The Magicians: No Better To Be Safe Than Sorry   Show Only 
April 17, 2019 7:24 PM - Season 4, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Well, it looks like we won't have Quentin to complain about anymore.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:31 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

first of all, fuck you Magicians for making me sob quietly and then messily for fifteen minutes. That is not how I wanted the love triangle resolved.

Although given the underworld's meddling and Julia's return of magical ability (Fogg's points of light globe and mirrors leaking excess magic everywhere) I would guess she will decide to retrieve him next season. And Margo and Eliot will be planning to get Fen and Josh as well back from wherever they've been stranded 300 years in the past.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:23 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

But also, just another weary fuck you in general for oh yeah, let's introduce a bisexual/gay relationship that fans respond to and then dramatically kill one of them. I would much rather there had just been subtext than they had gone The 100 route again.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:27 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

Oh. I do not care for this.
posted by purpleclover at 10:49 PM on April 17

Well damn. I am upset now.
posted by Fuchsoid at 11:33 PM on April 17

I wondered what it was going to mean when Q killed the man containing a literal sea's worth of concentrated liquid magic inside him.  The light show blowback hit Everett and I thought, "That can't be good. I bet that's season 5."  I can only assume it's now leaking from the mirror realm out of every mirror in the multiverse now, in addition to the two we were shown.  Whoops.  On the upshot, it's magic buffet time for all!

That oh-so-plot-convenient oubliette in the mirror realm does raise the question though, why didn't the old gods use it in the first place rather than building a prison?  It's the perfect garbage disposal.

And even though I'm gay as a spring lamb myself, I can't get too worked up over Q and Eliot's relationship being truncated. Even after all the character growth I find both Q and Alice annoying enough that I think, "He's all yours chica, you two deserve each other."  Eliot doesn't need a wet blanket.  Besides, Q and E's relationship lasted a lifetime, and is—so far—the only one I can recall in four seasons that was clearly healthy, full of mutual love and respect, and based off more than just hot sexytimes.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:39 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]

I'm out.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 6:12 AM on April 18

I was a lot more affected by Elliot's understated donation of the peach than... whatever Alice had.

As sad as the arrangement of the song was, though, "Take on me" is essentially about "let's hook up," so the chorus really didn't seem right for a funeral. Maybe I just pay too much attention to lyrics. That distracted me a lot from the funeral scene.

I figure the old gods didn't use the seam originally because they held out hope of redemption. They made the children for a reason, after all.

Do we know if Josh is mean to come back, or was he killed 300 years ago? If he simply returned to Earth after the Dark Lord took over Fillory, then he's likely fine and unharmed by the timeskip. On the other hand, there's also room for him to be long dead, along with Fen.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:04 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Jason Ralph (Quentin Coldwater) talks about his 'cathartic' finale death and series exit with Entertainment Weekly:
  • He was the only cast and crew member to know that he would die in this episode, and was under a gag order the whole season (after the interview with EW, he was going to call folks and tell them the truth)
  • Per Ralph, "There was a dummy scene at the end of the script that washed all of that away and found a way for Quentin to survive. So, everyone — the crew and [the cast] — was under the impression that’s what was actually going to happen. They were playing it like he died for real. They just didn’t know it was going to be a forever decision."
  • He's really not coming back to the show, and instead will enjoy being in New York, where he'll get back into theater and spend more time with his puppers.

posted by filthy light thief at 8:11 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

I have had time to think about this and I think I am fine with it. Everyone moves on now, in new directions. Eliot will find someone new and it's going to be entertaining (perhaps a reunion with the Great Cock!). In the meantime, Eliot and Margo have an insane energy/chemistry.
posted by Ber at 9:25 AM on April 18

Oh damn. I didn't realize he's not coming back. That's a huge change. Like when Patrick J Adams left Suits. They might not be integral to the show anymore, but they were the focus in the beginning.

I teared up too, mostly because I didn't expect it to be so sad and absolute. I think the peach got me most of all.

