Did he send the letter?
That has got to be the question on fans' minds after The Magicians Season 5 Episode 2: Did Eliot send Quentin that letter?
It's such a cruel cliffhanger to end on, but it sure has the added bonus of ensuring viewers will tune in for the next episode.
Margo may have been focused on trying to save Josh, Fen, and her kingdom, but Eliot's drive to go back in time had more to do with his desire to save Quentin.
Quentin is a man Eliot loved but never got to tell; he never even got the chance to say good-bye. If you had the opportunity to go back and saved a loved one, wouldn't you?
Eliot: So what do you say? Wanna go back in time, save my friends, and unfuck history for old time’s sack?
Jane: If I change anything, it could undo every sacrifice we’ve all made to stop the Beast.
Eliot: Why did you build a workshop full of time travel gadgets if you aren’t willing to use them?
Jane: The lesson I’ve learned from a life of trying to change the past, is, well, you almost always make things worse.
While this is a pipe dream for us, it's certainly possible on The Magicians. They live in a world where magic exists, where the timeline has been reset at least 39 times. Who's to say Quentin couldn't be saved?
However, if Quentin were saved, there's no telling what the ripple effect could be.
Telling Quentin about the future could impact his choice and screw up the future for everyone else. He may be alive, but the world would be a lot worse off.
Jane was right: If Eliot took away Quentin's sacrifice, he would undo everything his best friend and lover died for.
Jane: Back when Quentin first came to Fillory, in the very first timeline, he was running from grief. His best friend had died tragically.
Jane: You, a victim of your own vices. I was worried that I was taking advantage of him, of his sorrow. So the first change I made was to save you, to see if he would still answer Fillory’s call, and he did, and then he died 39 times. I’d hoped this time would be different.
Eliot: It still could be. You saved him 39 times. Why not 40?
Jane: Because he won. If you took away his sacrifice, you’d lose everything that it brought you. Your life and the lives of everyone around you. Same with your friends Josh, and was it Flenn?
Eliot: It was not.
Jane: You have to let go of the past Eliot. Let the dead stay dead. Time is a motherfucker, isn’t it?
It's still got to be tough to concern yourself with the rest of the world's problems when there's a chance to save Quentin.
What would happen to the world (or worlds) is unknown; what Eliot does know is that Quentin would be alive. It's hard to argue with those facts.
It's a tempting decision, but will Eliot make it?
Also facing tough decisions was Margo.
She had resigned herself to find a way to save Josh and her kingdom, but when it came down to it, she decided to prioritize Fillory over her love for Josh.
Eliot: So that’s it then?
Margo: In what conceivable universe is that it?
Eliot: I’m just saying, we’re doing all of this to save a man you ostensibly love who died of a bee sting because you forgot he was allergic.
Margo: What is your fucking point?
Eliot: I was gone. You were alone, and you hate being alone, so you grabbed the first dick that crossed your desk, and now you’re having a hard time letting go.
Margo: You think I should let go of our friends’ lives?
Eliot: I think you have a textbook case of cock blindness. You are Margo the Destroyer, not Margo the Pining Girlfriend.
Margo: I’m going to let your bullshit slide on the count of you being possessed by a homicidal monster, but I’m not changing my plan.
She was willing to let him and Fen die to save Fillory, which is very telling of her headspace.
Did Eliot's words influence her, or did she choose what she thought was for the best?
She's got to be feeling guilty about her decision now that Josh, Fen, and the rest of her court have found their way 300 years into the future, thanks to the clock dwarf.
It also has to be compounded by Josh's belief that Margo never gave up on them, even though he did.
Margo: And you didn’t tell me?
Eliot: I’m not your subject; I’m your friend.
Margo: Fine, then what would you tell Josh to do? Run to the nearest dive and drink himself to death?
Eliot: Yes, I would run away because you try to save your friends, and they die anyway. You can’t stop the Takers, and you can’t stop the Dark King, and if we don’t focus on getting you out, you’re going to get decapitated. Fillory is fucked because it always is, and I don’t get why you keep trying to fix something that wants to be broken.
