The Magicians ended Season 2 with another impossible-to-predict conclusion where our heroes managed to save Fillory from destruction, but, in doing so, incurred the wrath of the gods and destroyed magic. Whoops?
Okay, not the most ideal scenario, but here at the The TV Junkies we believe that it’s all about the journey, not the destination, so I figured why not take the time to pay tribute to the heroes that made Season 2 the quality adventure as it was: The Magicians‘ powerful, flawed and dynamic leading ladies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Quentin, Penny and Eliot were lacking this season. Jason Ralph consistently pulled out a flawless depiction of Q’s grieving process, Hale Appleman has a terrific knack for portraying all of Eliot’s subtleties, and Arjun Gupta is one of the most likeable actors on television right now. But you’ve got to give credit where it’s due, and the series’ female leads transcended to impossible new heights this season.
Julia’s Journey of Healing
To say Season 1 was a tough time for Julia is a massive understatement. Starting from her rejection from Brakebills in the pilot episode, Julia’s first season arc concluded with a horrific and violent assault, leading to her revenge narrative in Season 2. However, to simply sum up Julia’s story this season as a revenge plot would be a mistake, and that’s not because she showed Reynard mercy at the eleventh hour. Moreso, Julia’s story was first and foremost about healing and all the ugly, messy parts involved in getting there. She endured a painful abortion process, losing the trust of her closest friends, and unwittingly destroyed a part of herself in the process, and still came out stronger for it.
Truth to told, I’ve been itching to write about Julia’s story in Season 2 from the premiere, but I opted to hold my judgement until the season’s conclusion. Rape is a difficult topic that few shows handle with enough care or responsibility, but The Magicians‘ writers did right by Julia in the end. Killing Reynard, as impossible a task as it was, would be the easy thing to do. Looking your attacker in the eye and deciding to move on is not. There are so many layers and nuances to Julia as a character, and she’s one of the few TV characters out there that is near impossible to predict, which makes her that much more fascinating. It makes complete sense that of all the characters, she would be the one to find that small spark of magic again, and it was a fitting end to her Season 2 story.
Of course, Julia’s story wouldn’t be nearly as compelling without the Stella Maeve’s powerful portrayal. She hit every narrative beat and emotional hurdle to perfection, from the initial shock of Reynard’s attack, handling the abortion, to coping with the loss of Julia’s shade. With Julia finally in a place of hope, as brief as it may be, Maeve finally has the chance to show a side of her character in Season 3 we rarely see, and there’s no doubt she’ll do it with as much conviction as ever.
Margo Steps Up as High Queen
Summer Bishil has always shone as the series’ go-to comic relief, this season being no different, but between every genius quip were moments of real character growth. Before we knew it, she evolved from Eliot’s faithful right hand woman to a powerful monarch in her own right.
While Eliot may have enjoyed the title of High King and all that came with it, it was Margo who stepped up on countless occasions. She ruled in his stead when he was recovering from golem death, she made the deal with the fairies to fix the well, and she gave up a friggin’ eye to make the journey to save Fillory. Not to mention she’s the one that spurred Eliot into the greatest television musical number of all time. In the pending fight to bring magic back to the worlds, Margo could easily be the one leading the charge.
Kady’s Rollercoaster Journey to Redemption
Much like Julia, Kady had a lot of growing to do this season, and a lot of her own traumas to deal with. Between her mother’s death, her fractured relationship with Penny and leaving Julia behind to face Reynard’s wrath, Kady’s Season 2 journey began in a pretty rough place. So it was really satisfying to see Kady transform from a hardened girl from the streets to a solid support system for Julia and Penny. Of course, this is The Magicians, so even the most well-meaning characters enter deep shades of grey, especially when it came to trying to save Penny’s life and swallowing Julia’s last minute decision to save Reynard. Still, up to that point her friendship with Julia and repaired relationship with Penny were a bright spot in a general sea of misery for our beloved characters. This season paved the way for Kady to take on an even bigger role in Season 3 as we see the fallout from her deal with Harriet and I can’t wait to see where it will lead her.
Anyone who has read the source material for The Magicians knew Alice was destined for an early exit from the series, thanks to the fact that her character “Niffins out” in the first book. And then she’s MIA for a really long time while Quentin, y’know, deals with his shit. So there was understandable concern for Olivia Taylor Dudley’s role in the show when it came to the final battle with The Beast.
Instead of a disappearing act, thankfully, we got to see Alice’s evolution from the timid, but powerful magician into one of the most deadly creatures in the universe. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until her death that we truly saw Alice look alive. It was terrifying, beautiful and painful all at the same time, and Dudley did a flawless job.
Now that Alice is back in her human body, whether she likes it or not, we’re now allowed to see a journey that book readers never got to experience. How will she carry herself after that rebirth? What is the fallout from wreaking havoc across the expanded universe without a care in the world? How do you go from having all the magic you could ever need to none at all? There’s no easy answer, but between the genius of The Magicians‘ writers and Dudley’s nuanced portrayal, it’s another journey worth waiting for.
What are your thoughts on The Magicians Season 2’s conclusion? Who was your Season 2 MVP? Sound off in the comments below.
The Magicians has been renewed for Season 3 on Syfy and will return in 2018.
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.