How far the characters of Syfy’s THE MAGICIANS have come. They began their long, arduous journey of self-discovery and acquiring the magical skills and tools they would need to not only navigate life, but also to potentially save an entire magical realm of Fillory from extinction. In Season 2, things do not get any easier or less conflicted, in fact, the heightened danger only exacerbates and expands. To find out a bit more about Julia, Quentin and Alice’s personal journey and struggles she confronts, we had the opportunity to talk with stars Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley and Jason Ralph, who revealed what is happening in Season 2.
The finale of Season 1 was very traumatic. What was that like filming that assault scene, when Julia finally got her memories back and actually realized what happened?
STELLA: It was really intense. As Julia, luckily we had had the books, so we could gather information from those. It was a good starting point, but I feel like anyway you cut it, it’s not easy. I think having read it prior and then having to go through it after, your character doesn’t know it’s happening. You know it’s happening, and you just have to succumb and allow the situation to sort of happen. It’s not easy for Julia. She’s in a level of almost such grief and denial, that’s it’s the only way to sort of move past it is to just keep going. I loved the way that it was handled afterwards. There is so many people that have been through so many tragedies, and so many victims that have been through things that. We wanted to let the world know that they could talk about these things and let their mom know. Apparently, the ratings went up like seventy percent, which was amazing. We’ve tweeted with them. I got involved with this company, the Stuart House Foundation, which was incredible, a center for rape victims. Even though it was a demon-rape, we still treated as if it was an actual rape, regardless of what the circumstances were. But it’s like tangents — I went on five different tangents.
In the end of the Season 1 finale, Julia teamed up with Martin (the Beast) because she wanted revenge for what happened to her. A lot of people view her as becoming a villain with her making that choice. How do you view her choice?
OLIVIA: I don’t agree with that I was just thinking of the finale when Julia teams up with the Beast, I don’t think that she’s intentionally doing that to spite Alice. It’s probably almost trying to save everyone and putting herself on the line, while also utilizing her wits.
JASON: It’s interesting. I get a lot of questions about like, “How do you feel about Julia betraying the group?” I’ve never really felt that way as Quentin. It feels, first of all, like she’s really the only person in the room that had a handle on the situation really. Had she not been there, we don’t know what Alice could have done, but potentially we could have died. Alice being unsure of her powers thus far.
OLIVIA: Yeah. There’s no way of knowing.
STELLA: Julia stepped in on her own. I don’t think that in Julia’s mind it was just go against them. It was genuinely, “I want one thing. And also this is a distraction that will save them. So let me kill two birds with one stone.”
OLIVIA: I think it’s easy to be confused by what happens. All characters, everyone has their own things at stake and their own reasons for doing these things. Julia’s is for her own self. Just like Alice is going to battle for her own self, like Quentin is. It’s easy to place blame in a situation like that, but I really think everyone is doing what was right for them. You’ll see that she’s making strides with the Beast to help protect them, but also protect herself. It’s not like she’s coming out to just kill all of her friends.
Are we’re going to see more from Julia’s perspective?
STELLA: Yeah. I don’t think it’s out of malicious intent. I do think the similarity to her and Martin Chatwin is interesting, because they were both the victims of trauma. That’s something interesting. In this episode that we’re about to start shooting, episode 208, I don’t want to reveal too much, but you’ll get to see something that happens to Julia that the Beast went through. That’s sort of like she could go that route, but there’s that undercurrent of, “Is she gonna go like that? Or is she not?” Ultimately, she’s not the villain. I think it’s just humanity. Also when things happen to people: how do you deal with them?
Julia became very consumed by magic, in Season 1, to a point of self-harm. Is that going to continue in Season 2, is she going to be even more consumed by it in Season 2?
STELLA: I think in Season 2, she’s so consumed, ultimately by the assault and the rape. I think that it’s just about her trying to get back to herself. Trying to find a way to validate the things that have happened. There is magic involved, of course, because they’re magicians, but I don’t think that consumption of magic is what’s driving her journey. I think it’s more self-revelations.
