the magicians season 4 set visit

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.”

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