Magic was supposed to make everything better. In Season 5 of The Magicians — debuting on SYFY Wednesday, January 15 at 8pm ET — getting magic back has only proven to make life more complicated for our favorite magicians. In this new reality, castings are magnified and enchantments could backfire or not even work. This world was difficult enough to navigate without magic, and after Quentin (Jason Ralph) unexpectedly sacrificed himself, it only gets that much harder.
We caught up with the cast before the filming of the new season and although room seemed noticeably emptier without Ralph, the excitement for a new season of such a rich and expansive show couldn’t be higher. Olivia Dudley (who plays Alice Quinn) described the ending of Season 4 and Ralph’s departure.
“The last episode was a lot of work. The scene in the library where he actually dies, several days we were in there, and it was hot and emotional. It was one of the heavier lifting days we’ve had to but [Ralph] did such beautiful work and we all had a really lovely time. I’m going to miss him,” Dudley said.
The trailer sets up a world that is facing the apocalypse. If you’ve watched the show to any extent, you know the showrunners make their own jobs very difficult by writing themselves into corners that seem impossible to get out of. It’s a big part of what makes this show great. But if anyone can write themselves out of the end of the world, it’s these showrunners. Henry Alonso Myers said that this mentality is a philosophy they intentionally adopted.
“The point is, if we don’t know what is going to happen, then you don’t know what’s going to happen. And we like that. As viewers and as writers,” Myers said.
Sera Gamble added that the writers really like to come at things the hard way. Her experience on the first seven seasons of the show Supernatural provided the foundation for that mentality. During her run on the show, Gamble always expected Supernatural to be cancelled, to the point she spent its first four seasons taking staff meetings to join other writing rooms. That show lasted 15 seasons and over 300 episodes (it’s currently in its final season).
The creator of Supernatural, Eric Kripke, turned over the reigns to Gamble going into Season 6. Kripke had a philosophy that a show be set in a durable world that could tell many different stories, and that it’s important to be composed of the DNA of many different writers. That’s where Myers comes in; he was promoted to co-showrunner on The Magicians before Season 5.
Gamble is quick to point out that Myers has been contributing since the second episode after the pilot and that he has been an invaluable addition to the show.
“His world view is different, his perspective, the way we collaborate is a little different than the way [co-creator] John [McNamara] and I collaborated,” she said. “It makes the show evolve and we strongly believe The Magicians is a show that can’t stay the same.”
It seems fair to say that the only thing to expect from this new season is the unexpected. That doesn’t mean that the writers kept their actors all in the dark. Hale Appleman (who plays Eliot Waugh) said that Gamble and McNamara gave him the inkling that his character “had a child-like innocence but zero sense of empathy and impulse control.” Appleman ran with that interpretation but created his own imprint on the character.
“I knew I wanted to bridge the gap of what would be perceived as monstrous identity in a character or in a monster film with a kind of lingering, human need for connection,” Appleman said. “Which I felt this character desperately was seeking. I wanted that to play underneath the kind of baseline structure of the quote unquote super villain trope that we all know.”
If anything is certain about Season 5, tropes and convention will be the last areas explored in this expansive and immersive world. Thankfully the magic is back.
Check out some of our other interviews with the cast including Arjun Gupta (Penny) and the joys and challenges of playing the same character from two different perspectives.
Summer Bishil (Margo Hanson) speaks to the moments she relates to her character and how that influenced her portrayal.
Finally, Trevor Einhorn (Josh Hoberman) and Brittany Curran (Fen) talk about their on-and-off screen relationship.
Season 5 of The Magicians debuts Wednesday, January 15, at 8pm ET on SYFY