The Magicians Do Something Crazy Review

This post contains spoilers for the season 5 premiere (naturally), but also the season 4 finale.

Last season’s finale of The Magicians was a doozy for fans; Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), one of the main characters of the show, dramatically sacrifices himself in order to save his friends and bring magic back into the world. Death, especially in fantasy, can be an impermanent state of being. But showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara made it clear at the end of Season 4 that Quentin would very likely remain dead and gone.

Unsurprisingly, the impact of Quentin’s death is a major force in Season 5, and not only to those who loved Quentin and are grieving his loss; Quentin’s death also released an unprecedented influx of magic into the universe, and Earth as well as Fillory must now deal with the consequences. The last few minutes of the Season 4 finale touched on some of those potential consequences: Margo and Eliot are trapped in Fillory 300 years in the future; Julia gets her magic back because of her pain from Quentin’s death; and the now-broken Library is seeking help from a grief-stricken Alice. The beginning of this season builds on these developments and more—read on to get a spoiler-full take of what happens in Season 5’s first episode, “Do Something Crazy.” 

We jump forward in time slightly in the first episode—it’s been a month since Quentin’s death, and the characters who survived are still dealing with the aftermath. We start with Julia, who is still struggling with Quentin being gone from her life (something a lot of fans will relate to, I’m sure). Part of her pain is that she has magic again because of Quentin’s death, and she can’t help feel some guilt from this. She needs to do something good for the world with her magic; if she does, she (wrongly) believes that Quentin’s death will hurt a little bit less, since she was able to do something positive with the power his death left her. With a help of a literal sexist pig (a pig from Fillory of course, a pun-come-to-life in classic Magicians fashion), she finds out there is a quest of an apocalyptic nature that needs a hero. The pig won’t tell Julia the details, however; in a scene that was a little too on the nose, even by Magicians standards, the pig explains she is unsuitable because she doesn’t have a “porkloin.” Later on, however, Julia realizes that she doesn’t need someone to bestow the quest on her—she’ll bestow a quest upon herself to save the world (and maybe, maybe, she’ll be able to make Quentin’s death seem “worth it” in some way). The first thing she needs to do, however, is figure out what potential apocalypse the pig was talking about. I anticipate her new beau Penny23 to be her quest partner on this one, and the promise of Julia’s good intentions going awry makes me believe this will be one of the main story arcs of the season. 

“Do Something Crazy” also spends a lot of time with Alice, who has been holed up at her mom’s house grieving for Quentin. She almost catatonic at first, refusing to get out of bed and declining to answer any of the letters from the Library urgently asking for her help. Alice is a mess—she doesn’t know how to get past Quentin’s death, and receives advice from her mother to do whatever she needs to do to deal with her grief. Alice takes her mother’s advice. Or maybe she was already ready to do something drastic–she’s already stolen Quentin’s book from the Library, after all, and the episode ends on her doing some disturbing-looking magic with his book and a clay dummy. Is she trying to bring Quentin back? Whatever she’s doing, it likely won’t turn out good given Alice’s track record, though we’ll have to wait until next week to find out. 

Eliot is the other character who was closest to Quentin, though how close is a secret to most of the others. His way with dealing with grief is self-medication mixed with a bit of nihilism—he’s stuck with Margo in Fillory, trapped 300 years in the future, and yet he doesn’t seem to care that much. Who cares that Fen and Josh were murdered by a mysterious Dark King? Margo cares, however, and she drags him along “trying to Endgame this shit” and have time rolled back so they can rescue their friends. Her efforts, including traveling to the center of the world to meet the clock dwarf (as you do in Fillory), were unsuccessful, and she finds herself thrown in jail when a Whitespire guard sees the brands on her wrists that mark her as banished from the realm. Eliot’s established apathy as a way of dealing with grief feels right here, and I’m eager to see how he does (or doesn’t) come to grips with his pain he feels in future episodes. 

There’s other bad stuff happening in the world with the new influx of magic and Penny23 and Kady—the two characters less close to Q—deal with that directly in this episode. There’s so much magic in the world now, that seemingly random “magic surges” spike up and cause catastrophe and, often, death when they occur. The large quantities of magic have also caused more people to exhibit magical tendencies, so much so that Dean Fogg recruits Penny23 to teach a new group of Travelers how not to kill themselves. One of them says she hears a signal, in fact, and Penny23 gets messed up when he tries to access it. What this signal means remains unclear, but I bet it will become related to Julia’s quest somehow. 

Kady also has a lot on her plate as the leader of the hedge witches. Many of the hedges still have the mark the Library put on their arm that prevents them from doing magic, and with the Library in shambles, Kady realizes she’ll have to figure out a way to remove the marks herself. An ex-Library man gives her a lead on a former Library depository, but when she and her henchman Pete get there, the entire building is gone and those around it had their memories wiped. Who Kady’s competition is to get access to the Library is unknown at this point, but the conflict has been established. 

Although Kady and Penny23’s storylines don’t directly revolve around Quentin’s death, there’s still a lot of unresolved feelings to deal with this season, not only within the show and the characters, but with fans as well (I for one, still don’t really know how I feel about Quentin’s death in Season 4). The first episode does a good job exploring how the loss of Quentin has impacted everyone, but I hope everyone’s feelings about Quentin aren’t pushed aside or “wrapped up” in two or three episodes. Quentin’s presence on the show deserves more, and the remaining characters would be poorly served if his death was just swept under the rug. I’m optimistic after this first episode, however, that the writers know this. We’ll have to wait and see, however, how Quentin’s death will impact everyone as the season progresses. 

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