The Magicians Season 4 Reviews and Episode Guide
The Magicians season 4 was quite a ride! In the season three finale of The Magicians, magic was finally restored by unlocking the fountain at the other end of the Wellspring, but the Library, Irene McAllistair and Dean Fogg swooped in to reroute magic to themselves. The result has been a season with the Order as a fascist power controlling everyones access to magic with the hedge witches as an obvious target.
Elsewhere, an ancient, powerful and unkillable Monster escaped confinement and jumped bodies to a new host, Eliot. The quest in The Magicians season 4 appears to center around uncovering hidden memories and a betrayal by the gods who imprisoned the Monster to begin with.
The season may be over, but you can still visit here for links to our reviews, including the latest one.
Further Reading: The Magicians Season 4 Finale Ending Explained
A Flock of Lost Birds
OK, where were we? In last Season’s finale, magic was once again flowing thanks to the heroics of the team. Dean Fogg got to reopen Brakebills, though now on a magic ration from the Head Librarian. And that Librarian has trapped Alice for breaking their deal. The rest of the group is back on Earth with no memory of their past magical
selves. Alice keeps warning Fogg that the monster from the castle will escape by
jumping bodies – and even the gods are afraid of that. And, in fact, the power has
First up is a woman named Kimber D’Antoni, who chases a congratulations note and
arrives at Brakebill’s for an admission test. And when Dean Fogg looks through his
spyglass, it’s Julia underneath Kimber’s appearance.
The Head Librarian, aka Zelda, delivers bacon to Alice in jail and Kafka’s "Metamorphosis". She then leaves and meets up with Fogg, who goes through
the new student list. Zelda approves of his list, including the new student. And he is
updated on Alice.
Kady is a cop named Sam, a narcotics officer who tenaciously follows a perp, sees a
memorable tattoo, investigates it -- and soon her efficient googling shorts out her
computer. Then even writing down the info causes things around her to fail – lights
burning out, spilled coffee. When the suspect starts to follow her, things get weird. Why
is he talking about charms and spells? Before she can ask him much of anything, he
runs off and gets hit by a truck.
Margo is a hella-rude fashion editor named Janet. And in a dream at her desk, she sees Ember, God of Fillory. He is there to warn her that evil is afoot and she needs to fix things. She wakes up, puts on an amazing eye patch, and is soon confronted by Julia. Kady/Sam found a comic all about her life, and it intersects with Margo/Janet’s. She knows it’s crazy, but their lives are in the comic and she wants them to work together to find the other characters in there.
Someone is talking to Alice, cell-to-cell. She wants him to go away, but he can’t
because jail. The Librarians have imprisoned him because he was into helping children and using elves to do it. His story makes him out to be Santa Claus, and he lets Alice know that she’s on the nice list and that everything is going to be OK because at her core, she is not a bad person.
Saint Nick's encouragement doesn't sooth Alice. She attempts suicide and is taken to the infirmary. It looks like a stunt to find a way out. A roach crawls across the floor, so she scrambles for it and puts it in her mouth. Yep, her mouth. Zelda tells her how being there is an opportunity – that Alice might go further than anyone she has known and has the ability to work for the Order. Then Alice heads back to her cell, and sneaks the roach into a bowl from her food tray.
Kim/Julia talks to Fogg about her progress. Everyone else got their Discipline, and she
didn’t. Fogg explains that there was a student he once rejected that was just like her,
and he didn’t protect her, and he doesn’t want to make that mistake again.
Kady/Sam and Margo/Janet have met up with Penny/DJ Hansel and Josh/Isaac. He is
struggling with their belief that magic is real, but Penny/DJ Hansel has embraced it with his super-chill DJ personality. Margo/Janet suggests that they try to find the author of the book, James Tiberius R. Martin. Then Marina (Marina! ‘Member her! Season 1 and a little of Season 2!) shows up. She can remember everyone's identities but they don't remember her.
Meanwhile, Eliot/Evil Power is super evil, killing ice cream men when he thinks they
forgot the sprinkles. And he’s got Quentin/Brian at his side, accompanying him under
seeming duress. He lets him know that he plans to kill “Brian-Not-Brian”'s friends, even
though Quentin/Brian does not know what he is talking about.
Back with Marina and the gang, Marina casts a spell on them and ou heroes true identities are almost revealed, but instead they pass out.
Unconscious, Margo/Janet sees Ember again in a dream. He complains that she still
hasn’t fixed what’s wrong in Fillory, and she shouts that she isn’t even there, she’s in
NYC! So he sends her straight to Fillory. Now she’s alone in a forest in Fillory, and kind
Every week, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for April 14 through 20 is “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry,” the season four finale of Syfy’s The Magicians.
