The end is nigh, and I have mixed feelings about it.
With only two episodes left of the entire series, The Magicians Season 5 Episode 11 proved why a sixth season wouldn't have been in vain.
On one of the best episodes of The Magicians Season 5, this episode had everything -- heart, humor, and intrigue -- while still managing to move the plot along toward the series' ultimate endgame.
It was a spectacular hour to behold, so let's dive in.
First off, the group's plan on how to stop Rupert Chatwin -- yes, I'm calling him Rupert in this review, since viewers never saw the Dark King onscreen -- became clearer.
They have a way to save the people of Fillory before destroying the world and a lead on how to build a new Fillory.
The only question left is how the gang will go about ending Fillory.
They'll also have to deal with finding a way to incapacitate Rupert and stop him from resurrecting Lance, but that's a problem for another day.
Right now, their plan of action is slowly falling into place.
The only problem is they're no longer the good guys, so to speak.
Sir Effingham: My vision of Fillory’s demise has grown clearer. I now see those who would bring the apocalypse to Fillory have visited it many times before. They enter from a distance realm through a tree.
Julia: Like a portal tree?
Sir Effingham: Indeed, these fiends plan to thieve away every soul in the land before they destroy it outright.
Julia: Huh? How exactly do they do that?
Sir Effingham: My vision is hazy, but I do know that they will turn back the clock on Fillory, resulting in ruin.
Julia: Um, does these fiends, do they succeed in stealing the people and building a new world for them?
Sir Effingham: That much I do not know because…wait, I made no mention of a new world. It is you.
Julia: It’s for Fillory’s own good. The dead will rise. This is the only way we can save everyone.
Sir Effingham: No, hogwash. What dark forces have corrupted your fair mind?
Julia: You have. We wouldn’t be on this quest if you hadn’t told us about it in the first place.
Sir Effingham: Are you now blaming me for your own villainy? Oh, the ways of the sow are nastier than I thought possible. But know this: The death of Fillory cannot come without a cost.
Julia: What do you mean?
Sir Effingham: Those who will destroy her will lose the ones they love.
Having posited it was possible our heroes would bring about the end of Fillory to stop Rupert, it wasn't entirely unexpected to learn they were the subject of Sir Effingham's prophecy on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1.
It was still a shock to the system, though, as I never really considered them as potential villains until that point.
They were more the 'doing the wrong thing for the greater good' characters; still heroes in their own right but forced to do something bad -- say, destroy an entire world -- to make things right.
In broader terms, there was no need to think about good or bad, right or wrong because these characters have always been the good guys.
However, now I'm not so sure.
Both Sir Effingham and Hyman had good points, and Fen made a solid point about the gang working hard to try to find a solution if it were earth on the line.
At this point in the series, it's interesting that The Powers That Be would suddenly introduce morality into the equation, though maybe it's always been there.
Like Alice said to Eliot on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 3, she's done bad things, but what comforts her is that she knows, deep down, she was trying her best.
Eliot: Will you please help us choose a globe? Margo is chopping at the bid, and Josh is holding her off for as long as he can.
Fen: I thought I could take myself into this, but I just keep thinking if this was earth, you would try a lot harder to find some other way.
Eliot: Yeah, probably.
Fen: So maybe it’s my job to represent Fillory, but not just the people, the place, the history, the things we can’t take with us. You want my permission to destroy it? I can’t give that to you.
Eliot: Well, if you have any other ideas we are all ears. Do you?
Well, these characters are trying their best, and their best is destroying Fillory to stop Rupert.
It's a tough situation to be in, but the bottom line is Rupert needs to be stopped.
The only way to stop him is to destroy Fillory.
There could be another answer they haven't thought of, but they don't have the time to figure it out.
While it's unclear how long it'll be before Rupert resurrects Lance, their deadline for finding the Couple and the world seed just got moved up.
There's a lot to do in a limited amount of time to steal the world seed, especially now that the Couple has the circumstances control panel, but the gang does have one ace up its sleeve: Marina.