Margo: It may be broken, but it’s my home.
Eliot: It hasn’t been your home for 300 years.
Margo: You are right about one thing: I have gone soft. I’ve been telling myself if I can just keep Josh from dying, somehow I can get him and my kingdom back, but that’s not possible, is it?
This will most likely serve as a source of conflict between the lovers, if or when he finds out.
Margo might have felt like she had no other choice, but it's doubtful Josh will see it that way. All he'll see is that Margo, his sort-of girlfriend, was willing to let him die to save Fillory.
That's going to be one hell of a blowout, and it is unclear if the burgeoning couple will be able to move past it.
Even though Eliot questioned Margo's love for Josh, he was the one who found a way to save him and reunite the lovers, which speaks highly of Eliot's love for Margo.
Fen: On the count of three, we charge.
Josh: I don’t have a weapon.
Fen: You are the weapon.
Josh: I’m just saying, you have two.
Fen: One, two, three, charge.
He may not always agree with his best friend, but even his depressed and addled state, he still loves and cares for her, meaning he would do anything to see her happy.
Now all they have to do is find a way to save Fillory and overthrow the Dark King. All in a day's work in the world of The Magicians.
Elsewhere, Kady's storyline picked up steam, mostly because Penny got thrown into the mix.
Her search for the stolen book depository and wiped memory are somewhat interesting, but the real thing I'm looking forward to exploring is the new dynamic between Kady and Penny 23.
Kady: Finally getting that GED?
Penny: Have some respect. I’m a professor.
There were two moments that touched upon the subject: First when Kady mentioned she knew that Penny made a good hangover cure, and second when she pulled away from him at the end.
On the surface, they seem to have settled into a livable friendship where they are there for one another, but underneath, something still lingers.
It has to be hard for her to watch this guy, who she was once in love with, have no idea who she is or what they went through together. It's even harder when that guy ends up dating a close friend.
Kady can't begrudge Penny 23; she wasn't at Brakebills in his timeline, and he was in love with Julia.
Yu-jin: How does a homemade psychic amplifier help if I’m not a psychic?
Penny: It lowers the bar just enough for the two of you to be able to connect your minds.
Kady: We’re both missing memories. If we combine the ones we have, it might be enough to give us an answer.
Yu-jin: Huh, so it’s like memory VR?
While she does feel comfortable being vulnerable around him, opening up about her relief upon her belief that she relapsed, it hits too close to home for him to comfort her.
I'm not even sure if Kady is opening up because Penny 23 is her friend or because he reminds her of who she lost and feels comfortable being vulnerable around him.
I think it's the latter, almost as if it's a reflex. However, when he goes to console her, she pulls away, as it's a painful reminder of what she lost.
Kady: You walk around having no idea what you do for a living.
Yu-jin: Why would I want that on my conscience?
Kady: Because that is what a conscience is for: to keep you from doing fucked up shit.
Yu-jin: The world is painful; that’s not going to change. So I use whatever crutch I have to keep going.
He's Penny, but he's not her Penny. It's an important distinction.
To let him be there for her but not really able to be with him must be agony.
I wonder if that's one of the reasons why Kady was relieved when she thought she relapsed.
While it gave her an excuse to use again, it is also a crutch to help her not only lead the hedges but deal with the pain of having Penny 23 in her life.
Penny: How are you feeling?
Kady: I thought that if I took on more power and more responsibility, that I’d want heroin less, but the truth is, when I thought I relapsed, I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t mad at myself. I was relieved. It gave me permission to relapse some more. Trying to lead the hedges, it’s only going to get harder. And I’m not sure I can do it without a crutch, which maybe means I shouldn’t do it at all.
That pain is somewhat similar to what Alice went through as her attempt to "resurrect" Quentin went awry, though I'm sure no one thought it would go according to plan.
