They say it's about the journey and not the destination.
And well, the journey of depressed 20-somethings who hone their magical abilities and crusades to protect humanity from disaster has finally come to an end.
It's been a whirlwind of a series, and there are so many emotions wrapped up with the ending of an amazing series.
Fortunately for fans, the journey was just as satisfying as the destination during the series finale of The Magicians Season 5 Episode 13.
It's hard to write these words, as The Magicians has been one of my favorite shows of all time.
It's always hard to say good-bye, but having a sense of closure does wonders.
The series, of course, was very meta this episode in acknowledging that this was the end.
From Santa's comment about how things are rarely wrapped up neatly to applying Zelda's comment about death not being the end to the conclusion of The Magicians and the final scene with the gang pondering what comes next, the show's message to its fan couldn't be clearer.
It may be the end of the story, but that doesn't mean what these characters and the show have meant to us is over.
This series will still exist, and though viewers may not get to see what happens next, there is still more in a way, if that makes sense.
Ramblings aside, having no idea where or how to start this review, let's just start at the end.
Josh: Sorry I was really stoned the last time I did this but time to discuss your shortcut. Margo?
Margo: Yeah there isn’t one. What do you want me to say? Somebody had to egg up and do this, and I am Margo the Destroyer.
Eliot: I didn’t name you that just so you…
Margo: Could get destroyed while destroying.
Margo: Yeah, I’m not wild about it either, but this thing’s gotta get done, so…
Eliot: We’ll all go.
Josh: Yes, we’ll all go.
Margo: Stop. If I learned one thing from Quentin – one – is sometimes you sacrifice for those you love. I’m doing this so you two can live, so don’t you dare follow me.
It was a relatively death free series ender, and despite repeated reminders throughout the episode that things aren't usually wrapped up neatly, save for the odd microplane, most of the characters ended up with a happyish ending.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows and tough times lie ahead for our favorite characters, but it was without a doubt a satisfying conclusion to an amazing five-year series.
Starting with Eliot, he is probably one of the characters who has had the most growth over The Magicians Season 5.
When the season started on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1, he was dealing with immense grief and guilt following Quentin's death.
However, he managed to confront some of his demons finally this season and emerge on the other side as a more mature adult.
Watching Eliot on his journey this season has been an absolute delight, and Hale Appleman is worthy of all the accolades.
Having been through so much pain and heartache, it was nice that Eliot got a fitting sendoff.
He's still feeling lost without his friends, but he did end up in a healthier place.
Eliot: Charlton, in Hyman-esque form.
Charlton: Here you are in your happy place but you don’t seem happy.
Eliot: I thought being here and teaching would help, but it hasn’t. I miss them. I feel lost and alone without them. Margo, all of them. I even miss Fillory. Do you think… there’s no way Seb survived.
Charlton: Probably not. Fillory’s gone but maybe it’s better now. Maybe now he’s somewhere with someone who loves him. You’re not alone, you now, Eliot. Oh gods, I am still not used to how strong alcohol is.
Eliot: Keep drinking. It’ll come.
Instead of pushing down his emotions and dulling the pain with alcohol and other self-destructive ways, he admitted aloud that he wasn't in the best headspace, something that would have been unthinkable seasons ago.
His growth has also allowed him to be emotionally ready for a healthy romantic relationship for maybe the first time in his life.
Yes, it was a slight curveball, but having Eliot ending up with Charlton makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Though I may be biased due to my love for Charlton, Eliot, and Charlton just sort of work.
It's sort of crazy and a little out there, but Eliot is willing to try.
This, of course, wouldn't have been possible if Eliot hadn't been through this exact situation before with Quentin.
If my words sound familiar, they are, as I'm parroting the conversation Quentin and Eliot had on The Magicians Season 4 Episode 5 in Eliot's memory in the aftermath of the other timeline where they spent years together in past Fillory.
If not for that experience and subsequent growth, Eliot may have dismissed Charlton's confession of attraction.
Eliot: Charlton, you look like you.
Charlton: I also feel like me. If you touch me but also inside. It’s nice.
Eliot: Well this is weird.
