There’s no show on TV that knows how to hit a reset button quite like Syfy’s The Magicians. The season 3 finale left so many intriguing loose threads that it would take a full costume department working overtime just to tie everything up. Luckily, The Magicians Season 4 starts to answer questions like what’s going on with the authoritarian rule of The Library, and how Quentin will handle his complicated relationship with both magic and Fillory.
It’s not just Quentin who finds himself in a drastically different place to begin the season. The whole gang had their memories wiped in the season 3 finale and were placed back into the world in new, magic-less lives. At this point, Arjun Gupta is used to playing all different variations of Penny. When the new batch of episodes premieres on Wednesday, January 23rd, he’ll be introduced as the globetrotting DJ Hansel, a character far removed from everyone’s favorite traveler. Stella Maeve also finds himself in a new place, albeit a tricker one for Julia. She’s essentially indestructible yet has no magic abilities and is on a mission to find her purpose. We sat down with Gupta and Maeve to discuss their character arcs in the upcoming season.
Can you tell us about the new character that you’re embodying at the beginning of the new season? What way is he like Penny, what way is he not like Penny? Was it challenging to step into a new role?
Arjun Gupta: I actually felt like it was liberating for me. I think I was unique in the situation where my character, my glamour character was completely different from Penny. I mean he’s DJ Hansel, he’s the dude that went to India for two weeks and came back enlightened, and wants everybody to know how enlightened he is. Always wears clothes from Thailand even though he went there once. That kind of person whose very ungrounded, very loose and free, very free in his body which is different from Penny. Actually it was really fun. It was incredibly exciting.
Like DJ Hansel is like Calvin Harris. I think there’s even a joke about Hansel having had a little fling with Taylor Swift which is again demonstrates how far apart these two characters are.
Which version of Penny is this? Is this Penny 23?
AG: Yeah, so Penny 23 is the one that is forced to take the potion. That’s who we’re with at the end of season 3, but fortunately we do get to see more of Penny 40 this year. We get to know more of what his world is like. We get to see more of his growth and see where his journey is taking him. We actually get to see the two Pennys interact.
So you play scenes opposite yourself?
AG: It was really trippy. It was a lot of fun, it was a lot of work. That was really challenging.
Does Penny find stability in this season?
AG: Yes, that’s a good question because it’s a big part of what Penny 23’s arch is. He left the 23rd timeline where there was literally nothing for him and he came to this new timeline and it all of sudden got thrown into a crisis mode and now we’re seeing him kind of processing and finding out do I belong here. Is this the place for me? Can I fit in here? Am I in the right place, so actually the first half of the season is really about him just kind of ‘Where am I supposed to be?,’ and it culminates into a really, really beautifully in the sixth episode.
Is there anything that’s going to happen with Julia in season four that has directly to do with her experiences late in season three in terms of just how powerful she became and how she sacrificed that at the end? Does that impact her moving on?
Stella Maeve: She grapples with it in season four. She’s sort of left trying to figure it out because she’s indestructible, but yet she has no power. She has no magic I should say. She’s indestructible with no magic so it’s kind of like ‘what is this conundrum.’
I can’t die but yet I’m not a god, so, therefore what am I, what is this? The writers described it to me it was like a weird purgatory. I think she’s trying to figure that out throughout the season. She sort of like ‘What am I doing?’, ‘What does this mean?’, and ‘Is this the message?’, and ‘What is my purpose?.’
Was there a part of Julia’s story in last season that you most connected to?
SM: I loved last year’s writing. I just loved all of it. I liked that it followed the books. I liked that it, not followed the books, but it took certain aspects from the book I should say. I just thought overall it had a through line and everybody was sort of like connected, and it was just really good writing.
From what I understand Julia has a pretty significant part to play in the monster storyline. Is there anything you can tease? What’s at stake?
SM: It’s awesome. I got to hang out with Hale who’s really cool. The monster, Elliot has a sister whose body sort of inhabits Julia and so we got to kind of just mess around and play together with these two ancient celestial beings. It was really cool, it was really fun. We got to experiment and play, so from an artist standpoint that was a really great exercise, and also extremely difficult and challenging. Hopefully you guys have as much fun watching it as we did making it, but I thought our chemistry was really great.
The Magicians Season 4 premieres January 23rd on Syfy. You can keep up with the latest trailers and news here.