She succeeded in creating a golem of Quentin, but it wasn't the man she knew and loved. It was a 12-year-old Quentin who had no idea of who she was.
Worse, he wasn't even able to decipher the page, though that was only an excuse on Alice's part.
Julia: So you built a golem out of living clay and used the book of Quentin’s life to fill it with his memories?
Alice: It’s not so crazy.
Julia: And then you animated the whole thing with his essence?
Alice: No, it’s just a tiny grain of Q’s soul that I pulled from the Underworld.
Julia: You wouldn’t help with a séance, and then you go and do this?
Alice: I knew it was risky, but it worked.
Julia: But it didn’t. That is not the Quentin you knew. How could you do something like this?
Like Julia, she has felt enormous guilt and grief over losing the man she loved, but instead of turning it outward, she tried to get back what she lost.
Hearing Alice talk about her grief was heartbreaking, but a young Quentin was right: Alice only conjured him because she wasn't ready to let go.
By creating a young Quentin who was unable to help Alice, that would mean that he wasn't really gone. After all, the golem was supposed to stay until he completed his "mission," so to speak.
If he couldn't do it, then he would never leave, meaning Quentin would always be there.
Alice: I had this friend who I loved very much, and he died, and I didn’t get to say good-bye, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to go on without him. And he gave me this gift I can never repay.
Young Quentin: What was the gift?
Alice: His life. He gave it up for mine. I brought you here because I wanted closure; I just wanted to fix something, finish something, for him. But the letter I showed you, you couldn’t read it.
Young Quentin: You’re skipping to the beginning of the book.
Young Quentin: I can’t help you because you don’t want me to, because then your friend’s story is over. My dad says when I get sad about something it will end. I should just imagine this is the first page in a new book. The gift your friend gave you, it wasn’t his life; it was yours. That story just started. What?
Alice: I just shouldn’t be surprised that even at age 12, Quentin Coldwater is still the smartest person I know.
Acceptance is the hardest part of grieving -- there's a reason it's the last step -- but life does go on. At some point, you have to move on.
While Alice might not have gotten the answers she wanted, she still managed to get some closure.
After all, they were together when Quentin died. Unlike Eliot, she can take comfort in knowing that Quentin knew how she felt about him.
Some stray thoughts:
After everything that's happened, it's weird to think that Eliot and Fen are still technically married. Like there's been nothing romantic between them since the second season -- or I guess the third if you count them getting to know their faux daughter -- yet they're still husband and wife.
I get that Fillorians marry for life, but since Eliot's been with other men, even though he wasn't supposed to be able to, shouldn't they be able to get a divorce at this point?
And doesn't Fen deserve some happiness after everything she's been through, though I'm not sure she's even allowed to be romantically involved with anyone else. The point is, let Fen be happy.
Julia's quest to save the world took a backseat this episode, as she dealt with the more immediate problem of a golem Quentin. However, Alice did point her in the direction of a magician who may be able to help with predicting circumstances.
This plotline seems like it's going to play out over the remainder of the season, which is fine, but what I'm more excited to see is how it will end up connecting to the other storylines at the moment.
Does anyone else wonder if the random page that Alice wanted Quentin's help in deciphering will come into play later in the season? It has to somehow connect to one of the bigger, overarching storylines, right, or was it just a random insertion?
My guess is that even from beyond the grave, Quentin will keep helping his friends.
I applaud the writers for bringing "Quentin" back in a sense. It was the right move as it allowed Quentin to return to the story without having Jason Ralph appear on screen.
Seeing Ralph would have made it that much harder to accept the permanence of Quentin's death, as Quentin would still have been alive in some aspect. This way allowed for Alice to get closure why reminding viewers that Quentin truly is gone.
So what did you think Magicians Fanatics?
Did Eliot send the letter?
How mad will Josh and Fen be when they find out what Margo intended to do?
Who deserves love more: Kady or Fen?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, don't forget you can watch The Magicians online at TV Fanatic.
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Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.