But way to use the Chekov's Minor Mending specialty to its full effect.
posted by numaner at 9:27 AM on April 18

As someone who's had his own issues with depression, Quentin wondering "Did I do something brave to save my friends? Or did I finally find a way to kill myself?" was absolutely brutal.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:53 PM on April 18 [12 favorites]

So, this is absolutely not the official word from the producers or Jason Ralph, and I know they felt like there were good thematic reasons to kill Q, but I do also feel like Ralph wanted out. He's married to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan; it films in New York, their home, whereas The Magicians films in Vancouver. An hour-long show films in about 10 days per episode, so he was spending months away from home. Also, Brosnahan's aunt was the designer Kate Spade, who died by suicide in June 2018, which would have been after the airing of season 3, but before season 4 started shooting. I don't know, I feel like a family trauma like that might realign your priorities, make you want to stick close to home and your spouse. Brosnahan and her aunt were apparently close; she's now the face of the accessories line she was working on at the time of her death, Frances Valentine.
posted by purpleclover at 1:28 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]

I did not know about the Rachel Brosnahan/Kate Spade family connection and that makes so much sense. As far as I can recall most of the other cast members live on the west coast? Honestly, especially taking "Jason Ralph is leaving the show" as a Doylist given, I'm way less upset about how this was handled than I expected. For context, I dropped Torchwood *instantly* after the parallel event there -- but imo The Magicians has established that it is a different kind of show, even if it's sourced from the same crack spring. 4x07 set up the foreshadowing perfectly and still the TV mandate of "lead white guy survives" kept the other shoe from dropping early, at least for me (hindsight is 20-20).

I get people objecting to the narrative framing preventing Q & Eliot from getting to speak one-on-one before the climax--correct me if I misremembered, but I believe Q is with the group collecting OG Monster in the bottle and sees Eliot wake up for that moment before Janet goes with him to magic hospital? So he does know that, Eliot is alive and, if the monster-destruction is successful and magic isn't all being used on maintaining the bottle spells, will probably recover-- but the other major character death that's happened was Penny-40, who had a literal deathbed scene and a lot of time and space to make his peace with the others. They're completing the corollary by showing the other extreme, simultaneously paralleling Alice's niffinization so Q gets to be brave enough on his own terms using his own specialty. Death *can* come unprepared; at least it's a show about magic and we see him get his Our Town moment. No love triangles anymore, thankfully. (By the way, I'm beyond glad there is no Julia-Penny23-Kady triangle.)

On the showrunner side, knowing Q was going to die, establishing Eliot's greatest regret in 4x05 gave their other timeline life in-universe weight that a lot of shows wouldn't have granted it. Judging by his costuming alone, I'm assuming that will be a big thread for Eliot in season 5 and I'm glad the narrative confirmed to any extent that it wasn't a one-sided regret. I'm biased because Eliot is 100% the character I identify with the most, but I cannot wait to see Hale Appleman get to play "Sebastian Flyte mourning Charles Ryder instead of the other way around, but also Sebastian got over the worst of his shit on his own terms without sacrificing his vibrancy." The closing scenes did a great job of highlighting the specific ways each of these characters has changed over the course of the show.

This is already long and I'm typing on my phone (I watched with a friend and we talked for hours afterwards, so I have kind of a lot of reactions) so final note, re: question above. I believe Josh's actor mentioned in the last SyFy making-of short that he doesn't know to what extent he'll be back next season -- but I very much hope this is leading, however circuitously, to a thread in the books where Josh similarly kind of vanishes. Where was the button last seen?
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 2:49 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]

I could happily see that as the end of the whole show, and was surprised at how affected I was by it, even though I'd always thought Q was annoying. I probably will watch the next season though, if only to find out who the new Dark Lord is. My money is on Todd.
posted by Fuchsoid at 3:07 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]

if only to find out who the new Dark Lord is. My money is on Todd.

Oh man, yes. *please.*

(My pet wish for a minor character to show up in a surprising spot: can Marina's mentioned but unseen girlfriend turn out to be Poppy? If there was ever a character who'd probably be ok with their gf using information learned from another timeline to avoid sources of conflict...)
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 3:34 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]

There are some fans out there who are always thrilled when the Magicians cast does 80s covers, but they do not live in my house. Given the plot of the music video, Take On Me was either entirely too on the nose or remarkably tasteless as a song choice after your friend dies in a mirror dimension.

