The season four finale of The Magicians is bittersweet as we say goodbye to a beloved character. Read below for six unforgettable moments that make this episode one of the finest hours on television.
Julia Becomes Human Again
Alice, Quentin, and Penny 23 arrive at the Neitherlands branch where they confront the powerful siblings. First they tackle sister monster where the phosphomancer knocks the other woman against the wall and then the traveler appears behind with the axe to the back. Her essence then gets sucked into one of the bottles with Alice and Q casting the super powered incorporate bond. Julia now back to herself however is still alive but she’s in constant pain because her body is trying to heal the cut but the axe caused a magical wound that keeps re-opening. The group unfortunately though does not have enough power to also deal with The Monster so they travel to the reservoir where Everett has already drained it.
Penny 23 then seeks help from The Binder (he’s back!) but the former librarian says that a choice needs to be made whether to make Julia fully a goddess again or back to her human self. Unfortunately, the patient had also been sedated to ease her constant pain. Penny 23 understands that this should be her choice but under the circumstances he makes it for her and he chooses for her to return to mortality. When she awakens, she’s incredibly upset that he made that decision for her but is unable to hate him when he confesses that he was being selfish because he couldn’t watch her go through that pain and he didn’t want to lose her again. Julia ends up telling him to just stay with her for awhile and let her be mad at him. However, there was one upside from having the powerful entity inhabit her body, she tells Quentin that the siblings wanted to take the fight to their parents the old gods (and eradicate the humans in the process through some kind of nuclear winter) and they had found a scroll that acted as a key. The scroll was left insider Julia’s jacket pocket.
Josh is No Longer a Dying Fish, Accidentally Activates the Scroll
Josh finally returns to his own human form and Margo admits her love for him in the most Margo-like fashion. Their problems are far from over however as Penny 23 returns without Eliot and the ex-high king of Fillory is understandably mad as hell because he broke his promise to her. As the two are fighting Josh tries to stay out of the way by attending to some fish sticks because he is starving. He casts a spell that becomes way more powerful and likely he got charged up when he touched the reservoir prior to his fish state.
Margo and Josh then catch up with Q at the Physical Kids cabin where Mr. Hoberman suggests that they let Everett rip The Monster out of Eliot. Margo though angrily counters that would kill her best friend and she walks away to cool off. It’s kind of amazing how much Josh understands her, explaining to the other man that she’s more pissed at herself for being so pissed. Quentin agrees though that any plan where Eliot dies is off the table. Suddenly The Monster appears looking for his sister and the scroll. The magical item is casually on the window bench and he makes a grab for it but accidentally uses his magic on it and a portal is created. The two men jump inside and it closes before The Monster can follow. Dean Fogg then appears and casts a spell of disorientation and the powerful entity is sent to a forest.
Josh and Q find themselves inside a generic office greeted by balloons and a man dressed for golfing. The golfer congratulates them for this amazing achievement and jokes in binary code to which the two magicians are thoroughly confused. Turns out the scroll was a part of some kind of super ridiculously difficult quest and they accidentally solved it through Josh’s still super charged magic. The guy is late for tee time and is about to leave when they beg for just five minutes to hear them out. This intermediary explains that the old gods will not give two figs about their situation even if their angry creations are out for their blood. We discover that there was no real reason why the siblings even got created. However, he does have a suggestion to throw the duo into the seam since they can’t be killed. Josh and Q have no idea what that is and so the dude has to guide them to the answer. It’s a place in between this universe and the anti-verse where everything is dead (the Underworld?). But where could that be? Oh well it seems that the seam leaked and created a pocket world where everything is backwards and lifeless, aka the Mirror World. The golfer confirms that anything they throw into the seam will never come back again. He gives them some cake and sends the two back to Earth.
Q and Josh explain their little trip and the possible solution to their problem. Alice luckily has a good idea of where the seam in the Mirror World is because she came across a door that even as a niffin she knew she shouldn’t enter. There is still however the issue of how they can contain The Monster till they can get the bottles into the seam and Kady suggests that they use a cooperative spell utilizing Hedge Witches and anyone else they can rally to perform the deed all around the world. With this plan Penny 23, Quentin, and Margo go to the forest where The Monster has been sent to. The godly sibling has realized that there is a lot of beauty in the human world and is a lot of sympathetic than we’ve previously seen him. Margo rolls her fairy eye to him as a look out, with Q serving as a distraction (then teleported away by Penny 23) and the Fillorian ex-high king comes in from the rear with the axe to the gut. The Monster’s essence is then trapped in the bottle with the signal given for the global casting. Meanwhile Margo is screaming at Eliot to hold on as he is losing a lot of blood but he returns to consciousness and is rushed to Brakebills. There Professor Lipson is able to perform regular old surgery on him that saves his life.
