REVIEW: The Magicians, S4E13 – No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry

Despite a disappointing face-off between the Brakebills students (are they even students anymore?) and the god-like monsters they’ve been preparing to fight all season, “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” wound up being perhaps the most memorable The Magicians season finale yet.

Well, that was easy.

On the somewhat rushed side, Julia (Stella Maeve) was restored to her true self with one stab in the back from Alice (Olivia Taylor-Dudley). Penny-23 (Arjun Gupta) was then forced to make the call between leaving her human – and probably magicless – or turning her into a goddess full time, but the consequences of that choice were glossed over aside from one scene of her angry at her kind of boyfriend for taking away her powers. The fight to save Eliot (Hale Appleman) had the advantage of at least being the culmination of Kady’s (Jade Tailor) season-long struggle to give meaning to her life, but it still felt a bit anticlimactic given how long it took to piece together his plan – and his sister.

But perhaps the ease with which they were defeated, though it was a temporary fix which would require further action, made sense because the real battle was against Everett and the Library’s totalitarian control over magic. The greatest fight required the greatest sacrifice, and that was where “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” spent most of its time. After a humorous and perfunctory trip to the realm of the Old Gods, where Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Josh (Trevor Einhorn) learned that they needed to find a seam in the Mirror World to deposit the monsters’ trapped essence forever, Quentin accompanied Penny and Alice to make the final preparations. That is where the showdown against Everett began, and where Quentin made the fateful decision to use his previously acquired mending magic get rid the world of the monsters and Everett as well as save his friends. And the only thing it cost him was his own life.

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Now, death has never been what it seems on The Magicians, but it hit particularly hard this time with the news that Ralph won’t be back next season. He was welcomed to the after life by Penny-40, who walked him through his life’s final moments and clarified that it was a heroic action and not a result of his lifelong battle with depression – though it was appropriate to include a suicide prevention hotline at the end of the episode regardless. He also watched over his own funeral, where the cast broke out into a beautiful mourning song that surpassed this season’s musical episode by a mile. By the them Quentin received his underworld Metro card and headed off to his eternal rest, it really did feel like the end of his story in a beautiful albeit heartbreaking way.

But the end of Quentin is not the end of The Magicians, and “No Better to Be Safe Than Sorry” set up a few storylines for next year in the midst of the tragedy. Julia’s pain over Quentin restored her magic, and fans got to cheer when she said the same line Quentin did in the pilot (“Holy shit! I’m doing this!”). Zelda began rebuilding the Library, which released its iron grip on magic, and recruited Alice for the project. And most shockingly, Margo (Summer Bishil) and Eliot learned that 300 years had passed in Fillory, with Fen and Josh being overthrown long ago. We can’t lose more cast members, and Margo just accepted that she was in love with Josh, so it’s certain that next season will work towards getting them back.

The Magicians will be back for a fifth season on SYFY.