‘The Magicians’ Season 4, Episode 13 Recap: “No Better to be Safe Than Sorry”
In true The Magicians style, this season four finale was action packed start to finish and left audiences reeling over the death of a much beloved character. As Penny says, “Always got to be a f*cking twist.”
Monster Julia and Dean Fogg are face to face and it seems as if she is about to kill him when Quentin and Alice, armed with Margo’s axe and the enchanted jar, draw her attention. Alice casts, throwing Monster Julia across the room, which only serves to anger her. She stands and stalks toward them when Penny appears behind her and chops her in the back with the second axe. Monster Julia screams and drops to the ground.
Meanwhile, Everett stalks calmly onto the beach of the hidden magical lake surveying it.
The monster leaves Julia’s body as Penny removes the axe and is drawn into the enchanted jar Alice is holding. Alice and Quentin quickly cast the bond to keep her trapped, and Fogg tells them they must return to Brakebills immediately as there is no knowing how long the bond will last. Alice does not want to leave without also trapping the monster in Eliot, but Quentin argues they need more magic first, and Penny is worried about the axe wound in Julia’s back. At Julia’s urging, Penny travels the group to the reservoir where they find it completely drained of magic.
At the Brakebill’s hospital, Fogg quickly instructs Quentin and Alice to go to his office and lock the jar in the trap door under his desk (where the temperature is at absolute zero) to slow down the monster’s escape. They leave and Fogg goes to Julia’s bedside with Penny, where she is gasping in severe pain as Professor Lipson examines her. The pain medicine has no affect on Julia and the wound baffles Lipson. In desperation, Penny retrieves the Binder, who says he can save her life but she has to choose between mortality and being a goddess before he can heal her. However, Julia is in a magically induced coma, and isn’t “in a talking mood,” as the Binder puts it.
Kady meets with Pete, who now has Reid’s Mark on his wrist. He tells her that six hedges in the last 48 hours have been branded with the mark. Kady laments the decisions they have to make and the war they are now facing.
Quentin brings tea to a fully healed Julia who tries to magically light a candle with no success. She turns their attention the monsters and their plans. They now know that the monsters are hunting the old gods (their parents), but left behind a scroll in Julia’s pocket that will unlock the door to the plane where the old gods are.
At Marina’s loft, Margo welcomes a very wet (and very naked), freshly restored human Josh back to two legs and offers him a towel. She quickly pops her fairy eye back in and he tells her being a fish felt oddly natural. He also tells Margo that her selflessness and caring was the weirdest part of the whole ordeal. Margo explains that she’ll do anything for someone she loves, and an understandably shocked Josh kisses her passionately. As the kiss heats up Penny travels in, gets an eye full of Josh’s (naked) backside, and the two quickly break apart.
Josh rounds the counter to make fish sticks (donning an apron in the process) and Margo asks Penny about Eliot. When he doesn’t answer immediately she knows something went wrong and immediately accuses him of choosing to save Julia (the “bitch with the bulletproof body”) over Eliot. As the two fight Josh attempts to magically cook the fish sticks on a baking sheet but his magic goes wild and lights them on fire. Josh claims he must has special fish magics, but Penny theorizes that his touching the reservoir has him dosed up on magic.
Kady is seated next to Zelda for treatment at the hospital (the Poison Room took a toll on them) and accuses Zelda of plotting the entire thing, but Zelda tells her that she truly believed in Everett’s goodness. Zelda also informs Kady that she is no longer as obedient and Kady asks for proof.
In another room, Professor Lipson checks in on Julia and tells her she seems perfectly ok now. Julia tries again to cast, with no luck, when Penny walks in. Julia lays into him for choosing to return her to her human body without giving her the choice. Penny agrees that under the horrible circumstances he made the selfish choice because he could not keep watching her suffer. She stops him from leaving the room, asking him to stay and let her be mad at him and he agrees.
