Saturday, September 21, 2019

REVIEW: 'Disenchantment' - Bean and Elfo Risk Their Lives to Save the Elves From a Plague in 'Our Bodies, Our Elves'

Netflix's Disenchantment - Episode 1.15 "Our Bodies, Our Elves"

With a health crisis in Elf Alley, Bean and Elfo make a dangerous journey to find an ancient cure while Luci scams sick elves at his new clinic.

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.

"Our Bodies, Our Elves" was written by Adam Briggs and directed by Wes Archer

There hasn't been a ton of urgency in these episodes to provide more answers and resolution to some of the big mysteries of this world. What is the prophecy that pertains to Bean according to Dagmar and her family? What is the elf artifact in Dreamland that is keeping the elves around? What is the Maruvian source of magic also in Dreamland? If he's not an elf, then what exactly is Elfo? That last question is finally readdressed here. Elfo had more than ample opportunity to reach out to his father and pursue answers about his lineage. This isn't the first chance he has had to start that conversation. There is only more urgency now because a plague has spread throughout the Elf community. Elf Alley just happens to be located in the most depressing and unsanitary sector of Dreamland. It's the place where the filth from the rest of the city washes away. It's not all sent off to the nearby ocean. A lot of it does flow through the streets of Elf Alley infecting anyone who drinks from the water. It's a dire situation where there isn't an immediate cure. Luci only sees an opportunity to get as rich as possible because the elves happen to have a ton of coins from chocolate sales. That should allow them to have better living accommodations in Dreamland. But that mostly just highlights how King Zøg continues to view the elves as magical sources of power that only intrigue him when he actually needs something from them. He doesn't care about this plague. Bean, Elfo and Luci are the only people who break the quarantine to see if they can help. It's up to them to go on this adventure to hunt down the potential berry that can cure all illnesses. On one hand, that seems far too good to be true. On the other hand though, it allows for a convenient conclusion to the proceedings here in which death is teased but not actually felt. A fair amount of criticism has been levied this season because of the narrative's inability to follow through on some of its ideas and suggestions. And yet, none of the elves really needed to die here. The only possibility would be if Elfo's father died before he was able to tell his son about his mother and where he comes from. That would be significant. Elfo wants answers to these questions. He feels the need to personally volunteer for the mission to head within the world of ogres to retrieve these berries. There is the fear that he is too late when he returns to Elf Alley. He isn't though. Pops is still alive. So is everyone else in Luci's makeshift hospice care. His racket doesn't actually pay off for him. That's significant but not ultimately a big deal in the end. Sure, Luci may know everything that Pops was willing to share on his deathbed. It was his responsibility to share that with Elfo when he returned from his adventure to potentially save his friends and family. And yet, that may be completely irrelevant because Pops is still alive. He can still share everything that Elfo needs to know about his mother. Right now, there is simply the tease that she died and it's all Pops' fault. He has felt burdened by that for a long time. Of course, there's no larger explanation than that at the moment. It's simply something provided here to make it seem as if progress is being made. That can be a healthy and functional narrative trick. It just continues to seem like the show is mounting these major mysteries without really putting in the work to sustain them in a genuine and understandable way. Obstacles keep popping up that prevent the characters from finding the clarity they seek. But that's all that they are. When everything works out in the end, there isn't suddenly a heart-to-heart between father and son that reveals all. Sure, there is the moment in which Elfo believes his father has died. It mirrors the moment earlier this season in which Bean also felt that her actions to save Elfo from death were all in vein. They weren't though. Again, that is meaningful. It keeps these characters alive and in each other's lives. That just now comes with the sense that these answers need to be much more forthcoming. One ogre may have recognized Elfo after it was too late. Is that something important? Or will that also be an empty tease that is casually forgotten about as soon as possible? Both are very likely based on past evidence of how the show handles its storytelling.