Charlton: Good weird. I have an awkward question. I often ask myself what you’d say and the answer is, ‘Of course not. Don’t be stupid, Charlton. Eliot isn’t the kind of guy…
Eliot: Charlton, ask.
Charlton: I wonder whether you could ever be romantically inclined toward someone like me.
Eliot: Uh, a thousand-year-old Fillorian in a pervert ghost’s body wearing a transfiguration amulet?
Charlton: A man who knows you well, is emotionally available, and plans to stick around.
Eliot: Well shit, Charlton.
Charlton: Are we going somewhere?
Eliot: Upstairs, to explore this further.
Because again, pursuing a romantic relationship with a thousand-year-old Filliorian in a pervert ghost’s body wearing a transfiguration amulet is just that: crazy.
And in this case, Eliot didn't have 50 years proof of concept to fall back on.
It is a huge risk, and yet Eliot is willing to explore it further.
If not for Quentin, and possibly even Seb, Eliot would have run away due to his fear.
Now, though, he is ready to see where things go.
They may end in complete catastrophe or be the best decision of his life.
Viewers, just like Eliot, don't know where this will go, but he's open to trying.
Next, we have Julia and Penny who end up in this sort of undefined place, at least to the audience.
There's no definitive answer on whether they get back together or not, as that is left open to interpretation.
Julia: Where should we start?
Penny: I guess at the top.
Julia: I’m sorry there’s always another quest. I know you wanted to just…
Penny: Make a home?
Penny: Yeah, and this is a bat shit way to do it, but it is a way. Plus, someone’s gotta find those idiots.
Julia: Shit’s never what we think it’s gonna be.
What is clear is they are a family.
Julia, Penny, and their daughter Hope are embarking on yet another quest, this time in a search to find their missing friends.
It's not the sort of life Penny imagined for himself and Julia, but he does admit that weirdly, it somewhat works.
He and Julia are not settling down in the traditional sense, but they are building a life for themselves.
It may be a bat shit way to make a home, but it is a home nonetheless.
And even if they haven't reconciled yet, there is hope that at some point in time they could end up together.
The quests may never end, but at least their in this together: Just them and their daughter on to the next adventure.
And as for adventure, Margo, Josh, Alice, and Fen have one big adventure ahead of them.
They don't end up in an exact replica of Fillory.
Fen: This definitely isn’t Fillory.
Alice: But it’s not not Fillory. It kinda smells the same way.
Margo: The opium made it. That’s a plus.
Josh: I passed a field of bacon – crispy. Is that a Fillory thing?
Alice: More of a me thing.
Josh: Well, the arm is breathable, food galore, no predators in the vicinity. Is it time? No?
Alice: If we let them out we have to tell them we’re utterly lost, no idea where are, and not a bunny in sight to get a message to our friends.
Fen: And they’ll be homesick and scared and cranky and hungry.
Margo: We’ll have to build infrastructure from scratch.
Fen: So, who wants to do the honors?
Margo: You carried the whole world in your cooch. You earned it.
Fen: Thanks for saying that, but new Fillory needs a leader, and as its literal birth mother I feel I get to say I hereby dub thee, High King Margo the Creator.
Margo: Fine, make a meal out of it. You guys know our lives about to get even weirder in some insane way we can’t possibly predict.
Josh: I find that somehow perversely comforting.
Alice: So do I, and that’s how I know it’s our story.
It's a new land with new rules.
It's not Fillory, but at the same time it's not not Fillory.
Though they have their work cut out for them -- admitting to the people of Fillory they're utterly lost with no way to send a message to their friends, and having to build an entire civilization from scratch on top of that -- they're up for the challenge.
There's no rulebook in sight, and it's presumable life for them will get weirder in some insane way they can't possibly predict, and yet they have each other.
For Margo, she gets to reclaim her throne as High King, but this time she's going to be the creator rather than the destroyer.
Josh, meanwhile, gets to be with the love of his life for the foreseeable future and will be supportive of her in all her endeavors.
Alice has finally made peace with who she is and who she has become and can still do magic -- despite her limitations -- as one hand is plenty.
Alice: I know something that might help.
Kady: You cracked the code on moon circumstances?
