In season one, we watched as Jason Ralph's Quentin Coldwater performed a unique version of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" while trapped in an asylum. In season two, the ante was upped when Hale Appleman's Eliot and several other cast members delivered a stunning performance of "One Day More" from Les Miserables.
And now, in season three, The Magicians is getting musical yet again.
E! News can confirm that in the ninth episode of the season, airing Wednesday, March 7, the series will be going the full-on musical episode route, with each of its series regulars poised to flex their considerable singing chops over the course of four (!!) songs, including covers of David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure" and "All I Need Is the Girl" from the musical Gypsy. Vanity Fair first revealed the news.
The impetus for the musical episode came out of co-creator John McNamara's season two Les Mis experiment—and its overwhelming success. "Those f--kers were so good!" McNamara's co-creator Sera Gamble, who considers musicals to be "the STD of The Magicians"—"I didn't come to the show loving musicals, but I'm just around John every day and the passion, apparently, is contagious."—told E! News during a visit to the Vancouver set.
"That's the thing. It came out better than I think we had hoped," McNamara added. "I was expecting tons of hate tweets. We all got the opposite. So of course, we're like, 'Well, we've got to do that again!' But as we've been saying amongst ourselves, you don't just want to rinse and repeat. You've got to keep going up. So we're trying to go up."
Jade Tailor, whose Kady tackles the Gypsy track (sung here as "All I Need Is the Boy") in the episode, was thrilled at the opportunity, especially since she'd been left out of both previous musical moments. "I literally started crying from excitement and joy because I'm a musical theater girl…There was a running joke on set that if I didn't get a musical number, I would start killing everyone," she told us, laughing. "And my response was true. Everyone's alive, that tells you something. Everyone gets to sing, which is exciting. I get a really fun part."
So what's the reason for all the musical mayhem this time around? E! News can exclusively reveal that the answer lies with Trevor Einhorn's Josh Hoberman, who hasn't been seen since joining the gang's quest to bring magic back in the season's second episode. Without revealing too much, let's just say that the quest finds Quentin, Kady and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) trying to convince their old friend to return home from a place he might not be all that interested in leaving.
"Josh in the beginning of this season, they really gave Josh this sort of emotional layer of how much magic meant to him. It sort of, in his mind, defined him. And he was just as desperate as the rest of the group to find it and find it as quickly as possible. Once we meet him again in 309, we quickly realize Josh is in this sort of dream magical world…It sort of feels like it doesn't matter if it's not reality, it doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense, but the fact that he's able to do magic means he's staying here no matter what," Einhorn told E! News. "In Josh's mind, it defines him so much that he doesn't need answers, he just needs to be able to do it."
And as you can see in the exclusive clip above, when you do start to question the musical nature of this fantasy world, it doesn't respond too kindly.
The episode, which sees Josh take on the lion's share of the singing duties aside from the big group number, puts the peripheral character in the foreground and however daunting the task was, Einhorn was more than up for the challenge. "The first thing I was happy to see was that it was called 'All That Josh' and it stops there, it's not 'All That Josh—Death Scene, Pt. 1.' It's not like 'Josh dies, episode nine.' When you see your name in a title, you're happy to know there's some sort of positive spin on it," he told us. "I knew no matter what—at least from the people I talked to that do a lot of musicals and I have a little bit of playing around with musicals in the past—it's all about a commitment level. If you don't commit, then everyone will know and it will just feel weird because you didn't dive into it. So I said no matter what, I'm just going to commit the heck to it and it wound up being kind of fun."
Aside from taking on the "daunting" task of tackling Bowie and Freddie Mercury's iconic track (more on that in a second), Einhorn got to live out a pop star fantasy with his individual songs. "Everyone was so encouraging," he said of the dancers hired to support him. "I've never done any dance stuff like that before in my life and they just helped me. We had a two-day rehearsal process, and at the end of the two days, it was really like a party on set. So for me, it was a blessing because I think it came out pretty well. I was pretty happy with it."
As for how the Syfy series could possibly find a way to top itself in its just-ordered fourth season, Einhorn remains as stumped as the rest of us, but has faith it'll happen. "I was thinking the same thing. What are we going to do? Why don't you just go for Hamilton next time? Because that's not popular enough," he said, laughing. "I also was joking, we started episode 10 right after. We didn't get a break right after, we went literally from Under Pressure right into episode 10 and it's just Jason and me in a scene we were filming. And I was like, ‘Wouldn't it be great if we just sang this entire scene and the whole audience just thinks that the rest of the season is a musical? And we just can't help ourselves anymore?' We go for it. We don't shy away from it."
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.
(E! and Syfy are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)