This The Magicians interview contains spoilers.
We were all very sad when we found out that The Magicians season 5 would be the series’ final run, but as finales go, this one was pretty spectacular. However, some of the time travel shenanigans and other surprise twists might warrant a rewatch to understand fully how the story ended and what elements were left open for speculation. Luckily, we were able to go straight to the source for this one as showrunner Henry Alonso Myers joined us via Zoom to do a post-mortem discussion of the finale that really delivered in so many ways. Watch the video below or read on for the full transcript!
DEN OF GEEK: Were you writing this ending with the idea in mind that the series might get cancelled? Because despite some loose ends, this felt pretty complete!
Henry Alonso Myers: I’m glad you feel that way! We have a philosophy on The Magicians that we’ve always had from the beginning where if you have the chance to do it, do it. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em! Almost every year we have basically pretended that we didn’t know if we’d come back, and we just kind of went for broke. And we did the same thing this year, and everything that happens in the finale we kind of knew from the very beginning would happen — we knew that we were going to destroy Fillory.
And there were a bunch of little character arc moments that we kind of knew that we would want to hit and we’ve been working towards hitting like the Eliot-Charlton thing: we’ve been thinking of it for a couple of seasons since the first time we actually introduced him. And there’s a moment between Alice and Zelda the librarian that is something that we knew we had been building towards, and Sera was like, “If we don’t do it now, we’re not going to do it!”
Can you explain Santa’s gifts? It seems like many of them were not only for the intended recipients but also to be given as gifts again in turn.
Every single gift was planted deliberately to pay off… Eliot got the bracelet which allowed him to see Charlton for who he was, and Penny got a baby sling which ended up allowing him to travel, and Alice got the page [which] in a way was also for everyone else because it let us save magic and let us save the people of Fillory. And Alice had a lesson to learn through it.
So if we witnessed Plum’s redo, does that mean she wasn’t even in that meeting where she was asking so many questions the first time around?
She was, but she didn’t ask the same questions… When we were breaking the story, every once in awhile you’re playing around with all the pieces and you don’t know what order they’re going to fall in — I can’t even remember who pitched it; it might have been David Reed — the idea that we reveal to the audience that we’re already in the do over. And it felt like such a gut punch that we were like, “We have to do that!” It’s such a great dramatic reveal that we kind of built everything else around that because we knew we weren’t going to beat that.
If hedges still have lunatics on retainer, then the moon is still messed up, so how do “internal circumstances” work?
The lesson for Alice about internal circumstances was more about that she had lost the magical use of her fingers, having her fingers severed and re-attached, made it impossible for her to properly adjust what she was doing with one hand and cast properly. And the lesson she got from Zelda was that in order to learn how to cast with the same power and thought that she had before, she needed to understand and accept all of her flaws, all of the ways in which she was broken, which is the lesson of the season.
They were all so grief-laden and broken by the death of Quentin. There’s really no moving on without him, but you have to move on. I imagine that being like she’s accepting her scars; her scars are who she is, and once she accepts who she is, it actually gives her a deeper control.
Did you think of Margo pushing that button to release the population of Fillory as the ultimate open-ended conclusion?
Yes! I just found the look on Summer’s face was so delightful, and it felt very emblematic of the whole show to me. She looks a little worried but also a little excited and also kind of finds it funny, which completely encapsulated the whole show. And I love cutting to black at that moment because whatever’s going to happen next, you can imagine.
And imagine, we will!