The first time I watched “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry,” shortly after it aired, I found it to be a frustrating, unconvincing, potentially irresponsible end to a frustrating, unconvincing, potentially irresponsible season of one of my favorite TV shows.
The Magicians, in both book and TV show form, has meant so much to me in the decade since I read Lev Grossman’s novel, the first installment of the author’s Magicians trilogy. But the fourth season of the show, while often magical (and containing what I would call the series’ best episode), occasionally felt like butter spread thin on toast — too little story for a episode run, with a bunch of episodes that felt a little like the series running in place for no good reason.
And initially, “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” fell in line with that assessment. After my first viewing, it felt simultaneously overstuffed and empty, like it was trying to tell two directly opposed stories at once. Yet something kept nagging me about the episode, a sense that I had missed something important. So over the next 36 hours or so, I completely rewatched season four to see if my feelings would change.
In the end, I was still frustrated by a lot of it, and I was still unconvinced by some of it, and I’m still worried about some of the storytelling choices and how they might reverberate with The Magicians’ audience. But the back half of the season especially is as emotionally raw and real as anything that has aired on television in ages, a heartbreaking exploration of the idea that sometimes there aren’t any answers, so you have to make your own.
It was frustrating and unconvincing and potentially irresponsible, yes. But I loved it anyway.
A few notes on Quentin Coldwater and the role of “conduit characters” in big ensemble dramas
A big barrier to entry for many would-be Magicians fans is the character of Quentin Coldwater. He’s privileged and possessed of magic powers, yet he behaves as if his pain and emotional woundedness are the only things that matter, even when those around him are struggling so much more.
Grossman’s The Magicians is told entirely through Quentin’s point of view, and if you are not an insufferable, emotionally constipated, possibly depressed white guy of means in his early 20s (or have not been one of those at some point in your life), well, it’s easy to wonder why this is the lens Grossman chose to tell his story through.
But in the trilogy’s final two books — ’s The Magician King and ’s The Magician’s Land — the story’s point of view starts to disperse among its many other characters. First, we see through the eyes of Quentin’s childhood friend, Julia (in The Magician King) and by the end of The Magician’s Land, almost everybody in the ensemble gets a chapter told from their perspective.
The result is an elegant mirror of the way that growing up and becoming a mature adult requires accounting for the thoughts and perspectives of other people, no matter how much you might not want to. The TV series couldn’t shift its perspective in quite the same way the novels did, but it depicted that journey by gradually reducing TV Quentin’s (Jason Ralph) importance to the narrative. He was still central, but he slowly came to realize that he was not the great hero he had previously imagined himself to be. Others in his friend group were more powerful, more intelligent, or just more thoughtful. What Quentin could do was bring people together.
This arc slyly mimicked his storytelling function within the show. Quentin is what I call a “conduit character,” someone who mostly exists to provide the shortest path between any two other characters in the ensemble. (Other examples: Jack on Lost; Piper on Orange Is the New Black.)
If The Magicians wants to do a story featuring Julia (Stella Maeve) and nerd king Josh (Trevor Einhorn), there isn’t really a natural way to force the two of them together. But they both know Quentin well, so he becomes the conduit.
Audiences tend to hate conduit characters. Their centrality often feels baffling, because they’re rarely the most interesting figures on their shows, and on some level, I think, we can feel the contrivance inherent in, “Well, this one guy sticks around because he knows everybody else at least a little bit.” It feels like a storytelling cheat, because deep down, it is.
But on a show with an ensemble as far-flung (in terms of being spread across multiple magical realms) as The Magicians, a conduit character is necessary to knit things together. It is not for nothing that Quentin’s magical discipline — long masked from him and the audience — was revealed earlier in season four to be “minor mending,” a.k.a. fixing small and broken things. He does that frequently within the show’s structural fabric.
So you can imagine my surprise when I watched the season finale — and really, turn back now if you haven’t seen it, because I’m about to spoil a pretty major twist — and the episode killed off Quentin, explicitly, on-screen, even sending him to the afterlife so that we might not be tempted to think he’s coming back. The Magicians wasn’t just killing its protagonist. It was killing its center, which from a storytelling perspective is even more terrifying.
So let’s talk about what happens in the finale — and how it raises some big issues it never quite deals with
If you rewatch season four keeping in mind that Quentin is going to die, a lot of its flaws snap into place. The actual plot of the season — involving the characters trying to save both the world and their friend Eliot (Hale Appleman) from a monster that has taken over Eliot’s body — runs itself ragged by going in circles. By the time The Magicians introduces the idea that maybe what the monster wants is to resurrect its sister, and yeah, that’s been the plan all along, you can see just a little flopsweat from the show having to sustain this plot for a full 13 episodes.
