This The Magicians review contains spoilers.
The Magicians Season 5 Episode 13
There was no way that The Magicians was going to be able to wrap up its five year run without displeasing fans simply by ending, but “Fillory and Further” provided a surprising amount of closure and a happier conclusion than we’re used to with this show. Compared to the death and dismemberment at the end of season one, the turning off of magic in season two, Eliot being possessed in season three, or the death of Quentin in season four, the separation of our group between Earth and the new world is downright hopeful as finales go. Even the loose threads that remain brilliantly allow for fans to draw their own conclusions about where the adventure would go from here.
That’s not to say there weren’t sacrifices. The loss of Zelda would have been a lot to bear had there been a season six, but as it was there was a certain “captain going down with the ship” aspect to her sacrifice. At least she died in the library, and as she said, “For a librarian, death is not the end, it’s just a transfer to another branch.” Also, the separation of Eliot and Margo was painful even if we consider that there would have been a quest to reunite them, and that’s not even taking into account the other friends who would miss each other.
As for the blossoming relationship between Eliot and Charlton… well, okay, it was cute, and the body trade with Hyman was a nice way to set that up since the pervert Traveler was clearly not enjoying corporeal existence. But even though the ancient Fillorian and the former High King have bonded through having both been a vessel for the monster, the connection doesn’t seem strong enough to placate The Magicians fans looking out for Eliot’s happiness after the loss of several boyfriends and of course Quentin over the seasons. It felt like he was settling for Charlton at best.
What was cool, though, was the use of the bracelet from Santa to allow Eliot to see Charlton beneath Hyman’s skin. In fact, all of Santa’s gifts were beautifully conceived since they were not only perfect for the intended recipient but also seemed designed for them to give to someone else. Josh made the ham sandwich with microplaned truffles for Margo, and she in turn gave the necklace with the fairy eye back to him. Even Alice’s page could be said to have been for the population of Fillory rather than for Alice alone, and the fact that Santa rather than Quentin was the one who guided her to that quest gave her agency over her own destiny, which was a nice touch.
Okay, so Fen’s knife sharpener was just for her, and the parenting gear was more for Penny and Julia than it was for their daughter, Hope Quentin. But besides that great baby name, it was really surprising how well Stella Maeve’s real life pregnancy gave her character a new sense of direction here at the end of The Magicians’ run. At curtain, she’s still in questing mode, but what could have been a destructive bond between Hope and her non-psychic mother merely becomes a returning of familiar powers to Penny. It was a completely perfect but unexpected ending for the couple who clearly would have become instrumental in finding the lost companions.
And their solution came from such a surprising source: the original Dean Fogg himself! His return having come from the banishment of Psycho Fogg to the etheric realm, it was a brilliant misdirect to have his actions seem to spring from another type of psychosis. After all, we knew that Plum’s remaining time travel mojo would have to be useful for something, but the idea that she already used it to try and save Julia — and we were already witnessing the redo with a self-aware Fogg — was a mind-fuck worthy of the magnitude of a series finale.
And if the idea of Fogg returning to his timeline repeating ways from season one wasn’t bringing things full circle enough, there was the completely shocking return of perhaps the grandest of The Magicians villains, Martin Chatwin. We should have suspected a Fillory and Further connection once we learned of the Dark King’s true identity (not to mention the episode title), but the Beast’s final deception, posing as Rupert’s long lost love Lance, was truly devious and unanticipated. His defeat was as spectacular as the sundering of Fillory itself, and the continued existence of Rupert and his sister Jane in her little bubble of time was just icing on the cake.
In the end, all of these narrative details made this an undeniably successful series finale for The Magicians. The tears in Margo’s eyes as she tells Josh and Eliot that she lied about the shortcut to the portal tree, the change in Fen’s tone as she realizes Fillory was a bit backwards in its ways, the one-handed casting with internal circumstances that allowed Alice to join in the world-blooming spell — it all heightened the emotion of the episode so much that when Margo finally pushed the button on the seahorse lifeboat, the click and cut to credits was enough to make the most stoic fan cry that this most wonderful of shows has ended.