THE MAGICIANS -- "The Mountain of Ghosts" Episode 503 -- Pictured: (l-r) Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice Quinn, Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh -- (Photo by: Eric Milner/SYFY)

‘The Magicians’ Review: We Meet The Dark King

In this week’s episode of The Magicians, Alice and Eliot climb a mountain, Julia seeks help to predict the surges, while Margo and Fen compete in Ultimate Fillorian Warrior.

Alice and Eliot Head Up a Mountain

Alice is still being bugged by her mom to do stuff around the house. She heads outside to water the plants and instead sees a shallow smoky pool where she had buried Little Q’s body. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Q’s essence returned to the Underworld. To remedy that she heads to the apartment to use the grandfather clock portal into Fillory. She is then promptly interrogated by Eliot who’s just returned with Margo, Fen, and Josh. He knows she’s up to something and finds out she’s headed to the Mountain of Ghosts, where at the very top is a hole that leads straight down into the land of the dead. She plans on throwing the tiny piece of Q’s soul in there so that he can fully rest. Eliot insists on going with her and this could be just what he needs to find closure himself.

The duo make it to the border where there is a warning of Takers beyond this point, however there is also a smaller sign advertising a beyond the wall adventure tour. Before they head out, they are instructed to fill bags with black rocks because they supposedly burn the Takers and they’d use it as a circle of protection while camping on their way up the mountain. Their guide warns them to keep what they are planning to throw at the top close because the Takers don’t just take people but things they value as well. As they make their way up the difficult path, Alice and Eliot bicker as she claims he’s only here due to a combination of guilt and believing she’s incompetent. He fires back that they’re only here because she betrayed them all which led to him getting possessed by a monster and Q dying to clean up her mess. Harsh but true. The two clearly are having a hard time dealing with very complicated emotions. In a stroke of bad luck their guide gets taken by one of the Takers and the magicians continue on by themselves. They set up camp for the night and as Eliot is working on the protective barrier he hears Q calling out his name. He takes off his jacket and the bag containing Q’s bottle when a Taker shows up and snatches it away. El takes off after the creature telling Alice to stay in the circle. Just as he is overpowered by one of them (though he manages to remove its mask revealing a very Nosferatu looking entity), he is rescued by a very dashingly handsome man who somehow manages to destroy the Taker with magic. El tried earlier but his didn’t even slow it down.

The mysterious stranger offers Alice and Eliot a drink and tells them a tale. He had been making ends meet selling rare objects in Loria (though when he got there he mostly drank) and he had been at the border when he saw his first Taker. Eliot interjects and asks how he destroyed the creature because his spell did nothing. The other man says that some things work on the Takers because when it touched him it felt like some sort of plague. He had thrown an antiviral spell on instinct and that seemed to work. El asks if he’s a magician from Earth and the guy answers that his family is. Alice asks if he can teach them his methods and he agrees to while giving them Lorian wine that helps with altitude sickness, opens up their lungs, but gets one incredibly messed up. Eliot wonders if their new companion is a danger tourist but the stranger says he’s a mourner too. It turns out that the love of his life (who was also a magician) passed away very young. Alice volunteers information that she’s there because of her boyfriend who passed away and the stranger says that it’s nice that the two of them came here to do this together. She then goes off to bed leaving the two men alone. Their conversation continues and the stranger asks Eliot if he’s ever loved anyone. Eventually El admits the friend that they were here to honor and that Alice didn’t know because he didn’t want to hurt her. The other man points out though that in his opinion the best way to honor someone is with the truth. He then tenderly strokes the former high king’s face and adds that death is simple but life is so complicated. The two then agree to go to sleep before things get even more complex.

Finally making it to the top of the mountain, the stranger heads off saying that he’ll search for them later in case they want to hike back down as a group. El attempts to give Alice some space but she asks him to stay because he cared about Q too. She throws the bottle into the hole and says they can leave when he gives her the letter with the enchanted stamp. Eliot explains that he’s wanted to send it but hasn’t because he was scared it could make things so much worse if he did. He wishes that he could crack the code and save Q, but this conversation finally allows him to admit that the other man was more than just a friend. Alice confirms that she knew it wasn’t simply platonic between them and that Q was also in love with Eliot. The look on El’s face when she tells him just pulled on the old heart strings. He is able to reveal that they remembered this other timeline where the they loved one another but then he pushed Q away. Then the mender of small objects died for him. Alice offers comfort in the form of her own personal struggles because she’s done a lot of terrible things, but deep down she was just trying to do her best and asks if he was too. Eliot answers at the time yes and because he was never able to talk to Quentin again after that he’s been unable to let go of the letter. She offers him her help and together they hold the envelope over the chasm and drop it in. Alice says he was brave and he responds that Q was brave. She thanks him for telling her about the other timeline and they hug in grief.

The 12 Champions of Fillory

As a means to get back inside Whitespire, Josh remembers that he created a contest to find the best twelve fighters in the land to be a part of the elite Centurian guards as protection against the Takers. Part of the reward was that whomever got chosen would have their criminal slates wiped clean including banishment marks. Both Margo and Fen end up entering as Janet Pluchinsky and Fensicle Wahlburger. As Josh finds an axe for the former high king of Fillory, she reveals that she’s cast a shield on herself but is getting attacked by a lot of mosquitos. He then excuses himself to go check on something and returns to explain that when either of Fillory’s two moons are full it’s wolf time for them, which is why her wolf PMS is acting so bad. It turns out both moons will be full the following night, but not to worry because there are still cages in the castle.

