Monday, January 12, 2015

Galavant 1x03 "Two Balls" & 1x04 "Comedy Gold" (Our Quirks Are On Display Together)

"Two Balls" & "Comedy Gold"
Original Airdate: January 11, 2015

I like when series subvert tropes. I like when the princesses can whip out impressive martial arts skills and defend themselves rather than relying on a knight in shining armor. I like when ruthless kings turn out to be incompetent, goofy man-children. I love when the unsuspecting become heroes and when the heroes become humble. And I think that's why I enjoyed this week's Galavant installment of "Two Balls" more in some ways than "Comedy Gold." Don't get me wrong -- each episodes had highlights (and some low lights) and merits to the storylines, but in terms of plot and character development, "Two Balls" may have been a bit ahead of the curve. (Did I just make a pun? I think I just made a pun.)

Nevertheless, both episodes of Galavant were enjoyable, as the show has definitely found its footing with the comedic and physical talents of the main cast (Timothy Omundson continues to be a hoot; Joshua Sasse has had the chance to shine comedically and emotionally this week; and Luke Youngblood and Karen David got the opportunity to see their characters grow and develop as heroes in their own rights, too). The music, too, in this ABC series is nothing short of fantastic. And I love songs that are self-referential and songs that allow characters to articulate their emotions.

So let's talk more about Galavant and its back-to-back new episodes, then.

"Two Balls"

Quick summary: The golden trio of Galavant, Isabella, and Sid heads through Sid's oddly Jewish hometown where everyone thinks he is a hero and a knight and warrior. Galavant is relegated to the role of his squire and spends the duration of their trip learning more about how squires really feel about the people they serve and how he treats Sid. Meanwhile, Isabella pretends to be Sid's betrothed and back at the kingdom, King Richard tries to win over Madalena's favor and decides to host a party for the residents of Valencia.

My thoughts: In a lot of ways, I think I enjoyed "Two Balls" more than "Comedy Gold" because it provided us with some real character development for Galavant who is the title character of this series and also the protagonist. I enjoy Galavant, Isabella, and Sid's relationship -- Sid is obviously closer to Galavant and has known him for much longer; Isabella challenges him in ways that Sid wouldn't dare to because a) that's not his personality or job and b) Sid has known Gal for so long that it's difficult to challenge someone who you're supposed to work for. Isabella doesn't care who Gal is or what he tells her: she shoots straight with him and she yells and argues with him and I think it's brilliant. I think Isabella is the kind of character who needed to exist in the Gal/Sid relationship in order to help further it.

Because when Sid arrives back home under the pretenses of being a knights whose squire is Galavant, our hero grumbles and acts like his surly self. For a character who is supposed to be the protagonist, Gal is certainly grumpy a lot and selfish (a lot) and kind of aloof sometimes. He's not your typically "knight in shining armor" trope and I absolutely love that. I love that he's already grown since the pilot and has begrudgingly accepted being a person who helps others out and does so out of (mostly) selflessness. But after a song in which Galavant realizes that squires hate their knights, the hero begins to reevaluate how he's treated Sid over the years. He hasn't treated him horribly, per se, but Gal begins to slowly realize that he also hasn't treated him with the kindness and respect that Sid deserves. And Galavant reveals to Sid that the reason he chose him as his squire is because Sid was honest -- he was a good person and he presented his flaws and his strengths openly. (And then Gal basically tells Sid that he loves him and it's super sweet.)

I love that Galavant was humbled in this episode. I love that we had the chance for him to see that Sid lies to his family and his town because it makes him feel like he's doing something worthwhile with his life and that Gal reminds Sid that he's worthwhile BECAUSE he exists, not because of anything he's done. Their moment is perhaps my favorite part of this episode.

Back at the kingdom, meanwhile, King Richard realizes that the residents of Valencia are unhappy (duh doy) and decides to throw them a party in which they all pretend to be happy because they're afraid he will kill them all otherwise. When King Richard begs them all to be honest, they begin to roast him and everyone finds it funny. Well, that is, until the eunuch tells him what everyone in the kingdom (including Gareth) knew: Madalena is sleeping with the court jester. Suddenly, the party is over and I don't know about you all, but I actually felt bad for King Richard who is -- in many ways -- a giant man-child who just wants other people to accept and love him. D'awww.

