Sunday, January 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Galavant' - Galavant, Isabella & Sid Reach the Castle in Valencia in 'Completely Mad...Alena' & 'Dungeons and Dragon Lady'

ABC's Galavant - Episode 1.05 "Completely Mad...Alena" & Episode 1.06 "Dungeons and Dragon Lady"

The heroic trio find shelter among monks who have taken a vow of singing. Madalena decides to take matters into her own hands with her own devious plot. Galavant struggles with a realization about his true love. King Richard goes on a voyage of self-discovery. As Galavant draws closer to the woman he really loves, Richard starts to assert himself just as his meaner, elder brother returns.

As expected, the various pieces of Galavant came together more cohesively once the entire cast was in the same location. Galavant, Isabella and Sid finally reached the castle in Valencia to rescue the kingdom and save Madalena in "Completely Mad...Alena." It was about damn time too. Yes, some of the misadventures along the way were fun - and featured some great stunt casting. But they did start to drag as well. They were beginning to feel like distractions from the main narrative. They served a singular purpose to bring out something in the heroes as they work their way to the castle. And now that they are finally there, things that the first half of the season set up can start providing consequences that are interesting.

Quite frankly, I didn't love the way Galavant dealt with Isabella's inner conflict over whether or not to tell Galavant he is walking into a trap. Their romantic pairing is a thing the show desperately wants us to believe in - thus making this betrayal have more sting once it finally is revealed. And yet, the show never presents a reason why she shouldn't tell him. He's becoming a hero once again. Surely if she told him, they could make a plan to sneak up on King Richard, fight and save both the kingdom and Madalena. That does not occur. They get caught upon entering the cast and thrown into the dungeon. And then, the only explanation the show can deliver is that "love makes you do strange things." That's a half answer. Fortunately though, it seems like the show is willing to fly right past this betrayal and not linger on it for the final episodes of the season. That is probably for the best considering the potential shakeup the king's brother promises.

These episodes also did a great thing in making Madalena the driver of her own set of actions. Too often she has been the object of Galavant and King Richard's affections or running off to have sex with the Jester. At the start of "Completely Mad...Alena," she comes to the realization that she needs to be the one to act and not rely on anyone else to get the things she wants. That was a great musical moment too - with all the different versions of Madalena seen through the mirrors. She became a character of merit by using the other characters at the castle to get information and to ensure that she can meet with Galavant and bring Kingsley to the castle. She's a character who has motivation now and that is always a good thing.

In another great musical moment, Madalena sings that she loves Galavant "as much as someone like her can love anyone." That is just so cryptic and Galavant spending several minutes afterwards trying to figure out what she meant was the appropriate reaction. These are two people who want different things. And yet, he is still madly in love with her. It takes Isabella pointing out that she threw him in the dungeon again to get him to realize that this relationship probably isn't the best. As the two then proceed to sing, love is very strange. It can make people do crazy things - which I guess is the best rationalization we are going to get for why both characters did things during the first half of the season. But now, we are moving past that. Hopefully, the final two episodes next week will continue to use all of these characters well while not dwelling on their past actions.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Completely Mad...Alena" was written by Casey Johnson & David Windsor and directed by John Fortenberry.
  • "Dungeons and Dragon Lady" was written by Kirker Butler and directed by James Griffiths.
  • They kinda wasted Weird Al Yankovic. The singing monks were a cool idea. But they were literally the same joke over and over again. At least Isabella got him to break his vow.
  • Conversely, Ricky Gervais worked very well because he was a part of the weirder, more heightened tone of the show. He was enjoyable - and that's coming from someone who goes back-and-forth on Gervais.
  • Gareth figuring out if his loyalties are to the King or to the Queen was a very compelling part of that character. He's often humorous but this little story had a weight to it that made the Richard-Gareth friendship much stronger in the end.
  • I also really enjoyed the little love story between the chef and Madalena's handmaiden. It was cute.
  • Galavant: "How could someone so small tell such a big lie?"