Warning: This interview about this week’s episode of The Magicians, “The Flying Forest,” contains spoilers.
You know what’s better than having one character as great as Hale Appleman’s Eliot on a show? Cloning him.
After the death of Alice in last week’s episode while vanquishing The Beast, Eliot was feeling even more weight on his shoulders now that he has to focus on ruling his troubled kingdom. Luckily, Margo (Summer Bishil) found a loophole to the rule that keeps High King Eliot from ever leaving Fillory: they made a golem using some living clay. Thanks to a variation on mind control, when Eliot’s asleep in Fillory, his mind goes into the golem, which can go back to Brakebills.
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“It just was sort of like the artist and his creation. This idea that he was getting his hands dirty sculpting this version of himself,” Appleman tells Yahoo TV. “That’s the idea that we came up with, what I talked about with Magali [Guidasci], our costume designer, who is a complete genius. She definitely is responsible for a good percentage of my performance. So that was fun. Then, of course, the sex scene in two dimensions was a blast to shoot, just because it was so trippy.”
Yes, just as Eliot’s “doppelbanger” was about to let off some steam by having sex at one of the Physical Kids’ legendary house parties, Fen (Brittany Curran), Eliot’s new wife, decided to wake him in Fillory. The result: two sex scenes at once. “We had both actors in both locations, which we shot on two different days. I think we had to do the same dialogue four times, with two different actors, in two different locations,” Appleman says. “It just is such an out-of-body experience to be jumping back and forth between your real body and your golem body. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that, but…”
Eliot’s golem body did take care of some business at Brakebills: he met with Dean Fogg (Rick Worthy), who had trouble following everything that’s gone down in Fillory but did deduce that Eliot, the man who basically wanted to die, is now trying to live two lives at once.
“I saw that conversation as the first really big turning point for Eliot this season. Outside of the crowning scene and the baring of his heart, I looked at the scene with Dean Fogg as the first time that Eliot’s ever needed to ask for help in his life. I don’t think he’s ever turned to someone and said, ‘Hi, I’m really struggling right now. I really need help,‘” Appleman says. “For some reason, I just had this vision of Eliot sort of dressing up to go to church, kind of like trying to be a really good boy for his dad. ‘If I’m really, really, really good, if I atone for my sins, all at once, right now, and wish really, really hard, maybe it will turn out okay.’ Of course, it doesn’t. Dean Fogg is kind of s–t for brains, honestly. He’s not present, and he misconstrues what Eliot’s saying a few times. I mean, by the end of the scene, he offers some semblance of a solution, but there’s such a disconnect, and I think that it’s so frustrating for Eliot because it’s so difficult for him to ask for help to begin with.”
Related: ‘The Magicians’ Season 2 Premiere Postmortem: The Cast Talks Their Crowning Moment
Dean Fogg decides Eliot’s thesis project will involve meeting with some great minds (politicians, military personnel, etc.) to learn “how to save a godd–n world.” Thanks to the season’s second episode, we know Eliot, aka “King S–t,” already has a step up when it comes to agriculture. “There’s a kind of full circle in that,” Appleman says of Eliot’s dreaded childhood on a farm helping him educate his subjects on the use of fertilizer. “What haunts Eliot in his past is the very thing that he needs in order to fulfill his first duty as the king. ‘Duty,’ no pun intended.”
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.
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