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The Magicians Writers' Room Blog: Episode 501
"Is the answer to existence really 42?" Find out what other questions were pondered during the making of Episode 501.
Hello, world! Welcome to The Magicians writers' room!
We first just want to take a moment to warn you: If you're not all caught up yet, you will definitely want to do so before reading any further because there are major spoilers ahead.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk Season 5!
In approaching the start of this season, we had one massive question staring us in the face: How do you write a season of The Magicians without Quentin?
The answer: All we could do was put on our unicorn pitching hoodies and get to work.
Upon starting the room, we set to work "Blue Sky" pitching any random ideas we had over hiatus. For example, two favorites were: "I want to write about something really, really big or really, really small!" or "I'm imagining a grand Hall of Eggs!" These are all thrown up on the boards so we're constantly reminded of our individual madness as well as reinforced that there are no bad ideas, just ideas that may not work here.
Still, the big questions had to be asked: How do we continue to go on with life when we've lost loved ones? What better area to explore on a show about dealing with impending inescapable adulthood? Is the answer to existence really 42?
One of the guideposts we went into Season 5 with was we knew we wanted to introduce a new Questing Creature and had brainstormed plenty of options (like an owl that keeps calling Julia "Hoooolia") but ultimately the idea of a literal male chauvinist pig consistently won. However, creature work this detailed is a time-consuming process and we wanted to give the team at Masters FX as much a jump as possible so we created Sir Effingham and cast Sean Maguire before we had even written the episode. Sean was thrilled to go through the molding process and don the uncomfortable pigman suit, even though he'd have to take cool down breaks to manage sweat in the unbreathable prosthetics.
This was not only the first premiere to be written by someone other than Sera and John (It was written by our third showrunner Henry Alonso Myers) but we actually wrote and shot Ep. 501 and Ep. 502 at the same time to offset various cost and timing hurdles. This made everything particularly confusing for not only our actors but the writing staff as well. The best way to think about it was to just consider this all one big episode.
Another great pleasure we had was finally getting to write Eliot and Margo together again which truly felt like a homecoming where we could unleash our full fancy snark while drinking from magically appearing martini glasses in Vancouver's Stanley Park, just a stone's throw from the original Clock Tree and the Polar Bear enclosure where we shot Ember's tomb.
Yet as much fun as we were having, the question always came first: Where are these characters now and how do we chart new meaningful personal growth that will entertain and resonate emotionally in Quentin's absence?
That's when we'd get personal and talk about our feelings... a lot.
After all, magic comes from pain. Then again, so does great writing. And there's plenty more of both to come…