The Magicians is breaking into song once again — surprising no one who has watched this gloriously insane show.
The eccentric fantasy drama’s latest musical episode, which airs Wednesday, is “crazier” than last year’s melodious one, executive producer and co-showrunner Sera Gamble tells EW. “It involves way more psychotropic drugs and hair bands of the ’80s,” adds EP and co-showrunner John McNamara.
In the power ballad- and lullaby-filled outing, Margo (Summer Bishil), deposed high king of Fillory, ventures into the desert to find ice axes that can expel the ancient monster possessing Eliot (Hale Appleman), her best friend. “The stakes are as high as they’ve ever been for Margo,” Bishil says. “She’s at her wits’ end. She’s been dethroned. She’s lost everything that she used to value, and she has to reckon with herself.”
When Margo starts tripping on lizard, music and lyrics pervade her quest, as you can see in the above sneak peek at the cast’s rendition of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.”
In addition to singing, though, Bishil also had to ground the emotional story, which sees Margo confront both the patriarchy and some of her inner darkness. “It became a labor of love,” the actress says of her spotlight hour. “It’s only the second time in my life as a performer that I’ve really committed my entire body and my entire mind to it. It reminded me why I love acting so much. It was a hugely affirming challenge for me. It was the hardest I’ve ever worked on the show. It was intoxicating. I still can’t believe it happened.”
As fans of the source material may have picked up by now, this year’s musical episode adapts a beloved sequence from Lev Grossman’s book series: Janet’s desert quest, which sees Margo’s book analog annex, well, a desert. Bishil has been waiting for the chance to tackle this story for quite some time.
“I was so excited when I read the script,” she says. “It’s something that I fantasized [about] for four years, that I fantasized about in season 1 when I wasn’t getting a lot of material. It was something that would really motivate me to do well. It was a huge affirmation to get it. It was insanely exciting.” (Gamble has been dreaming of giving Bishil this story too, according to a recent Instagram post.)
Adds Appleman, “Book fans, I think, will be really stoked on it. Summer grounded the whole thing and gave, I think, perhaps her greatest performance.”
For the writers, the decision to turn the book’s desert quest into a musical was a natural one. “We really wanted to take this very famous sequence that’s beloved by all of us, by all the fans of the books, and we thought that might actually end up having naturally musical tropes to tell the story,” says McNamara, adding that this year’s episode is far more ambitious and character-focused than the last outing. “What I think we were able to do in season 4 is we have more musical numbers, and they’re even more integrated into plot, and more importantly they’re more integrated into character.”
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.
- The Magicians star Brittany Curran on Fen’s ‘heartbreaking’ move
- We drank three rounds with the cast of The Magicians at the Magic Castle
- The Magicians boss, stars on that surprising hook-up and relationship status change