In the meantime, Alice, Q, and Penny 23 travel into the Mirror World to locate the seam. When they enter the door, it is a version of the lab at Brakebills. Inside is a large mirror that is covered and as Penny 23 and Quentin remove the sheet, a black void like image is shown. Q throws the first bottle in and as he is getting ready to chuck in the second one, Everett arrives. The wannabe god tells them that the other bottle belongs to him and that the younger magician needs to hand it over because he has the power now to control what’s inside and he won’t be like the other gods. As Q tries to hurl the object into the seam however, Everett throws a telescope at the mirror, effectively cracking it. Mr. Coldwater then appeases the elder man, saying that he gets it, all the while looking at Alice and Penny 23. He then says take her, do it now and the traveler automatically grabs the ex-niffin and pulls her towards the door. What happens next is so incredibly powerful as Q uses his gift to repair the mirror to throw in the last bottle and at the same time because magic doesn’t work correctly in this realm there is a massive after blast that kills both him and Everett. Everything is in slow motion as the two men die and Alice screams in horror. In the aftermath, magic once again flows.
Penny 40 walks down a corridor towards an elevator and when it opens, he greets the person inside saying it’s been awhile. We discover it is Quentin and he’s in the Underworld. The two former classmates find themselves inside a room we’ve seen before, “Secrets taken to the grave.” Penny 40 gives Q a cup of hot chocolate and the other man is trying to process what just happened to him. The magician states that this is where he can’t lie and the traveler confirms that this is the place where his whole life is revealed but it only means something if he reveals it to himself. Hand me the tissues because I about to cry a river. Q then admits that he’s been in and out of hospitals his whole life with lots of suicidal thoughts and notes. There were lots of medication and therapy but that all went away when he went to Brakebills. Yet he asks if he did something brave to save his friends or did he finally just find a way to die? Penny 40 then says its ok, he sees that they are going need the deluxe package but that’s no surprise. He then tells Q let’s go and the two men stand outside what may be the Physical Kids cabin. Around a campfire fire are Alice, Kady, Julia, Penny 23, and Dean Fogg. Q tries to go to his friends but is stopped by Penny 40, he’s only meant to watch.
Alice says that she doesn’t know what to say as she holds the cup that Q mended at Brakebills South before tossing it into the fire. Before they left for their final mission, she told him that she believes they are stronger together and so none of this talk that only one of them should go into the Mirror World. He had agreed and the two embarked on what would be their last ride together. Kady then casts a spell we’ve seen before (hello Under Pressure) and the group sings a beautiful acoustic rendition of Take on Me by A-ha which reduced me to a messy puddle of tears. The Hedge Witch leader then tosses in Fillory and Further book 4 that Plover recently signed and joins the song (Jade Tailor who has the voice of an angel). Penny 23 throws in one of the eggs they used to get over their attachment to the dragon egg. Then a recovering Eliot begins a verse as he is helped by Margo towards the fire and why won’t my eyes stop leaking? Margo adds Q’s Fillorian crown to the makeshift pyre. Dean Fogg contributes Q’s Brakebills form and we flashback to him signing it in season one. Penny 40 tells him that he should has his answer now and that the story is just starting for their friends but it won’t be the same because of him. Quentin Coldwater didn’t just save their lives, he changed their lives as much they changed his. Eliot then takes a peach out of his pocket, takes a bite and throws it in as well. Ugh my heart. Penny 40 then gently says it’s time for them to go but Q asks for one more moment and he cries as the group sings one last verse before turning around and leaving.
Everything Changes Again
Back inside the room within the Underworld, Q asks if the others will be ok up there. Penny 40 then reveals what happens to the gang where Zelda is shown in the Library but tells Sheila that she can’t be the one to lead the organization and they need to find Alice Quinn. Meanwhile Margo and Eliot have returned to Fillory only to find out that it’s been 300 years since Fen and Josh were overthrown by someone called the dark king. We also find out that something weird is going on with magic back on Earth where there are a lot of lights on Fogg’s globe and Professor Lipson’s simple spell goes awry. Lastly however Quentin is most worried about Julia who’s become just an ordinary human again. We see that she’s the only one left at the campfire crying for the loss of her bff and as she throws in his deck of cards it explodes into the air in a moment similar to Q’s first display of real magic in the pilot. Julia asks if this is Q but then comes to realize that she’s the one controlling the cards. Penny 23 then approaches her and she looks at him in wonder that magic has come back to her. In the Underworld, Quentin understands that magic comes from pain and it was grief from his death that allowed her to access this part of herself again.
We say goodbye to Q as Penny 40 escorts him to his final destination and sends him off with an Underworld metro card.
This was such an emotionally gut wrenching episode. It was beautiful, bittersweet, and bold as all hell. What an incredible ride this season has been and it has never failed to make me laugh, gasp, and be on the edge of my seat with well crafted narratives, unexpected plot twists, complicated characters, excellent choices in music, and unforgettable lines. With Quentin’s death and the departure of Jason Ralph from the show, his storyline comes to an end (or does it??) but what a send off! I feel like we are saying goodbye to this incarnation of The Magicians and it will never be the same with Q gone, but he made a profound impact on the series. It has been a long time since I felt the emotional loss of a character and bravo for this amazing execution.
When season five returns its going to be a brand new beast with Julia seemingly taking over as the main character and I for one am looking forward to this next chapter.
The Magicians airs on Syfy Wednesdays at 9/8 central.