I think it’s like she’s on a journey of atonement, because some of the choices she made in the first season were pretty bad decisions. They unleashed all untold levels of harm on a lot of people.
STELLA: Terrible decisions. I think Julia’s made some really bad choices. I think the thing about all of this characters kind of have in common, and Julia, they’re human. We do do a lot of things that are selfish. It’s kind of nice to get to watch these characters trip and fall, and make these dumb mistakes, and figure it out, or not. Nobody is perfect, and in the TV world, we like to idolize things, and we like to make things pretty and great, and like everyone knows the right answer and knows the right thing. In an ideal world, you’ like to say if magic was real you would use it for good, but there’s probably also a part of you that would want to use it for selfish reasons. It’s sort of like that life thing.
Do you think she’s learned her lesson from all those bad things, or is she still going to keep stumbling?
STELLA: I think she’s learned many lessons. I think at this juncture in this season, she’s at such a place of such self-loathing, that it’s so hard to love yourself, and thus how can you love anyone? I just think she’s disgusted by herself, and blames herself, is angry and sad. Behind all of that is just sadness. It’ll be interesting to see where that sort of soul-searching leads, hopefully getting back to herself, and being able to be there, and being able to love herself, and being able to love Quentin, and to be a good friend.
Is Julia going to be kind of more involved with them at Brakebills, or is she still separated?
STELLA: We are going to Brakebills, which is great. We get to see Julia and Alice do a lot of stuff together.
OLIVIA: Yeah, that’s fun. That’s something I wish we had more of: Julia and Alice, because it’s such an interesting dynamic.
STELLA: Because they’re so different, but they’re both these really strong female figures.
OLIVIA: We’re really lucky in the show to have such strong female leads written.
STELLA: You get to play with me more than last season.
OLIVIA: Yeah, it’s nice.
It is one of the rare shows with magic, where women are really more relied on upon to save everybody. It’s kind of remarkable.
OLIVIA: [Laughs] Yeah. We’re awesome.
STELLA: I think it’s pretty much an ensemble, but I do feel like, as women, we maybe get not overly-appreciated, but definitely appreciated. And our showrunner is a woman.
OLIVIA: We’re lucky we’ve got a good balance between John McNamara and Sera Gamble. They write the masculine and the feminine so well together.
STELLA: Equal opportunities.
OLIVIA: Equal opportunities, sure. As it should be.
STELLA: I definitely feel like women characters get appreciated in the show.
What dynamic were you most excited to explore in Season 2, that we didn’t really get to see in Season 1?
STELLA: I love that I get to play with all of them. It’s nice to work with people so talented and they’re so cool. It’s nice to be a part of people that are your equals and not a different character every week. Developing a random relationship with somebody that ultimately doesn’t matter in the major plot lines, it’s nice to see the slow-burners and see how these characters affect each other –you’re going to get to see some triangle stuff between Quentin and Alice and Julia. That’s very interesting.
Is there really a triangle? I never got the sense there was.
STELLA: There will be. You won’t see it coming, because it’s a bizarre triangle. It’s kind of like that song, what’s that song? “Bizarre Love Triangle.”
How quickly is the love triangle heating up in Season 2?
STELLA: It’s not really a love triangle, it’s just a bizarre triangle.
Are we going to see more of Julia’s relationship with the Hedge witches in Season 2?
STELLA: You will get to see a little bit of it, but not really. That world is kind of left behind and it’s more of driving through to the next mission, I guess. They got me running relays now.
Brakebills didn’t accept Julia, and they tried to keep her out for so long. They just never were very welcoming. How do they embrace her this time?
STELLA: We just shot that scene today, actually. I don’t want to speak on behalf of any other character, I think that Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) wants to make that right. I do have some interesting stuff with Margo’s character. I’d like to work with Eliot more, we haven’t even had one scene together since the show started. Me and Hale [Appleman] were talking about it the other day where we’ve never been in a scene before.
