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The Iconic 90s band that inspired the making of The Magicians 509
Get exclusive details from a Magicians staff writer on the making of the episode.
No one wants to live in the past. But sometimes it's necessary to pay it a visit. Episode 509 was our chance to go back in time and have some Back to the Future type fun.
Since part of the episode takes place in 1998, the Writers' Room would frequently reference the '90s band Third Eye Blind as a cultural touch point. Stephanie Coggins, writer of Episode 509, actually listened to their hit song "Semi-Charmed Life" while writing the script. She even had our sound department play the song on set to liven the mood before shooting one of the 1998 scenes. I cannot confirm nor deny if a full-on sing-along broke out on set.
When we decided we were going to travel Penny and Plum to the past, the Writers' Room really geeked out at our chance to play around with the major conflicts that would come from it. What we knew from the jump was 1) we wanted our classic moment where Penny and Plum alter the course of history and need to fix it in order to preserve the present, and 2) a unique way to travel to a specific time period. Before we landed on our solutions, we had a ridiculous amount of fun pitching our wildest time travel fantasies that most of us were likely thinking of since the first time we saw Back to the Future.
For each episode, the art department reaches out to the Writers' Room about certain elements within the script that will be featured on screen and require content. An example from earlier in the Season is Oren Westbrook's Instagram (quick recap – Oren is the moon rock guy from Episode 505). The Writers' Room needed to come up with the written content on his Instagram page – the handles, the captions, the comments, etc. It's behind the scenes assignments like these that allow the writers to sprinkle fun, sometimes personal, Easter eggs into episodes. Specifically, in Episode 509, Stephanie needed to come up with an author's name for The Practical Traveler book that Plum uses to time travel. If you look closely, you'll see that she decided on S. Coe-Alajailo, which is a phonetic spelling of her Instagram handle. So, the next time you see an article page, book cover, or any other featured content on screen that requires a writer's mind, now you'll know it's us!
This episode also had one of our more gruesome scenes, where Alice's fingers are cut off. There was definitely some wincing from crew members while shooting that scene. A fun fact about how the scene came about is that it was influenced by one of Sera Gamble's other shows. It proved to be such a fun bit there that Sera decided we should use the same finger- cutting tactic to motivate Alice to give George the page he wants. Same motivation, different scenario. And a different number of fingers. You see, Stephanie originally wrote that George only cuts off one of Alice's fingers. But Sera wanted to top what was already done and decided we needed to make it four fingers instead. Go big or go home!
And now, this blog is officially in the past. As is Episode 509. But where are Penny and Plum? Or should I say, WHEN are they? Will they ever make it