But where season four excels is in building an emotional arc about the characters slowly confronting some of their own inner demons in an attempt to grow toward maturity. This element is most explicit in the season’s 10th episode, a literal journey through the wilderness for the catty and quip-ready Margo (Summer Bishil) as she attempts to find her life’s purpose. (It’s also a musical!) But at some point, every single member of the show’s large cast finds themselves confronting a very real manifestation of their worst fears about themselves.
For Quentin, those worst fears are two in number: that he never mattered (i.e., that he was never the protagonist of this story after all) and that he is simply marking time before he dies by suicide. Season four externalizes both of these fears, which is both why I keep calling it “potentially irresponsible” and why I find it so thrilling.
Let’s start with Quentin’s first fear: that he’s not the protagonist. The season’s best episode (and, I would argue, the series’ best episode), “The Side Effect,” takes the form of several small stories about some of The Magicians’ extreme supporting players, revealing just what they’ve been up to in the midst of the season’s main quests. It also plays around with the idea of “white male protagonism” — the idea that we’re conditioned to believe white men belong at the center of almost all stories, because that’s where so much of pop culture tends to put them.
“The Side Effect” isn’t preachy about this, because it’s too busy focusing on its tiny romps with The Magicians’ supporting players. But it comes up in the first scene, then hangs over the rest of the episode: What does it mean for a story to be “about” someone? What does that do to them? What does that do to you, if you’re not them?
And then at the end, we learn that somebody will be headed to the afterlife by season’s end, though not who it will be. (The show uses this raw plot idea to build at least some tension throughout the season’s final half.) Thus does “The Side Effect” become the key to unlocking the rest of the season: The Magicians is Quentin’s story not because he was a hero, but because he brought other people together. And it’s his story because after he brought them together, he died. His worst fear is both realized and subverted at once, in a way that he can take at least some pride in as his spirit watches his friends mourn.
It’s Quentin’s other darkest fear — suicidal ideation — that The Magicians is clumsier about. Telling stories about a character having thoughts of suicide is tricky, simply because it’s so easy to trigger such thoughts in others. Journalists have deliberate guidelines we can consult to hopefully temper this problem, but storytelling will always face a tougher challenge, because it can’t rely on the distancing effect of carefully chosen terms.
Quentin doesn’t die by suicide. He dies saving his friends and the world, because in the split second of time he has to act before everything goes wrong, he realizes that the only way to save the day will also lead to his death. But The Magicians doesn’t ignore that maybe the reason Quentin was so ready to sacrifice himself was that he harbored dark thoughts of self-destruction. The show understands that neither he nor we can ever know if he would have made the same choices if he hadn’t ever considered taking his own life. (It reminded me of a similar plotline on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although that show buried Buffy’s depression very deeply in its subtext, where The Magicians made Quentin’s depression very much the text.)
The Magicians’ metaphorical treatment of mental illness has never had the neat cohesion of some of its other metaphors. Sometimes magic makes things worse; sometimes it makes things so much better. Its effect on your life might depend on the circumstances or just who you are. But where I think The Magicians’ fourth season succeeds as a whole (albeit not quite in the finale by itself) is in asking what the line is between “I don’t care if I live or die” and “I actively don’t want to live.” The former is often the basis of heroism; the latter is often mental illness. And the division between them is never as clear as we might like it to be, for any of us.
The Magicians leaves Quentin unfinished. That’s true to life, but also plays into some troubling tropes.
But what social media outcry there has been around “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” mostly stems from the episode’s treatment (or lack thereof) of Quentin’s bisexuality, which makes him the latest in a long line of queer TV characters who’ve died seemingly to advance a show’s plot.
Much of season four, in which Quentin is intent on rescuing Eliot for reasons even he seems unable to explain to himself, hinges on his romantic past with Eliot, covered in the show’s third season and an earlier season four episode (which my colleague Constance Grady wrote about).
But the season also delves into his tumultuous relationship with Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), the woman he romanced for much of The Magicians’ first season before the two broke up in emotionally devastating fashion. And because Eliot is a monster for most of the season, where Alice is Alice, it’s Alice whom Quentin has a short romantic reconciliation with before he dies. He doesn’t get to talk to Eliot or see Eliot again.
This is not, I don’t think, a version of the “bury your gays” trope in its most irresponsible sense. Eliot will continue to be very alive and very gay, and it’s clear that what character arc he has in season four is about learning to open himself up to another person (meaning he’ll hopefully have a boyfriend soon).
What’s more, The Magicians has always practiced a kind of cynical pansexuality — the show is more than happy to have anybody sleep with anybody so long as it can get the proper mixture of laughs and emotional devastation out of it. And it’s not like Quentin was a character who existed merely to die. He was the show’s central character, and the ripple effect of his death looks to be one of its primary story threads going forward.