Yes, our favorite villainess was back, but she was more sugar and spice and everything nice, which was highly unsettling, but in the best way.
Seeing Kacey Rohl playing a nice version of Marina was just so strange.
Kady: So you could help us steal it.
Marina: No, no, no. I don’t do things like that anymore. Stealing from the Couple, people will get hurt.
Alice: Way more people will get hurt if you don’t help us.
Marina: Alice, friends don’t make friends grapple with the trolley problem.
When you think of Marina, baking cookies and helping people out of the selflessness of her own heart doesn't come to mind.
She's more of the master manipulator who always has her own agenda and will screw you over in a heartbeat.
In fact, it's rather difficult to figure out which Marina is scarier.
Fans weren't left to ponder that conundrum for too long as the old Marina quickly returned.
Fortunately, it seems like she'll be sticking around, as the gang's plan to steal the world seed requires her expertise.
She is, after all, incredibly familiar with the heist, seeing as she wanted to use the power of the harmonic convergence to steal the world seed herself.
But more importantly, it looks like The Magicians Season 5 Episode 12 will be another heist episode, which will be the third one the show has attempted.
If not for the fact that it also happens to be the musical episode, I'd be skeptical about the penultimate episode topping series' first, and best, heist on The Magicians Season 2 Episode 7.
Marina: You need to let me do the talking. This is sensitive.
Kady: How’d you fuck over Anna, huh? Did she lose a limb or something?
Marina: Well, I definitely fucked her.
Whatever the outcome, it's sure to be craziness and hilarity all around.
Also, if the gang is stealing from the Couple, there's a good chance fans can meet them or at least not-George's other half.
There are lots of things to look forward to.
And speaking of things that I was looking forward to -- or rather desperately wanted to see -- Fen finally got her time to shine.
I've been clamoring for 'justice for Fen' for the entirety of the season, so it was about time the "Fillory girl" was finally front and center.
Fen has long been taken for granted by the show and the other characters, often tossed aside and used only as comedic relief or a Fillorian encyclopedia.
However, as this season has shown, Fen deserves so much more.
She's a skilled knife fighter and loyal to a tee, even though her so-called friends take her for granted.
Now, though, Fen had the ability to shed her role as the perpetual sidekick and, for once, become a main character.
Hyman: What’s got you grumpy?
Fen: I’m fine.
Hyman: As a seasoned viewer of people, I think you’re upset because their plan is zany, and if you speak up, you know they won’t listen.
Fen: What, no, their plan is great. And they do listen to me.
Hyman: Didn’t Eliot say you were a hayseed from a backwards prolapsed asshole of a planet? Or were you not there? OK, outsider to outsider, doesn’t this feel like the part in the story where the good guys are just wrong? Heart’s in the right place, but they haven’t learned the lesson of this little morality play they’re in yet. So they have this crazy plan that makes them almost as bad as the villain.
Hyman: Or maybe it’s just me.
She had misgivings about destroying Fillory, yet she stayed silent for fear of being ignored, or even worse, left behind.
It's always easier to go along with the status quo, but when it was something as near and dear to Fen's heart as Fillory, she could no longer keep quiet.
Her talk with Eliot was interesting, as he somewhat acknowledged how badly he and the others had treated Fen.
While he mostly skipped over the apology, Eliot finally did what everyone should have been doing with Fen all along: including her in the conversation.
Eliot was right that there was no easy answer on how to save all of Fillory, but this time, instead of steamrolling Fen, he listened to his wife.
Their talk was a long time coming, but it was nice that Eliot finally seemed to regard Fen as an equal.
Fen may not have been happy with the group's final decision, but at least she can look back at it knowing her voice was heard.
In the end, she wasn't just a part of the team, but the MVP.
Without her, the group wouldn't have been able to gain entry into Umber's Canadian residence, let alone figure out which globe was the ark.
Fen: It didn’t explode. I did it. I chose wisely. I’m wise.
Josh: All the people of Fillory are going to fit into a seahorse?
