Spoilers ahead for The Magicians, up through Season 4’s “Escape From the Happy Place.”
Syfy’s The Magicians has always been far from the straightest show in television. Its queerness is ever-present, sewn into the fabric of a universe where sex is magic and the relationships between its main characters freely disregard the borders of platonic and romantic love.
Still, even with the backdrop of polyamorous throuples and gay royals, the primary romance on the show has been that of Quentin Coldwater and Alice Quinn — a heterosexual pairing that has waxed and waned, but until recently remained at the center of many of the show’s plots.
Starting in the show’s third season and culminating in the fifth episode of the fourth, however, that romance was eclipsed by new potential couple Quentin and Eliot, legitimizing years of fan speculation and canonizing Quentin as a literal bisexual king. In theory and practice, this change upends traditional ideas of what makes a leading man in fantasy-adjacent stories and affirms The Magicians’ place as one of the best and most subversive adaptations on TV.
To say that there were hints of Quentin and Eliot’s coupling would be wildly underselling the deliciously slow burn their relationship has maintained for three seasons. In the first, Eliot is actively attracted to Quentin but his attentions are brushed off as a joke; later they have a threesome with another female character after a batch of feelings magic overwhelms their desires. That threesome led to Alice and Quentin breaking up, sullying the very real revelation that Quentin’s magically enhanced emotions led him to Eliot’s bed.
Quentin and Eliot’s friendship grew in a myriad of ways over Seasons 2 and 3, with the two Kings of Fillory bonding over their shared quest to find seven magical keys. Their closeness was pushed into hyperdrive in the Season 3 episode “A Life In A Day,” which brought them together to live an entire lifetime as partners in a later-erased time loop. In that timeline, Quentin and Eliot loved each other into their old age, but even there Quentin had another romance and fathered a child with a passing lady fruit seller.
That episode alone was enough to confirm Quentin’s bisexuality, considering that he and Eliot both recalled their life together in the present timeline, but for the remainder of that season and the beginning of this one their plot was largely ignored. Sure, Quentin is bi, but the impact of the revelation felt hollow. Outside of the loop, Quentin still felt defined by his relationship with Alice, and in the meanwhile Eliot became possessed by a fun-hungry demon whose obsession with Quentin was different from the real Eliot’s feelings.
We stan a bi King and his monster-possessed alternate timeline boyfriend.
The fifth episode of Season 4, “Escape from the Happy Place,” changed all of that. Without recapping too much, the episode showed Eliot, whose consciousness is alive and hiding inside the demon-possessed body, willingly trekking through his worst memories in the hope of finding a way to break through the possession and communicate with his friends. After a few false starts and tragic recollections, Eliot realizes that his biggest regret is not choosing to be with Quentin in the current timeline after their time-loop lifetime expired.
His memory of that moment takes the audience back to “A Life In A Day,” to when he and Quentin realized that they could remember their life together. Eliot reveals that Quentin asked him if he wanted to be together because the time-loop was “proof of concept” that they could live happily in love, but Eliot refused out of fear.
It’s gratifying for fans of the show to realize that Eliot wanted to be with Quentin and carried that refusal with him to the point where it became his biggest regret. That secret informs his character and realigns his motivation this season not only to regaining his body, but to regaining Quentin’s love. It’s double gratifying that Quentin was the one who pursued Eliot, not out of magic feelings potion or necessity, but because he saw Eliot as his chance to experience love without the specter of Alice holding him back.
This is, and should be, the kind of shit people who love The Magicians are here for. It’s fulfilling to see the show affirm Quentin’s character as a bisexual man who has learned over the seasons to ask for the love he needs from whomever he needs it from.
Pairing him with Eliot, who struggles with needing anyone at all is a perfect extension of both of their journeys, and the show’s conviction to serving both of their stories setting their romance as the center of Season 4 is masterful and conscious storytelling. We stan a bi King and his monster-possessed alternate timeline boyfriend.