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THE MAGICIANS Gets More Musical Numbers and More Book Deviations in Season 2

THE MAGICIANS Gets More Musical Numbers and More Book Deviations in Season 2

There’s no denying that The Magicians loves a good cliffhanger and audacious situations. So much so, in fact, Syfy’s addictive fantasy series based on Lev Grossman’s books ended season one on every possible cliffhanger imaginable. Quentin (Jason Ralph) was left all alone as his friends Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Eliot (Hale Appleman), and Margo (Summer Bishil) were ruthlessly murdered and Penny (Arjun Gupta) was severely injured by the Beast a.k.a. Martin Chatwin (Charles Mesure) in Fillory. Quentin’s BFF Julia (Stella Maeve), still reeling from being rape at the hands of Reynard (Mackenzie Astin) the trickster fox demon god, betrayed everyone and teamed up with the Beast, helping him escape from Quentin, Alice, Eliot, Margo, and Penny’s attack in exchange for his help in killing Reynard. Even magic itself was literally dying, as the Beast had been consuming it selfishly to gain more power for decades.

Thankfully and not surprisingly, the show wastes no time in getting down to business when season two picks up—and things get a little crazy as they only can on The Magicians.


“We are picking up mere seconds after the cliffhangers, so we get right into what happens next, starting with what happens to Quentin, the one who is the most conscious and vertical of the group,” executive producer Sera Gamble told Nerdist on set in Vancouver. “Everyone knows we’ll be seeing everyone again, but it becomes a question of in what form, at what price, what will they do next? The Beast is still out there, Reynard is still out there. That’s the first order of the day.”

Because season one pulled a lot of Julia’s story from book two, executive producer John McNamara revealed that they’re straying from the books even more in season two. “We’re not totally 100 percent beholden to the books,” McNamara told Nerdist. “I think of them as kind of a matrix, this really perfect design of fantasy and reality that we then get to expand here and there. It can survive an expansion or a deepening because it’s so well done.

But book fans shouldn’t be worried: they’re not changing the story that inspired the TV series into something unrecognizable. “We don’t want to change the basic themes or intents of Lev’s,” McNamara continued. “Those are the things that attracted us to begin with. Sometimes we do invent our own plots but we make sure that those are in line with his themes.”

According to Gamble, one of the biggest changes from the page to the screen in season two has to do with the villain(s) of the story.


“I am deeply troubled by the idea that what is a hero and what is a villain is so clear now in our culture,” McNamara said. “There’s usually a tertiary traumatic reason of why someone’s a hero. And then there is like very little attention paid to why the villain is the villain, other than he wants to take over the world. But when I write, I separate myself from the character and whether or not these decisions are good, bad, nice, mean. Julia is a hero one minute and her own worst enemy the next. My biggest beef with our culture is that we tell too many stories that show us life as we wish it was as opposed to life as it is. Every character’s going to have a different opinion about Julia and it’s going to evolve. And she’s not done. She does a lot more stuff.”

Gamble added with a laugh, “She does a lot more and some of it works and some of it doesn’t. She pisses off everyone. This is not a show about eight best friends. Quentin and Penny are never going to be conventional friends. They’re together in every f-king episode hating each other.”

She paused to think, then continued, “But they are friendly in one scene this season. They get really high. That’s all I’ll say. They get so high they forget they hate each other. They forget their names. They forget everything.”

“They go through the flying forest, that’s why,” McNamara added with a smile. “It’s called that because … well, you get it. That’s a huge spoiler.”


While Quentin doesn’t automatically blame Julia for the damage the Beast did to his friends in the season one finale, her actions will definitely have a major impact on their relationship moving forward.

“Quentin, in the last scene of season one, he knows why Julia is doing what she’s doing. He gets it,” Gamble said. “He doesn’t agree with the choice she’s making but he 100 percent empathizes with her in that situation. Their relationship is going to go to some interesting places this season because of that. He doesn’t condone what she’s doing, he doesn’t agree with it, he’s furious and frustrated with the fact that she doesn’t trust him or believe he can help her. She’s going it alone. But she had to go it alone all of season one because of Quentin, so that’s the lesson she’s learned.”

Now that the Beast and Julia have teamed up to take down Reynard, that means a lot of season two will feature scenes between the two of them. Their dynamic is, well, unique.

“He annoys her, actually,” McNamara said with a laugh. “He loves musicals, is constantly singing, thinks everything is funny.”

Gamble added, “Something that Julia does not expect is how much the Beast actually understands her. We know what happened to Martin and we know the life that he’s lived, so it’s not surprising to us that they’re going to have a lot to talk about.”

The way The Magicians explored mental health issues in season one was groundbreaking in how relatable and relevant it was despite the magical, fantastical circumstances surrounding the characters. Season two will continue to explore how each of the characters copes with his/her various issues, with bigger consequences and stakes this time around.

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“Oh yeah, that never goes away,” Gamble said. “If you’re depressed, you’re depressed. Magic doesn’t cure it. Being a king doesn’t cure it. Having the girl you want doesn’t cure it. In fact, when it comes to Quentin, we fuck up his brain chemistry even more in season two in so many ways. But same for Eliot, he’s an addict and that’s how he deals with the world, and that doesn’t go away as he changes literally everything about his life.”

Now that Eliot has been crowned High King of Fillory, he can never leave the magical realm. By design, that means we’ll be spending a lot more time in Fillory this season.

“It’s bigger in season two,” McNamara said. “Much bigger.”

“It’s been screwed over by the Beast for the last several decades and it needs help,” Gamble said. “Now that Eliot and the others have to rule it, they quickly learn that actually being a ruler is hard every single day. Even in a magical land like Fillory, nothing is easy.”

While each of the Brakebills kids will have a lot of huge life-and-death consequences on their plates this season, that doesn’t mean their relationship issues are going to disappear. For exes Alice and Quentin, their unresolved hurt feelings from Quentin’s cheating and Alice’s subsequent revenge hookup with Penny are still going to play a major part in season two.


“The theme of this season is that no power in the universe can change fate,” McNamara said. “A lot of these problems are not going to go away but they’ll seem really small and stupid compared to all the other stuff that’s happening.”

Book readers know that Alice eventually becomes a niffin. Is that something that McNamara was alluding to in his answer?

“Maybe. We might go that route, we might not,” Gamble teased. “We’re going to do something as consequential. I can promise there is big plot coming for Alice that will change her forever.”

But what Gamble and McNamara were most excited about in season two?

“There may or may not be the Beast singing on the streets of New York,” Gamble said with a laugh. “And we are mounting a big musical number in Fillory.”

What are you most excited/nervous about in season two of The Magicians? Tweet me your thoughts and opinions at @SydneyBucksbaum! And check out my review of season two now before the show returns.

Images: Syfy

The Magicians season two premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 9 p.m. on Syfy.

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