True to form, the season four finale of SyFy's The Magicians was a subversive sucker punch to the heart. The Magicians is a show that's always keen to subvert expectations and this season the writers continued to dissect and upset the natural order of fantasy storytelling. While wrapping up a number of storylines and leaving us with some unanswered questions, the season four finale gave us a stunning and emotionally charged conclusion along with possibly one of the biggest twists in genre television history.
While the writers and executive producers of The Magicians have always taken traditional storytelling tropes and flipped them on their heads, this episode took subversion to the next level by concluding the season in a way so unpredictable even the most devoted readers of 'Filory and Further' couldn't have seen it coming. Below are seven things season four gave us some closure on and three unanswered questions for the already confirmed season five to tackle.
Spoilers for The Magicians Season Four finale ahead!
10 DISMANTLING THE HERO'S JOURNEY FOR GOOD
Quentin Coldwater is dead. The hero of Lev Grossman's trilogy of novels, Quentin, is positioned as the traditional 'everyman,' our entry point to the story and a white, straight, hero like any other. Over four seasons, we've seen Quentin evolve into a complicated, layered and less-than-traditional hero; while at the same time, his archetypal role has been dissected and repurposed. This season, in particular, took some of Quentin's spotlight and reattributed it too often sidelined characters. This was made especially evident in the episode 'The Side Effect,' where supporting characters were given a turn as the lead protagonists.
The culmination of this subversion and retelling of a traditional narrative came in the form of Quentin's self-sacrifice. Seeing no other option than to cast a spell in the Mirror Realm despite knowing casting there could have calamitous ramifications, Quentin was killed. After his death, in the afterlife, he has to come to terms with his own ending, his motivations for his self-sacrifice and finally saying goodbye to his friends and moving on. The biggest difference here is that Quentin's death is final (as confirmed by the series Executive Producers). It's the final nail in the coffin, if you'll excuse the pun, for the archetypal hero. His character arc and story completed in a fulfilling and affirming way, despite the surprise of a show permanently killing off its main protagonist.
9 JULIA'S DECISION TO STAY HUMAN OR BECOME A GOD
Julia has been through a lot, arguably the most, of any of The Magician's characters and things finally seemed to be looking up when she became, for all intents and purposes, a god. Her powers were subsequently taken away in the season three finale and despite being invulnerable, she's spent most of this season trying to find out whether or not to reclaim her status as a goddess or to return to her human form, with all the aging, pain and death that involves.
In the end, the choice was made for her. After a wound from an enchanted axe continues to tear open each time it's healed, Julia is incapable of making the decision and that responsibility defaults to Penny-23. Perhaps with selfish motivations, he decides that Julia should remain a human and in doing so she loses her ability to do magic.
8 ELIOT IS NO LONGER POSSESSED
Last season's cliff hanger saw Hale Appleman's Eliot possessed by a childlike, blood-hungry monster. The big arc of this season focused on Eliot's rescue. Because of this Appleman spent a great deal of time as the monster and audiences were only given a few glances of Eliot, trapped inside his own body. When it came down to it, rescuing Elliot was swift and without incident, that is, if you don't count the major axe wound he incurred in the process, and thanks to Quentin's sacrifice, the monsters were trapped between universes.
Even though his body will take time to heal, as will his grief over Quentin's death, Eliot is back, free of his demonic possession and, along with Margo, keen to get back to the throne room of their castle in Filory.
7 EVERETT IS DESTROYED
Perhaps the real big bad of season four, Everett was the head of The Order and the leader of the Librarians (who have been controlling and hoarding magic since last season). Although, a less obvious adversary than the monster possessing Eliot, Everett's nefarious plans to harness the powers of the monsters, along with his persecution of Hedge Witches, definitely put him up there in terms of big bad behavior. Thankfully, the spell which Quentin cast taking his own life, also took out Everett. That's one big bad less to worry about next season.
