A touch of amnesia, a dash of an all-ruling library and a sprinkle of deathly monsters, and what do you get? Either some very odd tasting little cakes or, more likely, the upcoming season four of The Magicians. With season three ending on the biggest cliffhanger yet, this season has a lot of questions to answer. Rather than waiting for the actual premiere, Nerds and Beyond sat down with showrunner and executive producer Sera Gamble to try to get some answers ahead of time.
To find out more about Sera, check out Part One here, and without further ado, here is Storytelling with Sera Gamble, Part Three.
Nerds and Beyond: Season three ended with a huge bombshell. Where are we starting this season and, using your phrasing, just how f*cked will everyone be?
Sera Gamble: Everybody’s pretty f*cked. They don’t know who they are. You get to see a little bit of the lives that they’re leading now and because the spell is really thorough and comprehensive – it’s probably one of the best spells ever composed by Dean Fogg; they really are inhabiting these really full and specific lives. But the monster that is possessing Eliot really wants to find them and the only person who really knows what’s going on is Alice and she is very very in prison.
Another thing I can tell you – it doesn’t spoil too much but it’s a teaser, is that The Library… they’re not really built to be a government. They’re not built to be a police force. They’re a f*cking library, built to take care of books. But because they are in charge of magic now, they are kind of forced into a position where they have to expand their areas of responsibility, and that includes imprisoning Alice because she broke a deal. And that’s something they haven’t really had to do too much. So they have this converted area of the Library of the Neitherlands to house her and keep her out of trouble and keep her from doing magic. And there’s only one other person in that wing of the library and they have stuck him in the cell next door. He and Alice develop a relationship in the first episode of the season, and I’m excited for people to see it because it’s really fun and there are some unexpected things about why that gentleman is also in prison.
N&B: Is this someone we have met before?
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SG: It might be someone you have met before in your life, it might be someone you have met before in other literature, but it is the first time you will meet him on The Magicians.
N&B: Speaking of Alice, Alice has had a bit of a rough go of it, and she kind of almost ruined everything in the finale. Now that the library has captured her, is she just chilling in the library for the rest of her life? What does season four have in store for Alice?
SG: She doesn’t want to be “chilling” in the library. She wants to save her friends. The thing about Alice is she tries to solve really complicated problems, sometimes problems that are too complicated. In my opinion, she’s not wrong about how dangerous magic can be. And it’s just with the solution that she came up with at the end of the season, she’s not surprised everybody kind of hates her right now. (laughs) But it always comes from a place of seeing the inner workings of things and feeling a great urgency about trying to make them better. She’s not evil. And she really didn’t do any of the things she did to hurt the people she loves. And she really doesn’t want them to die. So she’s in a good position for the writers in that her motivations and her desires are very strong and intense and she doesn’t have a lot to lose right now. You’ll see her taking really really dramatic action to try to get out of the library which is no easy task.
N&B: How exactly will this amnesia/new personality magic work? Are our heroes’ personalities in there and just pushed down? Are they in a bottle somewhere in The Library?
SG: Well, you’ll find out more about the specifics and the mechanics of the spell, but what’s interesting is that there’s something that is fundamental about Margo’s personality. We talked about this for a long time in the writers’ room. We talked about whether we needed for them to behave completely differently or if there was a sort of beating heart to each of our characters that sort of superseded the specifics of the identity they’ve been wearing for the last, say, 24 years. Where we landed was there are things about Margo’s personality that are more fundamental to her DNA than the specifics of Margo’s backstory. So Margo and Janet have certain things in common. The heart and soul of Margo Hanson will come out no matter what kind of spell you put on her. I think the characters that you see, the identities that they’re wearing, are very different, but also they have certain echoes of the people you knew and loved before.
N&B: So, our eight protagonists are either locked up or possessed or memory wiped – they’re not doing so well. But, there are some other players in the mix such as our Penny, Marina 23, Poppy, Fen, Margo’s mysterious fairy eye, etc. How will these characters or aspects fit into the season four story?
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SG: Everything you just put in that list does figure into season four. Fen, last she heard [Margo and Eliot] were going off to save magic. And then magic to some extent returned, ambient magic is lower than it was because it’s being controlled by The Library, but all she knows is there’s magic in Fillory, but the people she cares about never came back. So Fen and the other characters we know in Fillory have been left to take care of Fillory on their own and they have no reason to expect that anyone will ever come back to help them. So that’s where we start the season for Fen. She has an arc this season that is about stepping into her particular kind of power, and she starts to make decisions from new perspectives. She was raised in a super traditional way in that she, from a very young age, was raised to be a wife and to be the wife of a powerful man. Over time we’ve seen her evolve and she does that a lot more this season. And then as for Marina 23, she’s alive and kicking, she’s in our timeline, and you will see her again. And Penny being in the Underworld, it’s too tempting, we just want to see what he’s doing now, so there’s a point in the season where we might see what’s going on with him now.
N&B: The Magicians certainly does not shy away from romance, and season three saw all sorts of pairings kind of all over the place, perhaps most notably Eliot and Quentin in “A Life in the Day.” Both with these new identities and hopefully, eventually, when they are themselves again, can we expect more romance this season?
SG: I mean, it’s a bunch of twenty-something Magicians constantly in life or death situations. They have to relieve the stress somehow. So, you’ll see. There’s some banging, and there’s some feelings. Both of those things happen, not always in conjunction, but sometimes. One of the real blessings of getting to be a part of a show that goes on for a long time is you earn these twists and turns in character relationships. One character that pops immediately to mind for me is Julia because her arc for the first couple seasons was very dark and very very lonely. And now we’ve had the opportunity because the show keeps getting picked up, thank you, to say “and then what happens next.” We have the opportunity not just to tell a story about this immense trauma that happened to this woman, but now she has a little bit of distance from it. It’s still very much a part of how she functions in the world, something like that never really goes away, but it still evolves over time. We take the character of Julia to new places and she gets to spend time with those characters in new ways.
N&B: What is one sentence that will make no sense now but once season four airs it will reveal itself to be a major spoiler?
SG: You may have to use the tools of the horomancer to stop a horomancer.
Also – another thing I can tell you that might sound a little less technical is we’ve got a lot of timelines, we also have spaces between timelines in season four, and you never know who you might encounter in the space between timelines.
N&B: It’s kind of like on Supernatural – no one is ever really dead for that long.
SG: I mean we do these conversations where we want some deaths to really stick because we don’t want to lose the stakes of life and death. But an interesting thing on a show where you’ve got gods and immortal characters, characters that might even evolve into gods like Julia did, is it becomes so important to protect things that are essentially human because the purpose of making the show is to deep dive into this human stuff. It’s not – I mean listen, we love a dragon. We love doing the dragons, but the dragons are not the point of the show, the people are the point of the show, and so we go to great lengths to protect just the stakes of being human and alive in the way that our main characters are.
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Thank you to Sera Gamble for speaking with us about The Magicians. Season four premieres on Wednesday, January 23, at 9/8c on SYFY.