Is there a more perfectly imperfect person to be High King of Fillory than Eliot Waugh (Hale Appleman)? We don’t think so.
“The Magicians” Season 2 picks up right where we left off, with all our heroes in grave danger after Julia (Stella Maeve) betrayed them and their plan to kill the Beast. Fortunately, we know most of them survive this brush with death, given that they’re crowned kings and queens of Fillory this season — it’s hard to rule a magical realm when you’re six feet under.
Screener spoke to Hale Appleman about what’s in store for Eliot this year on “The Magicians,” and how he’ll be dealing with the realities (good and bad) of being High King of Fillory.
Eliot went to Fillory almost hoping he might die. Is he still in that bad headspace in Season 2?
I think he believed that the end was coming. When Margo saved him, it sort of gave him a new lease on life — and when it’s revealed that he is in fact destined to be the High King, I think he takes that at face value. I don’t think that he has any idea what’s in store, or the challenges or the amount of responsibility that entails. It’s all beyond him. He’s in way over his head, he has no idea what he’s contending with. It’s a complete unknown.
Fillory is the new character that no one’s truly met yet. Season 2 is kind of about Eliot’s adjustment to this place that he’s bound to… At Brakebills, he could get away with a lot — put on a superficial mask and call it a day. In Fillory he’s got some bigger shoes to fill.
Can we expect to see a change in his character now that he’s High King?
He’s full of surprises, that’s part of what I really love about playing him. He can sort of cover a lot of ground. He has a lot of range, in and of himself. He’s as off-the-wall as he wants to be, and he’s secretly emotionally resonant. He has hero moments — over the course of the season, Eliot really steps up, and balls-to-the-wall kind of puts on some f***ing man-boots and takes charge. I think that’s really exciting, that he also gets to take action in that way.
I love that Eliot is as queer as he wants to be, but I also love that he can kind of take it to whatever extreme he chooses. He kind of has free reign over his own image, and his own persona — really, who he decides to be on any given day is kind of up for grabs. Someone who lives inside of his own hall of mirrors, with his own personality, is an endlessly fascinating person. So I’m incredibly lucky to play a character like that.
How does Eliot deal with the fact that he’s stuck in Fillory?
I think that Eliot is really longing for the safety of the world he knows — the Brakebills bubble. At first it’s kind of about trying desperately to get back to, or recreate, the life that he knew. Then at a certain point, I think probably midway through the season, he starts to crack and he starts to accept that this is where he is — and whether he believes it or not, it’s where he’s meant to be right now… He starts to embrace the idea of being a good king.
He’s not well-versed in what that means — or any of the specific skillsets that he has to wrap his brain, mind, body and spirit around — but he’s trying. He’s really, really trying to be a good king. A king that the people will like and respect. As frivolous and whimsical as he can be, I do think at the end of the day, Eliot is trying. He’s not equipped for this. He’s trying to put his best foot forward, but he’s not sure which foot that is.
What can you tell us about his relationship with his new wife, Fen?
I always say — because I think it’s worth repeating, especially to audiences that think, or might have been offended, that the queer character’s been married off — I think it’s worth noting that it’s a marriage of necessity, not a marriage born of love. Fen is not who Eliot would have chosen, and I think that actually allows for some interesting conflicts throughout the season about what Eliot truly desires.
Fen is someone Eliot probably would have overlooked in his everyday life. She’s someone who continues to surprise him. She is seemingly very genuine and sincere, and I think that that’s kind of a breath of fresh air for him. He’s forced to be in close quarters with this person who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and simple in way — but I think it’s the sincerity that keeps kind of tapping him on the shoulder and surprising him. This woman has character. She’s pure, and I think that strikes a surprising chord in him.
It wouldn’t be his first choice, but she surprises him. There’s a moment where she opens her gown, and Eliot is surprised by what he sees. You’ll just have to use your imagination. It looks good to him in that moment. He’s full of surprises himself.
What can you tell us about Eliot & Margo’s partnership as Fillory’s new power couple?
They’re sort of… On easy terms with one another, save for the fact that Eliot is stuck there all the time, and Margo can come and go as she pleases — which ultimately becomes a little bone of contention between them. Eliot misses his life so much, and he’s a bit resentful that everyone else can come and go. He’s ironically the one person that feels he needs Brakebills the most, and yet he can’t leave.
That aside, I think they try to have each other’s best interests at heart all the time, until something comes up between them. Eliot and Margo have slightly different ruling styles, and world views: I think this becomes more clear to them in Season 2, I don’t even know if they were consciously aware of this. Their relationship was sort of functioning as a co-dependent partnership in all sorts of ways. In terms of ruling a kingdom, it gets more complicated. They wouldn’t necessarily sign all the same documents or make the same judgment calls, and that becomes clearer and clearer as the season progresses.
You’ll kind of see them come together and drift apart throughout. They might not end up on the same terms, and that might not bode well for the harmony of their relationship.
“The Magicians” premiers Wednesday (Jan. 25) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.