As the tournament starts, Margo and Fen both easily defeat their opponents. They both make it to the end but discover that there is only one female Centurion allowed which seems highly messed up. They are then supposed to fight under the light of the two full moons the next night but Margo points out that’s not going to work because both she and Josh will turn wolf tomorrow night. But she notices that Fen is also scratching her neck a lot and the magician realizes that the other woman must have also contracted the std curse. Ergo she probably slept with Josh. Their match is rescheduled for an hour before sundown because of their situation. Fen tries to explain to Margo that she and Josh did it less than a dozen times. That does not help.

Their fight commences and Margo ends up using Fen’s own knife to stab her in the gut. The magician then looks visibly shaken, only realizing what she’s done in anger as she is declared the winner. Suddenly though Fen wakes up and takes the blade out of her body, laughing that was well played of the other woman to use her child’s knife. It’s apparently harmless and given to children to practice with. The change though starts to come upon all three and they are ushered to the werewolf cages.  When they return to their human states, Fen tries to apologize to Margo again for sleeping with Josh but is interrupted by the other woman saying she doesn’t own Josh and wants to have complicated feelings about the situation without Fen trying to make herself feel better. The former high king also states that she thought the knife was actually real and although she was glad it wasn’t for this moment, she isn’t a good person. Fen still tries to counter by saying that Margo found a way to save them when the magician reveals it had been Eliot who sent the letter and she was going to let them die for Fillory. With that knowledge, Fen and Josh then turn a cold shoulder.

Circumstantial Patterns 

Meanwhile Julia and Penny 23 travel to London in search of help to find a pattern for the surges. They arrive at a company called P.K. Endeavors and upon entering discover it to be set up just like the Physical Kids cottage at Brakebills. They soon meet Zoe Markus whom Julia has been emailing with. As the hedge witch begins to explain that they are seeking help from Zoe’s sister to predict when the apocalyptic level surge could happen, the elder magician declines abruptly. As Julia and Penny leave, we see Daniella appear close by and it seems that she overheard the entire conversation.

Back at Brakebills, Penny 23 is getting some magical medical attention from Professor Lipson whom they discover was a classmate of Zoe Markus. The elder magician also reveals that there were three Markus sisters Zoe, Beth, and Danny and it was rumored that they saved the world during their senior year. Undeterred, Julia goes back to London and finds Danny who makes herself quickly invisible. Zoe comes out and tells them that they already did save the world once at great cost so they get to be done. Her sister will get obsessed over the problem if she knows what’s at stake and so wants nothing to do with it.

At the apartment over some takeout, Penny 23 tells Julia that Zoe has a good point and asks when is it enough? He’s with her all the way, but when this is over he wants a life ideally with her and he’s not sure that’s what she really wants. Before she can respond they hear a knock at the door and it turns out to be Danny. The magician has solved their problem by working out a statistical model to predict a window of time wherein the next surge could occur. She explains that a harmonic convergence (a rare astrological occurrence which acts as a magical amplifier) will be happening in two weeks. There have only been four in the past: extinction of the dinosaurs, Pompeii, sinking of Atlantis, and the invention of autotune. Danny believes that this next event will have death tolls in the millions but that they can count on both hers and her sister’s help should they need it when the time comes. Julia thanks her and the other woman says that Zoe will bill them for her time.

The Dark King Revealed

As Eliot, Alice, and the stranger get back down from the Mountain of Ghosts, El bids the other man farewell as they are headed towards Whitespire to a tree that can take them home. The stranger then asks if they’d like some company since he’s heading towards that way as well when a large carriage arrives stopping right in front of them. Alice recognizes it as the Dark King’s and El wonders out loud of they’re in trouble again. The mysterious man then hands over his bag and jacket to one of the soldiers and a cloak is placed upon his shoulders. The phosphomancer blurts out that they’ll just walk and the Dark King (played by the very talented Sean Maguire) hopes that the journey gave her everything she needed and for Eliot to call should he ever need anything. As the carriage begins to move, he tells Alice that he thinks he almost screwed the Dark King.

Final Thoughts

  • Who knew the Dark King would be such a kind stranger? Curious to learn more about his backstory and who his family is. What if he’s somehow related to the MacAllisters? What if they managed to get to Fillory after the fairies were set free?
  • It’s also interesting that no matter how Margo and Eliot tried to change the past the Dark King would always end up on Filory’s throne. Will his character serve a bigger purpose?
  • The heartfelt scene between Alice and Eliot just made the tears flow, it was such a powerful and emotional interaction as they both mourned Quentin.
  • It doesn’t seem fair that Margo vented out a majority of her frustration just on Fen when Josh was also a willing participant in their affair. But also that the other two didn’t know how much Margo was the one really trying to save them and Eliot had been the reluctant one.

The Magicians airs on Syfy Wednesday at 10/9c.

About Nicole C

Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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One comment

  1. I have to wonder if the Dark King is Q’s son or grandson from A Life in a Day. His & El’s memories are spotty and he kid is now a man, so Eliot would not have recognized the son he raised with Q, but he and Q stayed on at mosaic after the boy left, and this could be a grandson. As for his lover, Jan pops in after Eliot’s death and Q gives her the key–seemingly years after the boy left home and time enough for him to have started a family and had a son around the Chatwins’ ages. It be established that Rupert was bi if not full-on gay, which makes him the possible love interest. True we only know about Jane and Martin dabbling, but why wouldn’t Rupert as well? They (RC & DK) may have made a life outside Fillory proper until Martin forced a show down.

    Just a thought.

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