"Comedy Gold"

Quick summary: Our heroes get captured by pirates in an attempt to continue their journey to rescue the king and queen of Valencia and Madalena from King Richard. Their quirks, however, and the fact that they've been spending all of their time with one another have caused friction between Galavant, Isabella, and Sid. Back at the kingdom, King Richard -- now aware that his wife is fooling around with the court jester -- attempts to woo his wife through comedy.

My thoughts: "Togetherness" is the song that opens this episode (and a fabulous one at that) and reminds us that Gal, Isabella, and Sid have been stuck together and while sometimes it's really wonderful, it's also really taxing. They're beginning to get to the point that roommates in college get to: you know, where that thing your best friend does goes from precious to annoying in about five seconds or when you swear you'll snap at the next person who munches their potato chips too loudly. Unfortunately for the trio, their bickering manages to land them as captives to a band of pirates whose ship is stuck on land.

There was a lot more focus in "Comedy Gold" on the events occurring back at the kingdom: King Richard confronts the court jester and asks him for his assistance in being funny so that his wife will like him and actually want to, you know, BE with him. If it seems like an absurd premise, you would be right. And honestly, this wasn't my favorite story because for a B-story all about comedy, I didn't find it as funny as I found "Two Balls" to be. King Richard's attempts to get his wife into his good graces endear him to the court jester who refuses to sleep with Madalena anymore. (And then she throws him into the dungeon because of that. Whoops. This is just another indicator that Gal's lady isn't all sugar and spice and everything nice, which will be interesting when he returns to "rescue" her.)

Meanwhile, in the A-story, I found the very end of the episode with Gal/Isabella/Sid to be quite good and telling: the trio realizes that they all have their quirks and that they're all difficult to be around. But what I love so much is that Gal defends Isabella when he's captured by Peter (the pirate). Even though he hates the way that she chews with her mouth open... he actually is starting to really soften toward Isabella and care about her. He talks about how annoying she is all the time, but when it comes down to it and Peter makes fun of her, Galavant defends her quirks. He recognizes that those things he's found to be annoying are actually things he really likes about her. (My favorite bit is when he talks about how he can't fall asleep without hearing her loud snoring and we all cooed at that, didn't we? No? Just me?)

Galavant is starting to become a really nicely developed character: he's realized that he needs other people but also that other people don't, necessarily, always need HIM. At the episode's end, Isabella and Sid manage to rescue themselves from the pirates. And that's what "Comedy Gold" did right: it reminded us that this trio doesn't need each other; they're together because it started out that way but they remain together because they genuinely care about one another.

Unfortunately for Isabella, they're headed back toward the kingdom and this means that she's one step closer to Galavant realizing she's lied to him and is leading him into a trap. (She tells him so at the very end of "Comedy Gold," but the man completely zones out during their conversation. Whoops. Guess Isabella will have to tell him of her betrayal next week! ... Maybe.)

Additional fun bits and pieces:
  • Hugh Bonneville as a pirate was everything I never knew I wanted.
  • I know I said "Maybe You're Not the Worst Thing Ever" was my favorite song but it's now probably tied with "Togetherness." Also, I enjoy how the recap of the previous week's episodes is sung.
  • "... Or like how you both ignore me all the time!"
  • Timothy Omundson continues to be such a delight with his deliveries and physical tics as the totally aloof and completely incompetent King Richard. Seriously, someone hand the man some awards already. I particularly loved his delivery of: "Oh, this is going to be such a hoot!" Or maybe I just like hearing Omundson say "hoot."
  • "I'm not giving up on us." "Please give up on us."
  • "Your son with an 'o' was my sun with a 'u.'"
  • "Oh great. Another musical number." I love self-referential humor (if you can't already tell) so I love when characters in musicals know that they're in musicals.
  • "Aren't you sugar and spice and everything nice?" "Well aren't you rudeness and sarcasm and everything --- hmph."
  • "I TRAINED IN MONOLOGUES, NOT POETRY!" remains the perfect delivery from the consistently delightful and funny Karen David.
  • "I hate cashews and Brazil nuts are gross!"
  • "I put it by my girl supplies!"
  • "... My god, we've got a strange relationship."
  • "It's nice to have a break from the relentless stream of criticism, isn't it?"
  • "Look at us. We're gorgeous. Really diverse."
  • "Take him to the dungeon. The really scary one, with the mice."
What did you all think of the episodes? Are you aboard the Galavant/Isabella ship yet? What do you think of Madalena? Do you  have a favorite song from the series thus far? And is King Richard the best or is he the best?

I will see you back here next week for two more installments of Galavant! Thanks for reading and until then, keep singing. :)


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