I feel like your character, there’s so much mental and emotional transitions.
OLIVIA: Last season was a roller coaster.
STELLA: I know. I don’t know how they’re going to move on or get it resolved — what happened last season.
Is Alice going to be welcoming Julia back with open arms?
OLIVIA: Well, everybody’s gotten themselves in some serious situation. I don’t think Alice welcomes anybody with open arms. I think a lot of the characters are locked in a downward spiral that makes them feel protective of themselves, and a lot of walls are up.
It seems based on what we have seen so far that like a lot of these characters are pretty selfish people.
OLIVIA: Yeah, because they’re trying to figure this shit out, so there’s no other way. You can’t take care of the person next to you if you don’t take care of yourself. I think that’s why everyone’s at cross purposes in the beginning of the season.
Are you allowed to say where Season 2 picks up with you, because it was left on a very big cliffhanger?
OLIVIA: [Laughs] No, I can’t really go into it, but we’re all here, so that’s one thing. I don’t think that it’s what everyone expects.
STELLA: I think with all the amazing twists, turns that there’s just no way for the audience to predict what is going to happen. They’re clearly alive.
OLIVIA: Yeah, we’re clearly alive in some way, shape or form.
And we’ll get to see a lot of the Fillory?
OLIVIA: Yeah, you’ll get to see Fillory. Fillory is a fascinating, ever changing place. We’ll get to see a lot of Fillory as it undergoes a lot of changes.
STELLA: It’s amazing.
What can we look forward to in the Quentin/Alice relationship?
OLIVIA: It’s always very exciting to delve into the Quentin and Alice relationship. I love them. It’s interesting to see what happens between them, and how we interpret what happened in the books and then make it a part of television. It’s fun to see what they write that’s not in the books. I think there’s a lot happening this season that’s not in the books, that we don’t see.
So Alice. Of course, we found out towards the end of Season 1 that her power is a lot greater, and everybody was kind of looking on to her to take on the Beast, but that didn’t quite work out. So where Alice’s mindset when we see her next?
OLIVIA: I mean, all of our characters were on a downward spiral at the end of last year, and I don’t see them getting out of it any time soon. I mean, obviously, I’m here. I’m in Vancouver shooting. I’m on the show, which I wasn’t sure the fate of Alice because of the books, if I’d be on the season, but they’ve managed to write something very fascinating this season that has been extremely fun to play, and I get to explore different sides of Alice that I didn’t know existed, and her relationship to magic is completely different this year. She’s more powerful than I got to play last year, so that’s fun. I think it’s exciting that we get to play such strong females on the show. It’s been my favorite part of the books and the television show. At the end last season when Quentin was like, “You’re the one,” and he hands the baton to me, it’s like, that’s so cool that we get to do that on this show. Things get a little crazy though this season. I think Alice is the hardest one to talk about, spoiler-wise. It’s a big shift.
Where was her kind of her relationships with each of the primary cast when we last saw her? It seemed like her romance had soured a little bit with Quentin. She’d struck up at least a new romantic interest with Penny (Arjun Gupta) for a short time. Then I don’t know if she was ever that confident around Julia, or even Marco.
OLIVIA: Alice’s relationship with everybody is complicated. She’s not interested in relationships with anybody, except for, I think, Quentin. Her relationship with Julia, she does not like Julia. She’s his long-lost love, and she doesn’t trust her, for good reason, especially at the end of the season. Margo and her have a very cat and mouse relationship, and that’s one I’m excited to explore. Her relationship with Penny is, we get to see where it goes, and somewhat in this season they definitely deal with what happened last season. I think that her friendships that she had get stronger, like with Eliot and with Penny. As far as with Quentin, that’s the most interesting story that’s told in the books, to me, is their relationship. The magic was fun and everything, but the real human stories is what’s interesting. It was ended on a really bad note last season. But like the rest of the gang, we all had to come together to move forward. In this season we have to deal with some of those things that happened last season. There’s definitely a lot of that. I think Quentin and Alice are like magnets, and they can’t stay away from each other, no matter how hard they try. That’s a fascinating character to play, because they piss each other off, yet they have to figure out how to get to the next step. This season, we take that to a whole new level.