Still, the Quentin and Eliot romantic relationship was the one thing the series buried in its subtext in a season full of bold, highlighted text. During my rewatch, it was easier to pull out how Quentin’s quest to save his friend and former lover was driven by both versions of the duo’s relationship, but the show didn’t do much to emphasize the twin sources of his motivation. And though it offered a lovely acknowledgement of Alice and Eliot as Quentin’s exes (when the two held hands at his memorial), it still felt a little like too little, too late.
So maybe I’m cutting The Magicians too much slack, in a way that devastated fans of the Quentin and Eliot pairing would find unforgivable. But “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” doesn’t treat Quentin as expendable story fodder. Far from it. Instead, the episode establishes his legacy as a series of questions The Magicians’ other characters will never get to resolve. The grief they feel isn’t because he died, but because they won’t ever know what his life might have been.
That feels truer to me than a lot of other TV deaths, carried out for shock value. But I’ll miss the way Ralph gave one of TV’s most vulnerable, hollowed-out performances. The Magicians’ fourth season depicted Quentin as someone barely keeping his head above water, having to pal around with a monster, powerless as his friends tried in vain to find some other way forward.
And Ralph rose to every single one of those beats, even if it was difficult to watch at times. That’s how the actor eventually transcended complaints about The Magicians having an insufferable white guy at its center. Sure, Quentin was that, but he was also a walking wound who never quite found a way to stitch himself up.
The person I was when I read The Magicians in , who identified so strongly with Quentin Coldwater, has mostly evolved into somebody else. (I’m much more prone to identifying with Julia these days.) But The Magicians, frustrating and unconvincing and potentially irresponsible as it can be, will always have my heart for throwing itself into the center of dark, dangerous ideas and poking at them. I didn’t like the finale at first because it made me feel so sad and angry and helpless, and then I realized that was the point.
The Magicians’ first three seasons are streaming on Netflix. The fourth season is available on Syfy’s streaming platforms. Season five airs in
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The Magicians (American TV series)
Not to be confused with The Magician (American TV series).
American fantasy television series
The Magicians is an American fantasy television series that aired on Syfy and is based on the novel of the same name by Lev Grossman.Michael London, Janice Williams, John McNamara, and Sera Gamble serve as executive producers. A episode order was placed for the first season in May , and the series premiered on December 16, , as a special preview. In January , Syfy renewed the series for a fifth and final season, which ran from January 15 to April 1,
Quentin Coldwater enrolls at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy to be trained as a magician, where he discovers that the magical world from his favorite childhood book is real and poses a danger to humanity. Meanwhile, the life of his childhood friend Julia is derailed when she is denied entry, and she searches for magic elsewhere outside of the school.
Cast and characters
See also: List of The Magicians characters
- Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater (seasons 1–4), a graduate student. He enrolls at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy to be trained as a magician. A lifelong fan of the Fillory and Further series, he discovers that they are in fact based in truth and pose a danger to his world.
- Ralph also portrays Quentin Coldwater from an alternate timeline, the same timeline as Penny Within this timeline, he takes on the persona of the Beast.
- Stella Maeve as Julia Wicker, Quentin's childhood friend, an Ivy League student who is not admitted to Brakebills, and is recruited by hedge witches, largely self-taught magicians who have to piece together spells.
- Maeve also portrays the sister of the Monster at the End of the World, inhabiting Julia's body, in season 4.
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn, a naturally gifted magician whose parents are magicians and who comes from a neglected home life.
- Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh, a student at Brakebills and senior to Quentin, with whom he is close friends. He is a heavy drinker. He and Margo are inseparable.
- Appleman also portrays the Monster at the End of the World inhabiting Eliot's body in season 4.
- Arjun Gupta as William "Penny" Adiyodi, Quentin's roommate and peer. He is a talented magician who is a telepath and "traveler", someone who can travel between worlds. Despite his brusque demeanor, Penny is loyal to his friends.
- Gupta also plays "Penny", an alternate timeline version of Penny who comes to the main timeline.
- Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson, equivalent to Janet from the novels. Her name was changed to avoid confusion with other names beginning with "J". She is close friends with Eliot and is very charismatic.
- Rick Worthy as Henry Fogg (seasons 2–5; recurring season 1), the dean of Brakebills.
- Jade Tailor as Kady Orloff-Diaz (seasons 2–5; recurring season 1), a tough, rebellious Brakebills student who attracts Penny's attention in and out of the classroom. After she flees Brakebills, she joins a group of magicians led by Richard and befriends Julia.
