10 Things We Learned On The Set Of 'The Magicians' Season 4

Real talk: The Magicians is one of the most jam-packed series on TV and has been since it debuted in 2015. As die hard fans know, there's always a wrench being thrown into the plans of the students at Brakebills, the home base of our core group of characters who've gone from young magicians-in-training to queens and kings to people who have grappled with personal conflict as they fight to save the world. To put things lightly, there's been a whole lot going on—including fascist librarians, evil fairies, and wicked gods who continue to prey on the group in literally every timeline they visit (yes, time traveling is also a thing on this show).

And the ever-evolving plot continues to raise the stakes in season 4, which picks up where season 3 left off with Hale Appleman as the magician formally known as Eliot who's now been possessed by The Monster. Oh, as for much of the group—Quentin (Jason Ralph), Julia (Stella Maeve), Penny (Arjun Gupta), Margo (Summer BIshil), Kady (Jade Tailor), and Josh (Trevor Einhorn)—their memories were wiped cleaned after they went against the powers that be to restore magic (which was consumed by the Library throughout most of season 3). So, for a moment at the beginning of season 4, these characters have no recollection of their magical selves and have assumed different identities.

Meanwhile, when we meet Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy) in season 4, he's dealing with the fallout of his students' actions and their punishment. Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) has been imprisoned for disobeying the Library (a crime nearly impossible to not commit). Fen (Brittany Curran), who's sort of still Eliot's wife from the royal realm of Fillory, is now embedded in the group and their main objective (once things really get going this season) of getting Eliot out of the clutches of The Monster, unscathed. Man, that's a mouthful.

Here are 10 more things we learned about season 4 of The Magicians from the Vancouver set.

The Library drives a MAJOR plotline this season and its overarching themes of fascism and identity. 

The Library has always been a significant source of conflict throughout the show, given that it holds and rations all the magic, which powers the protagonists. It's taken a particularly dark turn this season after Head Librarian Zelda (Mageina Tovah) imprisons Alice after she breaches her contract with them. Add to that, each of the members of the core group have their own varying individual motivations for reclaiming power. "We're going to see that journey into the Library and how that affects all of our characters, but particularly how it infects characters you may think are good and noble," showrunner John McNamara explains. "Power for its own sake can be its own drug, that they're addicted to."

McNamara has very specifically used The Library as an allegory for fascist rule and fascism that we see today: "If you study history, one of the first things you notice—whether it's a county in Mississippi in the 1960s or a country in Europe in the 1930s or 40s—there's always a rise in violence against minorities in fascist states, always. When we tell the story [of The Magicians], we can't ignore that fact. That was 100% something I really had a strong point of view on and had a strong hand in arc'ing."

Now that identities have shifted, and alliances have evolved (and in some cases dissolved), the characters have had to come into their individual power.

Fen, for instance, is not the first person you may think of when it comes to embodying her strength. After all, her sole motivation since she was first introduced last year has been to honor and obey the wishes of her husband King Eliot. But now that Eliot is possessed by an evil spirit, Fen has been inducted by the core group to help save him. That also entails her forming an unexpected bond with Margo, who rose to become the new King of Fillory last season. "You see a lot of people finding their power in ways you haven't seen before," Curran says. "That's happened to both my character and Summer's. They come into their own." Bishil agrees: "Margo is radical too, so Fen kind of brings Margo down to size and questions her logic as well."

Similarly, Kady, who's been somewhat flailing after the death of boyfriend Penny, has had embrace her strength as an individual which is something Tailor admires. "I think right now Kady is more concerned with being an individual and finding out who she is," the actress reveals. "I think that's the beauty this season for Kady's story arc is that this is the first time we see her on her own and not relying on any other relationship and not trying to save any one person but trying to save humanity as a whole." With a cast this large, it's impressive that The Magicians has somehow managed to have an overarching narrative that also allows each of the characters their own centerpiece narratives. Einhorn says, "I'm proud of us for that. We've become that show that you can pick and choose what characters get their moments."

Margo gets put through the wringer this season.

A whole lot goes does this season but something that each of the cast members kept coming back to is how much Margo has to deal with, and how well Bishil rises to the occasion ("Margo's storyline this season is really epic," Gupta says). First of all, Eliot and Margo were two peas in a pod for the longest, casually throwing shade at everyone else. They always had each other's backs. But now that Eliot is The Monster (who can't be killed, by the way), their relationship has become...strained, to say the least. The usually tough-as-nails Margo has lost what she cared about most. She is devastated but determined to do whatever it takes to save her friend, even it often seems hopeless. "She goes immediately into action to get Eliot back. She's resourceful. She's calm under pressure. But I think she's pretty broken up inside." That puts the spotlight on Bishil, who as Margo runs through a gamut of emotions, ultimately leading the plot for the group to get Eliot back this season. "I'm so proud of Summer and Hale, especially Summer," Tailor adds. "She committed like I've never seen. It was beautiful. It's fun to see how other people can be heard."

The Monster is more than meets the eye.

On the one hand, The Monster is an unforgiving, unkillable, savage creature that is also the cause of tons of despair and chaos this season. But on the other hand? There are layers to that. "What I discovered over the course of working this year was that he actually really just wants to see what this human thing is about in the real world and find someone to share his experiences with," Appleman explains. "That being said, he has no idea how to play off anyone else's needs or desires or feelings. So he's a child in the sense that he can't fathom anyone else's experiences or emotions or the expression of that."  All that to say, he's terrifying but also has no real sense of the damage he's causing.