It was a good send-off for a character who I had always found grating; I found myself feeling more kindly disposed towards him once I knew he was gone. I am morbidly curious about the weird mourning sweaters I expect them to make Alice wear next season.

Good season over all. Maybe not as strong as last season, but strong enough certainly that I will be back for the next.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:53 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]

I'm so disappointed with this ending. That the writers went so far as to shoot a fake 'Quentin isn't dead after all' ending to trick the rest of the cast/crew from not spoiling his death seems monstrous. How lousy must Hale Appleman be feeling, to have been the instrument in yet another iteration of 'bury your gays'? And for the writers to have Eliot declare his intention of giving his & Quentin's relationship another shot, when they knew full well they were going to kill him off is so cruel.

posted by oh yeah! at 5:48 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]

In a world with time travel and parallel dimensions, I am not fully confident he stays dead.

Person best case scenario for a Quentin Coldwater resurrection - "we can bring him back but in a completely different body!"

That actor was a soggy fucking blanket who dragged down almost every scene he was in.
posted by elr at 9:07 PM on April 18

I have extremely uncharitable feelings about this whole turn of events. Jason Ralph as Q was one of the best things about the show, had great chemistry with basically everyone and I’m just not that excited about watching it without him.

Also this is really gross queerbaiting/kill your gays and I’m heartbroken the show went there. I really expected better.
posted by annekate at 11:07 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Also: The Magicians Season Finale Missed the Mark on a Major Mental Health Issue

“To suggest that a kind, gentle, and, yes, depressed man only realizes his life is worthwhile after he dies, or that his journey had nowhere left to go? It's irresponsible and downright chilling. There is always a journey left to make, and life is worthwhile while we're still living it.”
posted by annekate at 11:19 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]

Someone said this in the thread about the episode where we see real Elliot trapped inside his body that was being driven by monster Elliot, but Holy crap can Hale Appleman act! I had such a visceral, joyful reaction to real Elliot walking to the fire in the end scene. You didn't even need to have him say anything to know that he was Elliot; you just needed him to walk. And, yes, him putting the peach in the fire was the only part of this episode where I cried.

I wasn't a Quentin hater, but if someone was going to die, I'm completely satisfied with it being him. It's believable in the context of the story and allows some of the characters to move on in an interesting way.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:30 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

If Jason Ralph had an NDA preventing him from telling *his cast members* that's pretty fucking wild. That's really unusual. Everyone's already under the same NDA. Keeping the cast members in the dark until airing is not at all necessary if your only goal is to prevent leaks. .......... I honestly can't think of a charitable explanation.

Syfy's own reviewers panned the episode and I basically agree. The season was a mess. It resolved in a mess.

In particular on Qualice, they say - "That romantic relationship was unhealthy for both of them in the past, and to have it retconned as this positive thing just rubs me the wrong way." I've always thought that Qualice was a deliberately shitty version of the standard Mandatory Protagonist Romance, in the same way that Quentin himself is a deliberately shitty version of the White Male Protagonist, and Fillory is a deliberately shitty version of Narnia. They're complicating our fantasies, and questioning them - that was a major chord for s1. The show is really good at letting things be complicated, and this ..... they very suddenly uncomplicated it. It would have been more honest and more interesting for Q and A to say "We have to work together perfectly for this. I don't know if we can do that. Let me try to clear the air. I'm sorry," etc., etc.

Earlier in the season, my interpretation was that Alice really just wanted Q to not be mad at her. Similarly, in S3 I thought Quentin's actions about Alice were driven simply by her being mad at him. In both cases the two characters interpreted it as romantic feelings because it's the Mandatory Romance and they know how this is supposed to work. And that dynamic is much more complicated and interesting than what we got in the last few episodes.

