Willow episode 8 review: “Children of the Wyrm”

The season finale of Willow is here, and it makes good on the season-long promise of Elora Danan facing her destiny as she approaches the evil Crone. It’s a duel over thirty years in the making, teased ever since the release of the original Willow film in 1988.

In all, this episode marks a satisfying conclusion to the first season – and leaves us hoping for more. Let’s dive in to our review, and as always, full spoilers are ahead.

SUMMARY:

Elora and Kit reunite with the now-evil Arik, who brings them before the Crone. Neither of the heroes have a plan, so they both wind up walking through the glowing portal doorway offered them by the Crone, seeking to unleash a harbinger on the world in service of the Wyrm. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang stands atop the waterfall. Jade and Graydon immediately prepare to jump the waterfall after Elora and Kit. Willow tells Elora that Kit has taken Madmartigan’s role as Elora’s protector, and Jade says that she’s Kit’s protector. Willow tells Graydon that he’s proud of him and that he’ll be a great sorcerer. The two jump, leaving Boorman and Willow. Boorman can’t help it and knows he must go too, and Willow watches him jump with a smile, asking Boorman to protect the others as Willow turns and walks away. Jade, Graydon, and Boorman sneak into the Immemorial City, but while trying to get into the palace they are turned to stone by an approaching storm.

In the portal, Elora and Kit are shown what their hearts desire. Sorsha talks with Kit, apologizing and offering her the freedom she’s longed for. Elora talks with Arik, who offers her a chance to forget all this happened by marrying him. Kit is shaken out of her vision by her father, who speaks with her and tells her that she must protect Elora and that she’s better than he ever was. But when she goes to find Elora, she finds only the Crone, who turns her to stone. At the wedding between Elora and Arik, the Crone presides… but Elora has made her choice. She refuses to marry him, and the Crone asks who she is to reject pleasure for pain.

At this moment Willow speaks up, declaring who Elora really is and then working his magic to free all the others from stone and shake them out of the vision. At this the Crone transforms into her hideous figure, and a massive fight ensues. Graydon tries to face her with his wand and Elora’s, but he fails. The Crone snaps Elora’s wand and then destroys Graydon. This gives Elora the strength to fight back, coupled by Willow telling her he came back to stand by her side. Elora faces off against the Crone, aided by Willow’s strength and encouragement. Kit and Jade face off against Arik. And Boorman stays behind to face the Gales – but not before giving the Kymerian Cuirass to Kit.

Elora finally kills the Crone, who passes her strength to Arik as she’s dying. Arik lunges to kill Elora, but Kit – wearing the armor of the Cuirass – stands in-between them, fighting her brother. She wins, but can’t bring herself to kill him. Willow gives her the stone from his staff and tells her to speak to Arik, bringing him back. A montage of memories of the two siblings, from childhood, runs through their minds, and Arik returns to them. The heroes walk out of the city, knowing that the fight isn’t over – Willow says the Wyrm still lives and is pissed off at them – but they’re together, minus Graydon.

Graydon, it turns out, is still alive, and he wakes up on the battlefield of Willow’s vision. There, an evil Elora offers him what he most wants: to be with her. She will rule, but needs his help. Standing behind her is a massive army of dark creatures, ready for battle. In a mid-credits scene, a person places the story of this season (which has been framed all along as coming from a book) on a shelf, revealing that this is book 1 of 3.

REVIEW:

This episode marked a satisfying finale for a very enjoyable first season of Willow, and I’m hoping for more down the road. It’s clear that showrunner Jonathan Kasdan has plenty of ideas for another season, and at times it could feel like he was trying a little too hard to set up another season instead of focusing on this one. But I won’t complain too much, because this episode managed to tie much of the threads from the season together in an exciting way, primarily because it gave each of the characters time to shine.

Front and center, of course, is Elora, who embraces her destiny and fights the evil Crone. But she’s not alone, and that’s because Kit stands beside her. Kit said earlier in the season that she just longed to be brave and to be loved, and she rejects the Crone’s temptations because she – with help from her father – realizes that she has what she longs for without the Crone’s evil magic. She has love, and she has a purpose; the same purpose she’s struggled with and rejected for much of the season, but finally comes to embrace: she’s to protect Elora Danan. Madmartigan left to fight the Wyrm from within (according to Willow in this episode and, like, wouldn’t that have been easy enough to say earlier in the season?), but Kit is everything he was meant to be. She’s picking up his mission, protecting Elora by wearing the very armor he went off in search of.

