From The Writers' Room Featuring The Witch Who Came In From the Cold

Max Gladstone on writing The Witch Who Came In From The Cold S2E2: “Complicating Factors”


Back in the Habit

Revisiting any story—especially an interconnected spiderweb like WITCH—is an enormous challenge. You’ve changed, the characters have changed, and the readers have changed (and maybe forgotten where you left things!). Lindsay threw herself on the recap grenade this season—but as I broke ground for Episode Two, I found myself almost *wishing* for the recap, so I could push our characters further into their new context.

So, when last we left our heroes…

It’s easy after a smash ending like ours for the first season of Witch to forget just how much emotional baggage a plot-heavy conclusion leaves unresolved. Gabe and Tanya joined forces to stop the Flame—but they’re both still reeling from the consequences of that collaboration. Josh told Frank about Gabe’s betrayal—or what he thought was Gabe’s betrayal—and now he’s living with having sold out his friend. Tanya has to face her inquests, and of course the entire CIA team in Prague now faces Edith’s investigation.

I took it piece by piece.

Easiest to start with Josh. He’s living with an emotional hangover from last season—and Frank takes the chance to push him way outside of his comfort zone, hunting down the Czech mafia. Josh spent last season taking on field responsibility, however reluctantly—in part because Gabe’s issues with his hitchhiker left the office shorthanded—but now that Gabe’s better, Frank can’t trust him. Not to mention that Frank wants Josh out of the office to keep him safe from Edith’s prying eyes. Of course, this development strains Josh’s relationship with Alestair, who would much rather his new boyfriend—or, at least, friend that is a boy—stay safe behind a desk.

Gabe and Tanya, meanwhile, have their own enormous issues to work through. Gabe has to cover for their collaboration—but last season brought them together in more ways than one, and both are trying to negotiate that tension without betraying their own lives. Gabe and Tanya are each dealing with conflicting loyalties, to the Ice and to their nations. Now they have to deal with a third set of loyalties: to each other.

No way this could go wrong. Absolutely not. The situation’s absolutely normal.

Normal as it can be with a Flame sorcerer, a mysterious magic shadow, and a half-dozen elementals on the loose on Prague, anyway.

Welcome to spring.

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