Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Galavant 2x03 "Aw, Hell, the King" & 2x04 "Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled" (Build a New Tomorrow Here Today!)

(Photo credit: ABC)

If you didn’t get the chance to watch this week’s set of Galavant episodes live, you were probably watching some three-hour long awards ceremony peppered with offensive jokes, cookies, lots of champagne, and the hardest work-out the censors have seen in quite some time. And while the first episode of this pairing (“Aw, Hell, the King”) was probably my least favorite of the batch that I have seen, the second (“Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled”) was one of the best and ended on a note that was both sweet and satisfying, as well as heartbreaking.

While Richard struggles to figure out who he is, our other heroes (and our villains, too) are doing the exact same thing. The fact that Galavant has managed to structure its second season in a supremely unique way is astounding to me. While most shows would suffer from isolating their main characters into separate stories — and sometimes separate lands — Galavant seems to have actually found its niche by doing this. And it’s allowed the show to focus a lot more on the individual characters themselves this season, too. There’s, of course, an overarching plot (everyone trying to determine who the “one true king” is will come into play more in the coming episodes), but the minor threads that make up that woven story are really important and they serve well as standalone arcs, too.

You have Richard and Galavant who are attempting to build an army in order to rescue Isabella from Hortensia. Richard, of course, is embarking on this journey because he wants to reclaim his kingdom’s throne. And then there is Isabella, now heartbroken over seemingly losing Galavant, who becomes a pawn in Wormwood’s schemes. Back in Valencia, Sid is struggling with figuring out where he fits into Madalena and Gareth’s new regime, while the queen and her new king deal with guilt and power and identity crises of their own.

All of this is leading somewhere and it will be immensely satisfying when all of our characters and stories converge once more.

(Photo credit: ABC)

“Aw, Hell, the King”

Quick summary: After last episode’s cliffhanger of “Who Stole My Castle?” featuring Galavant and Richard, the pair discover that Richard’s old castle has been broken down and turned from a monarchy into a democracy. In Hortensia, Isabella suffers through her break-up and is susceptible to the schemes of her new wedding planner, Wormwood, who uses an enchanted tiara to control her and do his bidding.

My thoughts: I think that the reason this is one of my least favorite episodes has nothing to do with the episode itself and more so just the placement. After two really strong opening episodes, this one is good but not great. (It doesn’t help that we open with a musical number filled with characters we don’t know or care about.) One of the best things though that this particular episode does is focus on the identity crisis of Richard. When he discovers that his monarchy is a democracy, he has a difficult time processing that. This is primarily because he’s really not sure who he is if he isn’t a king. He has no identity apart from that, and the fact that he’s revered as completely normal by his former subjects isn’t just baffling to him — it’s also really confusing. Richard launches into a song about the different careers he could have if he wasn’t a king, but realizes throughout the song that he doesn’t know how to do anything. He has no skills apart from ruling a kingdom.

There’s a heartbreaking little moment when Richard ends his song riffing about all the possible jobs he could have (“wet nurse” is my favorite), and then sings: “I would still be me,” dejectedly. Everyone sees Richard as a problem (including Galavant, which comes into play in the next episode), and it’s sad for him to vocalize that.

I will say, however, that the introduction of Roberta (aka Bobbi) is so great. She’s such an amazing character on this show because she’s a lot different than Isabella and Madalena. The latter, of course, is delightful in her evil, scheming ways and very power-hungry; Isabella is meeker than that, but truly romantic and idealistic. Bobbi is resourceful and pragmatic in a way that not many of the characters on the show are. She’s very much the “straight man” to Galavant and Richard’s absurdity and it’s welcome to have her on the series to balance out the other two.

Apart from that, not much interesting happens in this episode to note about in terms of progressing plot or character. Bobbi ends up joining Galavant and Richard on their quest to recruit Isabella in order to gain an army. And the episode ends with Richard feeling like a king again, intent on helping (a reluctant) Galavant in his quest.

(Photo credit: ABC)

“Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled”

Quick summary: With Richard constantly ruining his plans, Galavant schemes to get him out of his hair by setting Richard up with Bobbi. In Hortensia, Vincenzo and Gwynne decide to leave the castle because their new fancy life is stifling and hard to adjust to. Madalena receives an invite to lunch from two royal sisters who dismissed and made fun of her as a child because she was poor. Unfortunately for Madalena, the sisters invite her to lunch to roast her even further, leading Madalena to feel like she never has before — worthless.

My thoughts: When I watched this episode, I cried at the end because Madalena positively broke my heart. The decision for the show to end on her song was a particularly strong one and I’m glad that they did it. Her story was by far the best of the episode (though I’ll talk about the utter perfection of Richard/Bobbi and “Maybe You Won’t Die Alone” soon though, never fear), because it allowed us to see how far Madalena has come as a person and character since last season. She’s utterly broken and vulnerable and all she wants to do — really — is be loved and respected by people she thinks are worthy of love and respect themselves. Madalena hasn’t been a queen for very long, and it’s clear that she struggles with ruling a kingdom and keeping it together.

But to see the very insecurities she rarely allows herself dwell on attacked by those two queens was really sad. Madalena thought that fortune and stature would earn her respect. If she wasn’t poor, she would be loved. And for so long all she wanted was to be in power. But the moment she finally is in power, she’s never been felt more like that little poor village girl. It’s heartbreaking to see that she walked home through the mud, and even more heartbreaking to know that it affected her so much that she began to cry.

“What is this Feeling?” was so vulnerable and complex, for two reasons. One, of course, is because Madalena’s first true feeling was of despair and sorrow. Not of joy, not of selflessness. No, her first feeling — as she says — was a bad one. And then, of course, her second feeling is something resembling love as Gareth comes through for her in a way that is both sweet and heartbreaking. That second feeling is a powerful one, too, and Madalena feels it clearly.

Mallory Jansen did a fantastic job throughout the episode by playing the two dueling natures of Madalena — the heartbroken queen and the power-hungry one — and did so beautifully.

Elsewhere in this episode, Galavant tries to set Richard and Bobbi up to disastrous results. But as it turns out, maybe it wasn’t so horrible after all and it’s clear that these two really have started to see each other in a different light (at least, on Bobbi’s end she has).

If all of Galavant’s second season is leading toward something big (and I know it is), then these two episodes were great stepping stones in that journey.

Additional fun bits & pieces:
  • “... Progressive for the Middle Ages.”
  • The “Build a New Tomorrow Here Today” song was really great and also reminiscent of something you might find at Disney’s Carousel of Progress.
  • “I JUST LOST MY [BLEEPING] CASTLE.” “... Touchy.”
  • The biological sun dial line had me cackling.
  • (As did the breaking of the fourth wall about invading foreign countries.)
  • “Yeahhhh, that’s a real enigma.”
  • “Didn’t you already do this?”
  • “Galavant, you won’t FREAKING BELIEVE THIS.”
  • The line about “candle-lit” is one of my favorites and so underrated.
  • “... Wow. Grim.”
  • GALAVANT’S DISDAIN FOR “IRRITATING LITTLE CRUMHORNS.” Also the beginning of “Maybe You Won’t Die Alone” was a lovely little callback to “Kiss the Girl.” Thanks, Alan Menken, even if it was unintentional!
  • You will ship Gareth and Madalena even more in the seventh episode this season I CAN PROMISE YOU THIS. Also, how cute were they though?
  • “I guess it was pretty obvious... because I sang it out loud.”


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