Friday, September 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Disenchantment' - Oona Regains Her Strength and Launches a Personal Attack on Dreamland in 'The Very Thing'

Netflix's Disenchantment - Episode 1.13 "The Very Thing"

Bean and her friends return to Dreamland but don't receive a warm welcome from Zøg. Oona inspires a lackluster band of pirates who rescue her at sea. 

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.

"The Very Thing" was written by Andrew Burrell and directed by Frank Marino

These first few episodes have really focused on resolving the various plot complications from the conclusion of the first batch of the season. Each episode so far has had its distinct purpose and hook. Bean had to learn the truth about her mother. Bean and Luci had to bring Elfo back to life. And now, the gang has to return to Dreamland and save all the people who were turned to stone. These premises aren't really designed to last. King Zøg and Merkimer were the only people in Dreamland who managed to avoid this dire fate. And yet, their various adventures haven't been all that compelling. It's not as if King Zøg has transformed as a ruler after having to be on his own for a couple of days. Instead, that just further amplified just how incompetent he truly is. And now, the kingdom may only be saved because Zøg and Bean make a deal with a band of pirates captained by an elf. Elfo wasn't the only elf to leave Elfwood. The first to do so was Leavo. He may be disillusioned as the captain of these pirates. However, he quickly springs back to life as soon as Oona boards and presents the crew with some direction. That's really the story that sets this episode into motion. Until that moment, it's mostly about the silly humor that comes from Bean, Luci and Elfo being on an island of mermaids. That's a little lackluster as the reveal for where Elfo's body turned up after being thrown into the sea. It's something that doesn't create too many complications. In fact, Bean and her friends are back in Dreamland very quickly despite it seeming like they have gotten lost at sea. The fog lifts and reveals that they are very close. Of course, King Zøg has to let out his frustrations over being betrayed by his wife and daughter. He believes that Bean betrayed him and destroyed everything he has ruled over in this kingdom. They make up rather quickly though. That comes from Bean saving her father's life once Oona returns with a couple cannonballs. That's one way to make an entrance especially when she and this crew are after the treasures of this land. Of course, Dreamland no longer has anything of value to give. But even that detail isn't true because Leavo soon comes to believe that the castle is in possession of some elf artifact. Now, the show is being very cryptic about this treasure that Leavo has long sought out. It's enough to convince him to leave his crew and motivate the rest of the elves from Elfwood to come to Dreamland to save everyone turned to stone. As such, it's something that needs to be vastly important to the narrative. Right now though, the show is purposefully being vague. That is incredibly frustrating because it feels like it's just moving the pieces around in order to set up whatever comes next. It should be meaningful that the elves leave their home. They shunned Elfo and Leavo for doing just that. Meanwhile, Elfo's return doesn't renew his interest in learning more about his heritage. That's strange. It's mostly just convenient that elves are a forgiving and forgetting people. That may be too simple a rationalization though. Suddenly the tension between Dreamland and Elfwood is completely gone. All King Zøg had to do was offer an apology that didn't really taken much responsibility for the damage his soldiers caused. It's all in service of setting something up. But that mysterious intrigue can only take the narrative so far. It's much more exciting to see the show embrace a strong character dynamic for Oona. In Part 1, she was simply the put-upon wife who despised her life and all that she had to give up. It wasn't all that interesting or nuanced. But now, she gets to present as a proud and noble warrior leading a loyal crew. That immediately makes her more captivating even though it comes with the realization that both she and Zøg forgot about their son, Derek. That is fairly easy to do because he too hasn't really been a character so far. That remains a problem because the world feels full of exciting possibilities but only half-baked ideas.