Friday, September 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Disenchantment' - Bean and Luci Descend to Hell in Order to Rescue Elfo in 'Stairway to Hell'

Netflix's Disenchantment - Episode 1.12 "Stairway to Hell"

Bean and Luci concoct a plan to resurrect Elfo. But he'll have to meet them in hell - if he can get there. Zøg discovers a friend in frozen Dreamland.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's Disenchantment.

"Stairway to Hell" was written by David X. Cohen and directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill

Luci warned Bean that there were many unsavory types in hell. She would have to make a costume change in order to better blend into the place. And yet, the most unsavory character she encounters in this new location is Luci himself. He seemingly betrays Bean and Elfo on a number of occasions. The effectiveness of those twists comes from whether or not the viewer actually believes it just as fiercely as Bean and Elfo do. Elfo feels betrayed because his soul has now been damned for all eternity. He was willing to go down to hell just to see Bean again. That is his sole motivation for doing so. He works overly hard in order to offend God just so he can be punished in this way. It's a pretty basic sequence in which the more scandalous things Elfo tries to do don't rattle God at all but the mere offense at newcomer Jerry does cause a huge reaction. Sure, it's delightful to see Jerry once more especially as he continually points out all the horrible things that God has created with no real accountability whatsoever. That is much more insightful running joke throughout this episode. It may not be something revisited in the future but it is clear the show is hoping to expand the world in some significant ways this season. But again, Elfo went through all this trouble to reunite with Bean only to learn that she had the opportunity to bring him back to life and she chose to rescue her mother instead. That was the wrong decision in hindsight. In fact, the show points out that making that decision is the action that they will be plagued with for all of eternity in hell. It's the worst thing that has ever happened to them. They both feel betrayed and tortured. But again, it was all just a false premise on Luci's part in order to create a way for them to escape from this place. It's not as simple as walking back up the stairs they came from. The devil understands that Luci is making some moves and has brought an elf and a human to hell. That is impressive. Of course, the show mostly notes just how easy it may be to deceive the devil. He falls into the same trap twice with Luci. The audience shouldn't make the same mistake. The second time it happens there is a lot more urgency to the situation. Luci is trying to fly Elfo and Bean to safety. They are intercepted and Luci drops them just to make himself present as the most devious demon out there. But he just wants a promotion that comes with a physical upgrade that allows him to better help his friends escape these unfortunate circumstances. He is now fully committed to them even though that means losing all of his powers that he got from being a demon from hell. He will no longer be able to fly or be immortal. He'll be just as powerless as Bean and Elfo back on Earth. And yet, they are all together once more. Sure, it's a little manipulative how the show teases the audience with the fear that Elfo's soul doesn't reunite with his body in time. It's an attempt at a visceral moment. But it doesn't quite play right because it was always an inevitability that Bean and Luci would find a way to save Elfo. He had too much unfinished business. Plus, this episode reminds the audience just how much fun it is to see these three characters together. That really is the strongest hook for the show overall. Of course, these first two episodes have revisited Dreamland as well in order to check in on how poorly King Zøg has been doing. And yet, those scenes haven't really been all that necessary. The ones here mostly amount to Zøg reuniting with Prince Merkimer and being inspired by the smell of bacon to run into action once more. It's simple. But it's also just keeping him busy without fundamentally changing his bleak circumstances until Bean and her friends return to this destroyed world. That may happen soon. They just now find themselves in the mysterious land that recovered Elfo's body.