6 MAGIC LEVELS HAVE BEEN RESTORED
When the well of all magic was harnessed by The Library, strict control was placed over the amount of magic in the air, severely reducing the amount of casting our heroes could attempt. These restrictions proved tricky when dealing with murderous, friend possessing monsters and, as it turned out, were all part of Everett's plan to become a god himself. Now with Everett gone, for the moment, the levels of magic and the potential for our heroes to cast spells have increased. Hopefully, this means we'll see some serious spells in season five.
5 MARGOT AND JOSH ARE OFFICIAL
While this one might not have the same world ending consequences as the others, Margot as a character has had one of the most interesting and intense character arcs, developing more than any of the others. When we first met Margot she was a shallow sorority girl, she was judgemental and mean. Now, we've seen her learn how to rule a Kingdom, be a fierce warrior and loyal friend, a feminist icon and finally, we're seeing her allow herself to be vulnerable.
Margot's defensive nature and emotionless facade have been slowly coming down and Margot's true colors have begun to shine. This is demonstrated most keenly in her relationship with Josh. Not the most likely candidate for Margot's boyfriend, he's a geek and the kind of guy old-Margot would have mocked, these two have grown closer, and finally, in the season finale, we saw Margot confess her love for Josh, truly showing how much she has grown as a character.
4 KADY LEADS THE HEDGE WITCHES
Kady has always been an ambivalent character. At first, she was a double agent working for the Hedges Witches, a group of magicians without formal training, often looked down on by collegiate magicians, while also studying at Brakebills University. With the loss of her boyfriend Penny-40 (the original Penny from this timeline who was replaced with Penny-23, a version of him from another timeline, it's a whole thing), Kady has had even less direction than usual this season.
However, when the lives of Hedge's are being threatened and Kady has the power to help them she steps in and finally, in the finale, she is able to bridge the gap between hedges and formally educated magicians. Using co-operative magic, the two groups are united and prove that they are stronger together. in doing this, Kady finds a purpose and a reason to keep on.
3 UNADDRESSED: WILL ALICE BECOME THE HEAD OF THE LIBRARY?
With Everett gone The Library can go back to being the non-partial, bookkeepers of the multi-verse, only there is no one willing to lead them. Even Zelda, the first librarian introduced in the series, whose role has expanded exponentially over four seasons, is unwilling to take on the role of leadership. Perhaps feeling she is unworthy after her involvement with Everett and The Library's morally dubious actions of the past year. She does suggest someone who would make a good leader for the library and that person is Alice.
What kind of leader would Alice be and will she even be interested in working for the library after all they've done?
2 UNADDRESSED: CAN JULIA FORGIVE PENNY-23?
As mentioned earlier, Penny-23 was forced to decide whether or not to turn Julia back into a god or for her to remain human, despite losing her ability to practice magic in the process. He chose human and maybe for selfish reasons, such as being in love with her. Needless to say, Julia is pretty cut up about losing her powers and facing the prospect of growing old and dying.
Julia's final scene this season saw her regain her ability to practice magic. In the world of The Magicians, magic comes from pain and Julia, distraught over Quentin's death, is hurting. Hurting enough to rediscover her ability to cast spells. Will she be able to forgive Penny-23, though? After all, she's still going to age, feel pain and die and it's kind of all his fault.
1 UNADDRESSED: WHERE ARE JOSH AND FEN AND WHO HAS TAKEN OVER FILORY?
The last time we see Margot and Eliot this season, they're back in Filory and on the way to reclaim their thrones. Discovering the castle and noticing it's vast expansions they ask some passers-by for information and discover that Josh and Fen are missing and that a Dark King is now the ruler of Filory and has been for 3oo hundred years. Time moves differently in the magical land of Filory so the massive time jump makes sense, but where are Fen and Josh and who is ruling Filory currently? And here Eliot is already, dealing with the loss of his best friend and the end of #queliot standom, as if he didn't have enough on his plate heading into season five. The next season has a lot to be getting on with despite the absence of Quentin.