then it will likely only be part of Eliot’s recovery story arc.
“I think had we given Quentin and Eliot a final scene, it would have had a kind of artificiality to it for me, and it would have lessened the impact that it is going to have on Eliot going forward,” co-showrunner John McNamara told Vanity Fair in an interview. “Eliot is going to be hugely changed by this, emotionally and psychologically, and in a way, ‘Queliot’ is never going to die as long as Eliot is alive.”
In watching the behind-the-scenes antics for the episode below, there’s no indication that any of Ralph’s cast mates have any idea that Quentin’s death is anything other than an obstacle to overcome in The Magicians season 5. “I was under a gag order, so I couldn’t talk to anybody about it. I was the only person walking around with this information that I’m going to die at the end of this journey,” Ralph told EW. “It certainly informed my choices through the season, and trying to get Quentin to a place that would be cathartic and that we hadn’t left too many loose ends about who he is at its core. There’s a lot of plot stuff, but the journey of this person needed to feel complete.” Way to play it close to the vest!
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and voices much of our video content.