Pride Month Character Spotlight: Eliot Waugh
Welcome to the twenty secnd article in our Pride series for the month of June! Each day we will be highlighting a different LGBTQ+ character who we think is a great example of representation, dynamic characterization, and overall badassery. Check out the rest of the series here.
Dashingly handsome and unabashidly himself, Eliot Waugh stole the show during the first episode of The Magicians and never gave it back.
Brilliantly played by Hale Appleman, Eliot is a second year at Brakebills, a magical graduate school in upstate New York. We meet him as he welcomes a confused protagonist Quentin to Brakebills – adorned in a vest, lying on the front steps, smoking a cigarette with his hair perfectly coiffed: a model of both sophistication and basic bitch. Fast forward through some plot and exposition (Quentin takes a test, gets to be a student at Brakebills) and he discovers the Physical Kids’s cottage, a house for the students studying physical magic (as opposed to psychic,) and who is there but Eliot, throwing a massive rager.
Eliot loves to party, as well as to consume intoxicating substances. Sometimes, it livens a part. Other times, it ruins a life or death plan. He often uses drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, particularly after the death of Mike McCormick in season one.
Other than the occasional harmless flirting with Quentin, Eliot’s first romantic relationship is with Mike, a Brakebills Alumnus. They seem great together until it is revealed to the audience that Mike is possessed by The Beast, the show’s overarching villain. After Mike attempts to kill Quentin and then kills another woman, Eliot is forced to kill Mike himself in a truly heartbreaking moment. Cue the well-deserved downward spiral that ends with a drunken three-way between himself, Margo and Quentin.
Side note – how have I gotten this far without mentioning Margo? Margo is Eliot’s best friend and soulmate – not in the romantic way, but in the literal sense. The two are practically joined at the hip, in partying and in peril. While they do love each other, this threesome was the first moment between the two. Since then, they have kept romantically separate, but they do rule an entire kingdom together as King and Queen, which is pretty awesome. (I’ll explain more later.)
The morning after turns out to be a bit more than a typical “morning after.” In order to stop The Beast, Eliot must marry the daughter of a magical knife maker and become High King of Fillory, a Narnia-esque magical realm. And Fillorian marriage licenses are binding, which is not great for a gay guy. As he explains to Margo when she faces a similar regal marriage situation, “This would only be equivalent if [The Prince of Loria] was a girl and you found pussy, you know, interesting in a ‘sometimes you like Thai food’ kind of way. And now it’s all Thai food, forever, until you die.” Or so he thought.
Unbeknownst to Eliot, Fillorian marriages allow for marriage to one partner per gender. So, rather than Margo marrying the Prince of Loria (a neighboring land,) Eliot makes plans to marry King Idri. “We’re all just one big, royal, polyamorous family.” He says after announcing his engagement. But… then there are gods and mice and bigger issues. They are finally able to get together in season 4, and perhaps season 4 will finally include the big wedding.
And finally, there is Quentin. Eliot is flirty with from from the beginning, so it his hard to decipher what is Eliot and Quentin and what is “Eliot and Quentin.” One episode in season 3, however, cemented that their relationship will forever be more than just friends .Titled “A Life in the Day,” this episode has Eliot and Quentin going back in time to solve a puzzle and earn a magical key. This is easier said than done – the puzzle is a 72 by 72 tile mosaic that, when correct, will depict “the beauty of all life.” This is just a bit of a daunting task, and within the blink of an eye they are celebrating the one year anniversary of the beginning of their journey.
They have a picnic on the mosaic platform, and Quentin kisses Eliot! And, after a moment, Eliot returns the gesture. This begins a montage of their lifetime together. They develop a polyamorous relationship with a girl who brings the fruit, they have a child, they see him off to travel as an adult, and all the while they try to solve the mosaic. It is not until Eliot dies of old age (yes, dies!) and Quentin begins to dig a grave for him that he uncovers a missing mosaic tile they had never seen before. When he places the sole tile in the middle of the frame, the tile disappears and is replaced by the key, proving that the “beauty of all life” was the life they shared together.
(Do not worry, Eliot’s not dead-dead. Due to time travel magic and paradoxical loops, Margo gets the key from them in present time and stops them from going back in time in the first place, but then because magic is a thing they both remember everything… just don’t think about it too much.)
During this past season, there was a mutiny, an almost assassination, and Margo took his place as High King (which he fully supported,) all while dealing with a complete loss of all magic. And while season 1 Eliot would have met all of these problems with a flask and some sort of hallucinogenic tablet, season 3 Eliot accepts each challenge and works to make things better for himself, his friends, his kingdom, and all of magic itself. The season finale left things on a fairly grim note – magic restored, but bigger evils at play… and Eliot’s fate is the one most up in the air. Season 4 is sure to be another season full of twists and turns, magic and mischief, and just maybe a permanent boyfriend for Eliot.
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