The Monster and his sister have been dealt with! On The Magicians Season 4 Episode 13 several threads from this season pull together nicely to create a satisfying, if a little rushed, conclusion.
First, let’s talk about Julia. The showdown that begins at the end of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 12 is over and done with quickly, but introduces a new set of problems. Mainly, what path Julia wants to choose.
I talked a bit in my review of the last episode about how Julia hasn’t had a choice and this is yet another instance where choice is taken away from her.
She’s unconscious and Penny is given the power to make the choice as to whether she’s goign to be a full-goddess or if she’s going to be a human forever.
We never really got an answer as to what Julia would want before she was nabbed by The Monster at the very end of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 11, but it feels like having a goddess on your side would be better when you’re up against a monster. I’d be pretty angry too:
Yea, thanks. And by thanks I mean, thank you for deciding that I should age, grow old, and probably die from a paper cut. Oh yea, and that I’ll never get to do magic again. Because I’m perfect now! Did Professor Lipson tell you? I’m perfectly normal, and we all know magic doesn’t come from normal so thank you for deciding that without me.
Stella Maeve brings out Julia’s distress so well this episode. We’ve seen Julia in some dark places before but this felt a bit like when she was so desperate to hang onto her memory of Brakebills and was doggedly searching for magic. Julia isn’t able to help with most of the action, but the anger and sadness is heavy in the air and its palpable when she talks to Penny-23.
But Julia being brought back down to being a normal human isn’t the only thing that is inexplicably not utilized during this episode.
For a brief moment Josh gets “fish magicks” which feels exactly how it’s introduced: a flash in the pan. Josh has these powers for all of a few moments before he inexplicably loses them.
Considering the last person to get some superhuman powers was Julia, and she lost them trying to turn magic back on, the introduction and loss of these powers feels more like a plot device than anything that could actually be used to help.
It isn’t until Josh and Quentin get to The Realm of the Old Gods that we have an idea for where the plot is going and it starts to pull on the threads built up from this last season. We have The Mirror World coming into play, and we have Kady’s daliance with the hedgewitches too.
Cooperative magic has been a theme on the show and we’ve seen it used in a handful of instances, but the idea of getting hedgewitches, and all magicians everywhere to cast the incorporate bond to amplify it is nothing short of a movement.
The images and camerawork as we see each group of hedgewitches working in tandem to make sure that The Monster will be contained is a gorgeous moment.
In the middle of all of this, we still have to remember that we need to get Eliot back. Ridding Eliot of The Monster inside of him feels very anti-climactic at this point. It’s more a question of just using the tools that have been gathered throughout the entire season and then strategically attacking.
Still, Hale Appleman manages to make the audience feel a final bit of remorse as he sits confused in the forest, talking to his sister.
There’s something I want you to know, Sister. This world, it’s not just the bad things or the ones that wronged us. There is such beauty, in everything, even the quiet. Especially the quiet.
What really bothers me though is that we never got the name of The Monster. Maybe it doesn’t matter in the larger context, but honestly, after all the build up and searching for his identity, it feels like we at least should have gotten that as a payoff.
The plot keps moving forward though, and once The Incorporate Bond is cast, Alice, Quentin, and Penny, have to move through The Mirror World to find The Seam. It won’t be that easy though, becuase we still have to deal with Everett, who just last week declared his intent to kill The Monster and harness his powers.
Of course, that’s not going to go to plan, because Quentin has his discipline and is able to mend the mirror that Quentin breaks and throw the last bottle into The Seam at the expense of his life.
To a degree, this whole scene feels meaningless. The Monster has been glossed over and Quentin and Eliot die in a giant ricocheted lightshow of magic.
In the scope of the show as a whole, Everett’s introduction into this season makes sense. He was introduced and then suspicion was immediately placed upon him. Now he’s asking us to trust him. That feels like folly, and there was only one way this scene would end.
And you’ve met gods, but I won’t be like them. I studied them so I could do better, be better. Trust me.
Everett’s death brings about change for The Library and will sphere Zelda’s character into the foreground in the coming The Magicians Season 5. Quentin’s death, on the other hand, cuts like a knife.
And now we know who Penny-40 greeted in the elevator. The resulting scene is sad and moving as Quentin tries to puzzle out exactly what happened to him. Jason Ralph does a great job playing an emotional Quentin laying everything out to Penny-40.
Quentin really did find solice in Brakebills, and in his emotional scene its easy to forget that Quentin had many mental health problems. His death, although done to save his friends, feels like a loss for mental health representation on television.
Most of my life I’ve been in and out of hospitals, and you know, just suicidal thoughts and notes, and…a lot of notes. Attempts, and meds, and therapy, and then I found Brakebills, and all that went away. I thought that…Did I do something brave to save my friends? Or did I finally find a way to kill myself?
He changed their lives as well and he deserves every moment of the tribute he gets.
He’s not just the hero of his own story, he’s also a charater that was saved by fandom and found a home in stories. In many ways, Quentin is any fan who has ever found a story that made the world a little bit more bearable.
The last act is a touching tribute to one of the show’s main characters as they sit around a fire burning momentos in memory of Quentin. The tribute is moving as they all sing to A-ha’s “Take On Me,” and each burn a memory of Quentin from his Fillory crown to a peach.
I think you know your answer now. The story for them its just starting, but it won’t be the same story, because of you. You didn’t just save their lives, you changed their lives, as much as they changed yours. You didn’t want to leave all that did you?
But it’s not enough to just mourn him, before Quentin boards the metro he gets to know where they’re going next. There’s a sense of hope in each of their futures, even Eliot and Margo in the screwed up version of Fillory 300 years in the future.
Executive Producer Sera Gamble and John McNamera have confirmed that Jason Ralph’s exit is final and he won’t be returning as a series regular in Season 5, but the ever so slight jump forward is a good note to end the season on while still leaving lots of questions open for the next season.
One thing is for sure, Quentin will live on in the spirit of his friends.
What did you think of the Season 4 finale of The Magicians? Are you surprised by Quentin’s death? Check out the emotional journey again when you watch The Magicians online.