Boorman shows off his true self both in jumping off the waterfall after Jade and Graydon, but also in giving up the treasure he’s been in search of all season. The Kymerian Cuirass is what he’s longed for, but he comes to realize that it’s not his to use, because it’s not his story. It’s Kit’s. And this man who seems to only look out for himself reveals that it’s all a facade, and underneath it is a heart willing to give up his treasure, and even his life, for his friends.

Seeing Kit activate the Cuirass and fight Arik with it was epic, and then seeing her save her brother from the darkness equally so. But don’t miss the fact that it wasn’t exactly Kit who activated the Cuirass, not at first. Boorman gave the armor to Kit, but the Lux Arcana to Jade. That wasn’t accidental; Jade is Kit’s protector and lover. Jade jumps off a waterfall to find her and protect her, and she believes in her. So, Jade – the one who believed in Kit all along – is the one to put the Lux into place, giving Kit the confidence to embrace a destiny of her own. Jade is a powerful fighter, but also a trusted friend.

This series is so much about the power of those friendships, the power of not having to stand together. I’ve long said that one of the most poignant and potent powers of Elora Danan doesn’t lie in her magic but in her ability to inspire others and pull them together. So it’s no surprise that in this episode, it’s not just Kit who stands beside her – notably, Willow does too. His arrival to break the vision was fantastic, and while he certainly holds his own in the fight, he’s there because Elora needs him. He’s there to stand alongside her. This encouragement provides a spark of strength that the young hero needs.

Elora similarly inspires Graydon to be better, including as a sorcerer. He takes a stand against the Crone, but he’s tragically defeated. Nonetheless, his courage to stand, and the fact that it happens through magic, are both testaments to Elora. He loves her, and she makes him a better person. But, as the Crone was fond of doing, Graydon is then, at the end of the episode, shown what he most wants: Elora. A dark version of the character offers him a chance to rule with her, and it seems he’ll accept. This is the location of the nightmarish vision Willow has, which is an ominous foreboding that the story isn’t over.

That’s also confirmed by the fact that the Wyrm is still there. It’s a bit strange that we don’t see more of the Wyrm here, and it gives us one of the dumbest lines of the show (“You think you can defeat the Wyrm? He’s eternal, bitch”), and the Crone and her forces don’t really seem like much of a threat to our heroes since all of them survive, but there is nonetheless another foe lurking. A foe that’s the big bad behind the Crone, who was the big bad behind Bavmorda. So, yeah, the Wyrm seems quite dangerous. And it seems that the Wyrm will have a new lackey if a second season happens, as with the Crone dead, Graydon might take her place. We’ve already seen how susceptible he is to darkness, which makes the alluring temptation all the more understandable. He’s got a good heart, but one that’s easily seduced and corrupted.

The Crone offers the heroes what they wanted all along, but Elora and Kit rejecting her is proof of how they’ve grown this season. It’s true that at the beginning of the season, Elora would have wanted nothing more than to marry Arik. But not anymore. There’s a bigger picture at play now, and she knows she must fight the Crone. She also knows that rejecting the one who loves her won’t leave her all alone: her new friends stand beside her, notably Willow and Kit. For Kit, at the beginning of the season she would have wanted nothing more than the freedom from her mother to live as she wanted. But deeper than that, she wants to be loved, and it’s her father speaking to her (seemingly real, though how or from where is still up in the air) that snaps her out of it. Madmartigan does love Kit, he believes in her, and he wants her to do what he devoted his life to. Kit can reject the Crone’s temptations because she’s found the love she longs for, both from Madmartigan and from Jade.

“I don’t get it,” the Crone tells Elora. “Who are you that you would choose pain over pleasure? The hardest road when the easiest is laid out in front of you?” The Crone can’t conceive of a person giving up their own dreams and pleasure for the good of others, and that’s why she loses. The most powerful force there is is love, choosing to act selflessly to help others. And it’s that very force, that very decision, made by every one of these heroes, that overthrows the Crone.

It all amounts to an exciting finale, one that’s visually stunning and features brilliant performances by the characters. It might not be the best episode of the series, but it brings it to a satisfying close nonetheless. Now the big question remains whether we’ll get another season. I really hope we do, and Disney hasn’t been quite as ruthless as their shows as other streamers have been, but it’s currently unknown. The finale leaves a lot of stories left unexplored, and I truly hope that it’s explored one day with a second season (primarily because this cast of characters is so great). But even if not, it’s a poignant reminder that while evil it not ultimately defeated and still remains for another day, the power of love and friendship is stronger still.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s