The Magicians Episode 5×03 Review: “The Mountain of Ghosts”

The Magicians Ep.503 The Mountain of Ghosts
The Magicians “The Mountain of Ghosts”: Alice and Eliot venture up a mountain together (Source: Syfy, via., 2020)

The first real quest of The Magicians’ fifth season kicks off in “The Mountain of Ghosts”, with Alice and Eliot scaling a mysterious mountain in Fillory, bringing about new revelations!

Hands down, “The Mountain of Ghosts” has been my favorite episode of the newest season of The Magicians, thus far. It had everything that you needed: great character moments, character development, subversion of expectation, magical quests, and Fillorian duels! The only real problem is that our favorite characters have all accidentally stepped into messes that they might not be able to get themselves out of. 

The main story of the episode was focused on Alice and Eliot, which also happened to be my favorite part. As it turns out, Alice tried to return the portion of Quentin’s soul that she took for the clay golem, but the “return” didn’t work. So, she decides that she’s going to travel to the “mountain of ghosts” in Fillory, where there is a well at the top of the mountain that drops down directly into the underworld. Here, she’ll be able to return Q’s soul fragment.

However, just as Alice tries to sneak her way into Fillory, Eliot catches her and decides to tag along. Why? Because he’s still hanging onto the letter that he had written to Quentin in the last episode. As I suspected, Eliot didn’t mail it because it had the potential of messing up time even more than it already is. Alice, of course, doesn’t know about this though, so she basically just thinks that Eliot is tagging along to annoy her. 

I actually really enjoyed seeing Eliot and Alice interact with one another. I feel like this dynamic isn’t one that is often depicted on the show, but it was really fun to watch. It was also great because their scenes hit on the raw emotion that they two of them independently feel regarding Quentin’s death. So at the beginning of the episode, they butt heads. But by the time the episode ends, they’re able to release some of their pain by sharing just how much they both loved Quentin. 

Something that I also really loved about this was that The Magicians’ writers didn’t go down the path that I was expecting them to. I feel like the common way to handle two characters having been in love with the same man would usually be written as a vicious love-triangle. But when Eliot finally tells Alice that him and Quentin shared a lifetime together as a couple during the “mosaic” time-line, she reveals that she knew that Quentin loved Eliot, and that she wouldn’t ever be the kind of person to have forced Quentin into loving just one person. 

Eliot and Quentin building the mosaic
Eliot and Quentin building the mosaic in season 3 (Source: Syfy, 2020)

Also during Alice and Eliot’s journey to the top of the Mountain and Ghosts, Eliot gets rescued from a near death by a handsome stranger. But as it turns out by the end of the episode, the mysterious stranger is actually the Dark King—the man who has, up until this point, been made out to be the grand enemy for Margo, Eliot, Josh, and Fen. The only problem is that the Dark King doesn’t seem all that bad….as far as we can tell. 

As “The Mountain of Ghosts” shows us, The Dark King rescues Eliot from getting killed. He explains that he too is making a journey up to the top of the mountain as an annual memorial and tribute to his late-husband. And, he manages to share a heart-to-heart with Eliot once Alice retires to her tent for the night, wherein he tells Eliot that he doesn’t have to fear telling Alice that he also loved Quentin. The Dark King seems well put together and nice. Although it should be said that it’s never smart to take anything The Magicians throws at us at face value. 

However, while Alice and Eliot managed to grow closer during the episode, Margo ends up losing her friendship and romance with Josh and Fen. During the episode, Margo and Fen battle in a tournament to win back their access into Castle Whitespire. Things get way out of hand and Margo ends up “killing” Fen. Luckily, Fen doesn’t actually die all thanks to the fact that Margo stabbed her with a dummy dagger. The real problem, however, is the fact that Margo eventually reveals that her intention was to actually stab Fen and that she didn’t know the knife wasn’t real. 

Margo also reveals to both Josh and Fen that she wasn’t the one who saved the both of them from their untimely execution, as well as the fact that she ultimately chose Fillory’s survival over their lives. As expected, this doesn’t go over well with either Josh and Fen, especially after Margo legit just tried to murder her. They’re both understandably upset. But even though this is a whole mess for the characters, I enjoy the route that it’s taking. 

I love Margo’s character and as I said in the review for last week’s episode, I love how we see much more of Margo’s internal thought processes than we did in the first season of the show. She has always been a hard character, who will absolutely make hard choices if she thinks that it will be for the greater good. Letting Josh and Fen get executed in an attempt to focus all of her energy on Fillory was just one example. But we also know that she’s not heartless. She cares a lot about her friends, so this story will be interesting to see as it’ll give us a deeper dive into Margo’s thoughts.

Julia and Penny-23 in The Magicians
Julia and Penny-23 get some helpful information (Source: Syfy, via., 2020)

Now, Julia and Penny-23 also had a story to tell this episode, however I personally didn’t find it as interesting as the ones with Alice and Eliot or Margo, Fen, and Josh. Unfortunately, I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that the whole “apocalypse” story is taking baby steps on account that it is the season’s main threat. Because of this, it doesn’t feel like Julia and Penny had that much to do this episode. 

The two spent all of their scenes this time around searching for two sisters who apparently helped stop an apocalyptic event prior; the sisters deny aid to Penny and Julia, but then one of the sisters decides to come around and agree to help in any way that she can. So, as I said, it felt like baby steps. I am interested in the apocalypse story, though. I’m just curious to see if it will eventually enlist the help of all of the characters or just remain in the hands of Julia and Penny. 

But what did you guys think about “The Mountain of Ghosts”? Is this season of The Magicians shaping up? Let us know in the comments below! 

Author: Rodney

Rodney has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. Aspiring to one day write television shows and novels, he’s an avid slash-shipper and enthusiast for all things gay. Rodney’s especially a lover of magic, mystery, and superheroes—holding Harry Potter, the X-Men, and Scooby-Doo close as his own personal favorites. But when he’s not fantasizing about how cool it would be to have magic, he’s busy writing fanfiction and re-watching old TV shows.

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