Julia Wicker has been through a lot during this season of The Magicians.
Not only was she still dealing with being raped at the hands of Reynard the trickster, but when she finally managed to end her pregnancy, she learned that the procedure had also “nicked” her Shade (a.k.a. the tiny part of your soul that lets you feel things), causing her to essentially have her humanity switched off.
However, in the most recent episode of the Syfy fantasy, which was renewed for a third season, Julia’s decision to spare Reynard’s life helped earn her Shade back — and sent her on a second, slightly less emotionally harrowing journey to face her actions over the course of the season. With the character at such a big juncture in her development, EW caught up with Julia actress Stella Maeve to find out what’s going down in Wednesday’s season finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Julia has been on such a journey all season. What are you proudest of her for?
STELLA MAEVE: What I love about Julia is the fact that we get to watch her mess up — and granted, she’s thrown so many curve balls, and the writers really, really dragged her through the mud this year — but we get to see this fallen hero, and that’s what life is. It throws us these crazy, awful things. It’s totally fictionalized for TV purposes and embellished, but it can feel that intense at times in reality, and it’s nice to see someone who is heroic not be the hero immediately. We get to watch her earn it, and it’s nice. … I love how empathetic she is. When she lets Reynard go after the awful things she endured from this man because she’s able to empathize with the fact that he’s not right, and the fact that he has a mother, and his mother Persephone’s pain. I love that. Her sense of empathy is crucial and critical, especially with what’s happening in the world right now, it’s nice to get to show it.
What was it like for you to learn that not only is Our Lady Underground Reynard’s mother, but she’s not really been monitoring what her son has been up to?
I felt like that was so metaphoric. … People just do the best they can. Even a goddess, this otherworldly being that we all idolize, messed up. That’s like life. And kind of like where America is in the world and what’s happening politically. Nobody is perfect and has all the answers, even if you think someone is God-like in their power or perfect. There’s beauty in the imperfections, and maybe if we all humanize one another, we’d get it.
What does it mean for Julia to have her Shade back?
The best way I was able to understand that storyline was watching a lot of documentaries on serial killers. I watched this one called Holy Hell on Netflix. It’s amazing. It’s a documentary on this cult leader. He’s still around. He’s hanging out in Hawaii right now. It’s unreal. It was interesting to play with the fact that all of these people, what they have in common is a lack of empathy and a moral compass, and that’s the biggest common criminality within sociopaths. So without having her Shade, Julia wasn’t able to be empathetic and connect with other emotions and feelings. It was visceral. Not having it was fun for a while. But as much as I feel like all of us would love to not give a s—, you have to. You have to keep going.
One of the pleasantly surprising things was when she chose to bring Allison’s Shade back instead of her own. What did that mean for her to be able to make that decision?
It didn’t surprise me. There was validity in that in the sense of she did this because she loves Quentin and wants to see him happy. It was such a selfless act, but at this point, she also didn’t think that happiness as possible for her. She felt as if, “Even if I did get my Shade back, even if I did figure all this out, I’m still broken. So what’s the point?” That was the mentality behind it. “Quentin still has a shot at happiness. I can give this to him.” But I loved the morality of it in the end where she gets her Shade back anyway. That was lovely.
Would you want to see Julia get in on more of the lighter, fantastical stuff going on in the other storylines? Or are you happy exploring this side of her?
Well, I love that we get to explore this side. In the novels, Julia becomes a goddess and gets to live in the woods and speak with animals. I would love to see her in her element and get to explore that. What kind of woman doesn’t want to play a goddess? That would be wonderful! It’d be nice to see her finally get to the light and be nonhuman. That’d be really cool. But I think in order to get there, all of this darkness had to happen.
Going into the finale, where is Julia at emotionally and mentally?
There’s a sense of relief as much as there is sadness. She’s dealing with the pain and everything that’s happened. She’s not focused on a mission or putting that energy elsewhere. She’s sitting with herself and dealing with trying to pick up the pieces rather than to outsource through revenge. She’s just allowing herself to go through the pain, but with that comes a sense of relief in a sense that she had a face-to-face with Reynard and saw where he was coming from. There’s an element to that which is really refreshing because she made her choice, and she did the moral thing. Nobody wants to deal with their emotions and feelings. It’s too hard to look at yourself in the mirror. I feel like now, she’s looking at herself in the mirror, and she’s sitting down and really dealing with it in the right way.
And in a way, not having her Shade for that time, was that really for her? She didn’t have to deal with her emotions anymore.
Yeah, it was a form of escapism. The funny thing is we get to watch Quentin on his journey through the steps of grief. It’s such a mirror image because that’s what Julia should have been doing. That’s the right way and proper way to grieve, but instead, she just didn’t want to feel it.
What are you most excited for fans to see tonight?
There’s a huge surprise coming up. It’s going to be a great cliffhanger, and people will be itching for season 3. It’ll be good.
Seeing as how Quentin and Eliot have both sung, would you want Julia to sing on the show?
It’d be awesome to do a musical number on the show! I’ve actually been sending the showrunners, Sera [Gamble] and John [McNamara], ideas of what songs Julia would sing for next season. It started out as kind of like a joke, and now it’s turned into a real thing. Like, Alanis Morissette’s “I’m a B—-,” Snap’s “I’ve Got the Power,” and Joan Osborne’s “I’m a God.” It’s been pretty amazing. We’ve been cracking up on this email thread, and Sera’s like, “I have so many ideas now for season 3.” I would love to have to get to do a musical number. That would be hilarious. If they found the right pick, it could be actually awesome.
The Magicians season 2 finale airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.