The Magicians Writers on shoplifting, auto theft, fine dining and crying
So, I'm not sure if you can tell, but this episode was way too much fun to develop!
Yet, Groundhog Day or Time Loop episodes are a common occurrence in genre shows and we honestly expect a majority of our audience to be well versed in not only their traditional antics but also the usual emotional motifs. However, one of our mandates as a Room is to always strive to take these familiar stories and twist them into something we've never seen before. And although this episode is a boathouse full of crazy (mostly thanks to its incredible writer, Hillary Benefiel), when we set out to brainstorm, we were actually very cautious about the execution.
Groundhog Day episodes are fun, but they are incredibly difficult to pull off in a fresh way. So the question this time became: How do we make our time loops as new and exciting as possible?
When we started writing this episode, we had only known a few things.
1. We knew the moon was breaking and we knew we wanted to call it a wily cunt. Because after all, it's an inanimate object so our censorship laws say the moon is fair game to insult.
2. We knew that this was going to be largely Eliot and Margo's journey, acting as both a return to form with their relationship and antics as well as Eliot coming to terms with his trauma, then realizing Charlton is now living in his head.
3. We knew Eliot and Margo were going to encounter The Whales. Or at least contend with the fact that Whales were very powerful Magicians. A reference to the third Magicians book, The Magician's Land. We'd been looking to work this in for a long time at this point and realized this would be the perfect place.
So with these guideposts we set about building and filling in the rest.
We were especially excited for the card labeled: "Eliot's Adventures of Decadence and Depravity!" At least that's how the card began until the headline soon earned the footnotes of: "Shoplifting! Auto theft! Orgies! All the drugs! Fine Dining! Crying!"
We also realized this would be a prime opportunity for Josh and Eliot to finally have a sincere meaningful moment together, given that each of them has such a strong connection to Margo. The conversation was originally just supposed to be shared over burrito's and drugs until their choice of restaurant became the subject of debate. I mean, where would you eat your last meal if it was the end of the world? That's when we started pitching the weirdest restaurants we could think of. It was then that we remembered an inside joke from when we were developing Episode 503
where John had chimed in with a restaurant that he had spotted while traveling that served Polish and Mexican Fusion. The decision was unanimous. How do you top Pierogi Tacos?
Yes. We're disgusting. But also, tacos.
Along with Whales for Margo to try to blow up, the creature that we also wanted to work in was The Kraken. A number of versions were tossed around, the most expensive being The Kraken literally lived inside the moon and destroyed the world when the breaking moon set it free. Eventually, The Kraken even evolved into the idea that it took the form of a man.
Particularly that of a schlubby middle aged man in a mask, snorkel, and flippers. John loved this idea and even thought that he should emerge from the water eating or at least asking for hot dogs… Because everyone knows Krakens love hot dogs…
The quirkiest addition to this episode was the idea of being able to talk to The Whales through the lifeguard station TV. Although the idea for The Whales came later, the idea for the wires going into the ocean was something that also had transpired within the first couple weeks of the room during our "Blue Sky Pitching." Our wonderful writer Stephanie Coggins actually brought up a strange phenomenon she had read about where hundreds of Garfield The Cat novelty telephones had reportedly washed up on a shoreline in France. So, when the idea of communicating with The Whales came up, we immediately thought of the Garfield Phones but that proved to be too complicated to license. So, it turned into just a regular phone on the beach until the idea of the old television was pitched. Yet, it was the final touch of the Off/Whale dial on the TV that truly elevated the delicious weirdness of the idea.
Because it's ultimately this unpredictable weirdness and emotional sincerity that sets apart a great Time Loop from the rest. I mean, that and adventures of decadence and depravity…Because we are Magicians, after all…