Now at their old cottage at Brakebills, Josh, Margo, and Quentin argue over what to do about Everett and the Eliot Monster now that Everett has the power to rip the monster from his body. Margo storms away and Quentin agrees that anything endangering Eliot’s life is off limits. The Eliot Monster appears asking where his sister and the scroll are. Josh picks it up and his magic unrolls the scroll and opens a door to another dimension. Quentin and Josh quickly jump through, and the Eliot Monster is left in the room as Dean Fogg enters. Fogg sends him away to the forest with a spell on him causing confusion.
Screaming, Quentin and Josh land on an office floor where a “congratulations” banner falls and a man enters congratulating them on completing “task 764.” They tell him they are not on a quest and accidentally completed the task on the scroll. Josh and Quentin then tell him about the monsters and their desire to kill the old gods. He tells them the old gods won’t really care, and instead says they should drop the monster twins in ‘the seam.’ The seam is the place between their universe and the other, and is not completely closed but has caused a weird pocket world. Quentin realizes it’s the Mirror World, and so they are sent back to Brakebills (with celebratory god cake) where they tell Penny, Alice, Margo, and Kady about the seam.
Alice says she found a door in the Mirror World as a niffin that she knew to avoid and believes this is where the seam is. With the Eliot Monster confused by the spell Fogg put on him, Quentin points out this is the perfect opportunity to sneak up on him. Kady suggests using hedge witches that are using cooperative magic in order to create a power boost for the incorporate bond spell to ensure the monsters stay trapped until they are tossed into the seam. Alice points out they have to continuously cast from the time the monster is captured to the time they are thrown into the seam. They all agree it’s risky, but it’s their only chance.
Away from the group, Alice and Quentin express their concerns about one another’s safety. Alice ultimately tells Quentin that they work best as a team and asks that they work together going forward. Quentin agrees, “if nothing else, I like the sound of that.” Margo walks in with her axes on her shoulders and lets them know it’s time to go. They kiss and follow her into the next room.
Julia wants desperately to help, but Penny tells her that there are a lot worse things than dying and should not beat herself up over having to sit out the impending fight. They say their goodbyes and the group departs, leaving Julia alone.
The Eliot Monster is sitting alone in the woods talking aloud to his sister. Margo rolls her fairy eye near him so that she can see every angle, while Penny and Quentin shout to get his attention. As he charges them, Penny travels them to another spot nearby and Margo (with a colorful “hey mother*cker!”) cuts him in the stomach with her axe. He falls to the ground bleeding as Penny traps him in the jar. Penny sends the text to begin casting and everyone, hedges and magicians worldwide, together cast to keep the monsters bound in their jars. Margo tries to keep Eliot conscious.
Back at the Brakebills hospital, Eliot is rushed into surgery with Professor Lipson. She has to ‘save him the old fashioned way’ as all ambient magic is being used to keep the monsters bound in the jars.
Penny, Alice, and Quentin enter the Mirror World and Alice reminds them not to travel or use magic in this world (magic is unstable and can be explosive). They reach the door, and though Alice hesitates, Penny charges through the door (into the Mirror World equivalent of the Brakebills lab) and uncovers another mirror in which lies the seam.
Quentin tosses the first monster into the seam, but as he takes the second from Alice, Everett appears demanding the second jar from Quentin (so he can become a god). They both hold up their hands and Alice yells, “No!” to prevent them casting. Quentin turns to throw the jar but Everett breaks the mirror which removes the seam. Everett again demands the jar and tells Quentin he will not be a bad god, that he studied them specifically to become a better god.
