The Magicians might feel especially different in Season 5. After suffering a major loss and shining a light on a disenfranchised magician community, actress Jade Tailor says her character, Kady, has a whole new perspective on the world.
Season 4 ended with de facto leader Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) sacrificing himself to stop a newly god-powered Everett Rowe (Brian Markinson), and restore magic after several seasons of it being diminished, gone entirely, and rationed by the Library. Following his death, Kady, Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Julia (Stella Maeve), Penny 23 (Arjun Gupta), Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy), Margo (Summer Bishil), and a newly de-Monstered Eliot (Hale Appleman) gathered around a fire and tossed in items that reminded them of Q while they sang an acoustic version of A-Ha's "Take On Me." It might sound silly written out, but it became one of the more moving scenes in the series – for both fans and the cast.
"It was incredibly difficult because we knew it was the end of something and we could feel the weight of Quentin’s death," Tailor told Ranker over the phone ahead of Season 5. "It was one of the most moving and heart-wrenching things I’ve done – and I mean that in a really beautiful way because I felt like it was honoring Quentin in a way that respected their journey and love for him."Article Image
Tailor admits, though, that the song choice was just as surprising to her as it was to viewers. "When I first saw that I was like ‘What do you mean we’re singing Take On Me?’ I never knew the acoustic, slowed-down version – it was always just the fast version. I was like, ‘That’s outlandish, why would we do that, that isn’t respectful.’ And then I listened to it and I started crying. It was so moving. I had a hard time singing it even because it was so visceral and emotional."
With a Quentin-sized hole in everyone's lives, Tailor said a lot of the early season deals with how the different members of the group mourn. Some do everything in their power to avoid thinking about it, others struggle with survivor's guilt, while others still dive headfirst into that darkness. For Kady, she's trying to turn Quentin's sacrifice into motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other and helping whoever she can.
"The thing she took from Quentin is that he risked his life for the sake of those that he loved. It’s something that’s so moving and empowering, and she took that and ran with it," Tailor said. "We’ve seen her in the past when she dealt with hardship or pain she’s resorted to drugs or beating herself up because that was her way of dealing with that emotional pain – or a way to avoid it entirely. This is no different, but she’s fighting it this time."
Kady will need that motivation as Season 5 finds her becoming even more of a leader among the hedge witch community. Last season saw her begin to truly step up – however reluctantly – when the hedges needed help. First, they came to her about the Library's magic rationing wreaking havoc among their ranks and, later, they approached her when many hedges resorted to Reed's Mark – a magic sigil that prevents Magicians from casting – as a form of defense against the Serpent, a hate group that targeted any hedge who tried to use magic with a deadly Blood Worm. Tailor said Kady still has a bit of resistance toward leading, but it isn't because she doesn't want the job:
Of course she’s reluctant because she cares so deeply, and she doesn’t know if she can do it in the way that the hedges deserve, but I think that’s what makes her so great. The resistance or reluctance to leading wasn’t about the desire to fight for people or to lead – because she has the strength to be an incredible leader – it’s her own self-doubt and her fear of not being able to do it or be good enough. We see her struggling through that, but we’ve seen Kady persevere time and time again and this is no different.
More leadership responsibilities and Q's death aside, Season 5 also focuses on Kady's new viewpoint when it comes to hedges. Tailor explained, for much of the series, Kady felt shame about her past and her hedge witch mom, but after the hedges and the "traditionally" trained Magicians united at the end of Season 4 to perform the cooperative magic that helped stop the Monster and Everett, it helped change the way she viewed hedges – and maybe even moved the needle on the way traditional Magicians view them, too. Tailor said:Article Image
I think she resisted her hedge witch past because she saw what it did to her mother, and who her mother was, and it created this association that she was bad and did bad things and was a hedge witch and therefore hedges do bad things. That’s shifted because she truly got to know the hedges last season and realize that they’ve just been put in this position.
They found a relatability because, like the hedges, Kady has been put in these terrible positions and has constantly been dealt the short end of the stick and had to fight her way out of that. They’re just doing the best they can with the tools they’ve been given. Now that she’s able to see both sides, I think she’s using the strength of being a trained magician and her past of being a hedge and being able to fight for them in a way that someone who was just one or the other wouldn’t be able to do.
The Magicians Season 5 premieres Jan. 15 at 10/9c on Syfy.