I’m assuming since you’re here that you, too, are a fan of The Magicians. I’m also assuming that, like me, you are having The Feelings about THAT DEATH on The Magicians Season 4 finale.
24 hours later and I’m still just…not okay. Grieving over TV show characters is weird, but don’t judge me.
Fair warning. Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched The Magicians Season 4 finale, turn back now all ye who enter here.
So, Quentin Coldwater, muppet-haired main character who found his purpose when he discovered that magic was real, is dead. He sacrificed himself in what was absolutely one of the most beautiful scenes this show has ever choreographed and filmed and I still can’t even believe it.
How does a show just…kill off its main character like that? With no warning? Talk about closely-guarded secrets!
I’ve seen this before. Many times. To results both good and bad. I know that no character is safe and sometimes even the lead has to go, but wow. That doesn’t make it any less…whatever it is I’m experiencing right now. This is Wes from How To Get Away With Murder levels of shock.
I spent a solid 10 minutes believing that they would put him in the Underworld with The Real Penny and we would still see him next season, that the next quest would be to find a way to bring him back, discover that they couldn’t, and then we would all progress through this together.
Nope. QC is most definitely dead.
Right now, I’m somewhere between anger and bargaining in terms of processing this character death, and I’ll have a full wrap-up of why after we get through all these steps. But y’all, I’m mad.
I’m not mad that Quentin took the only logical step to keep Everett from ingesting the powers of the Monster (who, btw, was actually coming around a bit, and it would’ve been interesting to explore his rehabilitation and integration into society, but I guess we can’t do that now since he’s in the Seam and Quentin is dead why didn’t someone ask me what I thought?).
Okay, so I am mad. This is the Anger phase we’re talking about.
To be honest, I’m still not entirely 100% certain what it was Everett wanted to do with god-power other than just…be a god, which is certainly cool enough, I guess, but that turn of events came a bit out of left field for me in the greater narrative of Season 4. (Using a god to stop a god when all season long the Monster-god has been killing other gods?)
I kind of keep hoping we’re all being punked and we’ll see QC return next season as something the other characters pull out of the Seam. And in doing so learn that he can’t be saved.
Or maybe they could’ve taken, IDK, nearly any other character instead?
I’m not sure I’m okay with the idea that Quentin made some heroic sacrifice because of the way his character has developed over the series, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But yeah, I’m definitely bargaining in that “well, why couldn’t they have done this instead?” or “maybe they can do that next season?” kind of way.
If Quentin was already blowing that world up, why didn’t P23 just dart in, grab him, and travel out? Everett had been grabbed by the filaments, but they weren’t quite to Quentin yet. THERE WAS TIME.
Except no, there probably wasn’t time. That entire slo-mo sequence was simply…magical.
This is going to be me while I read all the Internet’s think-pieces about The Magicians Season 4 finale and spend the entire off-season contemplating why it had to go down this way.
Seriously. Not okay.
There are glimmers of moments when I’m firmly accepting of this change as a valid and necessary end to Quentin’s story on The Magicians. There are flashes when I see this sacrifice for the greater good as somehow beautiful, a character who loved magic so much he gave his life to save it.
But I’m not going to be fully accepting of this until we see how The Magicians Season 5 plays out. Ultimately, the Season 4 finale read like a series finale, but it couldn’t have been planned that way because the Season 5 renewal was announced simultaneously with the Season 4 premiere.
Acceptance, arguably the hardest step, is just going to have to wait.
As someone who has battled depression and anxiety for most of my life, certainly for longer than I can remember not battling it, Quentin’s character was always a draw for me. But that doesn’t mean I think they always handled his depression well. In fact, I think they did a lot of things wrong in terms of showing a character onscreen who battles mental illness.
This death is one of those things, not because it wasn’t beautiful and can’t be viewed as a sacrifice, but because it just…didn’t feel like it aligned anymore.
Trigger warning: I’m going to talk about death by suicide now.
We first met Quentin in an in-patience psychiatric facility on a suicide hold. We know throughout the series that depression is a part of his character, that he has made several attempts throughout his life. And as a person who deals with depression, I understand the chronic nature of the illness.
It doesn’t ever just disappear. It’s not something that just goes away because a person finds purpose or belonging.
But those things help.
Quentin’s depression, for the last couple of seasons, has been treated almost as an afterthought and has rarely been mentioned at all. And that’s why his question to The Real Penny in the Underworld bugs me so much.
Pondering whether he finally found a way to kill himself or whether this was some great sacrifice to save his friends almost felt like paying lipservice to his earlier depression storyline (which lasted…half of the first season?).
We’ve always known him as the semi-sad, mopey guy, but the writers set him up with a solid storyline for Season 5 and then…killed him off.
Deep down, I know we’re supposed to view his death and the subsequent scenes of his eulogy as proof definitive that he sacrificed himself to save the others, if not the world. I get that. And I really do think that’s what he did. This wasn’t a suicide in the mental health sense of the word.
But man, mentioning Quentin’s death in relation to suicide feels…awfully fine line-ish in terms of showcasing suicide as something sacrificial. There’s a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole thing now.
Having his death be a callback to his depression, having him ponder whether or not his death was a suicide or a sacrifice, just felt…not good.
Plus? Alice’s becoming a Niffin to save them all felt way more in line with an actual suicide-by-magic than this.
Keep in mind that this is not me saying that Quentin had been “cured” of his depression by finding magic. I certainly don’t think that only people with nothing left to live for take their own lives as I know that firmly not to be true.
But this is a TV show. Albeit one with very real-feeling characters and situations (Julia’s abortion, Kadi’s drug use, Eliot’s ostracism from his family due to his sexuality, etc.).
The writers set up a storyline where Eliot and Quentin would explore their possibility, and a storyline where Quentin and Alice reconnect. Not that this is a series about love and triangles, but it just felt like…emotional manipulation for the shock value and not because it furthers the plot.
I don’t like it when shows use mental health to manipulate viewers like this, and I get that they weren’t doing that but Quentin was. He was questioning why he’d made that decision, and we’re sort of out here left to choose what we want to believe. But…man. I just don’t know.
Hence cycling through the 5 stages of grief, which aren’t linear. I’m going to be bouncing between them for a while and circling back once The Magicians Season 5 begins next year.
Random Stuff I Loved: A List
- There will never be a more beautiful song sung on this show. Ever. This will go down as the best of the best.
- I thought Eliot was going to die and I was not okay. But I was somehow more okay than I am with what actually happened. (But seriously, couldn’t P23 not have stood there casting and gotten him out faster?)
- Julia and that deck of cards. Man. I’m not a huge fan of Julia Wicker in general, and that’s a blog post for another day, but that scene was thrilling, and such a touching tribute to Quentin’s first use of magic.
- P23 taking away Julia’s agency and choice made me RAGE. Why didn’t he just incept her brain and ask? She was in pain, yes, but she couldn’t DIE. He could’ve just gone in and asked her what she wanted FFS.
- Margo forever. I’m here for Margoberman.
I would love to hear your thoughts about The Magicians Season 4 finale if you have them. Catch me here in the comments or over on Facebook.