Eliot: How’d you know that was the one?
Fen: Because that’s how Ember and Umber first brought people to Fillory. They chartered the Great Seahorse to carry us in his pouch. What, how’d people get to earth?
Josh: The same. The same.
She's still a little clueless and a bit out there, but I hope the others remember her value in the final episodes, as time and time again, she's proven she's more than just a sidekick.
She's a god damn warrior hero.
Elsewhere, Julia and Penny sorted out what it means now that they're expecting.
For now, it seems the pair are going to be sticking with platonic co-parenting.
There's still clearly a lot of love there, but the reasons they broke up haven't changed.
Penny still wants to settle down at some point, while Julia is still ready to dive headfirst into the next apocalypse.
At this point in their lives, they want different things.
That's not to say a reconciliation isn't in their future, but any romance was temporarily put on the backburner.
Penny: Have you been to a doctor?
Julia: They don’t exactly have ultrasounds in Fillory.
Penny: Have you thought about what this means for us?
Julia: What do you want it to mean?
Penny: We broke up for good reasons. None of that has changed. My dad wasn’t around for long, my mom. Look, I’m not doing that to our kid. I want to be there for him. Her?
Julia: No clue yet. I want you to be there too.
The Magicians Season 5 Episode 10 did a great job giving viewers a crash course in magical pregnancies, but apparently there's more to the story.
For Julia, it seems the psychic episodes she's experiencing will only get worse.
And it's not just of the usual Traveler 'hearing voices' variety, but rather the type of insanity that gets you locked up in a mental asylum or lobotomized.
Both Penny's and Hyman's mothers had mental breakdowns shortly after giving birth, so what's to stop the same thing from happening to Julia?
The ex-lovers are in a precarious situation and mostly on their own.
The rest of their friends are stopping -- well, actually causing -- the apocalypse, so they're somewhat busy at the moment.
Though slightly out of left field, this storyline does present the opportunity to further explore Penny's past.
Of the main characters, Penny's upbringing is one viewers know the least about.
Penny: Your parents, were they magicians?
Hyman: No, dad was a door-to-door snake salesman.
Penny: Snake oil?
Hyman: No, and my mom worked at a brothel, you know just mopping.
Penny: Did she, uh, did she suffer from any mental problems, psychic stuff from being pregnant with you?
Hyman: Oh no, nothing like that. After the lobotomy, she mostly just sat on the porch and sucked at bits of hay. Other than that, she was the perfect mother.
Over the past four seasons, the series has done a decent job fleshing out other characters' backgrounds, but Penny has always been somewhat of a mystery.
All I can recall is that Penny grew up in Florida and spent a decent portion of his childhood in foster care, information that doesn't provide much beyond a foundational basis.
His confession to Julia about his mother was the most viewers have heard about Penny's life pre-Brakebills.
It seems as if the series plans to explore his past further in these next two episodes, as Penny and Julia search for answers to prevent the mother-to-be from going insane.
It's possible that this whole experience could reunite the former lovers, but for now, their main priority is stopping Julia from having psychic episodes.
After all the shit they've been through, this seems like a walk in the park, magically speaking, though it might open up some old wounds for Penny.
It's very 'full circle-esque' for the series to conclude with Penny dealing with his childhood trauma as he gets ready to become a parent.
However, it does offer the possibility of a happy ending, so viewers should take those when they can get them, as it's possible that not everyone will live happily ever after.
Julia: It’s just terrifying, you know? What is Lipson does the tests, and it’s bad news? You know, right now everything is good, and the thought of losing any of that is just…
Penny: Julia, it’s not the baby I’m freaking out about it. Look, I told you how my dad left, but what I didn’t tell you -- what I haven’t told anyone -- is around that time, my mom started having episodes, getting disoriented, hearing shit that wasn’t there. The doctors thought it was the stress from my dad bailing on us, but…
Julia: You think it’s because of you.
