Did my office suddenly fill up with onions, or am I still bawling my eyes out? The season finale of The Magicians pulled one of its biggest, and most shocking, surprises to date. You might think (or hope) it’ll lead to another epic quest, like the one to bring back magic in season three. But according to the showrunners, this decision was intentional, purposeful, and permanent.
Let me summarize my feelings about “No Better To Be Safe Than Sorry” in this gif, provided by Syfy for this very purpose.
Quentin Coldwater is dead.
Let that sink in for a minute. Not only is Quentin dead, Jason Ralph, the star of The Magicians, will no longer be on the show, according to its creators.
Using his power of Minor Mending in the finale episode, Quentin fixed a broken mirror so he could send the Monster’s essence through the Seam between universes, sacrificing himself in the process. What followed was a beautifully crafted, and incredibly acted, exploration of Quentin’s afterlife, as he got a chance to look back at his wonderful and complicated life, and see his loved ones say goodbye. In song, of course, because this show is determined to destroy me.
After sitting through that scene, which came as a total surprise, I found myself wondering how The Magicians was going to Minor Mend its way out of this situation. Would our heroes bring him back from the dead, like what happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in season six, perhaps traveling to the Underworld for another epic quest? Please tell me they’re going to bring Quentin back, I futilely begged my computer screen.
But no, this one’s for real—and it wasn’t done for shock value, nor was it a hastily written ending to justify an actor wanting to leave the show. In a joint statement, executive producers Sera Gamble, John McNamara, and Henry Alonso Myers shared how, and why, they and Ralph came to the collective decision to kill off Quentin—the main character in Lev Grossman’s novels—in the season finale.
Here’s their statement in full, because it’s beautiful and I can’t do it justice:
The Magicians has always been a fantastical show about real life—with a generous dose of magic to keep it all feeling less like bitter medicine and more like raiding a weirdly delicious pantry at 2 am, probably while a bit drunk. That has been our approach to Season 4, knowing that we want to explore the most confounding, harsh and messy aspects of adulthood in our story. At the top of that list: facing your own mortality, and experiencing the death of someone you love.
Before we began this season, we entered into a creative conversation that included the writers, executive producer and director Chris Fisher, Lev Grossman, our partners at UCP and SYFY, and Jason Ralph. The choice for Jason to leave the show was arrived at mutually, with much respect for the story, fans of the show, and a shared sense of deliberate, essential creative risk. We want The Magicians to visit strange and fascinating new places, and we know we can’t get there by treading the same garden path others have before us. So, we did the thing you’re not supposed to do—we killed the character who’s supposed to be “safe.” In real life, none of us are safe.
When we first met Quentin Coldwater, he was in a mental hospital, contending with painful questions of life and death. This season, we saw the rare opportunity to complete his arc, bringing him to a real understanding of the incalculable value of his own life. Quentin, and we, got to see the truth: There is no such thing as a Minor Mending. The smallest action can ripple out in powerful ways we may never fully know.
The Magicians has already been renewed for season five but no premiere date has been released.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a year’s supply of Reese’s Pieces and devour so many feelings. Our full recap of The Magicians season finale will be up tomorrow. I haven’t started writing it yet, but I guarantee you it’s going to make me cry again.
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