Syfy’s The Magicians is premiering its 4th season. After seeing the daring quest our heroes had to take part in during Season 3, I am looking forward to it. The Magicians, on the outside, is about a group of 20-something students finding, practicing, and destroying magic. It’s been a rollercoaster as we went in out of Brakebills, a school for magic, and Fillory, a magical land. As we continue to learn, magic is not as childlike and innocent as it seems. When magic is involved, the danger is real and the stakes are high.

Jason Ralph (Quentin Coldwater) and Hale Appleman (Eliot Waugh), joined BGN on set to discuss this upcoming season. Check out the conversation below.

So, at the end of Season 3, we see the monster encountering Quentin. Why is that the first person that he finds?

Hale Appleman: Well, Quentin was the kind of willing sacrifice to care for the monster as it was locked in the dungeon at the end of Season 3 and Eliot thwarts that plan. So, but the monster has a memory of Quentin as a significant person or at least as someone who was going to take over that task. So, he essentially enlists Quentin, or at least Quentin’s body to fulfill that job, slash… I don’t know what you would call it, duty. I don’t know.

And what’s it like, the transition going from an established character like Quentin to this new persona?

Jason Ralph: Yeah, really fun! We don’t spend a tremendous amount of time there, but it was like a fun little exercise to play this new thing that is kind of like, has parts of the old – like, there’s Quentin inside of Brian and now there’s kind of like Brian inside of Quentin. We do a lot of kind of like mixing and matching like that on the show, where we go off on these kind of fantastical adventures and it would be really easy to kind of shake the Etch-a-Sketch and let that start over in the next episode.

But we really try not to do that on this show. And that’s sort of like the fun, is like the layering of all this stuff. Even the episode that we did last year of the living the life together. I think we don’t technically remember that, but I think the experience of that is inside of these people. And so, they’ll never be the same after having experienced it. It’s sort of similar for the Brian/Quentin equation.

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Can you talk about mental illness on the show and how it plays into the new season?

Jason Ralph: The show can be just like really fun and silly. And then we have the opportunity to tackle some of these important issues and things that happen to real people and things that real people suffer from. And so, I think all of us, the writers and the directors and the designers and the actors all put a lot of effort into making those things as real and true as possible. It’s rare that you have the opportunity to talk about those kinds of things. We don’t talk about them enough.

The simple idea that we have characters from the show who suffer from depression and their depression isn’t solved by getting a girlfriend, is in and of itself pretty profound, and different from any other way that entertainment chooses to show what depression is like. It’s not something that you can just like shake off from having a good day. In some ways, that’s what the whole show is about. Or, at least, I think, Quentin’s journey. You have this guy, who ends up getting everything you could ever want. He becomes the king of his own world and sitting upon that throne, he’s still depressed. And that is sort of the jumping off point. What do you do then? It’s this outside and approach can’t work, won’t work. So we have the opportunity to kind of like delve into some of the weird juicy bits.

We’ve seen the established relationships between Quentin and Alice and Eliot and Margo. Hale, what’s it like being separated from each other since you do have that link that’s so close and so bonded.

Hale Appleman: Well, I mean I certainly can’t speak for Summer [Bishil], but I would say that it’s actually exciting to branch out and not be so codependent as characters on the show. I think that we had tastes of that season three for sure and season four is definitely no exception. As I’m not playing Eliot, that’s not such a conscious break for the monster, certainly. He’s got his own agenda and his own need to connect. That is very difficult for someone with zero socialization. He doesn’t have the tools necessary to connect on a human level and he desperately wants to.

Yeah, for me as an actor, it’s been a good departure to not wear the same shoes all season and get a little bit of a break; allow the audience to wonder what’s happening to Eliot and explore something completely different. Energetically, they’re very opposite entities, the monster and Eliot. It’s fun to shake it up a little bit and play with different colors that I otherwise wouldn’t on this show. I answered like seven questions at once.

Margo and Hale
Summer Bishil as Margo and Hale Appleman as Eliot.
You did. I love it. Fillory itself is a character that we’ve grown to love and we’ve gotten to see a few different sides. Will we get to see more? And where does Lord Fresh fall into that?

Hale Appleman: Having never dealt with a Lord Fresh myself, I can’t say. But I do think that there are little pockets of Fillory that are explored this season that we haven’t seen before. I think that’s always part of the ongoing expansion of the worlds of the show. I’ve spent very little time there. Have you?

Jason Ralph: No. I will, but right now there’s sort of a magic shortage and so the ability to get back and forth between Earth and Fillory is particularly non-existent. If you’re there you’re there and if you’re not you’re not.

Hale Appleman: The monster can teleport so he doesn’t have that problem. He’s a traveler, but he doesn’t really care to go to Fillory very often. He’d rather explore the other world. Fillory is old hat for him.

Lord Fresh
Lord Fresh played by Anthony F. Ingram.
So, what is the monster?

Hale Appleman: You got me. I have no clue. Still figuring that out. It’s a real slow burn. No idea. He’s a child who has never seen the outdoors and has essentially been abused and locked up by what would be his family; and is seen as dangerous and is essentially bound to this underground prison for millennia. And now he’s out. He doesn’t have context for anything. And he is a kind of childlike innocent in the body of a vengeful god. He’s got a hit-list of things he needs to acquire and people he needs to end. He’s weirdly, sweetly curious about the world around him; what this gadget does and how friendship works, which he can’t seem to figure out for the life of him. Or the death of everyone else, for that matter.

So, yeah, he’s like a little kid who has zero impulse control and doesn’t quite understand empathy as a human condition. But he’s trying. Or he’s not. He’s like digging at it. But he’s certainly wounded and certainly been kept from a lot of experiences. So he’s trying to understand this weird place that he’s found himself in now.

Jason Ralph: He’s really fun to be around now.

Hale Appleman: He’s a great guy.

Jason Ralph: Easygoing. Simple.

Hale Appleman: He just wants to be your friend, and if not, kill you. So, it’s like, that’s the deal. Do you want to be my friend?

Jason Ralph: Sure.

Hale Appleman: Not the answer I was looking for.

Looking into Season 4?

Jason Ralph: Last season had a real through line. We knew we had a quest, we knew what we were doing, and this year we’re dealing with the ramifications of – the consequences of that quest. So it’s a little bit, I think, everyone’s a little bit shell-shocked. Is that just a Ninja Turtles term, or is that a thing that people say?

Hale Appleman: I think it’s okay.

Jason Ralph: It is, okay. I only remember it from Ninja Turtles.

Hale Appleman: Which Ninja Turtle were you?

Jason Ralph: I was – well – I don’t know. If we’re going to be real, I always wanted to be Michelangelo.

Hale Appleman: I was Donatello. And I wanted to be Donatello. Did you know that April O’Neil plays –

Jason Ralph: Do I ever! The original April O’Neil plays Alice’s mom and may or may not have been my first crush, and you know? Childhood dreams come true. She’s amazing. She’s a great actress and it was a pleasure to get to meet her. I didn’t get her autograph and I regret it every day.

There was no need to ask what they do that would be considered nerdy. Talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a good seven minutes is okay in my book. Check out Season 4 of The Magicians, premiering January 23, 2019, on Syfy.