Penny: What’s happening to you looks just like what’s happening to my mom. The episodes didn’t stop when I was born; they got worse. When she burned down our apartment, it was the first time I got thrown into foster care. She’d fight to get me back, and then she’d get sick again. Eventually, the state took me in for good, and I was scared, but I was more scared of my mom. I fucked her up for life.
Julia: I’m so sorry.
Penny: I don’t want what happened to her to happen to you.
Julia: OK, I get it. I’ll do it -- the scans, the treatments -- but you have to know it won’t be like what happened to your mom. We know about magic. We have ways to deal with it.
Penny: And I won’t put you in a cage.
This isn't a fairytale after all; it's a show about depressed 20somethings who are stumbling their way through life, and oh yeah, magic just also happens to exist.
Lastly, how great was Hyman?
Who knew the Pervert Ghost of Brakebills could be so insightful and sweet?
Sure, he still has a lot to learn about social norms, but he was stuck in the astral plane for a century, so he gets a pass or two.
Hyman has always been representative of the audience, so having him being upset over not being privy to his friends' private moments was symbolic and timely.
Like Hyman, fans are adjusting to what life after The Magicians will be, as we'll no longer be part of these fictional characters' lives.
For five years, fans have watched these characters and been with them through the highs and lows.
Penny: What are you doing?
Hyman: Just stretching.
Penny: You’re trying to put yourself into stasis. What the hell man?
Hyman: To be honest, I haven’t really enjoyed this episode of my life. What is so great about having a body anyway? You’re hungry all the time. Everything you do makes you sore. You’re pooping constantly.
Penny: That hasn’t been my experience, but your body’s been in a bench for a century. Give it a minute man.
Hyman: And when dramatic things are happening to your friends you can’t even watch.
Penny: This is about me and Julia? You’re pissed because you can’t listen in on everyone’s personal conversations? It’s none of your business.
Hyman: But it is. I put you two together. I ‘shipped you before you even ‘shipped yourselves. Before, I was a part of everything, and now, I am, uh, a minor character in my own story. God.
Penny: Well, that’s the tradeoff. You don’t get to spy on people’s intimate moments; you get to live your own.
Hyman: That’s supposed to be better? If people wanted to talk to me, do you think I would have done this in the first place?
Penny: So spying on the showers was…
Hyman: Loneliness…and horniness.
Penny: You’re never going to make a connection by hiding, Hyman. You got to put yourself out there, just be honest with people. It may take a minute, but you’ll find someone who can stand you.
Hyman: Uh, are you doing that thing where you’re giving me advice, but it’s just for you?
Penny: No, I’m trying to…god damn it, I got to find Julia.
Now, we have to say good-bye, and like Hyman, we're not ready to do that.
Unfortunately, we don't have a choice, but we can take Penny's words to heart: We'll never make connections by hiding behind screens, but if we put ourselves out there, we may just find a group of people just as great.
Some stray thoughts:
Their reconciliation was cut short -- in mid-bang no less -- but Margo and Josh are officially back together. With only two episodes left, it seems as if Margosh is the only endgame couple viewers can bet on. While I'm glad these lovebirds reunited, I do wish there had been more to it.
I get that there's limited time to devote to every single plot thread, but would it have killed The Powers That Be to have another scene or two? Then again, Margo and Josh have never really been the mushy, share your feelings kind of couple, so maybe this was the perfect 'ending' to their love story, so to speak.
I would watch a prequel to the series about the creation of Fillory starring Ember and Umber. I forgot how much I missed the dual ram gods, no matter how annoying they can be. There's just such levity and energy there, and everything they say is utterly outrageous.
Where, oh where, is my beloved Charlton? I miss you dearly. Please come back. While appearances by Marina and Hymen numb the pain, no one can replace you. Very dramatic, I know.
So what do you think The Magicians Fanatics?
Are our heroes truly the good guys or have they lost their way?
What will happen in the heist episode?
Did Fen finally make her Fendom proud?
Where will Penny and Julia's search for answer lead them?
Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch The Magicians online right here at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.