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Willow showed us just how much better it can be

Willow showed us just how much better it can be
Willow showed us just how much better it can be

Editor’s Note: Below contains spoilers for episode 7 of Willow.As a fan of the 1988s Willow, it hurts to admit that the Disney+ series has been disappointing on a weekly basis. Despite a formidable cast, Willow rushing through the story, spitting out fantasy concepts it never explains, while denying the characters the chance for significant emotional growth. While each member of the Willows (Warwick Davis) new adventuring party seem to have had a lot to do in the last six episodes, often being reduced to a single personality trait as they hop from place to place and face the new dangers of the week. That’s why episode 7, “Beyond the Shattering Sea,” feels like a breath of fresh air.

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Episode 7 of Willow still has its share of nonsense, like the incoherent villain twist at the shed. Still, most of the episode is dedicated to the party training and interacting with each other, which is a welcome change of pace. Through the episode’s extended runtime and the idea of ​​a never-ending journey, Willow ultimately, its character allows them to face their fears, reflect on their own identities, and find hope in each other. And by doing so, Willow showed us how much better it can be.

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How Episode 7 Proves “Willow” Can Be Much Better Than It Is

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Image via Disney+

For six episodes we watched as Willow failed to lay any solid foundation for the setting while also ignoring character growth, two big red flags when it comes to fantasy productions. That’s why, with only one episode left, we still don’t know what power the villains really possess, their goals, and what’s really at stake in Tir Asleen. It’s also why the series glossed over the fact that Kits (Ruby Cruz) dad, Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), killed the Jades (Erin Kellyman) biological father, Kael (Patrick “Pat” Roach). This is the kind of revelation that should have ripple effects, but is instead mentioned in a single episode only to be forgotten forever.

The Cult of the Wyrm, the Gales, the Crone, the Bone Reavers, the trolls’ mines, Bavmordas (Jean Marsh) blood, Kymerian Cuirass, Madmartigan’s disappearance, Immemorial City… Willow juggles so many half-baked fantasy concepts that it doesn’t find time to make the world work coherently, nor does it allow the character to change and grow as time goes on. But then we’re graced with episode 7, realizing the true potential of the show.

In episode 7, the party finally reaches the Shattering Sea, a shallow body of water that stretches beyond the horizon. No one who dared to cross the ocean ever returned. Nevertheless, since this is the only way to the Immortal City and to save Airk (Dempsey Bryk), Willow’s party decides to cross it anyway. The Shattering Sea is so vast that people wander there until they forget who they are and what their mission is. So, to represent this mysterious place, the series was forced to slow down. In order for the public to understand the dangers of the broken sea, the party had to spend endless weeks riding and walking in the shallow waters, with nothing to do but interact with each other. And while the decline is a narrative asset to represent yet another spot of the week, it allowed us to see just how big the cast really is.

Lost in the broken sea, Willow begins to have visions of her daughter, Mims (Annabelle Davis). In his nightmares, Willows hears Mims’ voice pleading for his help as an unseen threat destroys the Nelwyns’ underground retreat. The Crone could have planted the vision to convince Willow to give up her quest, but it also forces the wizard to confront her own past. Willow’s adventure took him far from home when his wife was attacked and murdered, a sin Willow’s son could never forgive. In the stillness of the broken sea, we finally learn what is at stake for Willow as he struggles between his duties to the world and his love for family. Not once did the show hint at this kind of trauma, and with only a few minutes of screen time dedicated to character growth, Willow becomes more layered and complex than he ever was.

‘Willow’ Episode 7 allows for important moments of character growth

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Image via Disney+

“Beyond the Shattering Sea” gives every character the opportunity to grow, not just Willow. First, Jade and Kit can finally get together once and for all. Kit also has a breakthrough with Elora (Ellie Bamber), as she realizes that Madmartigan’s choice to protect the prophesied children was his way of ensuring a safe world for his children to live in. As for Graydon (Tony Revolori), he finds the courage to confess his love for Elora, and while he remains faithful to his duties to the kingdom of Galladoorn, he also realizes the importance of being honest with himself about his feelings. Finally, Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) must face the harsh reality that he may not be worthy of the Cuirass’s powers, because although he has a good heart, he often takes morally ambitious shortcuts on his way to victory.

While Episode 7 couldn’t have been successful without the many seeds planted by the rest of the series, this week’s episode puts its characters ahead of the adventure. It gives the entire cast room to flex their acting muscles and shows how brilliant each character can be when given time to explore what makes them think. Even the episode’s finale, with Kit and Elora teaming up and taking a leap of faith together, is a beautiful representation of their combined willingness to put aside their differences and work together for a better future.

“Beyond the Shattering Sea” emphasizes how character growth is crucial to keeping us invested in a TV show. It also shows how spending time with characters makes the story more meaningful. In the end, it proves how a fantasy setting can only be as good as the people who live in a world filled with magic, and that just shoehorning in more weird enemies and magic words isn’t enough for a series to thrive. Unfortunately, only one more episode is coming to Disney+ and there is no news of a season 2 renewal. However, episode 7 proved how well Willow could be and gave us reason enough to return to Tir Asleen for further seasons.

The last episode of Willow coming to Disney+ on Wednesday, January 11.

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