Review of Galavant: Aw, Hell, The King / Bewitched, Bothered, and Belittled
Galavant has always had fun, interesting characters, but this week's episodes take the tasty, character development cake.
Though the show is fond of subverting fantasy tropes, it has a strong tendency to pigeonhole its characters into familiar archetypes. Galavant is the hero, Isabella is the damsel, Sid is the plucky sidekick, King Richard and Madalena are the evil king and evil queen, etc. etc. But these episodes really turned many of those archetypes on their heads (and then danced around a bit for good measure).
King (?) Richard has shown perhaps the most growth of any single character in the show, and this episode continues his development. Faced with the re-purposing of his castle to create a peasant village and their realization that a king is only king if they allow it, Richard suddenly finds himself aimless in life. His musings on what he should do now ("If I Were a Jolly Blacksmith") are as sad and poignant as they are amusing.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about Richard is how hard he tries, despite screwing almost everything up (see: revealing to a party of mercenaries that there are only three in his party and they can kill them and take the payment). He genuinely wants to help Galavant, and more than anything, he really just wants a friend. Richard is like a puppy - friendly, lovable and kind of clumsy. But puppies grow up, and I think Richard is on his way there this season.
We are also introduced to Richard's childhood "friend" Roberta, aka Bobby, in this episode, which provides perhaps my favorite song of the series so far ("Maybe You Won't Die Alone," in which Galavant leads a pseudo-mariachi band coaxing Richard and Bobby to fall in love). I'm excited to see how this pans out, since she clearly is in love with Richard and he is clearly oblivious.
But perhaps more impressive than the writers' work with Richard is the plotlines given to Gareth and Madalena in this arc. The writers managed to take two characters with very few emotions - the manly man who doesn't hug and the heartless evil queen who would happily kill everyone - and make them sympathetic.
In "Aw, Hell, The King," we see Gareth struggle with how the end of season 1 panned out. This is a man who doesn't even know what guilt is (Sid has to explain it), and yet he is waking up screaming every night. While the resolution was a bit hammy, it's nice to know that Gareth has genuine true feelings for Richard and feels bad about what happened - for all we know, that could be very important later.
With Madalena, we finally get to delve into her childhood and understand why she became who she is today. Her song "What Am I Feeling?" closes the second episode and gives us insight into a girl who became what she is to avoid being slighted. It would be heartbreaking if we hadn't seen so much bad from Madalena previously; as it is, it humanizes an otherwise one-dimensional character. And the consistency of the storytelling is wonderful - Gareth's delivery of the two queens' earrings (still on their ears) as a gift to cheer Madalena up is so creepily sweet and perfect for these characters.
Moving on to Hortensia, I'm glad that the show has given Isabella something to do other than mope, but I don't understand the new villain at all. His motivations aren't touched upon or even hinted at, which makes him a fairly poor villain (at least, for the moment). Hopefully this is something that will be expanded upon in future episodes.
And finally, I'm going to close on the realest, most beautiful moment of the show to date - Chef/Vincenzo and Gwen's relationship. Their love is the truest true love we have on the show. They are two small people in the middle of bigger people and events, and they love each other despite (and perhaps because of) it. Vincenzo's instant decision to follow Gwen, despite the level of comfort they have achieved, is at once touching and powerful. Even the humorous gags (like the "packing" and Gwen's sleeping in the drawer) don't take away the real feeling behind the scenes.
It's Galavant at its best, forming a polar opposite to the gritty, dark, "real" shows on TV these days, and I hope that continues into next week.
Other Assorted Thoughts:
- The democracy peasants were incredibly Monty Python - I was just waiting for the "strange women lying in ponds distributing swords" line, and they came so close to it.
- "I would hit the thing with another thing until I made a different thing." Best line of these episodes, handily.
- Richard smuggling the jewel of Valencia...I can't even. No words.
- I'm glad the show playfully poked fun at how obvious it is that something is up with Isabella's tiara.
- Gareth and Sid cracked me UP with their little drunken game. Beautiful.