In an ensemble cast brimming with talent, Brittany Curran brings her brand of magic to Fen through strength of character, hidden talent, and a balanced performance
One major reason why Syfy’s The Magicians has become such a successful show is the immensely talented cast of actors who bring the characters to life every week. We have spent one season learning about the worlds of the magicians through the eyes of Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Hale Appleman, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Summer Bishil, Arjun Gupta, and Jade Tailor, and we were hooked. We sat on the edge of our seats every week to watch this ragtag gang of Brakebills students (and hedge witches) stumble through one adventure after another, all the while wishing we were there with them. We laughed, we cried, and we may have screamed at the television once or twice as we watched their fight against The Beast unfold.
At the very end of season one, Eliot married the blade maker’s daughter, Fen, so that they could gain access to a magical blade that could kill The Beast. This marriage would forever prevent him from leaving Fillory, not to mention force him into a monogamous relationship. With this kind of introduction, Fen’s standing with us going into the next season was rather precarious, as the unwanted wife one of our favorite magicians. While originally played by Laci J. Mailey, we found ourselves staring at a brand new Fen in season two. Brittany Curran took over the role and gave us a new perspective on the young woman, and we were just as surprised as the High King at how quickly she won us over. By the time “We Have Brought You Little Cakes” aired, we couldn’t imagine a world without the plucky and passionate Fen, and that’s why she’s our season two scene stealer!
She held her own against a beloved cast, and now Fen is so much more than a plot device
Walking onto a show as successful and adored as The Magicians is intimidating enough, but when you factor in a main cast that has spent an entire season bonding with one another, it’s even more so. That was the situation Brittany Curran faced when she took over the role of Eliot’s Fillorian wife, Fen. Not only was she unknown to us as an actor on the show, but her character was the reason one of our beloved magicians lost his freedom. This meant there was a bit of an uphill battle in winning us over, but Curran showed us that she could tackle this challenge head on. From her first appearance in the season, she endeared Fen to us with her brilliant smiles, zest for life, and innocent joy, whether she had two seconds or twenty two minutes of screen time. Despite ourselves, we couldn’t help but feel drawn to the newcomer.
It didn’t take long for us to realize, however, that Fen was no simple village girl, and that got our attention. We came to admire her for her willingness to make good on her marital vows, even if it made her uncomfortable (ahem, group orgy). We were shocked when we discovered that Fen was involved with the FU Fighters, but we were also impressed with her honesty and refusal to be dismissed. Curran highlighted Fen’s ability to remain gentle even while asserting her authority, and that she’s a force to be reckoned when it comes to her family. We watched her build chemistry with each cast member, and play that newfound understanding on screen. Curran continued week after week quiet persistence as we came around, and her patience paid off. Just as Eliot realized by the end just how important Fen was to his life, we as the audience found ourselves looking forward to seeing Curran on screen every week.
Her acting isn’t the only thing that’s mesmerizing – wait until you hear her sing
The Magicians was already known for its musical numbers (see Quentin’s rendition of “Shake It Off”) and cheeky use of pop culture references, so it’s no surprise that when this season started, we would have at least one rip roaring number to remember it by. We were given hints about the big production that was coming and knew it would be a Les Misérables tribute, but showrunners John McNamara and Sera Gamble initially only teased Hale Appleman’s singing chops. When the scene finally arrived, we watched Fen get looped into Margo’s battle anthem spell to embolden Eliot before his duel with King Idri. What follows is a beautifully performed version of “One More Day,” with Brittany Curran surprising us (and apparently herself) with her stunning voice.
It was breathtaking to watch the pseudo-love triangle between Eliot, Margo, and Fen play out in musical form, and Curran did her part to impart the insecurity and longing her character feels as she sang Eponine’s lines in the song. Her voice is plaintive when she pleads for Eliot to see her, but also the hope of a better day ahead. Her voice blends perfectly with Appleman’s, and brought the number to new heights as she hit the top notes. We were obsessed with this new side of her, and are already hoping for more moments like this now that we know season three has been confirmed!
Under her care, Fen blossomed from wallflower to main attraction
We have to admit – when we first met Fen last season, we thought she was just going to be there to create conflict and be conveniently written off a few episodes later. Curran made sure to show us just how wrong early on in her tenure, giving us a young woman who is doggedly trying to make the best of her arranged marriage. Yes, she wanted to be a High Queen, but Fen was insistent on proving that she was more than just an innocent bride. Her eternal optimism even in the face of Eliot’s less than enthusiastic behavior initially made us pity her, but then she surprised us with steely determination, fiery passion, and unerring loyalty. We were shocked, then impressed, by this young woman, and things only got better from there.
Fen: “Eliot, please understand. I had a life before you came. I had no idea if you even would come. Fillory is my home, and I care about it.”
Eliot: “So you became a terrorist?”
Fen: “We’re not violent.”
Eliot: “I’d call your ex-boyfriend trying to strangle me a little bit violent!”
Fen: “He’s not my -. We were close, yes, but hurting people was never the plan.”
Eliot: “I have no idea who you are.”
Fen: “I’m your wife.”
Eliot: “Because your father made you.”
Fen: “I could’ve walked out of here – a long time ago.”
Eliot: “Then why didn’t you? If you hate us so much – if you hate me so much – why didn’t you?”
Fen: “Because I don’t. I believe in you. You think I stayed, because you’re just so deeply attracted to me? I am a realist who wants you to succeed. I want us to.”
Curran commanded our attention in each of her scenes, making the most of the few minutes she had with an unpretentious that cracked our walls and touched our hearts. She helped us see past Fen’s forced smiles and ambition to the vulnerable soul beneath, and by season’s end, we were in love. When we watched her pained expressions playing third wheel to her husband and his best friend, we wanted to reach out and hug her. When she confidently laid down the law with both Bayler and Margo, we cheered her on. Fen wants to help Fillory and Eliot succeed, we want the same for her. Curran was able to portray all aspects of Fen’s personality in her performance, and this offered us a deeper understanding of the woman who helped make Eliot the High King he is today. For that, we’re her biggest fans.
Brittany Curran may have been brought in as supporting cast, but she stole the show (and our hearts)
After being kidnapped by the fairies until she delivered her child, we were biting our nails while waiting to find out what happened to Fen. When Margo and Josh found her unharmed but unhappy in the dungeon, we breathed a sigh of relief. By the end of the season two finale, we discover Fen has portaled back to Fillory to warn Eliot and Margo of the impending arrival of the fairies. She only beats the ethereal beings by a matter of minutes, and just after she takes a swig of wine they appear.
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With her daughter still in their custody and now missing some or all of her toes, Eliot’s wife is now on the warpath. She may not wield magic, but she is a Queen of Fillory and her daughter the royal heir. With her past as a FU Fighter and her unwavering determination, we have no doubt Fen’s going to make those fairies pay for stealing her child. As for us, we can’t wait for the next season to arrive so we can have a front row seat to the action!