- Brittany Curran as Fen (seasons 3–5; recurring season 2), Eliot's Fillorian wife.
- Trevor Einhorn as Josh Hoberman (seasons 3–5; recurring season 2; guest season 1), a former Brakebills student who was one of the members of a group that went missing.
- Charles Shaughnessy as Christopher Plover (seasons 1, 4, 5), the reclusive author of the Fillory books and a childhood hero of Quentin's.
- Hannah Levien as Victoria Gradley (seasons 1, 3), a traveller and Brakebills student who was one of three survivors of a class trip to Fillory, and became a prisoner of the Beast.
- David Call as Pete (seasons 1, 4, 5), one of the confidants who welcome Julia into the clandestine underworld of hedge witches to develop her latent skills. He returns in season 4 and becomes Kady's new lieutenant.
- Michael Cassidy as James (season 1), Julia's boyfriend.
- Esmé Bianco as Jane Chatwin (season 1; guest season 3, 5), a character from the Fillory and Further novels who also appears to Quentin, helping to guide him on his magical journey. In the present, under the name Eliza, she had a hand in initiating Quentin's journey into real magic.
- Rose Liston as young Jane Chatwin (season 1; guest season 3).
- Anne Dudek as Pearl Sunderland (seasons 1–2), a teacher at Brakebills and Penny's mentor.
- Kacey Rohl as Marina Andrieski, one of the hedge mages who welcome Julia into a clandestine underworld to develop her latent skills. Marina was expelled from Brakebills three months before graduation, and uses Julia to help her regain her memories of what she learned.
- Rohl also portrays "Marina", a Marina from an alternate timeline who comes to the main timeline.
- Charles Mesure as Martin Chatwin / the Beast (seasons 1–2), Jane and Rupert's brother, and former High King of Fillory. He later resurfaced as the master magician with six fingers who has taken over Fillory and breaks through to Earth. His head is usually magically obscured by a swarm of moths.
- Mackenzie Astin as Richard Corrigan (season 1) and Reynard the Fox (seasons 1–3). Corrigan was a magician and former member of the Free Trader Beowulf. Reynard is a Pagan trickster god and the son of Persephone who took over the body of Corrigan after the latter attempted to summon Persephone at the cost of his life.
- Keegan Connor Tracy as Professor Eleanor Lipson, a teacher at Brakebills specializing in magical healing. She works in the school's infirmary.
- Garcelle Beauvais as Persephone, better known as Our Lady Underground, a goddess from Julia's dreams.
- Mageina Tovah as Zelda Schiff (season 2–5; guest season 1), the head librarian at the Library of the Neitherlands.
- Adam DiMarco as Todd (season 2–5; guest season 1), a student at Brakebills. It is revealed in season 4 that his name is actually Eliot and he was forced to go by his middle name because Eliot Waugh was unwilling to share the name.
- Rizwan Manji as Tick Pickwick (season 2–5), a royal advisor.
- Arlen Escarpeta as Prince Ess (season 2–3), a handsome, rugged, pelt-clad man and the entitled son of the ruler of Loria.
- Christopher Gorham as John Gaines (season 2), a senator who discovers he has unusual abilities.
- Harvey Guillén as Benedict Pickwick (season 2–3; guest season 5), a map-making servant of the court in Fillory, son of Tick Pickwick.
- Leonard Roberts as Idri (season 2–3), the King of Loria and Eliot's prospective lover.
- Candis Cayne as the Fairy Queen (season 3; guest season 2), who forces Margo into her service after Margo's deal with the fairies.
- Marlee Matlin as Harriet Schiff (season 3–5; guest season 2), the head of Fuzzbeat, a clickbait website that surreptitiously provides magical knowledge, and later revealed to be the daughter of the librarian Zelda Schiff.
- Dina Meyer as the Stone Queen (season 3), who wants Margo to marry her son.
- Jewel Staite as Phyllis (seasons 4–5), a librarian of the Neitherlands, then a member of the Governing Council.
- Felicia Day as Poppy Kline (seasons 3–4), a former Brakebills student whom Quentin comes across in Fillory.
- Jaime Ray Newman as Irene McAllistair (season 3), a member of the board of Brakebills who buys the school outright when the loss of magic threatens to close the university.
- Madeleine Arthur as Fray (season 3), presented by the Fairy Queen as the grown daughter of Eliot and Fen.
- Daniel Nemes as Gavin (season 3–5), a librarian of the Neitherlands, as well as a "traveler", meaning he can move between worlds within the multiverse.
- Jolene Purdy as Shoshana (season 4), a bright and highly emotional maenad, tasked with tending to notorious party god Bacchus.
- Camryn Manheim as Sheila (season 4), a resident magician of Modesto whom Alice befriends and to whom she teaches magic.