Quentin agrees, looks at Penny and says, “take her, go now.” Penny grabs Alice around the waist and runs for the door as Quentin casts a mending charm behind his back. “Cruel World” by Active Child plays as everything goes into slow motion. As the mirror repairs itself Quentin turns to throw the jar and the seam reappears just in time for the jar to be swallowed. However, the charm he casts explodes outward, (magic is unpredictable in the Mirror World) ricocheting around the room. Alice screams and fights against Penny, watching as Everett is killed. The hedge witches and magicians casting around the world feel the change when the bottles are gone and begin to celebrate, hugging one another all while Penny is desperately dragging Alice away, trying to save them both. They watch as Quentin is blown into the air by the force of the spell and is vaporized by it. Penny gets Alice through the mirror into their world and they crumble to the ground as he tries to comfort a distraught Alice. Watch Quentin’s heartbreaking death scene below:
In the underworld, Penny40 greets Quentin in the elevator. Quentin utters an “oh shit” as he realizes he is truly dead. Penny brings him to the “Secrets Taken to the Grave” Room, gives him hot chocolate, and lets him talk. “It only means anything if you reveal it to yourself,” Penny tells him. Quentin reflects on his life before Brakebills, one of medications, hospitals, and thoughts of suicide. He voices what is likely his deepest fear, he asks if he did a brave thing to save his friends or if he finally found a way to kill himself. Penny understands his turmoil (and points out he needs the “deluxe package”) and takes him to the campfire outside the cottage at Brakebills where some of his friends are gathered.
Quentin takes a step as if to approach, but Penny holds him back. He is an observer only. Around the fire are Alice, Kady, Julia, Penny, and Dean Fogg. Alice holds the cup that Quentin mended at Brakebills South (“I helped it wake up and remember what it was before”). When words fail her she tosses the cup in the fire, and Kady wisely says no words will convey what they feel, and uses magic to play a slow, soft acoustic version of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” (a song no Magicians fan will ever hear the same way again).
Kady holds the signed book that belonged to Quentin, and tosses it into the fire as she sings, “take on me, take me on.” Penny joins in holding an egg and remembers when he and Quentin used eggs as placeholders for the dragon egg they lost until the affects wore off. He adds it to the fire.
“So needless to say, I’m odds and ends,” comes from behind the group and they turn to see Eliot singing as he and Margo approach the fire. Quentin, watching from afar, tears up quickly as he realizes Eliot survived.
Margo holds Quentin’s Fillorian crown (which she placed on his head), and adds it to the fire. Fogg holds Quentin’s Brakebills admissions letter, and remembers him signing it as he adds it to the fire. Penny40 tells Quentin to appreciate the sincere grief, and reminds him how Quentin laughed when Penny died. They share a laugh and Penny says, “The story for them, it’s just starting. But it won’t be the same story, because of you. You didn’t just save their lives, you changed their lives, as much as they changed yours. You didn’t want to leave all that, did you?” Eliot takes out a peach, remembering their time together in Fillory (“peaches and plums motherf*cker”) and adds it to the fire. The group finishes the chorus together, as Quentin quietly decides he’s ready to move on and they leave. Watch the scene below:
Back in the “Secrets Taken to the Grave” Room, Quentin asks if they will be ok. Penny gives him a few spoilers, we see Professor Lipson teaching a new class of first years, telling them that magic is kept stable with the ring finger as her own spell goes awry and she seems very confused. Dean Fogg uses magic to check in on his globe, and Zelda speaks with two other librarians as they continue to clean up the recent slaughter. She refuses to accept the top position at the library, and she asks that they fetch Alice instead. Eliot and Margo return to Fillory, but it seems they have returned 300 years after Fen and Josh were overthrown. The castle looks completely different and passersby inform them that the “Dark King” now reigns.
Lastly, Quentin asks about Julia and her magic, “Magic comes from pain” Penny reminds him. Julia is crying alone by the fire as she takes out a deck of playing cards. She says goodbye as she throws them at the fire but they spread and freeze in the air. “I’m doing this,” Julia realizes as she moves the cards and pulls them back to her hand. Penny approaches and confirms he saw her doing magic.
Penny40 takes Quentin to an empty room with a low ceiling and no windows. “Here, you are finally just you,” Penny tells a questioning Quentin who wants to know what’s next. Penny gives him his underground pass, and they hug for one final goodbye. Quentin turns and walks through the empty doorframe that has appeared behind him.
The Magicians will return in 2020 for season five on SYFY.