Margo: Then what the hell is your plan.
Alice: My plan is I am going to accept exactly everything I am right now.
Margo: Instagram that nonsense later girl.
Alice: Every single good and shitty part, and especially the shit. I suggest we all do it. We have to acknowledge it in order to adjust for it in your casting. Internal circumstances is the one thing we can control. One hand is plenty. I’m ready.
And Fen, my beloved Fen, is no longer the sidekick. She finally becomes a hero in her own right and is being properly recognized by her friends for all that she brings to the table.
She has shown enormous growth of over the last three episodes and finally gotten her due.
Then there's Kady, who is still queen of the hedges and fighting the good fight.
The moon is still pissed, and circumstances are unpredictable, but with the help of Pete, she'll find a way to continue.
Lastly, Fogg is still, well Fogg.
He's snarky and somewhat miserable and has to hold a cat to remain sane, but he's going to be OK too.
Heck, even the recurring characters ended up in a decent place.
Despite dying, death wasn't the end for Zelda. As a Librarian, it was simply a transfer to another branch.
Also, maybe sort of dead -- it's somewhat unclear -- Seb also found peace as he is chilling in the clock barrens, reunited with Jane, after doing in the right thing in the end.
Zelda: This room is warded but not for long. That way a portal will take you to Brakeblls. Go. Alice, when you recover the seed…
Alice: I only have one good hand we need you. I can’t…
Zelda: There’s something master magicians know: You can never fully control external circumstances -- they may even be actively hostile -- but you can control the ones inside you. And one hand is plenty. I’ve always known you’ll get there.
Alice: But today?
Zelda: Try, OK. Just try. Go now, hurry.
Alice: Come with us.
Zelda: I can’t. I’m going to have to initiate permafrost. It’ll stop the dead from using the fountains to get to other worlds. Once I initiate, every portal will close within minutes.
Alice: We can’t just leave you here.
Zelda: For a Librarian, death isn’t the end. It is merely a transfer to another branch. Go.
Alice: Wait Zelda. Thank you, for everything.
Heck, even Hyman and Charlton got their do, as Charlton got a second chance at life and Hyman can continue to spy on Brakebill students for years to come in the astral plane.
All around, things turned out pretty well.
As for the episode itself, things flowed pretty well, and didn't feel cramped for time, despite my previous reservations.
Part of that was due to Seb's change in allegiance.
If he had been successful in resurrecting Lance, then a two-parter may have been necessary to devote the adequate amount of time to find a way to stop him before destroying Fillory.
However, since Seb switched sides during the 11th hour, the timing worked out perfectly.
Seb's change of heart was mostly due to the return of his brother.
Yes, Martin Chatwin, also known as the Beast, was temporarily back in the living before returning to the Underworld, this time hopefully for good.
The reveal that the Beast had been manipulating Seb was one hell of a twist, but one that made perfect sense.
Martin: Hello big brother. Save me Rupert, I love you so. You’re still so predictable – your soft heart, your stubbornness, your stupidity.
Seb: What did you do to him?
Martin: Who, Lance? Never even met him. He must have moved on centuries ago. Spent some time in the library with my batty old writer friend Cassandra reading about the lengths you were going to to save him. You didn’t work nearly so hard to save me from Plover, did you?
Seb: Of course I did until I couldn’t. I had to save everyone from you. You chose the dark path.
Martin: Says the Dark King. Anyways, reading about you made me realize after everything you did to stop me you were going to give me everything I needed to have Fillory forever.
The Beast was the original "Big Bad," so having him return for one last attempt to try to take over Fillory was a satisfying reveal.
From the beginning of the series, the Beast has always tried to find ways to stay in Fillory, so him praying on Seb's desire to see his long lost love again was in line with his character.
The shock of bringing the Beast back to life was enough to remind Seb he was on the wrong side of things.
Once he saw the error of his ways, he was more than willing to do his part to save Fillory and the rest of the world.
Like Eliot said, Seb was never evil.
He was just a misguided man desperate to uphold a promise he made hundreds of years ago.
Grief is a funny thing that way.
Though his sacrifice didn't right the wrongs he committed in the name of love, it did go a long way toward redemption.
