Please Note: this interview contains major, major spoilers for The Magicians season 2 — don’t read it if you aren’t already caught up (lest you love to be spoiled. In which case: don’t @ us)!
Actions have consequences. When you kill a god or two, your magical benefactors may no longer be all that keen to let you have access to your powers. (Way to freakin’ go, Quentin.) Such is the place we’re left at the end of season two of Syfy’s adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and, according to series creators Sera Gamble and John McNamara, the consequences will force the hand of every magical creature in and out of Fillory. So after hosting their WonderCon panel this year, we asked Gamble, McNamara, and stars Jason Ralph (Quentin) and Stella Maeve (Julia) what the heck is going on.
Basically: y’all done fucked up and now it’s time to step up. It’s the sort of position that, even in the real world we mere mortals live in (sigh), continues to prove the resonance of the series’ rumination on adolescence. Dubbing it the “third level crisis,” Gamble equates the situation to that moment “where your parents stop giving you money, or where you lose your job, and you’re like, ‘Okay, now I’m an adult for real and my resources are gone.'”
“For two seasons, our characters have been growing up and they’ve been taking on immense responsibility, but they’ve been doing so in a general atmosphere of abundance,” Gamble explained. “We left Julia out in the cold more than the rest of the characters, but even she—when she’s clever enough—is privy to a bottomless well of magic. So we’ve taken that away and now they REALLY have to grow up.”
It’s a sentiment series star Jason Ralph agrees with, and makes him anticipate the direction next season will take the gang. “A lot of this season felt, to me, about taking responsibility and making a choice—making distinct decisions—for the first time.”
But for all its filigree (heh) and myriad flights of fancy, The Magicians‘ finale ends with a very the universal truth: for as much control as you hope to wield in life, it often doesn’t matter. “Towards the end of the season, the curtain gets drawn back and you find out that it was all out of their control—just as you think they’re gaining control we reveal that they’ve had none the whole time,” Ralph said. “So now, for the first time ever, we’re left in the wake of [the question], ‘What happens when you’re in charge of your own destiny?’ And I think that’s a cool place to start season three.”
When it comes to dealing with the fallout, executive producer McNamara believes the reactions will be “different for each character—they all have an individual relationship to magic. I would say the most ambivalent is Penny, even though he has one of the coolest powers, when it works. The most devastated will be Alice, because that’s the last connection she had to that Niffin state that was so ecstatic for her. Plus, for her entire life, she was considered a prodigy. Each character is going to have a unique response to it and, obviously, the fairies aren’t just going to go away.”
But where does this leave Julia’s character? After all, we saw her wielding a single spark at the end of the season, proving all is not lost. Does this mean Julia’s even stronger than we initially thought? “She’s the vessel—that’s what I got from it,” actress Stella Maeve explained to us. And it’s not lost on her how important her position is when it comes to Julia’s redemption—in her own eyes and those of her friends. “Finally, Julia can save the day instead of having hit after hit of crazy things happening to her. There’s a calmness; now she’s sitting with this power, with magic.”
To which Ralph quickly replied, “Well, you’re a god, right? That’s what we’re saying here?” (It should be noted that Gamble responded with a wary “…Maaaaybe we are and maybe not!” to that.) “To have that power and be able to be the thing,” Maeve added, “that’s awesome. I would love to see Julia come into her goddess form and do all these amazing things like talk to animals in Fillory.”
So, Goddess Julia versus the world—is that where we’re headed? Somewhere so beyond the books a brave new world of Magicians-ness? Maybe, but not so fast, says Gamble: “In certain ways we already are beyond it. There are minor characters in the books that we’ve expanded a lot beyond who they become in the books, but there’s a lot of material in the three books that we haven’t gotten to yet. We have some plans to loop back into the stuff we haven’t done yet.” (To which McNamara excitedly exclaimed: “Flying boat—back on the record!”)
Before that, though, there will be a reckoning. If The Magicians have posited anything, it’s that magic doesn’t solve anything; oftentimes it makes things worse, and you have to learn how to deal with that. “That’s what makes it so human: you do this thing [like Quentin did, killing Ember and Umber] and it’s the right thing to do but it has massive unintended consequences,” explained McNamara. “That’s war, that’s politics, it’s romance—it’s everything. How are they going to fix this problem?”
What did you think of The Magicians finale? Let us know in the comments below!
Images and GIFs: Syfy