Eliot, of course, got a whole new world to inhabit. As he’s become king, who knows if he can still interact with everybody, but I would assume he’s going to, because there’s immediate threats. The Beast is a huge threat. Then they’ve got this Reynard, the trickster. So how does Eliot play into that?
OLIVIA: I think every single one of our characters this season has to step up and step together in all the different story lines, in new ways. Everyone’s storyline is going to crisscross and intermingle in ways that it didn’t last year. Julia’s storyline will cross paths with Alice’s and Quentin’s this year more than last year, and Eliot’s a very important character this year for sure. I think we all get to explore something completely different this season, most of us.
Should we be terrified then? The first season was pretty terrifying.
OLIVIA: This season is so much darker. The material, I mean, last year we dealt with some pretty dark stuff last year, and this year we’re dealing with dark stuff, and the show just in general, the look of it and everything’s darker. Our DP took it to a whole new level with the lenses he got this year made for the show. The lighting and the look of the show is just a lot darker. Somebody just was at the monitor and was saying it looks like a movie. It’s very cinematic. It doesn’t look like television. It feels heavier when we’re doing it. I think this year it’s just going to get darker. I hate to say it, but it’s not going to be easier to watch.
The characters were suddenly thrust in this magical world where they weren’t quite anticipating it even existed. They hoped it would, but they didn’t really believe it, per se, until they got there. Are they ready to abandon our world, because they now have this new world to play in, where there’s a lot of things they’ve got to deal with?
OLIVIA: I think some of the journeys they have to go on have given them a choice what world they’re in, so we’re going to see all different kinds of locations this season, and Fillory’s definitely a whole new character, and we get to see lots of Fillory this season. We only got to see a little piece of it last year. It’s a whole new character. But we’re still at Brakebills. We get to see Brakebills. We get to see the real world. We get to see Fillory. We get to see a couple of new places.
What would you kind of like people to kind of look forward to, as far as for Alice?
OLIVIA: With Alice, I don’t think they see what’s coming. The books only gave us so much, and to keep her character going, I get to explore some things that weren’t in the books, and a lot of things that are in the books. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised when they see where here character went this season. It’s very different.
Arjun had mentioned he felt like his character Penny was empowering Alice a little bit. That was an interesting relationship since he was not only her solace or new romantic interest, but if he’s empowering her in her magical abilities and giving her the courage to kind of address the fact she is that powerful. Does she feel like she’s been empowered, or does she even know how powerful she is?
OLIVIA: Yeah. Well, I mean, at the end of last season I think she’s always known that she’s very powerful in magic. She just doesn’t care about magic. She’s been thrust into these situations where she’s had to deal with her abilities, and magic is just a big part of that world. She didn’t set out to find magic like characters like Quentin, who that’s all they care about. I think at the end of the season, when she drinks Ember’s essence, she becomes a God, in that moment. It gets cut short, obviously, when the Beast arrives. She’s only getting more powerful. Having characters like Penny tell her that who she is, and that she can do it, and she’s powerful, is only helping. But I don’t think people are prepared to see how powerful she is in this season. So that’s fun.
To see if Julia, Alice and Quentin and the rest of Team Brakebills can successfully stop both the Beast and Reynard from their hell-bent paths of terror and destruction, be sure to tune in for the premiere of THE MAGICIANS on Wednesday, January 25th on Syfy.
SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER | Tiffany covers events such as San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and press junkets, as well as covering events at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. She has a great love for television and believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored. Tiffany is one of the newest members to the prestigious Television Critics Association and is happy to be able to share her passion for television shows with an even wider audience of fans and her fellow critics..