- Carole Segal/Syfy
Syfy’s big hit, “The Magicians,” returns with its much-anticipated second season Wednesday at 9 p.m.
The series, which is based on the best-selling novels by Lev Grossman, follows a group of 20-something (and highly attractive) magicians who find that their first year of graduate magical studies at the top-secret Brakebills College is fraught with danger.
Season one ended in a bloody battle with the Beast in which the young students risked life and limb, specifically Penny (Arjun Gupta), who lost his hands in the fight. The premiere picks up right after the battle with Quentin (Jason Ralph) running for help.
“That’s what’s fun about the opening scene,” Ralph recently told Business Insider. “Quentin is in the same place as the audience, because we don’t know if these people are alive or dead. And if he’s gonna be able to save them. It is the perfect way to begin it. We’re presented with the the kookiness that is Fillory and the frustrating absurdity of the people that live there.”
Help comes in the form of a deceptive Fillory woman, whose line greatly summarizes what the friends (and the viewers) can expect from the storybook land on the second season: “Be careful of strangers. We only look whimsical.”
“So much of this story is about undercutting expectation in a lot of ways,” Ralph said. “He finally gets to the place where everything is supposed to be perfect, and everything is supposed to make sense and have purpose. The place where the hero’s journey exists, where fate is allowed to have a role in your life. And he gets there, and it doesn’t. It’s maybe even more gray than the world that he came from, but it’s more personal. He’s betrayed.”
- Carole Segal/Syfy
As for feeling betrayed, that’s how the friends feel about Quentin’s childhood friend, Julia (Stella Maeve), who’s magically gifted, as well, but wasn’t admitted into Brakebills.
On the first season, Julia’s journey brought her to a secretive magical group that finally made her feel like she belonged. But that all turned on her when her mentor was possessed by a trickster god who killed the group members and raped Julia violently. In turn, Julia made a deal with the Beast on the finale in order to track down and kill her demonic assaulter.
For the powerful penultimate episode in which Julia gets raped, “The Magicians” partnered with the Rape Foundation’s Stuart House. The organization experienced a 70% increase in calls to its hotline as a result of the finale episode, Maeve told Business Insider. But the actress doesn’t want viewers to think revenge is Julia’s primary motivation going into season two.
“It’s so much more layered and multifaceted than that,” she said. “There’s so much more underneath that. It’s derivative of her trying to deal with her own sadness. And trying to get back to herself. And trying to figure all the ways to rebuild her life. Who is Julia now that she experienced this? You get to see Quentin guide Julia and help Julia with this mission, on this journey throughout the second season. You get to see a real friendship and a real love and a real bond of a support system. Of course, all of it’s unconventional and a little kooky.”
As a result of their experiences, the stars say the crew’s magical skills definitely move up a level on the upcoming season.
“Season one was about them learning magic. It was a lot of firsts. And it wasn’t innate to them,” Ralph said. “This season, it’s now a part of their bones. You can feel the thousands and thousands of spells underneath your fingernails. You get to the point where you can think things into fruition. It becomes more innate.”
But magic has its limits and fans can expect that death will be one of them on the upcoming season.
“So much of Quentin’s arc this season is about grieving and loss and having the gumption to let things go in terms of important relationships and his relationship to magic and to fantasy and to Fillory,” Ralph teased.
Watch the season-two trailer for “The Magicians” below: