Sunday, January 31, 2016

Galavant 2x09 "Battle of the Three Armies" & 2x10 "The One True King (To Unite Them All)" (Thanks for the Love)

"Battle of the Three Armies" & "The One True King (To Unite Them All)"
Original Airdate: January 31, 2016

When Galavant began last season, it was a show about a once-hero who was betrayed by his lady love, Madalena, and turned into a moping, drunk mess. It featured a dastardly king, a gender norm-breaking combat princess, and a squire who just wanted to be appreciated. At the end of its second season, Galavant isn't about any of those things anymore. Not really. Because it's characters have grown and evolved into amazing, fun, interesting characters with personalities and layers. Madalena has gone from the ideal maiden to the best villain with a heart. Gareth has learned how to become vulnerable and emotional and broke the caricature of "henchman" quite well. Sid has found his heroic side, Isabella has transformed from a princess in battle to one in love (and still in battle beside someone). Richard has had the best character development of all, learning to become confident in who he is and a true hero who loves and becomes courageous. Galavant, meanwhile, has learned how to become — in the second season — the man and hero he was always meant to be.

I will, quite honestly, be upset if Galavant doesn't return for a third season. This comedy is one of the most underrated and consistently hilarious on network television and, not only that, but manages to tell consistent, well-rounded stories in short timeframes and episode counts. As our characters ride off into their own real life happy endings, let's recap the final two episodes of the season.

(Photo credit: ABC)

"Battle of the Three Armies"

Quick summary: It's the day for battle and as Galavant races to Isabella's aid, Richard grows more and more nervous about the impending fight. Isabella does her best to rouse her army, but is secretly doubtful they'll all make it out alive. But when Madalena unleashes her dark magic, Gareth, Galavant, Richard, Isabella, and all of Valencia and Hortensia are forced to team up against her and the zombie army.

My thoughts: "Battle of the Three Armies" is one of the least joke-heavy episode of Galavant that I think the show has done. And it makes sense — this episode is not focused on silly shenanigans or one-liners. It's a day of battle and tensions are high between characters and armies. But while the urge to fight is strong among them, emotions like love and friendship and camaraderie are even stronger. Because finally, with one episode left in the season after it, all of our favorite characters have reunited on the battlefield.

Speaking of the battlefield for a moment, I want to talk about the beauty that is Isabella. Remember a few episodes ago how hesitant she was to lead an entire army? In spite of her reservations and the lack of reassurance from Galavant (and, really, from everyone in Hortensia), Isabella's strength did not waver. The speech that she delivers to her army is not only inspiring and motivational, but also indicative of who she is as a character and leader. Isabella is scared she will die in battle. And she's scared that she's leading an entire army — which includes her parents — into certain death. But even in her fears, she is rousing her kingdom to action and to greatness. Recall the fact that Isabella did the exact same thing for Galavant in the beginning of the series. She was the one who refused to give up on him. She made him fight; she made him better. It's just in Isabella's nature to stubbornly refuse to see a challenge as insurmountable or a problem as unsolvable. She is a person who will put aside all of her reservations and hesitations in order to ensure people reach their full potential. I love that we got the chance to see Isabella do just this throughout the battle and prove that she is a leader worth following.

Speaking of leadership, Madalena's chance to succumb to the darkness is really important. Though she claims all she has ever wanted is power and fame and fortune, Madalena really just wants love. She wants to feel like she is in control of her own destiny. And that leads her to ruin her relationship with Gareth in this episode and doom herself to unhappiness. I think that the choice this show made to initially present Madalena as this fair, naive maiden and turn her into this vastly complex, layered villain is not only smart but also pretty perfect. 

The episode ends with people who spent most of the last two seasons fighting and sparring with one another teaming up in order to face a larger enemy — the zombie army. I love that Galavant, Isabella, Richard, and Gareth stood by each other and trusted one another enough to team up. Because in spite of whatever misdeeds and misgivings the characters had toward one another, when you're beside someone in battle, you have each others' backs.

(Photo credit: ABC)

"The One True King (To Unite Them All)"

Quick summary: When all hope seems lost, Sid returns with armies from all of the guest stars this season in tow to help take down the zombies. The group celebrates as Wormwood is taken down by the One True King — Richard. By the end of the episode, everyone gets their happy ending: Galavant and Isabella marry, as do Richard and Bobbi. Gareth and Sid set out in search of Madalena's happy ending, too. And as for the former queen of Valencia? Well, she's ready for someone to teach her how to wield her dark magic. Ruh-roh.

My thoughts: I appreciate the fact that Galavant ended its season in a way that would open a door of possibilities for the future, but also one that provided a wonderful sense of closure, should the show not be renewed. I absolutely loved the finale and the fact that nearly everyone got their own happy ending. Not only that, but we got the chance to witness the fact that our heroes aren't just lauded as heroes — they ACT like ones, too.

No person is more heroic in "The One True King (To Unite Them All)" than Richard. Character development aside (we will get to that momentarily), Richard really IS the character who united everyone throughout this journey, if you think about it. In spite of his annoying habits, Galavant needed him on his quest to find an army, especially because he filled a void that Sid used to. Not to mention the fact that Richard stealing Madalena was literally the catalyst for everything else — for Madalena realizing her unquenchable desire for power; for Isabella seeking out Galavant. Furthermore, Richard being shipped off in a boat with Galavant was the catalyst for Madalena and Gareth's relationship, and the catalyst for Isabella realizing how heroic she can be on her own. Richard is the thread that connects the main characters, and he is the one who unites all of the kingdoms in the end because of that.

But apart from just uniting the kingdoms, Richard has become one of the most interesting, well-written characters on this show. He's grown so much since season one and this all culminates in the finale, when he: a) kills the bad guy, b) gets the girl, and c) rules as a fair and just king. I absolutely love the fact that Richard's heart is what spurs him toward heroics. In "Battle of the Three Armies," we see him struggle in the face of battle, unwilling to engage in hand-to-hand combat. That's because the motivation to join battle wasn't his — it was Galavant's. But when it appears that Wormwood has killed Tad Cooper, Richard springs into action. It is Richard's good and kind heart, his innocence, and his spirit that make him such a fantastic character and hero. He gets his own happy ending, too, and finally is able to live a life with Bobbi, crown on his head.

Not all heroes end their stories with crowns and kingdoms, though. Galavant proposes to Isabella and the two decide that they've had enough of magic and sword-fighting, of battles and zombies and quests. All they want is to get married and live in a cottage by the sea. It's actually pretty genius of the show to turn the character who was the evil, "ruthless" king at the start into the gentle, kind hero in the finale, and for Galavant — the man who people sang about, and who dreamed of glory — to become the man who sits by the sea and writes. As Galavant and Isabella said, in terms of epic, their happily ever after is "rather small." But it's perfect for these heroes who have had far too much of the "heroing," and just want to be together forever, content. Their wedding is perfect, and their happily ever after sweet.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets a happily ever after. Gareth confronts Madalena and tells her that he loves her (!!!). And Madelena tells Gareth that she's too far gone — by tasting unlimited power, she can never return to the person that she once was. She knows what it feels like and wants more. She departs, but not before telling Gareth how much she loves him too (!!!). At the end of the episode, Gareth and Sid decide to team up to go fight for Madalena's happy ending. (... I've been watching too many years of Once Upon A Time, clearly). I know that Gareth will fight just as hard as he would any battle for the woman he loves. And Sid? Well, Sid has made his amends for killing Galavant and is now ready to embark on his own adventure.

The thing about happy endings in fairytales is that they're subjective. What looks happy to one person looks dismal to others. And whether or not Galavant returns next season (I'm crossing my fingers hard), the final two episodes this season reminded us that we should always fight for the things we believe in — whether love or friendship or honor... or even dragons in disguise.

Additional fun bits & pieces:
  • "Oh God, it's Galavant. With a weirdly large beard."
  • "Oh my God, I can do magic. Big day!"
  • "Looks like we're all together again. Finally! Our storylines have bee far too separated."
  • "... Thanks for the love." Oh, my heart.
  • "Richard, stand behind me." "I will not. I will stand beside you." Awwww.
  • "It's a good day to die." "We won't. There's one more episode."
  • "Could we just stop once again on a huge cliffhanger -- ?"
  • "Would you like me to write you a theme song, my king?" "Shut up, Menken." BEST META JOKE.
  • "Men and women of the second season... ATTACK!"
  • The meta joke of the big name guest stars not being able to return is so perfect.
  • Super superficial: when Timothy Omundson pauses and delivers his "you've awoken another" line, his eyes look REALLY pretty.
  • "He was the one all along? You gotta be [bleeping] kidding me."
  • "Gareth, I love you. More than you will ever know." AND I ALMOST LOST IT, GUYS.
  • "I'm all about the deconstruction of the princess myth."
  • "A Real Life Happily Ever After" is so sweet and lovely.
  • Galavant's real name? Gary. I cackled.
  • The final few minutes of this episode were so epic that I'm literally just going to paste in the notes that I took when I finished the screener at 12 a.m...

1 comment:

  1. That was a great season! I think my fav lines of the last ep came from Timothy Omundson (not surprising).
    When he said "I super believe in you." to Tad Cooper I nearly peed myself laughing. And I just grinned at his little boy face at the end when he said "I have a dragon." So cute!
    And this is the first ep where I found Galavant proper swoon-worthy.
    Madelena does need saved from herself. And I want her to get saved. She really made an impression on me this season and I'm kinda cheering for her and Gareth to be mildly nasty together.