I'm mostly okay with Queliot getting this treatment. I think. The Mandatory Het makes it smart.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 11:02 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Also this is really gross queerbaiting/kill your gays and I’m heartbroken the show went there.

And I think this is really not an example of bury your gays. The trope essentially views gays as more expendable than their hetero normative counterparts, and in this case Quentin is one of the least expendable members of the whole cast, making his sacrifice not about his queerness.
posted by Pendragon at 3:18 PM on April 20

First off I don't buy the showrunners' argument, that art imitating life is needed to elevate it. You do not need to kill people to tell an "adult" "realistic" "serious" story. That's in fact some standard mass media bullshit, so I don't know what literature these people actually grew up on.

Second, high-stakes storytelling comes with an ethics. Reveal to the audience something you want to say about a character's trajectory. If you haven't done that, then the fate of your character doesn't deserve the manipulations. It's just exploiting the audience's attention and that's poor storytelling skill.

If the setup to Quentin's death his him bashing his dad's airplane collection at the wall, confessing to some flowers in the Librarian's secret cave a deep personal truth (basically that Quentin has nothing to offer other than he believes in Fillory/magic), mending his confusing and confused relationship with his girlfriend, fine... I can appreciate the theme of an anti-hero who is basically a hero for being decent and psychologically triumphing over himself over these small acts forming a consistent pattern (of character growth/change) justifying his final choice of mending that void mirror.

But I am hard squint on this format because of the tone of the show. By terminating a character in this context, it's exploitative of the audience. If I wanted to read fine literature I'd pick up a book. If you want to do serious TV series with mature subject matter, then be like those other TV series. Those adult shows observe the ethical obligation to engage with the audience, not shock them gratuitously. If the audience is having trouble telling the difference, this is a problem because the communication between audience and author is one way. The pretense of doing this for art and psychological complexity/realism does not convince me given the context.
posted by polymodus at 3:16 AM on April 21

There's a great fannish response written here: An open letter to Sera Gamble, John McNamara, Henry Alonso Myers, and the rest of the creative team for SyFy’s The Magicians, talking about the intersectionality of Quentin's character and why it's not just kill your gays but the suicide as the 'hero' journey for him being a total failure.

Also, fuck them for making Kady say that all she ever wanted was to be Penny's girlfriend. She's leading a goddamned revolution of hedge witches and brilliant and they reduce her to a love interest.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:31 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]

>>Also, fuck them for making Kady say that all she ever wanted was to be Penny's girlfriend. She's leading a goddamned revolution of hedge witches and brilliant and they reduce her to a love interest.

Yeah, and they took away Julia's agency too. Like, they'd already established that her wound was un-healable because of her indestructibility, so, why couldn't she be woken up from whatever healing magic Professer Lipson had her under to let her be the one to answer the Binder's question? And even if they'd bothered to write an explanation for why she couldn't be woken up, why couldn't Penny astral-project into her dream-state the way he'd done to Quentin umpteen times? And I'd forgotten the whole 'magic comes from pain' thing, but, ugh to that too.

>>And I think this is really not an example of bury your gays. The trope essentially views gays as more expendable than their hetero normative counterparts, and in this case Quentin is one of the least expendable members of the whole cast, making his sacrifice not about his queerness.

But it's very much a 'bury your gays' move from the perspective of Eliot-as-protagonist because it's become an established pattern for the show. First there was the tragedy of Mike in S1, then however the betrothal to the King of Loria ended (I'm blanking on what happened after he got turned into a rat - I think he got un-ratted but then the marriage was off? so, not a big tragedy, but still another quashed m/m pairing for Eliot), and now Quentin, and the post-finale interviews from the writers' before their current retreat into radio silence mentioned how they are intending to show Eliot suffering over the loss in S5. And it's still queer-baiting the audience, because the writers were happy to take credit for all the praise they were getting over queer representation while knowing they were not going to pay it off. And looking through the #TheMagicians hashtag, threads of people in distress over the loss are beset with the "get over it" and "Quentin is straight" trolls. So it seems the writers' are fine with abandoning a vulnerable segment of the audience to the wolves now that they've gotten what they wanted from them.

