The Magicians season finale airs Monday night, as our motley crew of magic users get ready for their big showdown with The Beast in Fillory. Of course, if the last twelve episodes are any indication, the only thing we know for certain is that things won’t ever turn out the way we’ll expect them to.
In the last episode we learned that Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Co. have been stuck in a time loop, thank to Eliza (Esmé Bianco), AKA Jane Chatwin, in her attempt to finally stop The Beast. Now that she’s dead, this is their final chance to stop him and prevent their deaths. The final moments of the episode found them all headed into Fillory, though Quentin and Julia (Stella Maeve) are about 70 years too early. Oh yeah, and Margo (Summer Bishil) finally answered the age-old question of what happens when you bring a gun to a magic fight.
The TV Junkies got the chance to chat with Eliot actor Hale Appleman about playing Eliot’s intense emotional journey this season, and he gives us a small preview of what to expect in The Magicians “crazy” finale.
The TV Junkies: Eliot’s downward spiral is quickly turning self-destructive. Should we be worried about him going into the finale?
Hale Appleman: I think we should be worried about him in general, in that he has a lot of work to do on himself in order to get to a place where he can unpack a lot of the trauma of his life up until this point. I will say that there’s a bit of a twist coming in the finale that has do with Eliot coming to a rather massive decision that will affect everyone and also affect the course of his life and his journey. I think that that’s something to look forward to, but we should always keep an eye in and see how he’s handling the day to day experience of being Eliot, which he hasn’t really figured out yet.
TTVJ: How has it been for you to explore Eliot’s emotional journey from the beginning of the season up to the finale?
HA: Well, I think I came to the table with the information that Lev [Grossman] provided in the series; there’s a lot of backstory for Eliot, even in the first few chapters of the first book, which I was cognizant of during my audition. You get the sense that he’s hiding a lot of darkness and he’s already been through perhaps even more than Quentin feels in terms of his own life’s burden. I think there’s a section of the book where Quentin suggests Eliot had needed Brakebills more than he thought he did, and I thought that was really telling.
Part of my understanding of the character, and in that section where Eliot reveals that he’s murdered his bully or his abuser, that was a key into a kind of trauma that he’s survived. I saw him as this character who, against all odds, was able to escape his past and recreate his own image. He’s a survivor in a sense, and I think that he’s in denial of a lot that’s happened to him, but I think that he’s recreated himself in this way that I found really fascinating and his way through life is power and humour and I felt his need for control was a way of keeping his themes really tight and not revealing too much of that past too soon, or wanting to.
Then, of course, when the stuff with Mike happens, it reopens all of his fear and all of his shame and his guilt about his past and I just felt that it was the next level of his excruciating real life trauma that he has to endure for whatever reason, but I think ultimately it leads him to where he truly belongs.
TTVJ: I found that really was a turning point for Eliot this season; Mike was someone he could really open up to, and then we had that immediate reversal.
HA: It’s funny, it’s like Eliot’s heart is the one thing he’s unclear about being able to express and Mike opens that up for him, and it’s that last thing you would expect from him, so it’s kind of surprising in and of itself. For it to be pulled out from under him so quickly, it was the most improbable opening and then the most devastating outcome possible. I think that the repercussions of that haven’t quite, and probably won’t, settle for awhile.
I do think that he needs to and will find a way to get a grip on a purpose. This character has a bigger purpose than his broken heart and while over time I would love to him sort all of that out, I think that we’ll find him slowly connecting to perhaps ideas that are bigger than just himself, which is, I think, a really positive direction.
TTVJ: Eliot is definitely a character a lot of fans can relate to. Have you gotten a lot of positive feedback from the fans?
HA: I will say that I was not a “tweeter” in any way, shape or form, and I was so overwhelmed by some of the very heartwarming responses I received from the fans through social media, and that’s something I feel completely at ease in sharing with them. If they’re sharing with me then I have no problem in returning that same gratitude. I’m definitely overwhelmed by some of the responses and the fan art is incredible—it blows my mind.
I’m really grateful for them and I’m glad that there are people out there who feel connected to him and feel that they can identify. If I’ve touched people in some way through playing this role then I’m really grateful for that. And, all of a sudden, I’m tweeting, so there’s that, and I’m totally okay with it. I wouldn’t have joined it otherwise.
TTVJ: The Magicians is full of insane moments. What would you consider to be the craziest you got to do this season?
HA: I think Eliot killing his boyfriend probably takes the cake. The other thing that sticks out to me is the book quest that I go to do with Jason, in the sense that we are actors who came from the stage first, and so we got to pretend there were these flying magical books in a box. Part of our job that day was to walk down the street and come up with ways for this box to start shifting in our hands, and the kind of imagination component that went into that was somewhat theatrical and connected to our roots as actors, this clownish imagination storybook theatre that we got to dig into just for those moments felt really special, and perhaps the craziest was the sense that there was no special effect happening in that moment, it was just about our hands on this box and passing it back and forth to each other. That was something that sticks out in a sense that we looked at each other that day [and said], “This is our job?”
TTVJ: It’s funny that out of those two moments, one is intensely dark and the other one is more bizarrely comical.
HA: I know, it’s a pretty broad range, and that’s actually what’s really exciting about the character too is that his way through the world is humour, but there’s so much darkness and so much complexity and so much trauma inside of him, and fury. He’s kind of furious at this world that rejected him, so he leaves and finds his own world. He’s always trying to escape into a more idealized version of what he imagines for himself and there’s a level of artistry and imagination in that, but there’s also a level of denial that’s really fascinating to me. That also kind ties into the blueprint Lev created for me to play in. It’s overwhelming that I get to play such an interesting character. I’m just really grateful.
TTVJ: So, what else can you tease about the season finale?
HA: I wish I could say—there’s some characters from the book that have been reimagined for the screen and I’m really excited for [the audience] to see them. I’m excited for them to see this weird twist that’s going to happen for Eliot, and I can’t say anything about it, but it’s certainly a new direction. It’s all crazy, it’s crazy. A lot happens and it’s vast, multifaceted, and I wish I could say more.
I’m excited about a scene that I have with Summer. She’s a fantastic actress and I love working with her, I can’t wait to explore Eliot and Margo’s dynamic more, I think it’s really complex and beautiful, and in recovery, but there’s a specific scene that I’m very excited [about]. Any time that I get to work with Summer is awesome—sorry I can’t be more specific about the details of the finale, but you’ll be glad that I didn’t.
What are your predictions for the season finale? Sound off in the comments below.
The Magicians airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Showcase and Syfy.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.