'The Magicians' Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Quentin's death hangs heavy, but there's little time to mourn

'The Magicians' Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Quentin's death hangs heavy, but there's little time to mourn

Spoiler warning for 'The Magicians' Season 5 premiere

'The Magicians' has always specialized in the long game, setting up its mysteries and plot points early on for a greater payoff later. The Season 5 premiere is no different, as the multiverse of 'The Magicians' has more magic than it knows what to do with. The energies that were contained within Everett Rowe (Brian Markinson) were released when Quentin (Jason Ralph) sacrificed himself, and now the sheer excess of magic has lead to an influx of new magic users, and unpredictable magic surges.

Surges are responsible for things like Fillory getting a 300-year time jump, with the reign of a new Dark King. Quentin's death has been affecting the show's leads in different ways, but with so much going on, the processing of grief is going to be more of a journey than any single episode's destination.

While 'The Magicians' is an ensemble show, there's always one central questline that defines the season as a whole, and it's usually been Quentin's. Julia Wicker (Stella Maeve) is going to be the one to watch out for this season, however. With the loss of her godhood, and the return of her magical powers thanks in no small part to Julia's death, she is struggling to make his sacrifice mean something. But as Penny-23 (Arjun Gupta) points out, "there's nothing you will ever be able to do that's worth losing him." 


Penny and Julia's relationship is still in the honeymoon phase and they are all smiles in each other's presence. Julia's obsession with finding something worthwhile to do with her magic, however, shows hints of cracks in their relationship. In the meanwhile, Penny's going through a journey of his own. He's responsible for a new crop of Traveller. At first reluctant, Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) manages to make it work for Penny to avoid the responsibility than to accept it. With the new responsibility also comes a new mystery; there's an ominous Signal that's calling out to unprotected Travellers. 

In Fillory, Margo (Summer Bishil) and Elliot (Hale Appleman) are back together after a whole season apart. They're trying to figure out what happened to Fillory and learning that Josh (Trevoe Einhorn) and Fen (Brittany Curan) were beheaded by discontent, Fillorian subjects pushes Margo right to the edge. She loses patience with Elliot, whose grieving process has involved copious amounts of alcohol, denial, and general apathy.


Margo continues to be one of the show's most fascinating embodiments of character growth and determination. A Dark King and 300 years of his reign are not going to be enough to keep Margo from the man she's falling in love with, especially not with Josh's ghost now haunting her.

Alice (Olivia Dudley) is perhaps hit the hardest by Quentin's death, having just got back together with him before losing him again. Her grief is different from Elliot's. He numbs himself, while Alice's pain is raw across her face. Her mother's advice to "do something crazy" to get through is less of a turning point for her, and more of the excuse she needs to go through with what might be a very dangerous plan to bring Quentin back.

Kady (Jade Tailor), in the meanwhile, is dealing with being the new leader of the Hedges. Knowing the show, her thread will eventually weave back into the main narrative, but for the moment, she's got no interaction with the rest of the cast. While the surges of magic have had mixed blessings for the rest of the magical community, the Hedge Witches are still in a bad way from the Library's oppressive regime in Season 4. The leaderless Library, however, is in no shape to make reparations, and it's going to be up to Kady to fix things herself. There's another mystery set up there: She's up against a powerful magician who is hiding vital Library resources from her.


The first episode has everything that makes 'The Magicians' what it is. Long-game storytelling, a lot of seemingly disconnected plot threads, the subversion of fantasy tropes into something more cynical and mundane, and every now and again, the imparting of genuine wonder. Amongst all the plot threads is the promise of more human ones. It's been a month since Quentin's death, and the grief is yet to be fully processed. Quentin's presence is still felt, in jokes, in references and in flashbacks of memories left behind. For the moment, neither the show nor its cast is willing to let Quentin go. But prepare yourself, because it's going to.

The next episode of 'The Magicans' airs on January 22 on Syfy.


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 The Magicians Season 5 Episode 1 Review Do Something Crazy is not yet ready to let Quentin go