My Take On…THE MAGICIANS Season 2

THE MAGICIANS — “Night of Crowns” Episode 201 — Pictured: (l-r) Arjun Gupta as Penny, Summer Bishil as Margo, Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice, Hale Appleman as Eliot, Jason Ralph as Quentin — (Photo by: Carole Segal/Syfy)

I hesitated on THE MAGICIANS (from John McNamara and Sera Gamble, based on he books from Lev Grossman), I’ll freely admit it.  It was a show I liked when I watched the first episode.  I stacked up all episodes on my DVR.  My DVR had to be replaced, and boom, like that, it’s off my radar.  A few weeks back, I decided it was time, as the second season premiere approached (tonight, Syfy, 10/9PM), to dive back in, go full magician with the show; it was one of the best TV viewing decisions I think I’ve ever made.

A show that on the surface is about a rag tag bunch of magicians in training just trying to find their place in the world that they don’t always feel attached to quickly becomes something else – an exploration of dark vs light, right vs wrong, good vs evil, privilege, power and abuse thereof, sex, murder, all out general mayhem, and, eventually, the agricultural impacts of farming with manure. By the time our ragtag team unleashes hell on their university in the form of a moth-faced demon from the other side, you realize quickly that you’re not in Kansas anymore – this is dark and painful, at times infuriating (no episodes wrapped up in pretty packages by the end here), rich, gorgeous, scary, and raw.  Heavy on gorgeous effects, littered with seriously flawed characters you hate seeing get hurt, and full of humor that I never expected, a binging of Season 1 left me wanting more.

I’m so thrilled to say that Season 2 is back with a vengeance, immediately continuing from where Season 1 left us – (spoilers) every major character that traveled to Fillory dead, save Quentin; Julia on the run with the Beast – and not letting up, well, I’m on Episode 7, and I’d say, not letting up, ever. It should come as no surprise, but spoilers nonetheless: those who died as we left them are very much alive going into Season 2 (how they make it is explained perfectly), and much as the show did throughout the first season, Season 2 continues to explore points of view other than Quentin Coldwater’s (Jason Ralph, playing the character on just the edge of sanity, as Q realizes maybe he’s not the hero), expanding the other characters into a fully formed ensemble, without any one of whom the show wouldn’t work.

THE MAGICIANS — Season:2 — Pictured: (l-r) Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice, Hale Appleman as Eliot, Summer Bishil as Margo, Jason Ralph as Quentin — (Photo by: Jason Bell/Syfy)

The more things change, the more things stay the same – Q is still looking for the purpose and power that he thinks will make him whole. Eliot (Hale Appleman) steps up to run his inherited Kingdom, playing the good husband, good King, good friend, snapping out of the haze that inhibited him during much of Season 1; he’s still funny as hell, a dark comic relief needed SO MUCH as the episodes dive into darker territory. His relationship with Margo (Summer Bishil) remains “ride or die,” to quote Syfy’s press site, and she steps up to the plate to prove she’s more than just a lady in a nice outfit; she’s a lady in a nice outfit that will take you out if you get in her (or her friends’) way.

Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley, a revelation) continues to worry about letting her guard down, afraid she’ll let herself embrace the dark side of magic; every move she makes is extremely calculated but never predictable. Julia (Stella Maeve), oh Julia…reeling from the revelation that she had her own memories replaced by a quick fix to forget the tragedy of Reynard’s attack, she’s on a funnier-than-it-has-any-right-to-be buddy mission with The Beast to right wrongs; her pain is palpable and I root for her so hard.  She’s making all of these wrong decisions, trying to achieve the same whole-ness that Q is looking for, and it’s heartbreaking. Then there’s Penny (Arjun Gupta), the very reluctant hero.  He doesn’t seem to want to embrace the magic he has (the opposite of Q’s need to find purpose in it) and as he explores it more, and gets more wrapped up in the world of these people he doesn’t seem to like too much, but of whom he’s fiercely protective, it’s a nice platform for Gupta to play with the character – he’s hot (calls ‘em as I sees ‘em), sensitive, and passionate, but so angry, over the loss of Kady, the loss of his mentor, the loss of some very important things he loses in Fillory… It’s just really good stuff. 

THE MAGICIANS, with recurring themes of defeating darkness, both in the physical form (things like The Beast or Reynard the fox) and the intangible emotional darkness that can sometimes be more powerful, all while trying to both fit in and stand out, making your own kind of family and mark on the world, whatever that might be, is just the show we need right now, and I implore you all to give it a sample. Before you know it, you’ll be down the Fillory fountain right with them. 

If that’s not enough to convince you, they sure say fuck a lot. 😉