By Kieran Burt.
Willow episode five couldn’t be more different from last week’s episode, with the gloomy horror-esque tone giving way for a bright, colourful and cheerful episode of love and found family. It’s a fun detour, and lets the characters get some things off their chest.
The episode opens with Willow and the gang running from The Dag and The Scourge, scored to a rock song. The chase is awkwardly shot, and the score is misplaced, with a specific composed track perhaps doing better. But audiences don’t spend much time with the villains, with Willow and everyone quickly fleeing into Wildwood.
There is a brief line about the first forest making everyone want to stay in the woods forever, a situation that is reminiscent of Mirkwood from Lord of the Rings, though so far those consequences have yet to materialise, and probably won’t due to a reveal at the end of the episode. It does feel like a superfluous addition.
Willow and and everyone get captured by Bone Reavers, a group that takes their inspiration from General Kael, a motive I can get behind. Kael has a cool design, something I mentioned only last week. Boorman is dragged off to the leader Scorpia’s tent, Jade is tied up to a tree, Kit, Elora Graydon and Willow are put in prison.
In Scorpia’s tent, Boorman’s backstory is given more depth, and why he ended up in Sorsha’s prison is revealed. His commentary to Scorpia tries to make his endeavours sound virtuous and heroic, instead of the truth, which shows him to be a coward that hid in troll dung. It is hilarious, if very goofy.
Willow and Graydon meet Willow’s old friend Rool, who now has a daughter. This conversation is extremely pointless, and is just a quick cameo for Rool. It’s a shame he wasn’t involved in a bigger or more important way, especially as he’s such a key character in the film. Rool might appear in a later episode, but it’s unlikely.
A constant throughline in the episode is Graydon’s love for Elora as he asks both Willow and Boorman for advice on how to ask her out. While some might view this as a typical child love story (and it is), it illuminates Graydon’s character. He is shown to be desperate to please his father, and Elora’s position as Empress threatens his own. Graydon is shown to constantly be a coward, and his desperation to be with Elora is an extension of this.
Elora and Kit get some time together, and they finally get a moment to work out some of their differences. Thankfully the show doesn’t cut short their character development as other episodes have, and allows them a moment to talk. When they escape, they head straight for Jade, only to get captured again. Scorpia realises that Jade is actually a Bone Reaver, and explains they are actually misunderstood revolutionaires.
This triggers a celebration, with the Reavers handing out truth fruit, which causes Elora to overhear Willow admit his fraudulent way of defeating Bavmorda. This is a great reveal, causing conflict between the pair. Kit and Jade declare their love for each other, before Jade is captured by trolls. It sets up the next episode being about rescuing her, which will be another detour.
This episode is a definite detour from the main quest at hand (the villains give up far too easily in the opening chase, and lose all presence afterwards), it does let the characters breathe and grow a bit. It leans much more into goofy hijinks and comedy, and does abandon the tone last week set up. Overall, this episode was a light detour, with a bit of character growth to justify its presence.