SYFY'S THE MAGICIANS PANEL

WonderCon 2017
First published in Press Pass LA on April 4, 2017

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Syfy’s The Magicians, which can be described as “Harry Potter for adults”, has created an immaculate second season, drawing audiences in with dazzling visual effects, witty humor, and intricate plots. What keeps them staying, however, are the dynamic characters who make honest and life shattering mistakes that hit close to home in the real world. The fantasy series, based on Lev Grossman’s bestselling novels, follows an eclectic group of spellcasters as they grapple with timeless questions about relationships, purpose, and self.

At WonderCon 2017 cast members Jason Ralph (Quentin Coldwater) and Stella Maeve (Julia Wicker) joined executive producers Sara Gamble and John McNamara to discuss where the show is headed, as well as tease the last three episodes of the season. Attendees were also treated with clips that previewed upcoming events, including that of a sardonic dragon with a disdain for millennials. Through these clips aficionados of the books began to piece together major plot elements that were missing in the first season, due to the writers fleshing out the characters for the general public.

Both Ralph and Maeve expressed their pride of the current season, as they found their characters growing, which in turn challenged them and their acting skills. Quentin is faced with supporting and forgiving his best-friend, Julia, while simultaneously accepting that he must let go of his relationship with Alice Quinn (Olivia Taylor), as she works on discovering herself. Julia learns to humble herself as she realizes the mistakes of her past which have figuratively and literally brought her to the Underworld. 

Maeve then addressed the audience, “You are not alone,” she exclaimed, as she began to discuss the two most difficult and controversial topics of the show: rape and abortion. Julia, in an attempt to find a higher power to guide her in Season 1, is instead manipulated into witnessing her friends brutally murdered and then herself sexually assaulted by a demon. In Season 2, she receives aid from the Brakebills crew, and must face aborting the demon spawn, which has now left her without her shade (essentially a person’s soul) . The showrunners voiced how the current political climate, which may make someone experiencing similar traumas feel unsafe, compelled them to tell Julia’s story.

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Very much mirroring the show, the darker themes of the panel effortlessly transitioned to humor and laughter. When asked if the actors have stolen anything from the set, the two joked “Of course!” In the cottage scene during the first season finale, there was a leather jacket laying off in the corner, and in between takes Ralph would put it on. He would pop the collar up, strut around the set, believing he was the epitome of cool. The actor now wears the jacket every day. Maeve, nodding to the final three episodes, said that The Underworld isn’t quit what everyone thinks it will be. Amid the shoot she took a brochure she noticed advertising The Underworld, that made her laugh with the tagline “Relax, you’re probably not going hell.”

The crowd also learned that there maybe more musicals in the future. In the show’s first season, a very small musical number featured a trapped in a mind spell Quentin reaching out for help to his psychic friend Penny Adiyodi (Arjun Gupta) via singing a Taylor Swift song. Fast forward to season 2, episode 9 and magic-enthusiasts found Fillory’s High Court charging into battle armed with the Broadway musical song, “One Day More” from Les Misérables.

Although singing maybe a challenge for some cast members, learning choreography is not new. Gamble and McNamara were grateful that Grossman’s books were detailed when it came to the intricate tutting movements needed to cast a spell. Ralph and Maeve joked how although the moves are getting easier, sometimes they are “adapted cause our hands just don’t bend that way”. Some of the sophisticated hands movements included actual American Sign Language, which one deaf enthusiasts stated drew him into the show. He expressed his joy of seeing how he communicates with the world shown on TV.

The panel ended with comedy reel featuring the cast not only missing their marks and forgetting lines, but without warning, burping between takes, and then rating each other’s disgorge. Viewers can catch season 2, episode 24, “The Rattening” on Wednesday night, April 5, 2017.

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