Galavant: ‘Giants Vs Dwarves’ and ‘About Last Knight’

Galavant

Do you remember, way back in the hazy long ago days of Galavant Season 1, when Isabella was a feisty, take-charge princess dragging Galavant across the world to save her family and home? How she refused to take his crap? Before she disappeared into a big pink cushion of a prison and moped around about getting dumped? Well, I’ve got some great news: she’s back! Kind of.

After languishing as her fiance/cousin’s prisoner for weeks, then falling under the control of nefarious wedding planner Wormwood (and his doltish assistant, Barry, who is a delight), Isabella finally comes to her senses. Unfortunately, it takes a frankly lackluster song-and-dance by Jubilee, another rebellious princess who doesn’t RSVP to weddings or shave her armpits, though the camera is careful not to actually show any hair, the better to not repulse whatever members of the audience remain unaware that human women grow hair on their bodies, one might presume. When Jubilee burps in Isabella’s face, the mind control tiara falls off and she suddenly realizes what an utter bridezilla she’s been and that she needs to reclaim her autonomy.

Which, you know, is great (go Isabella!), but it also feels kind of pointless. If all it took for Isabella to regain control of her life was to fall over, she couldn’t have tripped in her cousin’s palace? With so few episodes, the show needs to make the most of its guest star budget but it hardly feels like it’s doing that effectively. We haven’t seen the last of Wormwood and Barry, thankfully, but the reliance on one-episode guest appearances still doesn’t feel like it’s adding much to the proceedings.

As much as I’m enjoying Galavant, I have to agree with a friend who said she rarely follows the plot from one episode to the next. The singing and dancing continue to feel a little unfinished, though the biggest numbers like the West Side Story-esque fight song and Sid’s Les Mis-inspired failed rebellion still get somewhere close to toe-tapping. Worst of all, after the credits roll I struggle to remember what happened. Although the show is hamstrung by the hour-long block it airs in, that seems like something that could have been planned for when breaking the season. The paired episodes rarely seem to be a thematic or narrative fit, jumping from point to the next and almost always resetting the board at the end of the half-hour. I like that the relationships where we see actual progress (Madalena and Gareth, Galavant and Richard) are also the most unlikely pairings, and that the romance of Gal’s romantic quest has largely been undercut by the show’s winking at itself. But the longer this goes one, the easier it is to understand why ABC is essentially burning off the show in the January doldrums.

We’re at the midpoint of this season with these two episodes, and Galavant finally swings its focus back to Galavant for a bit. In “Giants Vs Dwarves,” he quarrels with Richard over the latest of the king’s staggeringly obtuse big ideas (while Gal slept, Richard traded the jewel they need for hiring an army for what he optimistically calls a dragon. A tiny, you-can-hold-it-in-one-hand bearded lizard that doesn’t once breathe fire, even after Richard croons to it in a succession of beautiful nature scenes) and stalks off, declaring their partnership at an end. Because neither Galavant nor Richard is capable of acting like an adult, in the end, they fall in with two dueling groups of moderately-tall men, the aforementioned giants and dwarves, who are as good at bridge design as they are at, well, nicknaming. Richard and Galavant take advantage of the enmity between the two remarkably similar groups to fight their own battle, until that gets too confusing and it takes Roberta’s non-idiotic and far cooler head to talk them back around to joining forces and continuing on their quest. #TeamRoberta, y’all. Team Leave These Chuckleheads and Rule Three Kingdoms at Once with Isabella and Madalena KTHX, all the way.

Once the two make amends, and we shift into the second episode, “About Last Knight,” we learn that Galavant’s derring-do is a family trait when the trio stumbles onto his father’s lands. His father’s a saint, too, though not literally. Just a handsome older gentleman who opens his heart and home and son’s belongings to a bunch of underprivileged, ragtag children in need of some knightly training and Galavant’s childhood things. A handsome older gentleman who embodies all the knightly virtues except “pay attention to your own kid once in a while between quests lest he grow up to be a resentful but no less handsome copy of you, jeez.” Again, there’s something that falls flat here. Galavant has had no crisis of faith, no desire to give up on his quest to rescue Isabella, and hardly even a complaint about the life of knightliness he’s chosen. Why did we need the detour to meet his father, although I feel churlish for complaining about any opportunity to ogle Greg Wise?

Both of this week’s episodes feel largely like filler. Isabella takes two whole episodes to shake off the mind control and reassert her bad-ass princess self. Madalena and Gareth take teeny-tiny steps toward each other in a romantic way (although it is beyond endearing to see how neither of them loses a bit of scheming or bloodlust even while indulging their softer emotions). Sid and Wormwood essentially trade places, with Wormwood going to Valencia to offer the king and queen a chance at a bloody war and Sid hurrying to meet up with Galavant and point him in Isabella’s direction. The trading places happens in the aptly named Forest of Convenience, where all you have to do to get what you want is want it and turn to your right, where it awaits you. As deus ex machinas go, this is a good one and just arch enough to suit the massive wink it sends to the audience.

All that said, though, the show does take one massive and surprising leap away from the unexpected at the very end of “About Last Knight.” Having reconciled with his dad and renewed his quest to rescue his erstwhile love, Galavant greets the returning Sid, who tosses Galavant his sword in what’s meant to be a big, dramatic moment that reestablishes our hero as the hero. Unfortunately, the sword lands right in the middle of Galavant’s chest, skewering him through what looks like his heart, and the last we see of him is him keeling over in the yard. I sure hope that dragon of Richard’s is the magic kind.

Photo Courtesy of ABC

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About Lisa Shininger

Lisa Shininger spends way too much time thinking about fictional characters but, somehow, it's never enough. She co-hosts Bossy Britches, and yells about pop culture at lisashininger.com and on Twitter @ohseafarer.