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The Magicians Writers on characters who become friends and bromances
Plus, here's why Brittany Curran (Fen) is all that and a bag of soup.
Our characters on The Magicians have had to wear many hats over the course of five seasons. And like our characters, so have we.
Episode 511 marked the first time on The Magicians that someone wrote and directed an episode. Way to go, David Reed! But he didn't write it alone. He teamed up with another Magicians veteran, Mike Moore. Excuse me while I talk about their bromance for a moment. You see, David and Mike have been working in the same writers' room together for 7 seasons of television, ever since they both worked on the show Aquarius. And guess what? The last time they wrote together was a set of webisodes on Aquarius, which David also directed. Fast forward and here we are again, full circle.
Giving Hyman his body back was pitched in the first week the writers' room was in session this season. Knowing that he would be directing Episode 511, David claimed that storyline immediately for this episode. Knowing right off the bat that Hyman would land in 511 helped us tremendously as far as setting up goes. In order to get Hyman in present day by 511, we knew we would need to do some setting up before then. That's why we arranged the Hyman story in Episode 509 and stuck him in the Hidey Hole. Set ups are a big part of writing television. The more you can set up over the course of a season, the better. Because more sets ups mean more payoffs. And payoffs are always fun!
Speaking of set ups and payoffs, as a TV writer, you often wind up writing sequels to your own episodes because you're the one who best remembers what you previously set up. For David, writing this episode, Be the Hyman, was in a way closing the loop on his previous episode Be the Penny from Season 3. Once again, full circle.
Aside from Hyman, David and Mike wanted to put as many of their favorite recurring characters in the episode as possible, having a feeling it could be their last chance to work with them. Over the years, these characters have become more than characters for us. They've become our friends. And every episode we write, it's a joy to be able to spend some time with them. That's why David and Mike pulled out all the stops and brought back Ember, Umber, Hyman, Marina and Gavin for Episode 511.
Not only have these characters become our friends, but the actors have too. Brittany Curran, who plays Fen, is certainly one of them. During this episode, she shadowed David on set while he was directing. We all joked that she was going to be David's biggest distraction and he would get nothing shot. But while she had her brief moments, like walking around with a bag of soup she got from catering, she proved to be invaluable while we were shooting the scene with Hyman and his sandwich. We needed a punch up line to express his awe at sliced bread and she came up with, "it's the best thing since… I don't know what" on the spot. We shot a take with her pitch and we all instantly knew that was the winner. Thanks Britt, you really are a multifaceted Fillorian!
As writers, we're constantly putting bits and pieces of ourselves into our writing. Sometimes intentional and other times not, we tend to sprinkle personal anecdotes throughout each script. One example from Episode 511 is David's hatred for pickles. Honestly, hatred might not be a strong enough word. And that is why the scene of Ember having a strong distaste for pickles made its way into the script. Because whether it's something you love or you hate, it's a special feeling to put a piece of yourself into something else.