- Sean Maguire as the Dark King (season 5), also known as Seb, he has become the mysterious High King of Fillory in the years since Eliot and Margo were High Kings. Seb deposed and executed Josh and Fen, and took the throne for his own, in Eliot's and Margo's absence. He is the only magician powerful enough to defeat the Takers.
- Spencer Daniels as Charlton (season 5; guest, seasons 3–4), a former victim of the Monster at the End of the World. Later he ends up inside Eliot's head and can only communicate with Eliot.
- Riann Steele as Plum Chatwin (season 5), a traveler and student in Penny's class, who soon starts helping him investigate a mysterious signal.
Main article: List of The Magicians (American TV series) episodes
Michael London first optioned the books in , intending to develop the show for the Fox Broadcasting Company.X-Men: First Class co-writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz wrote the pilot, but did not get the green light. London then redeveloped the pilot with McNamara and Gamble taking over writing duties, and took the script to Syfy, which ordered a pilot. The pilot, directed by Mike Cahill, was filmed in New Orleans in late and wrapped in December.Syfy picked up the show for a episode first season, to be aired in McNamara and Gamble became executive producers.
Series production began on August 4, , in Vancouver, and it was announced that Olivia Taylor Dudley had replaced Sosie Bacon as Alice Quinn. It was also announced that Rick Worthy had been cast as Dean Fogg, Anne Dudek as Professor Sunderland, with Esmé Bianco also cast. Syfy aired an advance commercial-free screening of the first episode on December 16, , ahead of its January 25, , premiere, when it was shown along with the second episode.
The show was renewed for a second season in February , and the second season premiered on January 25,  On April 12, , the series was renewed for a third season of 13 episodes, which premiered on January 10,  On February 28, , the series was renewed for a fourth season of 13 episodes, which premiered on January 23,  On January 22, , Syfy renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on January 15,  On March 3, , Syfy announced that the fifth season will be the series' final season.
The first season received positive reviews. On Metacritic, it has a score of 60 out of , based on 24 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 74% based on 46 reviews, with an average rating of / The site's critics' consensus reads: "The Magicians' impressive special effects and creative storytelling help compensate for a derivative premise and occasionally sluggish pace."
Some critics and fans criticized the show for its brutal depiction of Julia being raped and that, after having survived being raped, she develops extra magical powers and betrays her friends by allying with a murderer who is also a rape survivor. Lisa Weidenfeld of The A.V. Club stated: "the show has now suggested that the two victims of sexual assault are its villains".
The second season received positive reviews. On Metacritic, it has a score of 74 out of , based on 5 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 91% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of / The site's consensus reads: "A clearer sense of purpose and extra helpings of cynicism and danger lead The Magicians to a higher level of engagement."
The third season also received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a % approval rating, based on 11 reviews, with an average rating of / The site's critical consensus reads: "Surprising and wildly entertaining, The Magicians' third season has more than enough tricks up its sleeve to keep viewers under its spell."
The fourth season received positive reviews. On Metacritic, it has a score of 81 out of , based on 4 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% approval rating, based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of / The site's consensus reads: "The Magicians conjures a mind-bending fourth season that reinvigorates the ensemble with heady twists and spellbinding turns – all leavened by the series' signature glib humor." While the season started with a % score, reception became more mixed in the second half. The finale was not well received by some fans, who mainly criticized the romanticization of suicidal ideation that was displayed but also the treatment of marginalized groups.
The fifth season also received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a % approval rating, based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of / The site's consensus reads: "Following an uncertain finale, The Magicians recuperates with a fifth season that pushes forward without losing where it came from."
Awards and nominations
Home media release
The first season of The Magicians was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 19, , in Region 1. The release included all thirteen episodes, as well as multiple special features, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, "The World of The Magicians" featurette, and UltraViolet digital copies. The first season was made available to stream on Netflix on December 26, , the second season on December 12, , the third season on December 24, , and the fourth season on December 26, 
- ^Gupta, Arjun [@ArjunGuptaBK] (November 25, ). "First read through. Folks get excited! #TheMagicians w/@serathegamble @_mikecahill @HaleAppleman @StellaMaeve14" (Tweet). Retrieved April 17, via Twitter.
- ^"The Magicians on Syfy". Syfy. Retrieved May 24,
- ^ abcde"Lev Grossman's 'The Magicians' Trilogy Coming To Syfy Channel This Spring With Pilot Episode". Design & Trend. Archived from the original on December 18,
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Season4 the magicians
This show is awesome. I have read the books and can tell you that it does diverge from them, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I keep wanting to say you could think of it as if Harry Potter were written for adults, but honestly it's much more immersive and real than HP ever was. It also gets a whole lot darker than Harry Potter ever did. Yeah there are quite a few "trigger moments" in the narrative, but that's just one of the things that makes you that much more invested in the lives of the main characters.