Anyway, I'm not coming back for the next season. For me, watching a show in first-run broadcast is taking a leap of faith/trust fall exercise with the writers, and in this case my faith turned out to be unwarranted. Maybe someday after the series ends and the finale reviews are in, I'll revisit, but this is no longer one I'm gonna be my own canary in the coal mine for.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:40 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Tiny gripe, this post got labeled E14 and as I tend to watch these late when rather bleary I'd been waiting for 14 to come online, wow clueless when bleary. For the primary character to make an exit mid-series it was a pretty reasonable writerly choice, was somewhat hoping for the series to wrap up with the core characters saving the world by creating a private magic world where they could all live forever in a sortof private magic comune cycling through the permutations of relationships and magic tricks.

As much as I agree with both the criticism and praise of Q, it'll be interesting if the series will find a path that's satisfying enough to continue without the core conceit of a grownup kid that loved magic getting some.

Creating a more magical bigger bad seems to work until it turns out they were all just lost in a delusional imaginary purgatory world and it's just some autistic kid imagining it all. One comment by angel Penny about the reading of Q's book hints slightly that way.

Some of the most fun parts were the gang in the 'real' world using magic for advantage and oops many not so advantageous. Cynical Kady deciding to finish a case from her detective period was sweet. Breakbills is fun but the interaction with muggle tropes can be the most satisfying.
posted by sammyo at 11:31 AM on April 21

Tiny gripe, this post got labeled E14 and as I tend to watch these late when rather bleary I'd been waiting for 14 to come online

Sorry, I took the episode number from the description in my tivo, they screwed it up for some reason. Can a mod please change the episode number in the main post from 14 to 13?
posted by oh yeah! at 11:48 AM on April 21

posted by restless_nomad at 11:51 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Yeah, and they took away Julia's agency too. Like, they'd already established that her wound was un-healable because of her indestructibility, so, why couldn't she be woken up from whatever healing magic Professer Lipson had her under to let her be the one to answer the Binder's question? And even if they'd bothered to write an explanation for why she couldn't be woken up, why couldn't Penny astral-project into her dream-state the way he'd done to Quentin umpteen times?

Very much this. I honestly thought I missed a scene and went back to see what happened.
posted by mikepop at 8:39 PM on April 21

My personal pet theory (until the show forcibly disillusions me, probably in oh...Season 5 Episode 1 or so) is to believe that the reason the show skipped over showing Penny actually making the choice for Julia to become human again, is because he's lying about it to her. He doesn't want to lose her by having her go off and become this ineffable Goddess Julia but at the same time I think he'd recognize that the multiverse would be better off with Goddess Julia in it, and honestly neither Penny has ever been the type to put his own happiness first like that, it's really oddly out-of-character for him. So, I'm choosing to believe that he told her she's human again, to try and keep her 'grounded' in the mundane world, but she's actually a goddess again.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:52 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]

I hope that mstokes650 is right because that would be a more interesting route to go. I'm still irritated to have the choice taken away from Julia, but at least that would be something.

What I find curious is the line from Our Lady Underground “You will not fail as long as the decision is yours.” That was a very deliberate line to seed before these events. So, now that Julia has failed the test, what might that mean?
posted by past unusual at 10:20 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

This is a show that is very deliberate in every decision its characters make, so I also think there's something more to Penny23 seemingly making the decision for Julia.

that Vox article made a good point. Quentin was such a wet blanket because Jason Ralph was supposed to make him like that, and that it's born out of his depression and insecurities. I quipped in the previous episode's thread or the one before that he's really relatable in his insufferableness because a lot of us identify with that, and maybe we don't like watching ourselves in this fantasy world because we are here to be entertained by the Margos and Eliots of the world. But I think Quentin as the binding ingredient is a good story choice to keep people like me centered in such a world, because sure, someone could relate to Penny or Julia better, but someone like me needs to be reminded that, hey, you might not be that great, but look at all the people that came together because of you. And that gives me hope.
posted by numaner at 1:29 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]

I cried
posted by supermedusa at 9:05 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]

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