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The Ending Of The Magicians Explained

Through its five seasons, "The Magicianstook a number of daring creative risks that could make it one of the most exciting shows on TV. In its final season, the show wrapped up the arcs of its characters in a way that ultimately proved satisfying, even as they left some things open-ended (via Entertainment Weekly). 

Part of the joy of the show is that, even after our main characters have saved the world over and over again, there's always another cataclysmic event on the horizon. In the final season, that event is the return of Martin Chatwin (Charles Mesure), aka The Beast, and his plan to use the undead to take over Earth. 

Ultimately, the Brakebills gang hatches a plan to stop him, although it's one that comes at a great personal cost for them. The series ends on a hopeful note, and it's also one that promises that although the show may be over, the characters we've come to know and love are going to keep on adventuring. 

In the end, they blow up Fillory

Since the very first season, one of the joys of "The Magicians" has been the divide between the world of Earth, where our human characters are from, and the world of Fillory, a magical place that Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) first learns about through children's books. Ultimately, that magical world turns out to be real, and it causes many of the problems that the show's characters deal with. 

In the final episodes, the Brakebills gang realizes that they need to blow Fillory up in order to stop Martin Chatwin from taking over Earth. Even as their goal becomes clear, though, they still have to find a way to blow up the planet without destroying the people of Fillory. 

To do this, the Brakebills crew has to convince the planet's citizens to get inside of an arc that will ultimately take them to a new world. They also have to create that new world, and the ritual that does that separates the crew, leading to the promise of a search for the missing members at the end of the series.

Margo (Summer Bishil), Josh (Trevor Einhorn), Fen (Brittany Curran), and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) disappear during the ritual and reappear on the new world they've created. The series ends with them preparing to release the people of Fillory, with Margo being named high queen. Elliot (Hale Appleman), Julia (Stella Maeve), Penny (Arjun Gupta), and Kady (Jade Tailor) are left behind on Earth.

All of the character arcs are mostly resolved

Although the group has been completely divided, most of the show's characters get a fulfilling final arc. Margo becomes high queen of a new planet and almost sacrifices herself in her attempt to destroy Fillory. It's clear she's learned what it means to be a true leader, and she's ready to lead again. 

Elliot may be trapped on Earth, far from his best friend, but he's at the beginning of a relationship with Charlton, and he's also joined the staff at Brakebills. He clearly misses his friends but seems to hope that he'll see them again. Julia and Penny have each other and their child and haven't given up hope that they can find their friends. 

Alice, meanwhile, is ready to start over. Of all of the central figures in "The Magicians," she was the one who took Quentin's death the hardest. She even tried to resurrect him and ended up bringing back a young Quentin at the beginning of the season. By the end of Season 5, though, Alice is ready to move on. She hasn't forgotten about Quentin, but she's realized that remembering him and treating his death like a problem that has to be solved aren't the same thing. She can move forward, surrounded by several people she's come to care deeply about. 

Quentin doesn't appear in the show's final episodes

Given that it was the show's series finale, there were some people who expected Quentin, who was the show's ostensible main character through its first four seasons, to return. Ultimately, that didn't come to pass, which only served to reinforce one of the show's central ideas. Quentin, who was the white male protagonist who discovered the magical universe at the beginning of the series, was the show's hero. 

But one of the points of "The Magicians" was that Quentin's story wasn't always the one most worth following. He showed his friends the world of Fillory, but their stories were just as valid as his. 

Throughout the series, there were several explicit references to the notion that all of the people on screen are equally interesting subjects. Just because the show chose to follow some of them didn't mean that the others were boring. Quentin's death may have seemed like an event that the show could never recover from, but instead, it made the mission of "The Magicians" even clearer. 

The show rejected the idea that there was this one way to explore this world (via The Week). Quentin's return may have been moving, but it would have undercut this point. "The Magicians" had plenty of other characters to focus on, and in its final season, it emphasized bringing their arcs to a satisfactory place.