In the end, he knew he screwed up and was willing to die to make things right.
Seb: I know you’re worried, but it’s all going to be OK because of you. There’s a danger that once this door opens more dead will come through.
Eliot: This is insane.
Seb: Not if you seal it fast.
Eliot: You didn’t just bring me here to help you. You knew that I would try to stop you. Deep down, I know you want that too.
Seb: If I wanted you to stop me, I wouldn’t have cast on that door 20 minutes ago.
Although after hundreds of years alive -- albeit most of them were spent in a deep sleep -- death may have also been a reprieve.
After all, Seb went to great lengths to resurrect Lance because he was unable to die.
Maybe part of him also hoped to be reunited with his late love in the afterlife.
According to the Beast, Lance moved on, but that may not necessarily be the truth.
In actuality, Lance could still be in the Underworld, or if he moved on, Seb might be able to do the same.
It's possible they could still be reunited in someway.
Another one of the crazy reveals was that the series of events that played out in the finale was the second attempt, once again bringing the series full circle.
Penny: I know I told you you shouldn’t do it, but I will protect you, OK, somehow. I know a way to get to Jane Chatwin. She’ll help us, and you can go back to before.
Penny: You can go back and stop Julia from dying, please.
Plum: We can’t.
Penny: Why the fuck not?
Plum: Because we already did.
There have been time loops and alternative timelines in the past, but viewers usually are aware that things have happened before, except on The Magicians Season 1 when fans learned the past few months were the 40th iteration, not just the first try like we automatically assumed.
And like the first season, there could not be another do-over in the series finale.
Time travel and time loops are sometimes a contrived trope because as long as do-overs exist, then there are no lasting consequences.
Don't like how things played out, well just reset time.
However, what happened in the series finale was how things were going to have to be, as Plum only had enough plasma to create one-time loop.
There were real and lasting consequences, like Zelda's death and the destruction of Fillory, that could not be undone because there was not an infinite amount of time to fix things.
However, some fans may not feel the series went far enough, because, as I mentioned, mostly everyone got a happyish ending.
They could feel some of the decisions were a cop-out, such as Seb realizing the error of his ways so easily or Penny saving Margo at the last minute after getting his traveler abilities back while holding Hope.
Seb: I survived the war, losing Lance, my family torn apart by a monster who said he would take care of my brother, and I thought one thing, I just want to use magic for one thing I want.
Eliot: You knew better.
Seb: I had to try. You couldn’t understand that.
Eliot: But I do understand. I always did.
Seb: Eliot what was the plan before I…
Eliot: My friends are here. They’re rapturing everyone so we can destroy this planet – that we love by the way, but we have to – to destroy you. You let us no choice Seb.
Seb: It could still work. I could cut up the door to the underworld to stop Martin from bringing anymore dead through. Don’t try to cast. You’ll hurt yourself.
Eliot: It’s not like the zombies are coming.
Seb: Go, find your friends. I can hold off the dead. It’s not like they can kill me.
Eliot: No, they can rip you to shreds, and then we kill you anyway.
Seb: Eliot, go.
Eliot: Do you not get that I don’t want you to die. You’re not evil, you’re just…just some deluded asshole that I care about.
Seb, though, was never really the season's "Big Bad."
He made a lot of mistakes, but like Alice said on The Magicians Season 5 Episode 3, he was probably doing the best he could.
As I said, it doesn't excuse what he did, but it makes viewers more inclined to understand his plight and where he was coming from.
As for Margo's survival, there was a moment where it seemed like she would die to save her friends.
An actual short cut to the tree portal to ensure everyone would survive would have been a contrived plot device, but when it came time to the moment of truth, Margo assumed they wouldn't all make it out alive, which is an important distinction.
She did not expect a get of jail free card; she was ready to die to save her friends.
The willingness to sacrifice made all difference.
And even though Penny miraculously got his traveler abilities back just in the knick of time to save Margo, it still felt right.
While it theoretically came out of nowhere, it was the result of the story arc involving Julia's psychic episodes while pregnant.
Julia: I think she may have just pooped.
