Try as they might, the spell-casting squad on The Magicians just keeps digging themselves into deeper and deeper holes. Penny was poisoned. The Lorians attacked after the king was turned into a rat. Margo went to the fairy realm to try and undo the baby deal. Eliot was banished to Earth and pissed at Margo. Julia let Renard go after his goddess mom appeared and Kady feels betrayed. Quentin reunited Alice with her shade and she’s depressed that she’s no longer a niffin.
And things aren’t likely to get tied up in neat little bows in tonight’s Season 2 finale, “We Have Brought You Little Cakes,” according to Summer Bishil (Margo). “Unfortunately for them, I think it is more a situation where things are going to get worse before they get better,” she says. “Way worse. But in a really exciting way. The finale is really good.”
Like meet a cool new character good and perhaps make an irreparable world-changing move good.
Here, Bishil chats about her favorite moments from the second year of the Syfy series, the nerves that came with tackling musical numbers, and the future of Eliot and Margo’s damaged friendship.
Bambi has made some bad choices of late, albeit in the name of doing good for Fillory and her friends.
It’s probably good that during production, as I was getting new scripts where Margo started making decisions and moves that weren’t smart or appropriate or even functional, I wasn’t judging her or the decisions. I wasn’t looking at her in a way that was critical so I could just immerse myself in Margo without really thinking about how unlikable her decisions were going to be or worrying about how she was going to be perceived by fans. I can’t play her in a way that would lessen the blow of her actions, because that would not be truthful. Being able to separate my thoughts on it and just doing it saved me from steering the performance away from Margo’s truth. Because to her, everything she has done as the high queen was done with good intentions. She believes she is being righteous and honorable. She feels like they are her only options in this place that is very sexist and doesn’t give her a lot of room to make good decisions.
That is an interesting point about Fillory. No matter what, she is seen as inferior to Eliot the king and people listen to her less. So she is always, in a way, trying to prove her worth.
It is totally sexist, and Margo is a modern girl all the way. She is always put in a corner and unfortunately, her instincts aren’t always the best. But she is trying to effect change and save her friends. She does take the job seriously.
I think it is also important to note that they were dropped into that world and they don’t always know the rules, like when she made a sarcastic, very Margo comment and the fairy brokering the deal saw it as being questioned. And to boot, they are still pretty young.
I think people forget — I even forget when we are in the middle of it — that these are young people and they have limited life experience. They are just starting to get the hang of having magic in their lives. They are at the point where they are making mistakes and have to learn from them, sometimes the hard way. They, particularly Margo and Eliot, have also been thrown into some pretty surreal and fantastical situations in Fillory. Even more so than when they are at Brakebills. I think if I personally was confronted with these scenarios in real life, and magic was real and always there as a potential way out, I would become detached from a lot of my decision-making. I think that would be an accurate and normal psychological response to those situations. It would almost not feel real, and it would be hard to think of the consequences because none of it feels real.
When the finale opens, Margo is in the fairy realm trying to rescue Fen and the baby, and she is introduced to the queen. Can you tease this meeting of the manipulative minds? They seem similar in many ways.
Very. They share instincts, but the fairy queen has had more time to refine those instincts. She knows what she is doing much more than Margo does. She is cunning and manipulative. Margo is not really going to be a match for her, but she’s instantly fascinated by her. Margo still has her goals in mind and will try to stand up for those, but there is an admiration and an interest in who she is and how she became so powerful. The queen will demand something very personal from Margo, and we definitely have not seen the last of the fairies.
To be fair, when Margo makes the deal with the fairies, the fear that her friend is going to die is very real.
Exactly. And at that moment, there’s a very real chance that they wouldn’t stop with Eliot. Fen and the baby could die as well. She could die. Who knows what would happen with the king failed and the Lorians taking over? I think Margo is thinking worst-case scenario here.
Can Eliot ever forgive her for trading his baby?
You never know. I know in the world that Hale [Appleman] and I have created for Eliot and Margo and the love that we feel is between them, yes, I do think there is room for forgiveness. They will always be bonded to each other. They are family, and family forgives a lot of exceptional circumstances and bad decisions. This has changed them, but they are not broken.
I would be so sad if they couldn’t. They are such a sarcasm dream team.
Right? Obviously, the TV show has taken liberties with the books, but if you look at the books, they are loyal to each other and love each other until the bitter end. They have their own happy ending together, however untraditional that ending is. If it were to be authentic to the relationship in the book, their friendship stays strong.
What was your favorite scene this season?
I thought Fen was a good addition to the story. I love Rizwan Manji, who plays Tick Pickwick, one of the advisors in Fillory. I worked with him on a show called Lucky 7. He played my father, so it was a joy to explore totally different characters together after so many years. I also really enjoyed my scenes with Arlen Escarpeta, who plays Prince Ess. It was really effortless working with him and I really enjoyed tackling the power balance that was at play between those two characters. I thought they had chemistry together. In the future, it would be nice to see Margo in a romantic relationship. I liked that brief bit of it and would love if she could get a love interest some day. I would like to see some other parts of her.
You also had your first singing scene this season, and it was Les Mis of all things. Were you excited or nervous about that? Are you a trained singer? Would you like to do more musical work?
Yeah, I would like to do it again. I caught the bug. I am not a singer, and I’m not that great, but I definitely loved doing it. I have always wanted to be a singer and love watching musicals, so it was fun to have an opportunity to participate in something like that. I was so nervous, but John [McNamara, EP] and Sera [Gamble, EP] are endlessly supportive of us and so patient and kind. And everyone on the crew is so encouraging that I felt safe enough to just try things. Obviously Hale and Brittany [Curran] are trained singers, so that helped hide that I wasn’t. But it was so much fun even though I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. But I did love it so much that I take lessons now. I told my reps I would love to do more. I am trying to really go for it.