Heist films are a reliable source of homage fodder. They have established genre elements that are easily parodied: the gathering of a crew, the elaborate scheme, the complicated execution, usually a betrayal or a twist of some sort, and then a reveal that leads to a happy ending. The good steal from the bad, economic injustice has been righted, and the meek receive their reward.
“The Dreamland Job” borrows this framework and employs it wonderfully. Written by Jeny Batten & M. Dickson, the episode continues with the trend of foregrounding the elves’ plight. Zøg has been exorbitantly taxing Dreamland to fill his new vault, and the elves have faced the brunt of his economic mandate. They’re starving to death because they can no longer afford food, so they drown their sorrows in the bar, now owned by Luci after winning it in an arm wrestling match. (He only slightly cheated.) Bean, tired of her father trying to control her sobriety, loudly suggests that maybe someone should steal it back. Luckily, Grifto the elf hears her request and introduces her to his crew of trickster elves. Just like that, a scheme has been hatched.
Like any good heist, the plan is absurdly convoluted and requires the specialties of multiple different people. Grifto plans a circus to distract Zøg and Derek while Bean, Elfo, and the rest of the crew sneak down to the dungeon to rob the vault. There are guards to evade, a chasm to be crossed, and an elaborate system of ropes and bells to be surpassed in order to retrieve the coins. When Elastico, the resident contortionist, does his Ocean’s Twelve dance through the ropes, a bead of sweat, a la Mission: Impossible, drops onto a rope and alerts two guard dogs that promptly kill Slappo, the crew’s “beast whisperer.” Bean’s guilt starts to get the better of her, but Elfo promptly shuts it down. She wanted to teach her father a lesson after all. Sometimes there are casualties.
But Bean couldn’t predict that Grifto’s circus would warm Zøg’s cold heart and make him re-think his tax policy: “They’re not a burden on the kingdom, they’re a goddamn delight!” But when Bean tries to stop the heist before Zøg finds his money gone, Grifto pulls a bait-and-switch. Turns out they’re not elves after all, but are actually trolls. They conned Bean and Elfo into getting them in the castle so they can swipe Zøg’s fortune right under their noses.
Disenchantment’s animation reaches a high point with Grifto’s escape plan: the indelible shot of the trolls zip-lining down the kingdom using candy canes while carrying the stolen gold. It once again shows the scope of Dreamland, especially the long shot of them traveling down the entire kingdom. Plus, it’s a nice capper that fuses together Disenchantment’s cutesy imagery with its characters’ sinister motives. The various creatures in Disenchantment all fall into classic mythical archetypes, but they also adopt the tactics of modern-day schemers and thieves by necessity. It’s a cruel world that doesn’t incentivize kindness.
Ironically, it’s Luci that comes through with the win. He realized they weren’t elves early on and switched out the gold coins with chocolate ones right before Grifto and his crew skipped town. (Why Elfo didn’t pick this up before Luci isn’t clear.) He takes a little bit off the top and lets Bean and Elfo return the money to the elves Robin Hood style. Zøg hears their joy from atop his castle and dismissed Odval before he can tell him that the money was actually stolen. Zøg gets to feel like a good king, Luci gets to be the hero for once, and the elves can finally eat with the help of a drunken princess and her trusty sidekick.
All in a good day’s work.
- On Disenchantment Signage: “Me-Flavored Water. 1 Cup. 15 cents”; “No Rolling In Coin Piles”; “Royal Cheese Cave (And Mold Repository)”
- Grifto’s Crew: Pyro, master of fire (“I live a life of flame and constant indigestion.”); Shelley, world’s strongest elf (“I’m also strong on the inside. Single mom to two absolute treasures.”); Elastico, king of contortion (“That’s disgusting,” Elfo notes.); Slappo, the beast whisperer: (“I show ‘em who’s boss with the slap of my hand,” he says before showing his missing hand.)
- Luci’s bar is aptly named Luci’s Inferno because of course it is.
- Sir Pendergast returns and tries his new seduction techniques on Bean, which predictably fail.
- Zøg’s expressed delight with the circus is so funny. “Are you freaking kidding me with that?!” he screams as the lion does acrobat tricks.
- “We’ve finally got money to put in the vault, since I spent all that money putting in the vault.”
- “I choose the circus! And as for the harpsichord, we’ll cut it in half.”
- “This is who I am now. This is who you’ve made me. You’ve gotten us into so many life-threatening scenarios, my body no longer registers fear.”
- “I pride myself on knowing people, and I can tell you’re a good guy, Grifto.” “Yeah, and you’re a real nice…what are you, like an aardvark?”
- “My God, I rode a horse. Why am I breathing like I ran here?”
- “Well, which way did they go? Maybe we can still catch them.” “Yes! And we’ll cut off their heads and parade them through the street as a warning.” “Good God.”
- “Don’t let this reflect badly on the performing arts!”
- “Odval, get a barrel.”