The Magicians postmortem: Stella Maeve on whether Julia regrets nearly killing Quentin
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Monday’s episode of The Magicians. Read at your own risk.
Poor Julia. She can’t catch a break.
And this episode of The Magicians is no different. Still smarting from Quentin’s takedown, Julia (Stella Maeve) helps cast what she thinks is a harmless spell to mess with his mind. Instead, Quentin (Jason Ralph) finds himself stuck in the mental hospital he left before heading to Brakebills, alongside Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) as fellow patients and Penny (Arjun Gupta) as a punchy orderly. The spell, it turns out, is no joke: Head Hedge Bitch In Charge Marina (Kacey Rohl) dupes her into practically killing Quentin — and when Julia saves his life, she gets unceremoniously tossed out on the street.
“It was about halfway through this episode when I fell in love with the show,” Stella Maeve tells EW. “Before that, I didn’t know. And then we were filming this, and I was like: ‘Wow. OK, I’m in.’”
Below, Maeve talks about how far Julia has come — and how far she has to go.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s only episode four. Were you surprised that Julia turned on Quentin so soon?
STELLA MAEVE: I don’t think Julia turned on Quentin. Maybe this is me defending her, but I think she was just upset and thought that this was going to be a fun prank. You can see it when Marina tells her that this actually isn’t just a prank, he could possibly die. That really scares her, and immediately she wants to help in any way she can.
You don’t think that somewhere in the back of her mind, she thought she might be doing something a little more duplicitous?
If she did, she didn’t want to believe it. I don’t think she went in there with any intention of severely harming him. She loves him; that friendship runs so deep. I don’t think Julia grasps how heavy everything is until she’s in it, which is why I love her. And I think why people will love her — there’s this sort of beautiful naiveté and unawareness.
Does it get in your head when you’re shooting an episode and Julia is on this total high, but you know that in the next she’s going to crash and burn?
Early in the season, I had a phone call with [writers] Henry Alonso Myers and Sera Gamble, and I said: Can you guys enlighten me just a little bit so I can try to figure out this arc? So, I had some sort of inclination of what could happen. It’s helpful with Julia’s storyline in particular, because of the ebbs and flows of the character, to prepare myself mentally for what’s to come next. I can say this: Julia’s storyline gets really, really dark. And that’s hard to map out.
When you read this script, how did you anticipate the dynamic between Quentin and Julia would change?
I was in Julia’s corner. I think she was ashamed of what happened and felt awful. I thought maybe it would bring them closer together. I don’t think I anticipated them drifting further apart. From this point until the end of the season, things shift between the two of them — not necessarily for the better.
Do you think the pain of Quentin calling her a second-rate magician will fade when Julia has to face the harsh reality of getting tossed out?
Not getting into Brakebills was only the beginning of her downward spiral. I don’t think Julia was expecting Marina to kick her out for trying to save her friend’s life. In her mind, she thought she did good.
Is Julia ultimately driven by good?
I’d like to believe that, yes. I don’t think that she is ever acting with malicious intent. Human beings are selfish, and sometimes it’s hard to put into perspective what’s selfish versus what’s selfless. We get to watch Julia grow as a human, and by the end of the season, she’s been able to do a much better job of separating those things and realizing what she wants to use magic for.
Will what went down in this episode set up a war: Hedge Witches vs. Brakebills?
I think we can say goodbye to the Hedge Witch world for a second and not anticipate that for a little bit.
Are we going to deal with the issue of Julia being banished right away?
They actually do a good job of incorporating that. We get to see more of her banishment, because you know Julia — she’s not going to go down without a fight.
Does she get the redemption or the comeuppance you’re hoping for any time soon?
We get to see Julia go through a long journey. There are moments of happiness. And then you’re completely thrown off guard. Julia’s best redemption would be to know herself and love herself and understand her power and use it for good. By the end of season one, we get to see her almost get there. Sera was like, “Every time you think everything is great, be prepared to be completely just shattered.”
The Magicians airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Syfy.
Based on Lev Grossman’s book trilogy, this fantasy Syfy series follows the adventures of students at Brakebills University, a graduate school specializing in magic.