Penny: Oh hey, I got this. I’ve been practicing. I’m ready. Hope, I like that.
Julia: I never said that. I thought it and…
Penny: Yes, I can live with Quentin as her middle name.
Julia: Good. Again, what the hell?
Lipson: Side effect. We had to attach the cord to Penny and when we did, he got better.
Julia: Wait, so you got…you’re psychic again?
Penny: Only when I’m holding her.
Julia: What else can you do while holding her?
The Magicians Season 5 Episode 12 established a magical umbilical cord of sorts existed between travelers and their mothers, meaning that when the mothers were near their traveler children, the psychic input drove them insane.
So, of course, this episode would try to find a way for Julia and her daughter to be near each other without driving Julia crazy.
Having Lipson implant the cord into Penny worked as he already could receive psychic input due to his traveler abilities, thus allowing Julia to be near her child without the insanity.
Was it a convenient way to solve the problem?
Maybe, but it made sense.
It also didn't magically fix everything as Penny could only use his powers while holding Hope, which again is an important distinction.
Both things were in line with what the show has touted from the beginning: Magic doesn't solve everything, but it does fix some things.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how I loved that Fen's speech of her memories of Fillory to the world seed was reminiscent of Quentin's monologue of The Magicians Season 4 Episode 12 when he spoke about his love and disappointment for Fillory.
In both instances, the characters acknowledged the truth about Fillory, both the good and bad.
Alice: It’s ready Fen.
Fen: Do I just?
Alice: Talk to it. Your memories.
Fen: Uh, I remember the Silver Banks and Chatwins’ Torrent and, uh, the Shankly Boar – uh, that was weird. I, uh, there’s Robin Bay, and…
Josh: Nothing’s happening.
Margo: Fuck Fen.
Alice: You can’t just describe it. You need to give it your memories.
Fen: Oh OK, my Fillory. I remember the first time I saw a Pegasus. I was 10. Only in Fillory. I remember the first time I saw my dad use magic to make a knife, and then he wouldn’t show me because I’m a girl. I remember my dad gave me away to a stranger, and that’s when I realized Fillory kinda sucks sometimes.
Josh: What are you doing?
Fen: I’m taking about my Fillory. That place could be, uh, backwards as shit, and I’m thinking I don’t want to replicate that.
Josh: We kinda need a wellspring, so…
Fen: Right. Can I just have the best of Fillory, the best of us, of earth, plus the best of those cool movies Todd and I watched. That’s the home I want. That’s what we deserve.
Fillory was supposed to be this incredible and magical place, but just like life, bad and screwed up things happen there.
Despite all of that, it doesn't mean we can't love it or at least hold the idea of it in high regards.
This is just another metaphor for the series itself.
Fans don't have to be happy with all the choices The Powers That Be made -- mostly with the decision to kill off Quentin -- to love the show.
We can love it and hate it all at the same time.
Good TV is supposed to make us feel something, and The Magicians surpassed all of that as it gave viewers the feels every episode, which again why it is one of my favorite series.
Some stray thoughts:
Did anyone else feel Fen somewhat stepped into Quentin's place this season, especially toward the last three episodes. Along with echoing Quentin's monologue, she also became the gang's expert on all things Fillory, which makes sense as she is Fillorian.
However, it was her finally stepping up and demanding more from those around her that made me see the similarities.
Just out of curiosity, how can Plum's last name be Chatwin if Jane was pregnant with her mother, and not her father.
This is just me splitting hairs, and it could be as simple as modern feminism, but if Plum's parents wanted to distance themselves from the Chatwins, then wouldn't they have used her father's surname?
As epic as the finale is, I would have enjoyed seeing Quentin one last time. His presence was still felt, and there were endless callbacks, but a small cameo of Jason Ralph as Quentin smiling as he watched over his friends would have been the icing on top and made me smile.
So what did you think The Magicians Fanatics?
Did the series finale live up to the hype?
Are you satisfied where the characters ended up?
Would you have liked to see something else be included in the series finale?
Hit the comments below for one last time to tell me your thoughts. If you happened to miss the series finale -- and are reviewing this spoiler-heavy review -- remember you can watch The Magicians online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.