The Magicians showrunner Sera Gamble gives Hypable an inside scoop and warns us about what we should prepare to see in season 2.
Let’s just jump right into it, shall we? There’s a lot of ground to cover.
Warning for major spoilers if you haven’t seen episode 2×04 of The Magicians.
1) From the very beginning they knew Alice wouldn’t be around forever
Seeing as Alice’s death occurs in Lev Grossman’s books, Gamble says this was the plan from day one. “We always knew that we would do this. We didn’t see any way around it and we didn’t want anyway around it. Alice is one of the most meaningful parts in the book. Alice’s death shapes all the other characters from then on out. Everyone is affected in a way that they can never turn back from. So that was just too juicy.”
The story, however, didn’t exactly pan out the way they initially expected. “Originally we thought that she would die at the end of season 1. As we got closer to the final episode — in terms of breaking the story and really beating it out — it became clear to us that there was just so much story to tell. With the Beast, with Alice… we weren’t ready to do it all in one fight.” Which is why the final product looks like, “The Fight with the Beast Part One: That leaves everybody lying on the floor at the end of season 1. And then The Fight with the Beast Part Two: Which took place in episode 3.”
2) That doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Alice — yet
“The people that watch The Magicians are savvy TV viewers. This is not their first rodeo,” Gamble explains. “They know that on television if you even think about someone from your past, you can flash back and see that face again. So no. This is not the last time in the life of The Magicians series that you will see Olivia’s face.”
Gamble is hesitant to say any more than that though, “I just don’t want to say too much about how or when or why, because I think part of the enjoyment of it is to wonder. To be in Quentin’s shoes, to feel her loss and her absence. Because that’s real. It’s probably the most devastating blow of Quentin’s entire life. So we wanted to make sure we gave that space and we honored that.”
3) Thanks to some specific sort of magic, Quentin will have a very emotional experience which touches on that loss
“One of the great things about writing a show that is fantasy [is that] one of the tools in our toolbox is magic,” Gamble shares. “If you trace it back to the very oldest stories, which are fairy tales and stories around the campfire, these tools — magic and monsters and spells — they’re a way for us to externalize things about the human psyche.”
“We have magic,” she continues, “we can externalize some of the things that he’s going through. In a way that’s really visual and visceral and hopefully entertaining and emotionally cathartic.”
4) Julia’s story will also use magic to highlight it
“The other storyline that is really utilizing these tropes and the tools in the same way is Julia’s,” Gamble elaborates. “[Her story is] also something that’s kind of difficult and fraught and can be a challenge to dramatize. The after effects of the extreme trauma that she went through in being attacked — we have this giant paintbox of magical colors that we get to use so we can pull apart some of the things she’s going through. We can look at them each one by one and kind of bring them to life magically.”
5) Eliot also has a lot on his plate this year, including confronting his demons
“He took really drastic measures at the end of last season,” Gamble starts. “He had this lovely moment of self awareness — that he had to change something or his life was going nowhere good. So his biggest challenge [this year] is just– when you try to change your life it’s really fucking hard. He’s living an extreme version of that,” she continues.
“[Eliot’s] learning this thing I think we all learn when we try to shape up, self improve, or move our lives in a new direction. Which is that, there is a reason why you were behaving the way you were to begin with. Eliot doesn’t have these demons for no reason. He doesn’t have this desire to keep partying long past where everyone else falls away, for no reason.” Topping off the statement by wisely saying, “He took on a whole other planet but he can’t get away from himself.”
6) Eliot’s wife, Fen, may not become his soulmate but she will become his partner
Eliot can’t escape his wife Fen either. “She, like Eliot, is stuck in a really traditional form of marriage,” Gamble starts out by saying. “It has nothing to do with her emotional inner life. She’s basically been promised to him since before she was born.”
“One thing that they have in common — despite the fact that they’re from literally different planets — is that they both do understand the scope of their responsibility and they take it seriously.” It’s that understanding which unites them as a team. “It’s not the romantic love match that one might hope for Eliot. But he’s determined to be a good High King, and this is part of that. Fen is his ambassador to Fillory, she is a local who understands the culture, and she was someone who was raised with an acute understanding of her responsibility inside that marriage.”
7) Fen will be much more than just Eliot’s wife
Gamble assures us though that Fen will have an arc of her very own. “Of course we wanted to make sure that she was not a character that showed up every episode entirely to exist just for Eliot’s storyline. She became very interesting to us just on her own. Despite knowing that the day might come where Eliot would [show up] for her, in the meantime she was living her own life. She became a little bit politicized. Which we find out in an upcoming episode,” Gamble shares.
“She has friends with really strong opinions about High Kings and Queens from earth. So she’s a little bit torn between her responsibility and her past. Adding to that is that she has a growing affection for Eliot that becomes central to her.” Gamble finishes her remarks on Fen by saying, “Wait until you see later in the season. Some crazy shit happens to Fen. She participates in some very high level crazy shit.”
8) As always, Margo will wear her power well
“I think of everyone on the show Margo is probably best suited to be a ruler on this level. She has always kind of known herself to be a leader in this way. The same instinct that makes her the captain of the Welters team, [it] kicks in as soon as she enters Fillory as the queen.”
When asked if any of that power would go to Margo’s head Gamble said they hadn’t really gotten to that point yet. “We haven’t really explored the extent to which power can corrupt her because the problems that she’s facing this season largely are about the fact that she has a lot of responsibility to Fillory but she’s not given the authority she should be. It’s an old fashioned traditional patriarchal culture,” Gamble explains. “They are uncomfortable with her confidence in her own decision making abilities. So a lot of times she runs up against people in the court who are mansplaining things to her, [like] what her job should be. They’re just not letting her pull the trigger on the things she wants to do.”
9) The 2016 election even managed to touch the ‘Magicians’ writers room
“I don’t want to say that we were channeling our opinions about the election this season,” Gamble starts out by saying, “but we kind of were!”
“We were coming in every morning, talking about the way that the news was being covered about Hillary Clinton. Separate it aside from how you feel about her as a politician or as a candidate, there was a lot of really obvious sexism happening that the writers would really want to come in and talk about. I think that that was in our unconscious minds — male and female — as we all sat down and started to write stories this season.”
10) Julia and Kady’s relationship will channel a brother-in-arms dynamic
When asked about Julia and Kady’s relationship, Gamble immediately jumps into the deep end. “Kady and Julia are very deeply bonded. […] They are bonded the way that soldiers who have been to war together are bonded. They’ve undergone trauma together and they’ve seen death together. They share the same goal to try and find and kill Reynard. In both of their minds it’s the most important thing on earth.”
However, it’s not just the mission tying them together. “Kady deeply feels she owes her life to Julia. [In her mind] she could probably spend the rest of her life repaying that debt. So their friendship — their relationship — comes from a very intense place inside both of them.” That doesn’t mean things are always sunshine and rainbows between them. “There are times when Kady doesn’t necessarily agree with what Julia is doing. […] So there’s inherent pitfalls to the kind of bond that they have. There’s some tension that arises from that as the season goes on. The depth of the connection between the two of them was one of the most fun things to write this season because it felt really specific and unusual. Like a former friendship that you usually [only] get to write if you were writing an intense war movie in the trenches and not about two witches in Brooklyn.”
You can catch The Magicians Wednesdays at 9 PM on the Syfy channel.