Sunday, January 17, 2016

Galavant 2x04 "Giants vs. Dwarves" & 2x05 "About Last Knight" (I Smell Backstory)

(Photo credit: ABC)

"Giants vs. Dwarves" & "About Last Knight"
Original Airdate: January 17, 2016

The best thing that Galavant could do in its second season was shake up relationships. And it has. Between Galavant and Isabella spending the entirety of the first part of this season separated, to Galavant and Richard beginning a (reluctant, on Galavant's end) friendship, to Gareth and Madalena developing feelings for one another, the crux of this season is the character relationships. As you might have been able to deduce, "Giants vs. Dwarves" is a particularly crucial episode for the whole Richard/Galavant relationship and for their development as characters. And, okay, I'm sure you really want to talk about the ending of "About Last Knight" (and I don't blame you, because when I watched my screener I was NOT expecting that).

Let's get to it, then! Who's got a red flag that they're ready to wave, in true Les Miserables-style? ... Oh, no one? Okay, moving on...

(Photo credit: ABC)

"Giants vs. Dwarves"

Quick summary: Tired of Richard's incompetence, Galavant sets out to recruit an army by himself, while Richard attempts to prove his worth, resulting in a blow-up between the two that finds Bobbi caught in the middle. In Hortensia, Isabella is still under the mind control of Wormwood and — in seeking to finalize her wedding guest list — meets a Princess Jubilee who unintentionally breaks the spell.

My thoughts: "Giants vs. Dwarves" was an episode whose conflict has been building for a while this season. It's clear that Richard is the kind of person who is naive and optimistic, often to a fault. The best thing that Galavant has done was turn him from a dastardly king into a big, soft teddy bear who just wants to be loved (and is wildly aloof). The fact of the matter is that Richard is the purest — literally and figuratively — character on the series. But that isn't something that is always to his benefit. So when he trades the Jewel of Valencia for a "dragon" (see: lizard), Galavant completely loses his temper.

The relationship between these two has been subtly building since last season and I love it. Galavant is reluctant to consider Richard a friend, while the former king is like an eager puppy, constantly wanting to earn Galavant's affection. Their fight is severe, as this level of incompetence in Richard proves to be too much for Galavant, so he sets out on his own. And when Richard encounters "dwarves," he too sets off alone. It is Bobbi who unites the two and Bobbi who saves the day and honestly, the image of a bunch of men fighting over something that is so — in her words — ludicrous while the woman has to do all the work to set things right is really a great picture of feminism.

Speaking of feminism, Isabella regains control of her mind when she meets a wild, carefree princess named Jubilee. The woman performs for Isabella and, in the process, the tiara that was controlling her gets knocked off. Nothing else much of significance happens in this story (and Jubilee is never seen again), but I appreciate the fact that Isabella didn't spend the ENTIRE season under someone else's control. At the end of the episode, she draws her sword and vows to deal with Wormwood. 'atta girl!

"Giants vs. Dwarves" ends with Galavant and Richard making up and with Galavant realizing something important — Richard has been on his team the whole time. He was the only one who wants to be a part of an army that fights for true love. And it took something silly and meaningless to get Galavant to realize how much he should appreciate that loyalty. That is, too, what I love about Richard. He is loyal. He is a good friend and a good person who makes mistakes. He can act aloof and be dense, but at the end of the day, he will be the one standing right at your shoulder in battle.

(Photo credit: ABC)

"About Last Knight"

Quick summary: Sid tries to get the peasants to overthrow the kingdom, to no avail. Meanwhile, it's Gareth's birthday and Madalena is intent on finding the perfect present for him. On their journey, Galavant, Richard, and Bobbi stop by Galavant's father's house for food. Elsewhere in Hortensia, Isabella banishes Wormwood which proves to be problematic when he arrives in Valencia, convincing Madalena and Gareth to go to war with Isabella's kingdom. When Sid catches up with Galavant, their reunion doesn't go as planned, landing with Galavant earning a sword through his chest!

My thoughts: First off, when I finished the screener for this episode, I immediately went: "WHAT?!" and quickly pressed play on the next episode. So apologies that you all have to wait a week to see what happens with Galavant's wound.

