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Disenchantment closes out its first season with a witch trial and a new king

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In the end, it’s family that watches your back.

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Disenchantment characterizes Bean as a modern 13th-century woman stuck in a 12th-century world. She, as Luci eloquently states during her witch trial, dares to be different, to stick out and speak up. Bean avoids the patriarchal responsibilities of being a typical princess by carving her own path. She drinks too much, goes on adventures with her misfit friends, and tries to do right by others instead of participate in a willfully undemocratic, anti-science kingdom. While this behavior began as a rebellion against her family, Bean couldn’t predict that in her dying hour, it would be everyone but family trying to burn her at the stake, or that the least likely candidate would be her protector.

“Tiabeanie Falls” unfortunately suffers from bloated storytelling. It stretches out and delays the inevitable not by manufacturing tension or suspense, or for comedic purposes, but because it’s a finale and thus must have some “grandeur.” There’s a lot of general padding, whether it’s one too many scenes with Odval and Derek or Bean’s extended witch trial, and it kills the episode’s momentum. Plus, the grand total of what happens amounts to very little: Derek becomes king after Zøg is incapacitated, Odval and the Arch Druidess uses him as a puppet for their secret society, and they scapegoat Bean for attempted murder. It was all obviously headed for a stake burning. It just takes a while to finally land there.

With that said, the finale features some emotional juice when it focuses on character relationships, specifically between Bean, Zøg, and Derek. Derek, being a kid completely unfit to rule a kingdom, visits his father as he’s slowly dying from infection and asks him how he should mete out justice, especially because he has to preside over his sister’s murder trial.

“How do you make a decision that’s fair?”

“You can’t. Someone always feels like it’s not fair to them. And the fairest decisions, those are the ones where everybody feels screwed.”

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It’s a rare bit of straightforward wisdom from the king who would rather send servants tumbling through his trapdoor than actually speak to them. Zøg knows Derek will do the right thing and follow his gut, but unfortunately Odval, the first taste of power, and farcical misunderstandings are manipulating his gut like a marionette. During Bean’s trial, Odval relies on cheap character witnesses and outright lies to convince Derek that her sister is a witch from Hell who has been terrorizing Dreamland this whole time. But Derek, though pea-brained, eventually sees through this fiction…that is, until he catches Bean wielding a knife over Zøg’s lifeless body, not knowing that she was removing a bullet from his chest cavity. He sentences her to death by burning, but when time comes, he can’t actually set the fire. It’s Odval who does the deed.

It’s not just Derek who finds himself in the right in “Tiabeanie Falls.” Bean herself has the opportunity to escape Dreamland once and for all through the catacombs, but she can’t allow her father to die, either by infection or by the hands of Odval, who was planning to kill Zøg if Derek decided to acquit. She returns to Zøg’s bed and fishes the bullet out of his body, with Luci holding him and Elfo using his hand in place of biting wood. Together, they help save a king whose heart was in the right place more often than not, even if it meant their own certain deaths.

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Then, there’s Bean’s makeshift family. Elfo and Luci may not have been the best legal defense for Bean, but they stood by her side during the whole ordeal, eventually implicating themselves in her crimes. (C’mon, Elfo, did you really have to spill the beans about the trip to Hell?) The best moment in “Tiabeanie Falls” is when Luci reveals on the stake that he sacrificed his immortality when he escaped from Hell. It wasn’t just his wings he abandoned by saving his friends, but his whole demon identity. Bean was right: she was no less lost than before she met her sidekicks, but at least they were lost together.

But at the last possible moment, just when their bodies were about to go up in smoke, just before they would be sent to Hell for all eternity, where they’d have to watch their worst moment over and over again with the popcorn right out of reach, the ground collapses and the trio falls to the catacombs. As they gain consciousness, they realize they’re surrounded by creatures with bright eyes. “Welcome, friends,” they say in unison. Suddenly, the music box song rings out and, as expected, Dagmar emerges from the shadows.

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Family. They might try to kill you, but the next minute, they’re saving your life. What can you do?


Stray observations

  • On Disenchantment Signage: “Dreamland Town Hall: We No Longer Recognize Horse Marriages”; “The Lord Lingonberry Memorial Courtroom: Trial In Session Until Guilty Verdict”; “Witch Burning Today: This Will Solve All Our Problems”
  • Lingonberry, if you remember, was the nobleman who died in an experiment after being exposed to Elfo’s blood.
  • Chazz from “Swamp and Circumstance” returns to creepily testify against Bean. Oh, and the court reporter knows how to spell “Chazz.”
  • You gotta love Sorcerio’s cures for a bullet wound: freshly shampooed rats and Old Man Touchy.
  • “And we need someone of your obvious leadership abilities.” “But these are just toy soldiers.” “It’s best if you think of the real ones as cheap and expendable too.”
  • “Well, in my professional opinion as a fishmonger, the princess is a witch.”
  • “Don’t you think I should wash my hands first?” “And risk washing away all that life-giving soot?”
  • “Listen, Derek. I need to tell you something. I don’t know when I’m gonna die. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but, well, it’s feeling like Thursday.”
  • “Court jaborned!”
  • “But if you do, you’re all a bunch of stupid, small-minded, mouth-breathing, superstitious ding-dongs who are completely delusional and vote against your own self-interest. So pass around a tub of melted ice cream for y’all to guzzle down and get fatter and stupider. I rest my case.”
  • “What, no hug?”
  • That’s it for Disenchantment recaps this season! Thanks to everyone who kept up. Hopefully, I’ll be back the next couple years (the 20-episode second season will be split across 2020 and 2021) to see what happens to Bean, Elfo, Luci, and the rest of Dreamland.
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About the author

Vikram Murthi

Vikram Murthi is a freelance writer and critic currently based out of Brooklyn.