Willow episode 6 review: “Prisoners of Skellin”

It’s Willow day!

Another episode of the Disney+ series from Lucasfilm was released today, taking us deep into the mountainous mines of Skellin, home of the trolls, where our characters learn some intriguing truths with ever-deepening mystery. It’s the sixth episode of the series, meaning there’s just two more to go until the season finale.

Let’s dive in to our review for episode 6, “Prisoners of Skellin,” and as always there are full spoilers ahead.

SUMMARY:

Kit and Willow are taken by the trolls to Skellin and imprisoned alongside a man who claims to be Madmartigan. Willow sees through his lies and knows who it really is: Allagash, a former friend and companion of Madmartigan. Allagash reveals that Madmartigan discovered rooms in the caves that the trolls don’t even know are there, and continued his quest by entering through the mysterious portal. Allagash lied and said he was Madmartigan to stop the trolls’ search. He also claims that it was Boorman who sold out the others long ago. The trolls are working for the Crone and have been greatly helped by her, so they want Elora Danan.

Unbeknownst to them, Elora and the other heroes (along with Scorpia) sneak into Skellin to rescue their friends. Scorpia goes off to free the other prisoners, and an undercover Graydon is sent to supervise clean-up duty, but Boorman, Jade, and Elora keep going. Rather than leading them to the cell, Boorman leads them to a room trying to find the armor for the Lux Arcana. But Allagash leads Kit and Willow there at just the same time (having escaped their imprisonment), and he starts fighting with Boorman.

Joining together, they enter the treasure cave and answer riddles correctly to unlock the treasures. They find the breastplate for the Cuirass, but Kit also senses something more. She finds her father’s sword, and then hears him calling to her from the portal. She wants to go after him, but Elora and Jade stop her. They instead make their escape, fighting off trolls to get past. Allagash is disappointed to learn that the Lux Arcana doesn’t seem to work and gives it to Boorman to try, and then he stays behind to fight the trolls to allow the others time to escape. As he does, he tells Kit that his father went after whatever’s through that door because he believed someone from his family would protect what matters most here: Elora Danan.

This leads to Kit lashing out at Elora moments later, standing on a dangerous ice lake, and as they do so Kit falls through and is trapped underneath. The others try to rescue her, to no avail, until Elora finds her wand and uses magic… and that’s the last we see of them in this episode. The ending cuts to Arik, who finds a mysterious young woman also imprisoned in the seemingly desolate city.

REVIEW:

For much of the process leading up to production starting on Willow, it was hoped that Val Kilmer would be able to return as Madmartigan, but his health and the COVID-19 pandemic meant he wasn’t able to. But he stills casts a very large presence on this season, and in this episode in particular. Where is he? It’s a question we still don’t have the answer to, but we’re getting closer. And we’re getting closer because Christian Slater’s Allagash appears here. He claims to be Madmartigan at first, and neither we as the audience nor Willow and Kit as the characters are persuaded by this, but his character does fill a similar role and capture a similar charm. We meet him in much the same situation we encounter Madmartigan in the original film (in a cage as a prisoner), and though we know it’s not him, he does have a significant connection to him.

This causes Kit to latch on to him, and we do get some vital pieces of information: namely, that Madmartigan is believed to still be in Skellin – or wherever these portals lead to. He left his sword behind. And it seems to Kit that he, once again, cared more about Elora than her. Madmartigan went off to save the world through this portal because he believed that his family would protect Elora, which is what matters most. It’s a hard thing for Kit to hear, as she has had the hardest time coming to accept Elora of the whole crew. She’s been reluctantly warming up to her, but it seems that good will and growth is gone. Hearing this from Allagash stirs up the anger and jealousy that have been present all along, and she lashes out at Elora as a result. Elora, meanwhile, is having trouble in Skellin controlling her powers, being strangely affected by the mountain and its mysterious wonders. But, while the episode ends on a cliffhanger with them, it seems likely that Elora will be the one to rescue Kit.

Returning to Allagash, whose presence really helped to carry this episode, he tells a different story about Boorman than we’ve been led to believe. He says that it was Boorman who betrayed them, and although we shouldn’t be quick to trust this brand new character, he is one we’ve heard of, and Boorman hasn’t exactly proven to be the most trustworthy one either. Especially since, as Allagash is telling this to Kit and Willow, Boorman is lying to Jade and Elora about where he’s leading them. He and Allagash are both after the Lux Arcana, and they find it… only to discover that it seemingly doesn’t work, at least not for Allagash. I’m guessing there’s more to the story here, and that Boorman or another will find that it’s effects actually do work for those who are worthy of it, but it’s interesting to see that the artifact they’ve been searching for – and that Madmartigan went after – doesn’t exactly work like they thought it would.

These characters, Allagash and Boorman, keep the audience on their toes because they’re at the same time ones we should be cautious to trust yet ones who have a heroic self-sacrificial moment right afterward. It keeps things fresh and entertaining. This episode was filled with interesting developments and excitement, but it was also fun and funny. Who knew that the trolls would actually be so funny? It didn’t seem out of place either, but fit right in with this world and these characters.

But they’re working for the Crone, whose goal is to get Elora. That’s been the goal all along, and we’re reminded of that here. But we’re also reminded that this whole thing started with Arik and the quest to rescue him, and that’s probably why this episode both starts and ends with him. In-between, you’ might think that this is really about a quest for Madmartigan, but that’s not why they set out (at least not officially): it was to rescue Arik. At the beginning of the episode he hears the Crone tempting him, but he resists and runs away… only to find himself right back in the city by the end of the episode, meeting a strange young woman who is also held prisoner. And the first rule of a series like this is to be distrusting of her, so I’m wondering if she is the Crone in disguise, or some trick of hers. Either way, perhaps we’re seeing that Arik is in more danger than it might appear on the surface.

With two episodes left, Willow still has a lot of threads to tie up. We’ve perhaps come a bit closer to rescuing Arik, but you’d be forgiven if you forget about that most of the time. We’ve learned some things about Madmartigan, but we still have no firm details; every question is answered with more questions. And we’ve seen Elora embracing her growing powers, but we haven’t yet seen her full strength or significance. That’s not a criticism of this show, which week after week is entertaining and informative, but it’s saying that I do hope it’s able to wrap these threads up in a satisfying way by the season finale.

That’s two weeks away. But this week? This week, Christian Slater as Allagash took center stage, and that was great, amounting to another fun episode.

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