Galavant: ‘The Battle of the Three Armies’ and ‘The One True King (to Unite Them All)’

This week, the second season of Galavant came to a close and so all is right with the world. Because they brought back the original theme song! All right, and for other plot-related reasons too. Although this was a more ambitious season, both in terms of storyline and musical influences — I never thought we’d see a Nick Frost-led West Side Story fight between similarly sized men, for one — it seemed that it wasn’t nearly as coherent a final product as the first season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

Back at the start of the season, that theme song was replaced with a big full-cast number that set the stage: where each of the main characters stood after the (way too long) hiatus, and what was in store for the shows to come. You might remember that Sid spoiled the biggest developments of all: the battle of the three armies, and the happy ending. In the intervening episodes, if you forgot the latter was coming, well, me too! The show did such a wonderful job of turning expectations on their head from one episode to the next that I wasn’t convinced anyone would get the big hero moment. And you could just forget about anyone whiling away their lives in an idyllic hut in the middle of a sandy battleground altogether.

The biggest surprise was that the show did both of those things and still managed to feel fresh. A high bar indeed for what is essentially a parody show cobbled together to grab some of those enormous Once Upon A Time and Glee audiences.

After languishing in captivity and depression, Isabella took charge of her own destiny at last and led an army of semi-prepared peasants into a conflict that somehow didn’t end in total annihilation. She even faced off with the be-D’Dew-ed Madalena, armed with a succession of impressive weaponry that she was amazingly adept at wielding, and more than held her own. Still thinking she needed rescue, Galavant got to ride to her rescue, with his half-dead love-loving troops. They found each other; they endured a little bit of outraged slapping; they got second and third chances at non-terrible kissing. Ah, true love!

After the repeated teasing with the Excalibur stand-in and repeated references to the “one king to unite them” lore, Richard not only made up with his other bestie, Gareth, but lived up to both his destiny and his lifelong desire to be heroic and noble. The finale began with an adorable duet between the adult and child versions of Richard — complete with a child named Menken who offers to write him a theme tune — struggling to reconcile fantasy with reality. It ended with Richard abandoning his victory lap and one-king-uniting-ness to ride to Roberta’s rescue from life on the Isle of Spinster (cat included). Though his development is the most nuanced and satisfying of all the main cast, it’s hardly a surprise. Tim Omundson has been turning in powerful performances in less-than-stellar material for years. With any luck, he’ll be able to parlay the relative success he’s found in this show into a role worthy of his talents.

And, I lied earlier. The biggest surprise of the season truly was how much I grew to care about Madalena and Gareth, both in their relationship and as characters. Vinnie Jones has been a solid presence from the first episode, but this season he’s broken away from his usual hard-guy work to showcase real vulnerability and caring. His arc mirrors a similar trajectory for Mallory Jansen’s Madalena, who goes from power-mad ruthlessness to power-mad heartbreak so effectively that I forgot she was threatening everyone else with certain death. Though they spent most of this year in cahoots, Gareth’s unwillingness to go full dark-dark (evil way) and Madalena’s refusal to capitulate to his request that she not do it either were the final straws for their pairing. If you thought the big emotional moment this season would belong to either of the less murderous power couples, well, I hope you didn’t have any money riding on it.

In the end, everything wraps up tidily enough to be satisfying, but with a wink to the possibility of another miracle renewal. The show pulled together most of the disparate subplot-of-the-week groups into the main battle, by having Sid lead an army of leaderless extras from the Enchanted Forest, the punk princess’s squad, the giants and dwarves, even Richard’s newly democratic homeland. We wound up with two happily-wedded couples: Isabella and Galavant live blissfully in some ocean-view cottage, while Richard and Roberta presumably re-occupy one of the many castles he previously held. Although his time as half of a loving power couple is as done as the wedding planner, Gareth enters into his third pair-up when he partners with Sid (maybe it will turn romantic, who can say, really) to find Madalena, who has embraced her d’dewness enough to seek out an evil enchanter in a far-away land (that doesn’t believe in daylight, apparently).

If the Cancellation Bear has to suck it for a third season, I’ll definitely be back in front of the double episodes each week. And if it involves a lot of Richard riding through seaside mists in leather trousers? Heck, make it quadruple!

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.