Syfy’s The Magician’s is one of the most interesting shows right now on television and part of the lure is thanks to Julia Wicker’s (Stella Maeve) journey from future Yale student to dangerous hedge witch. She began as the character who had her life together in comparison to struggling and depressed Quentin (Jason Ralph). Quickly though the tables are turned after she flunks out of the Brakebills (a college for magicians) entrance exam and is thrust back into the mundane world while still retaining her memories of magic’s existence.
Unable to let go, Jules becomes obsessed with finding any scrap of magic she can by scouring the Internet. Concerned boyfriend James (Michael Cassidy) calls Quentin pleading with him to come to Julia’s birthday celebration so that he can see for himself how withdrawn, cold, and unlike her usual self she’s become. The show continually presents the darker side of magic and how addictive and dangerous it can be. In Julia’s case it becomes the drug that she cannot get enough off.
When the two friends share a private moment during her birthday party, she shows Quentin a spell that she’d learned (which had taken her months to find online) to prove that she has magic and pleads with him to tell the teachers at Brakebills to give her another chance. Q though says that there’s a reason why she wasn’t chosen and that was perfectly okay. He even gets upset because she had been great at everything else and feels that she just can’t accept failure at anything.
Julia’s life takes a different turn though when Pete (a hedge magician played by David Call) accosts her inside the women’s bathroom at the bar and sparks come out of her hands as a means of self-defense. He then tells her that not all magic comes from Brakebills and soon after he invites her to a safehouse where she meets other hedge magicians and witches. She and another newcomer named Marina (Kasey Rohl) are trapped inside a cold storage locker as a test to see if they can free themselves. Marina essentially doesn’t do much while Julia finds instructions for a temporary heating spell and is forced to cut human fat from a dead body inside (a necessary ingredient). She then also manages to blast open the meat locker door and angrily confronts Pete afterwards. He shrugs and says that the test wasn’t to prove herself to him, it was actually to convince Marina that she was worthy. The other woman turns out to be the head of the entire group and is a top-level hedge witch (she pulls her sleeve up to show tattoos of numerous stars on her arms).
Marina likes Julia after the latter had shown her passion for magic. She was even willing to teach her all that she knew as long as she continued to prove herself. The head hedge witch seems to be quite a cutthroat character with her own hidden agenda. Marina even boasts that she has connections in Brakebills and it’s actually true. Kady (portrayed by Jade Tailor is Penny’s love interest and likely a hedge witch as well since we saw her star tattoos) has been stealing items for her.
As Julia begins to learn more magic at a safehouse, Marina tells her that she’s not fully committed and that’s why she’s not able to do all the spells. She says that Julia probably keeps her boyfriend around as a safety net in case she fails at this. However, that’s not going to cut it because in Marina’s experience, for magic to work you have to mean it. That makes sense, the students at Brakebills are mainly isolated at the school without any non-magical distractions.
Unexpectedly however, Julia and Quentin are briefly reunited when Eliot (Hale Appleman) and him find the missing book that Kadie had stolen from the Physical Kids’ cabin at Marina’s command. She is pissed off that Q just comes there and barely says anything to her after their years of friendship. Meanwhile he’s angry that she’s decided to be join the hedge magicians because they are considered to be low dregs in the magical community. Julia’s offended by this of course and then tells him how she deluded herself into thinking that he was actually going to tell the Brakebills professors about her so that they would at least send someone to wipe her memory again. But then she realized that no one was ever going to come and so she did what she had to do. Quentin still believes that magic isn’t for everyone and that she flunked for a reason. He goes on to ask her if she’s ever considered how she’s treated him in the past despite knowing that he was in love with her. Quentin wonders out loud if James even knows that she’s here hanging out with a bunch of tweekers turning tricks for spells. Ouch. Undeterred though Julia asks Q if he loves magic and if it’s in his soul. Well of course it is! She claims that’s how she feels before going back inside the safehouse and ending their meeting.
This conversation though leads the hedge witch to ask James to come over to her place. You think she’s going to confess the whole thing to him but at the last minute she transfigures her keychain to show a sobriety chip and instead explains him that she had become addicted to Adderall. Now though she had started going to AA meetings to get her life back on track and said that she still loved him. James is relieved and believes her story but you have to think that this is not going to last very long. Sorry James!
Her journey is only just beginning and it’s going to be so much fun to see her progress into a much stronger and dangerous force to be reckoned with. Showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara made the right call in having Julia’s storyline run in parallel to Quentin’s this season because it adds so much more depth to the overall narrative of show. While Q’s plot somewhat runs along the path of the hero/chosen one (although we’ve got some interesting twists and turns as well), Julia’s is unconventional, uncomfortable, and makes for addictive television. It’s the crazy train wreck that you can’t look away from.
The Magicians is on Syfy Mondays 9/8 central.
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