On a technical side, the digital effects are amazing. It really makes magic seem totally plausible and adds to the immersion factor. The acting is pretty great. When compared with the books, you can really see how well each actor/actress pulls off their role. Thankfully, especially in Quentin's case, they also make the characters much more relatable. Some of the aspects of his character were incredibly frustrating to read. I'm happy with the way Jason took his character.
I feel that the writers skipped over a ton of what happened with Julia before she because part of Team Save-Magic (and everyone from dieing terrible, gory, excruciating deaths). Her character in the books is incredibly different than the Julia that Stella portrays. I do wish that the writers made Julia a little head strong and bold than she is in the show.
My only truly negative remark is there are not enough episodes in each season. I feel like we miss a lot of what goes on with each plot line.
The Magicians bosses break down the shocking and 'emotional' season 4 finale
Warning: This post contains spoilers from The Magicians season 4 finale. Read at your own risk!
And thus another season of The Magicians ends
In the fantasy dramas season 4 finale, Quentin (Jason Ralph) sacrificed himself to destroy the two ancient monsters that were possessing Julia (Stella Maeve) and Eliots (Hale Appleman) bodies and head librarian/wanna-be god Everett (Brian Markinson). In the wake of his death, he was reunited with Penny in the Underworld, who allowed him to attend his own funeral and watch his friends sing A-has Take On Me in his honor, before passing on the unknowable plane beyond the Underworld (Read our chat with departing star Jason Ralph here).
However, the season didnt end on too dour of a note as we were also shown glimpses of what awaits the remaining living characters. First: At the beginning of the season there wasnt enough magic, and now theres too much magic when it ends, which will cause all sorts of problems in season 5. Second, Eliot and Margo (Summer Bishil) somehow wound up years in the future when they return to Fillory and learn that acting High King Fen (Brittany Curran) and Josh (Trevor Einhorn) were overthrown. On the upside, though, former goddess Julia got her magic back at the end of the hour.
Below, EW chats with executive producers/showrunners Sera Gamble, John McNamara, and Henry Alonso Myers about the finale and whats ahead in season 5.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This may be the first Magicians finale in which everything doesnt seem, to borrow one of the shows favorite words (fed) and no one is peril when it ends. Was that a conscious choice?
HENRY ALONSO MYERS: We actually spent a lot of time in the room discussing that. The feeling was that we were going to be dealing with such an intense, emotional thing to our characters and the fans that, on some level, it felt important that we dont completely pull the rug out from under them elsewhere as well.
JOHN MCNAMARA: Henry actually started that conversation last season by saying, What if we have kind of a semi-happy ending to the season? Wouldnt that be a great twist? Of course, we decided that also Quentin had to die, so any actual happiness went out the window, as it often does on this show. But the idea theyre not in imminent peril kind of stuck.
Can you walk me through how you decided to end the season with Quentins dying dying?
MCNAMARA: It started with a conversation between Sera, Jason, and me just talking about where the shows going to go and where the characters are going to go. All three of us mutually came to this idea that Quentins journey felt like it was coming to an end before the other characters journeys were coming to an end, in terms of everything he was going to learn about himself, in terms of magic. Its just sort of an instinct the three of us separately had and hashed it out on a phone call.
When we decided that was going to be the end of his journey, we immediately called [author] Lev Grossman and said to him, What do you think if Quentin dies for real at the end of season 4? [laughs] Long pause. He said, I think thats a really great idea. First of all, I would never see that twist coming. Secondly, it leans into what the books are about. The books are fantasies about reality, and one of the real things we deal with in life is how do we handle death, how do we handle tragedy. Certainly, weve dealt with that on the show but never with the kind of depth that we do in this episode, and its going to carry over and resonate throughout season 5 and probably the whole series.
What was the experience like writing that entire final sequence? I cried watching it, so I imagine it mustve been emotional to write, too.
SERA GAMBLE: John and I wrote the script together, and both of our hands are in every scene in a lot of ways. Just to get the first draft down, we alternated acts. [We talked] about this beautiful, classical trope of attending ones own funeral and how we had the opportunity to do that with Quentin. A very cool thing about the show is that you can kill a character and then follow them to the underworld and see them be processed through death [laughs] and really take stock in a way that felt exciting and interesting and weird and like the show for us.
John and I were both really interested in Quentin getting to see what is the beginning of the next chapter for his friends before he departs from them for the last time. I was like, Doesnt that get maudlin really fast? People eulogizing at a funeral. And John was like, Dont worry, theyre not going to talk. Theyre going to sing. I guess thats what I get for asking. Theyll be another musical number [laughs].
