Big bad spoiler alert: The following discusses plot points from "Divine Elimination," the third episode of Season 2 of The Magicians, which aired on Feb. 8.
Well, that’s one way to kill the Beast – but at what cost?
After imbibing in some righteously gross god juice last season, hesitating to stab him with the enchanted dagger (before Julia snagged it), and then casting – but only wounding – Martin with the Rhinemann Ultra spell, Alice finally embraced her powers and went full badass in tonight’s The Magicians. By sacrificing herself and choosing to transform into a Niffin, a being of pure magic, she literally tore the Beast a new one.
Unfortunately, her actions also cost Alice her second life. As a newly nasty entity, she turned her sights to Eliot and Margo, forcing Quentin to send her to the other side of the looking glass at the hands … claws … smoke talons of his Cacodemon. In a stand-out episode that balanced humor (Ember's mischievous joy over his titular "divine elimination") and horror (the incredibly disturbing torture of poor Marina at the hands of Reynard), Olivia Taylor Dudley's performance as Alice Quinn certainly deserves attention.
Over the course of the first season and these three Season 2 episodes, Dudley has evolved Alice from a student who was afraid, even resentful, of her abilities into a woman willing to step up and embrace her role as a chosen protector.
In the following interview, Dudley discusses Alice's death as well as the final emotional conversation with Jason Ralph's Quentin ... and we explore where, when and in what form audiences might next find Alice on The Magicians.
How would you sum up Alice's journey, and how it has culminated?
When I read the books, I fell in love with Alice. I think the show has done such a beautiful job of slowly unfolding this character. When we first meet her, she's basically afraid of her own shadow and has no interest in being good at magic -- even though she's born good at it. It was fun playing a character who is buttoned up and completely introverted. She still is introverted, but to have her power slowly pulled out of her as Season 1 and Season 2 progressed, and she ends up being the hero of the journey. That was exciting. You don't always get to play the female hero. I think getting to see her let loose at the end of this episode was really fun. She is an extremely powerful person, and to get to slowly show her power has been torturous at times and awesome. And now she's dead!
Well, before I get to that death, what were elements of her character you liked or disliked?
I like Alice because she doesn't need anybody. She's a lone wolf, which a lot of the characters on this show are, but are thrust together in a group to survive. It is fun to play a character with no interest in making friends and no real interest in being in a relationship. When that happened, she was quick to recover from it. I find her to be such a complex character; I had to keep everything below the surface with her. I just hope the audience sees all her little ticks. I relate to her because I'm also an introvert and was not somebody that was very social growing up.
I get that she wants to do her own thing and doesn't have her eyes on the prize. Being the queen of Fillory is not something she's ever dreamed or wanted. With somebody like Quentin, their whole life is about being great, and being a hero or master magician. To Alice, it's a different journey, and I don't think we ever get to see what that is. Which is sad.
When she is in the carriage, as she and Quentin talk of ice cream or getting back together, does she know she's headed to her death?
I spent so much time thinking about that. I think she does know there is a very high chance she'll die in the fight with the Beast. She already tried once, and it didn't work. She already messed up. She doesn't know she can do it, but she knows she's the only one who has the chance to. I think a part of her knows she'll not come back from it. The levity of the scene with Quentin is to give them a moment's break. That's one of my favorite scenes I've gotten to shoot with Jason Ralph [who plays Quentin], because all he wants is to say "I love you, and everything's going to be okay." But they know it's not. I think she knows there's a good chance.
Was this a good death?
I knew it was coming, because of the books. And it was one of my favorite parts of the books. I knew going into the show that we were going to get to that point. As heartbreaking as it is, that Alice is now dead, I love the story is tells from here on out. And the day we shot that was incredibly heartbreaking. I think it is a beautiful journey, and necessary. She wasn't killed off for shock value.
What was the on-set environment like when you filmed this, especially since you had most of your co-stars around as the scene unfolds?
It was an exhausting couple days shooting the Beast fight. There was a lot of visual effects and a lot of physical stuff. By the time we get to the actual death, I was exhausted. Having them there was good for morale, but they'd also give space. With Jason especially there were moments we couldn't look at each other because it was too sad. We kind of branched off on our own, because we knew it was the end. It was incredibly sad. When I was lying there dead, I was tearing up and crying and hearing Jason weep. It was really tough. Then, at the end, we all hugged.
Moving into spoiler territory, the show doesn't follow the same exact timeline as the books. What can you tease for your potential return?
Not a lot! But the Alice we've seen is definitely dead. She burned up and died. We will get to see a version of her in the future. Maybe not right away, but Alice is incredibly important to Quentin's journey. I was worried going into this that I wouldn't be on the show for two years, if we were lucky to get that many seasons, but our showrunners John McNamara and Sera Gamble have formulated something excellent for Alice. You'll definitely get to see her, in one shape or form, but I did get to enjoy some time off in Vancouver.
In your everyday life, do you find yourself doing the "tutting," or doing hand motions to cast spells? It looks like it could be addicting.
It is. It is fun. It's not easy. The people really good at it, I'm envious of them. I do it all the time. I wish I could do magic, and I pretend sometimes to turn off the light switch without touching it. I do the spells sometimes when I'm walking down the street. But to get the tiny finger movements down, you have to do them a thousand times. Hale Appleman [who plays Eliot] is really good at it and just moves his hands all the time like he's tutting. I think he can actually do magic and is naturally gifted at it!
Finally, if you could master a mundane spell in your everyday life, what would it be?
If I've learned one thing on this show it's that magic is dangerous and you don't want it. I used to be obsessed with it my whole life, but now? Mundane is maybe the best way to go. All I really care about is if I could talk to my dogs. If I could come home and talk to them. That doesn't really help anybody, but it'd be nice if I could just talk to my dogs and have them talk to me. I have three dogs, and it's a constant, "I don't know what you want!"