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The Magicians: Escape The Pandemic To The Magical Land Of Fillory

The fifth and final season of The Magicians is now available to binge first on Showmax. Season 5 has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is “without a doubt a satisfying conclusion to an amazing five-year series,” according to TV Fanatic.

Based on the best-selling novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians centres on a group of friends as they discover their magical abilities at Brakebills University and ward off evil creatures who threaten to destroy Fillory, the magical world they’ve come to know.

All four previous seasons of The Magicians have been nominated for Best Fantasy TV Series by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, while the series has an overall critics rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Memorably described as “Harry Potter meets The Chronicles of Narnia meets the cold, harsh realities of real life” by The Verge, The Magicians was SYFY’s longest-running show on air when it ended this year. The cult favourite has been hailed as “the most entrancing fantasy available on television” by Salon, “the funniest fantasy show on TV” by Indiewire, “the most sexually aware show on TV” by io9, and as “a fantasy show for people who love fantasy shows” by AVClub.

[Spoiler alert] Last season, magic was saved, but at a terrible cost: the life of Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), who died heroically to save his friends— and the world. Julia (Stella Maeve), Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Eliot (Hale Appleman), Margo (Summer Bishil), Penny (Arjun Gupta) and their friends (and frenemies) must learn to navigate a world without him while facing a new threat: in freeing magic, the balance tipped the other way and there’s too damn much of it. As the excess builds, an apocalypse looms. Can the magicians get their sh*t together to save the world without Q?

Admittedly, killing off the show’s lead character in last season’s finale was a controversial move. As Collider says, “To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to The Magicians Season 5. The SYFY series has long been one of my favourite shows on television, even more so when it started leaving Lev Grossman’s phenomenal source material behind and began carving out its own path. But the Season 4 finale, in which the show’s lead character Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) sacrificed himself to save his friends and thus exited the series, broke my heart. The hero of this story, the character who so deeply drew me into the world of The Magicians and made me fall in love with this brash, bold fantasy series (first in the books, then onscreen), was gone. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it’s hard to imagine watching one of your favourite TV shows without its leading character.”

But as Vox points out, “The Magicians has always cheekily leaned into the idea that heroes in fantasy stories too often look like Quentin — which is to say white, male, and conventionally attractive. But most of the show’s characters other than Quentin haven’t fit that paradigm, and arguably Quentin himself, who was bisexual, didn’t either. So killing off Quentin also functions as a kind of meta-commentary on The Magicians’ attempts to transcend both its genre and its source material, in which Quentin remains alive through the end.”

Despite their initial scepticism, Collider, like many others, was won over by Season 5. “The show’s writers find compelling ways to make Quentin’s death meaningful, and it results in some fascinating and ultimately forward-thinking character developments. Moreover (and maybe most importantly), The Magicians is still tons of fun. There are weird creatures, off-colour jokes, and plenty of fantastical twists and turns. And that’s The Magicians Season 5’s greatest triumph. That it feels at once like it’s moving on from the loss of its central character, but also still feels like the same show I came to love.”

We’re as sad, and grateful for the magic, as anyone. But at a time when everything is up in the air globally, there’s also something reassuring about committing to a show that you know has an ending, and a good one at that.

As The Atlantic wrote, “It’s a story made more powerful now, given current circumstances. At a time when many of us are experiencing our own moments of sadness and anxiety, The Magicians series can be the escape the Fillory books were for Quentin… With so many people currently seeking out escapism in all its forms, SYFY’s The Magicians is a fantastic binge watch, an all-consuming experience with just enough light to distract from the global pandemic.”

Fall under the spell of Seasons 1-5 at www.showmax.com.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za
And IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/