In "Giants vs. Dwarves," Sid told Gareth that he shouldn't pursue Madalena, even though Gareth expressed his feelings for her. (GUYS, THEY ARE SUPER CUTE.) As a result, Gareth broke the "bro code" and told Madalena what Sid said. She, of course, was not thrilled and put out a warrant for his life. So Sid is in a bit of a pickle when "About Last Knight" begins, and tries to flee the kingdom in order to keep his life. Someone else trying to keep their life? Isabella. She confronts Wormwood about what he did to her and threatens him, so he flees the kingdom too, and winds up in Valencia to enact his agenda there.

As I said above, I'm glad Isabella has secured her freedom but she's going to find (in next episode) that ruling isn't easy when you factor wars into the equation. Nevertheless, I'm happy to see her return to a more active role in the story.

The real focus of this episode is two-fold: 1) The relationship that is building between Madalena and Gareth, and 2) The relationship that is repaired between Galavant and his father, Arnold. I realized as I watched this episode that we've seen Galavant's father before, as the man who told our hero that everyone has a "moment." This mentality stuck with Galavant last year, as he tried to (a few times) burst out into song ("This is My Moment"). When Galavant, Bobbi, and Richard meet Arnold, he's the kind of man who seems pretty removed from the distant father archetype that Galavant constructed.

We learn that Galavant harbors a lot of pain and resentment for the way his father abandoned him. And now, seeing Arnold train young boys in sword-fighting, our hero is bitter and more upset than ever. Those boys are getting the chance to have the kind of father that Galavant never did. And it's not fair that Arnold should try so hard with them and have not with him, right? The familial dispute is softened and resolved once Galavant realizes that though Arnold was absent for his childhood and regrets it, he's been following his heroics ever since then. It's a touching moment that Joshua Sasse plays extremely well.

Back in Valencia, Madalena is trying really hard to make Gareth's birthday special for him which, okay, guys, can we talk about how adorable that is? Madalena doesn't try hard for anyone. She thinks about herself a lot, and in this season, she's begun to think about others. She tries to make Gareth's day as special as possible and finds the perfect way to do just that — by declaring an unprompted war on Hortensia. And the reason she does this? Well, partially because she wants to go to war, but also because she wants to make Gareth happy. Madalena, the woman who constantly thinks about her own happiness, has finally begun to open her heart and care about someone else. She's softening in believable ways. Gareth is, too. He's compromising (remember a few episodes ago where they couldn't compromise on anything) and expressing his feelings (more on that next episode, I promise).

As Valencia becomes more and more of a partnership — for better or for worse — our heroic nomads hit the worst rough patch in the history of rough patches. Because when Sid catches up (finally!) to Galavant again, he tosses the hero his sword... only to watch it go straight through the center of Galavant's chest. It's this completely unexpected twist that shocked and delighted me in "About Last Knight."

And this serves as a reminder that just because Galavant is a show about heroes doesn't mean that everyone is successful and happy all the time. Sometimes, unfortunately, you just get a sword through your chest.

Additional fun bits & pieces:
  • "The perfect pair: a dragon that isn't a dragon and a king that isn't a king." Ouch.
  • I kid you not — I probably cackled throughout the entirety of "My Dragon Pal and Me" the first time I watched it and after the second (and third) time, I still laugh. If Timothy Omundson singing to a lizard doesn't get your spirits up, what will?
  • "... Way to undersell it, Barry."
  • "Do you really want to die in a battle THIS ludicrous?"
  • "Have you ever heard of the bro code?" "... Is that a black thing?"
  • The West Side Story in "Giants vs. Dwarves" is my favorite homage this show has done.
  • ... But then "About Last Knight" has an homage to "Do You Hear the People Sing?" which is absolutely perfect ("Today We Rise").
  • "Tell me, why do musicals always get me so worked up?!"
  • "And worst of all, we had to eat that family of hobbits."
  • "I smell backstory and I love backstory."
  • The cutaway to Richard using the "one true king" sword to crack nuts is hilarious.
  • "It's not bushy, it's correct for the period."
  • The Forest of Coincidence is my favorite gag in this entire show.
  • "Careful, Roberta. You're starting to sound like someone who cares for the guy."
  • "I'm a liberated woman and a warrior princess!"


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