Season 5 of “The Magicians” was highly anticipated by fans everywhere, but it was a little disappointing. Season 4 ended on a major cliffhanger, a show-stopping season finale that sparked outrage and concern from audiences; in the new season, the writing team on “The Magicians” had the chance to explain themselves and make something meaningful of a major character death. Though they failed to completely do that, the beginnings of an important arc were present.
Each of the characters is feeling the effects of Quentin Coldwater’s (Jason Ralph) death in different ways, though none of them are taking it particularly well. In the Season 4 finale, fans watched as Julia Wicker (Stella Maeve), Quentin’s best friend, got her magic back in the face of all the pain she felt from the death. With this new season, she is determined to not let his death be in vain. Fans watch as she looks for a way to help. She comes up blank until a mysterious pig-man appears in her apartment, saying that he needs the help of Quentin Coldwater for a quest to save the world. Though he rejects her help — he claims the quest can only be completed by a man — she decides that she’s going to search for a solution to the apocalypse on her own. Julia Wicker makes her own destiny, regardless of what some sexist pig thinks.
Stuck in Fillory, Eliot Waugh (Hale Appleman) is drinking away his grief over Quentin. His best friend Margo Hanson (Summer Bishil) tries desperately to get him to do anything other than take another sip from his flask, but Eliot won’t hear it. In the midst of this, the two are trying to understand what version of Fillory they’re living in. Somehow, likely with the surges of magic and the upcoming apocalypse, the time connection between Earth and Fillory has come undone, sending their realm 300 years into the future. Luckily for our heroes, the holiday of the Unshackling, aka the day that the “Dark King” came into power, finds them. Eliot and Margo learn the history of the last 300 years, of how acting high king Fen (Brittany Curran) and her beloved Josh Hoberman (Trevor Einhorn) were overthrown, imprisoned and subsequently murdered. She is later thrown in a prison cell, where she sees the ghost of Josh and sobs at the thought of him being alone, trapped in a cell before his death.
When viewers first see Alice Quinn (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Quentin’s on-and-off girlfriend, she looks like she hasn’t slept or eaten in weeks. She’s lying in bed, hair disheveled, wearing sweats. Her mother is trying to coax her out of her room, trying to get her to do anything except mope. After a pep talk from her mother — whom she has only recently befriended — she decides to leave the house, answering one of the dozens of letters from the Library. Alice goes to help remove a locking charm from one of the novels, but she has an ulterior motive. When the Librarian she’s working with takes a bathroom break, Alice steals the book of Quentin’s life, one last thing for her to remember him by. Maybe not the healthiest option, but at least she’s out of bed.
Disconnected from it all is Kady Orloff-Diaz (Jade Tailor) who has become quite important in the world of hedge witches, that is, magicians without schooling. In Season 4, many hedge witches received a tattoo to prevent them from casting, but now that free magic is back, they wish to remove their tattoos and embrace magic again. However, these removals often go awry. More and more often, hedge witches are getting hurt with the surges of magic that seem to come at random times, drastically changing the spells that are cast. These surges make the spells more powerful and impossible to control, often leading to disaster.
Fans see some of the effects of these surges early in the episode. Penny Adiyodi (Arjun Gupta) tries to take Julia out on a date to see a magical meteor show, but when the surge comes, meteors start crashing to Earth. Not only is this dangerous, but it completely ruins the mood. Maybe Julia will find his new job sexy, though; Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) shows up to the apartment where the heroes camp out to recruit Penny as a professor at his university, Brakebills. Penny is to teach the young travelers how to control their powers: how to block out other’s thoughts, how to teleport, etc. He’s not stoked about the responsibility at first, but he warms up to it by the end of the episode.
Despite the plot, this episode felt incomplete. This episode’s purpose is very clearly just to set up arcs for the rest of the season, offering very little substantial progress. But that’s not all this episode lacked.
Notably missing from the episode is Zelda Schiff (Mageina Tovah). She was one of the only living Librarians by the end of the previous season, and it was she who pioneered the idea of Alice coming in to run the Library. Yet, she is nowhere to be found. Even Alice asks about Zelda, only for the other Librarian to reply that Zelda hasn’t been seen in a while. It is unlike “The Magicians” to have a character randomly disappear; too many character get their own storylines, if anything. Hopefully this means that she’ll be returning later in the season.
Speaking of returning to “The Magicians,” there is no word on whether or not this is the last fans will see of Quentin. Jason Ralph did not appear on the cast list, nor is he in any of the released behind-the-scenes photos, causing many to speculate that this the last we’ve seen of Quentin Coldwater.
But, who can ever predict plot lines with “The Magicians”? I certainly can’t. Where this season will go, I am unsure, but I’m excited to be along for the ride.