There are not one, not two, but FOUR big musical numbers this season.

If you've been watching the last 3 seasons, then you already know that the musical numbers have become some of the best moments in the series (my personal favorite is when the group assembled for a kickass performance of "One Day More" from Les Miserables in season two, episode nine). This season they're mixing it up with some 80s classes and other tunes that will enhance the storytelling. Margo, one of the champions this season, leads one of them at the height of her struggle to get Eliot back. Showrunner John McNamara is particularly fond of the work they've done this season to infuse pathos in each number: "This season is really triggered by Margo's psyche. Her character loves 80s pop." Tailor is also a fan of the musical numbers. She excitedly shares, "I love the musicals. It's my favorite thing on the planet."

Alice goes on a “redemption tour” this season.

When we last saw Alice, before she got imprisoned by The Library, she had pretty much become Enemy #1 to the group because she had destroyed all the keys they searched high and low for throughout most of season in their Quest for the Seven Keys to restore magic (as a result, it was not restored and pretty much everything rapidly hit the fan). Alice decided that her friends could not handle the power of magic and it does more harm than good anyway. That said, she's not really in a good place with her friends. But apparently she makes a major comeback this season, according to Dudley. "This season we see Alice's redemption tour," the actress explains. "Alice fell out of love with magic last year. She's always had a complicated relationship with it and has questioned it. Last year she decided it isn't good. Get rid of it. This year, she realized that maybe she doesn't know everything and that maybe magic is not so bad and can help people. I was interested in is taking her back to who she was in season 1 and making her sit back and listen and ask for forgiveness and ask how she can learn. So we really get to see her do that."

Amid all the chaos this season between The Library and getting The Monster out of Eliot, there is an emphasis on self-care as far as Julia and Penny 23 are concerned.

Julia and Penny 23 (in all their iterations and timelines) have gone through a lot as the series progressed—which includes Julia getting raped by the god Reynard (Mackenzie Astin) and later turning into an all-powerful goddess as well as Penny's drug addiction. But this season, we see the two in completely different places both spiritually and emotionally. "I think that both of them are pretty isolated this season on this journey of not knowing who they are," Gupta states. Maeve adds, "For the first time they're exploring something that's actually nice for them, which is each other. I think it's really nice for them to develop something intimate and sexual and physical especially after the assault. It doesn't mean that once something like that happens to you, she doesn't get to have a sexuality anymore. So it's nice to show this slow progression with depth that actually is meaningful, nice, and sober."

"The books are so rooted in the discovery of self-care for these characters," Gupta explains. "I used to say that the greatest love stories in the book were between each character and themselves. That tends to be true in our show because we learn how to take care of ourselves."

Dean Fogg is not in a great place this season.

Dean Fogg is usually super reserved and professional and has been a longtime mentor to the students. But as we saw at the end of season 3, he reluctantly aligned himself with The Library after everything that went down and has found himself without his students or Brakebills at the top of season 4. This means he has to rely on certain other skills. "At the beginning of season 4, he's in an uncomfortable alliance with the Order," Worthy reveals. "He's more of a businessman this season and also a politician in a lot of ways.  He's had to align himself with a group that is fascist and authoritarian and not held accountable for their actions or decisions. He doesn't really like it. His approach on being Dean is all he has. He needs the university, he needs to be in charge."

Kady aligns herself with the Hedge Witches.

As Tailor mentioned above, Kady is embarking on a very important mission of her own this season (in addition to, you know, saving the magic world and all). She's taking on the task of fighting for the Hedge Witches this season, who have found themselves in a precarious position. As the daughter of a Hedge Witch, this fight holds a particular meaning for her. "Kady steps in in a major way and says this is what's happening to the Hedges and she feels a responsibility because her mother was a Hedge," Tailor says. "It's really important to her because of that."

Tailor is especially passionate about this arc because in real life she fights for the people who too often go unheard: "I always want to advocate for humanity and people who can't speak up for themselves and empower people who don't feel like they have a voice. So it's been a gift to be able to portray that because I think it's so important that we're representing women on television in such a way where they're leaving a government situation. For her to be leading these people, these Hedges in this capacity, that's really vital. It's so important that women and younger generations see strong women portrayed on television so that they too believe that they can lead others in the same way."

Quentin is conflicted by his own sense of leadership and whether he is in the position to lead.

There is a bit of a quarter-life crisis going on among all the characters this season, in that their identities are evolving, motivations have shifted, and who they are and want to be has even changed. Quentin, who's been a centerpiece in the group, also asks himself whether he is a leader or whether he is a good leader or whether he even wants to be a leader. "I think Quentin's always considered himself a leader," Ralph says. "There's that internal conflict where he feels not good enough and wants to be the person meant to be the leader. That's odd to the fact that sometimes that's just not true. Or when the opportunity to be a leader presents itself that maybe he's not up for it. I think that has been his conflict through all of this and I don't think that goes away. I think he would definitely want to be, and I think sometimes he is and sometimes he's not. That's what so lovely about the characters and the world is that no one is just one thing."