Warning: This post contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of The Magicians. Read at your own risk!qw
The Magicians took a page out of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer‘s book.
In Wednesday’s episode “The Losses of Magic,” written by Henry Alonso Myers, Alice’s (Olivia Taylor Dudley) father Daniel (Tom Amandes) died; however, it wasn’t at the hands of the Lamprey, the mystical creature that wanted revenge on Alice for things she did as a niffin. He died from a pre-existing heart condition, which is a very heartbreakingly mundane way to go out after surviving an intense battle with a vengeful monster. It’s rather similar to how — 17-year-old SPOILER ALERT — Buffy’s mother Joyce died in the season 5 episode “The Body” — not from a vampire, but from an aneurysm.
Executive producer Sera Gamble admits “The Body” was one source of inspiration for the episode, but it wasn’t the main reason they decided to take Alice in this direction.
“We weren’t trying to replicate that, but I think that’s just a touch point of when you tell a story about the death of a parent on a show like ours,” Gamble tells EW. “That [Daniel] dies a much more mundane death of a pre-existing heart condition, that feels very much like our show to us — a show where there are epic battles and you also have to deal with just the sh— of being human. Often that’s what get you, the human stuff.”
The writers decided to kill off Alice’s father because they “wanted her to be wrestling with real consequences,” says Gamble. “Alice’s story this season is very much about her trying to figure out who the hell she is. She, more than anyone, had been defining herself as a magician because she was always prodigiously good at magic, even if she didn’t care for it always. She always knew who she was: She was the best magician. She’s having what we might glibly call a quarter-life crisis, but that is real when you’re in your twenties and you had some plans for life and then they all imploded and you don’t know what to do next.”
This twist was also inspired by how Gamble felt when she lost her own father, which she shared in the writers’ room when they were discussing this episode. “I lost my own father when I was in my early twenties and wrestling with my identity and who I was going to be and what I was going to do with my life. I remember that as being kind of a bomb that exploded in the middle of my life and it’s an instant shocking lens on your entire life when somebody you care about that much dies,” says Gamble.
For Alice, the fallout of this bomb going off in her life will have a profound effect on her relationships. “What it does emotionally is that it further estranges her in many ways from everyone around her, because she’s going through so much personal turmoil,” says Gamble, adding this will especially make it harder for Alice to connect with Quentin (Jason Ralph), who still has feelings for her. “It’s incredibly frustrating for both of them in a way that magic can’t resolve and also their tools as people. They can’t really find their way through it. Their relationship is kind of sticky and uncomfortable for a while this season. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t too pat, too resolved, that they didn’t just go back to each other. It felt more real to us to have them keep running into each other and keep having to work together even though they had some pretty dramatic stuff in their history, and they had a lot of unrequited feelings, unfinished feelings, anger they haven’t talked about.”
The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.