We didnt want to skip any important beats. We feel that Quentin is as crucial as any character has ever been to a TV show and was our way in the pilot to this world. Though over time the show has evolved into such a true ensemble piece, we felt like we just wanted to really carefully and lovingly trace every step between the moment of Quentins death and the moment he passes through the door to a place that even Penny doesnt know and nobody gets to know whats next.
MCNAMARA: The one thing it gave us a chance to do, and I think we did talk about this in the room I went immediately back to the first scene of the pilot four years ago [was address] the idea that Quentin was in a mental hospital for having suicidal tendencies for most of his adult life. The idea that he would wonder in the afterlife, Was that heroism or did I kill myself? felt like a really interesting question to give what followed a bit of tension and a bit of mystery. Thats what I think gives that second half of the script a drive, so that its not just maudlin and wallowing in sadness. So the real question adds a real purpose to going to that campfire and a wonderful moment of Penny comforting him. I just dont believe you wouldve chosen to leave these people. But your journey is over for reasons that are larger than we as mere mortals can see. For me, it closed the book on Quentins depression and his self-hatred and sense of inadequacy and gave him a sense of who he really was as a person: He was a really brave, very compassionate person who was loyal. Thats how hes going to be remembered. That felt like, if it was done right, it would give a sense of closure as opposed to mordent and pornographic tragedy.
How did you choose Take On Me
as the memorial song?
MCNAMARA: [laughs] I feel so bad for Sera.
GAMBLE: I like that song, though. Its fine. I really had nothing to do with it. John was like, Were going to do Take On Me but acoustic. I was like, Are you sure? Thats kind of just a pop song. He was like, Trust me. And he was right. Hes usually right about this stuff.
MCNAMARA: Really good orchestration makes all the difference! My son is a piano player and very talented. He and I were looking for stuff to listen to at bedtime, and to him, the 80s are like what the 17th century is to me. So, we came across this version of Take On Me that was done in an acoustic set, I think, for MTV Unplugged. I thought, Oh, thats a beautiful version of that song, and I just put it away in my head.
Five months later, were laying down the tracks for the musical episode. Im in the booth with Olivia Taylor Dudley, and between takes shes humming Take On Me. I said, Oh youre humming the acoustic version of that. She said, I listen to the acoustic version of Take On Me every day because usually Alice is going to be doing something emotional or sad and it gets me right in that place. I didnt say anything, but I thought, I dont know how or why or how Im going to get this past Sera, but that has to be the song they all sing as a group at the funeral. I just tucked it away like a secret. Theres no intellectual reason I thought it worked.
Its interesting you guys used this song for this moment because The Leftovers, a show that was very much about grief, used it, too.
MCNAMARA: I never knew how sad the lyrics were until I heard the slowed down acoustic version. Its an incredibly sad song, you know, about a longing for something. Thats why we named the episode, No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry, because what the song is saying is there really is no one way to be happy and happiness isnt something that any of us are promised.
One of the other big moments in the finale is when classically trained witches and the hedge witches join forces for cooperative magic. What was your intention with that moment?
GAMBLE: For us, thats a huge moment in the series-wide arc, especially for Kady [Jade Tailor] but also other characters who have at least dipped their toes in the world of the hedge witches. Kady came from a place of so much conflict and shame about where she came from and shes just always been very ambivalent as she moves between these two worlds. This season saw her really step up and figure out how to be really a leader. Not because she was seeking a nomination, she wasnt, but because she has grown into such a compassionate and responsible adult over these seasons that she just became the logical choice. The reason that was successful, the reason that cooperative magic happened was because she was able to advocate for a bunch of people around the world who were under-estimated up to and including our characters; people like Margo [Summer Bishil], who sort roll their eyes when they think of the hedge witches.
At this point in the shows run, youve done two full-blown musical episodes, a heist episode, an episode that deconstructs storytelling and the importance of perspective. Looking ahead, what are some of the wildest or craziest things that you havent done yet and are dying to do in season 5?
MYERS: [Laughs] There are a million things. There are definitely some things in the books we havent adapted. I dont really want to spoil any of them, but there are a few things that we havent done from the books that still fit the framework of what were going to do. We spent a lot of time this season trying to take stock of what are the stories we cannot tell without Quentin and trying to get as many of those into the show as possible. But theres a lot of stuff from book 1 and book 3 that were sort of able to pull from now as we plan ahead for the season.
The Magicians was renewed for a fifth season on SYFY.
Based on Lev Grossman’s book trilogy, this fantasy Syfy series follows the adventures of students at Brakebills University, a graduate school specializing in magic.
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