« on: Yesterday at 09:55:18 PM »
So let's talk about the second episode of the show.
The scenes with Phobos and Cedric in the throne room are pretty weak. They had a pretty solid showing during the first episode but they seem pretty generic so far during this episode. Phobos acting surprised that there is a new set of guardians is a bit odd considering that during the last episode there was a brief scene of him seeing a vision of Will taking the heart of Kandrakar. At least Phobos is taking the time to show off his cool Rose motif.
The girls back at the are a bit better. The dialogue between them feels a bit awkward but given the circumstances they’re going through that kind of makes sense. I do appreciate that they remembered that Will is supposed to be the new girl and thus may not be familiar with how picture day works in their school. The sort of uneasiness over the whole magic powers and snake monsters thing from last episode continues in this one which is nice.
Caleb meets Blunk, who is honestly a pretty superfluous character for this show. He's a comic relief character like Irma but while Irma's comedy comes from her incredibly well written one liners, Blunk is more into pratfalls and a more juvenile style of humor. I just don't feel like Blunk adds that much to the show. He's a greedy smuggler goblin thing with an annoying voice and who gets way too much screentime. Most of the humor for Blunk that actually works for me comes from his expressions. He is by far the most expressive character in the show and the animators make great use of it.
Back on earth there's a scene where the girls are debating whether or not to try to rescue Caleb, with Hay Lin and Irma fully on board with the idea and Cornelia and Taranee wanting to at least wait until after picture day. While you can question their priorities it would be legitimately out of character for Cornelia and Taranee to have the same amount of bravado about this whole thing as Irma and Hay Lin do. There is still a fair bit of the uneasiness about this whole thing from them. Will looks really sad when it’s revealed that Taranee won’t be continuing to accompany her on the walk home (apparently they live close to eachother) since she’s going to Irma’s place to avoid her dad’s cooking.
This episode gives a fair bit of focus to Cornelia so I feel like I should talk about her character a bit. You know how in a lot of shows with a female lead in a school setting there's that alpha bitch super popular self centered cheerleader type who mostly exists to make the main character's life miserable? That's who Cornelia is. What makes Cornelia so interesting as a character is that they've taken this character archetype that normally serves in some kind of antagonistic role and made her into one of the show's protagonists and they did so without sacrificing the more unlikable parts of that kind of character. Cornelia is also the most stereotypically girly of the group by a wide margin with her obsession with clothing and shopping, which fits with her whole alpha bitch/Valley girl personality, but at the end of the day, she is a very kind person.
Despite the harsh language I've used to describe her with, I adore Cornelia as a character. The writers did a great job making her pretty much completely unlikable early on while at the same time showing brief glimpses of who she'll become later in the series. The Cornelia we see at the end of season 2 is a very different person from the Cornelia we see in episode 2 and her growth as a person throughout the series as she begins to overcome her own narcissism and selfishness is what makes her one of the most endearing characters in the show. She's also drastically different from the Cornelia in the comics, who is more of a refined but gentle big sister type character.
Anyways, later in the episode Will gets kidnapped but she leaves her bag behind and the Heart of Kandrakar is in her bag. Taranee finds it on her way back to school the next day and quickly realises what’s going on. I really like the attention to detail here. A few scenes ago it was established that Will and Taranee usually walk through the same dark alleyway (apparently school buses don’t exist in Heatherfield) to get home so it makes sense that Taranee is the one who finds the bag. We briefly cut to Phobos being a bit unhappy about Will not having the Heart with her. Apparently the girls are able to see this as it happens through the heart and with Will likely being in danger Taranee feels obligated to go to Meridian to save her, Considering how out of character this is for Taranee (she’s very shy and really easily scared in the animated series so it’s really weird to see her being so passionate about going to Meridian this early on) it kind of implies that she feels guilty about not accompanying Will home earlier in the episode, especially since doing so could have made it more difficult for Will to be kidnapped, although the show never goes out of it's way to say it. This is something I really like about this show, it manages to have little subtle character moments like this that just happen, like they don't feel the need to put a spotlight on it or anything like that,
Cornelia decides at some point during the episode after they get to Meridian that now is a good time for her to subvert the blonde stereotype and devises a way for them to get across the castle moat. I like how even though Taranee is supposed to be the smart one and Will is supposed to be the leader the other girls are still given plenty of opportunities to show that they can also be the ones to come up with ideas or lead the charge on something.
Phobos is able to detect that the Heart of Kandrakar is now in his castle. I don't have much to say about this right now, I just feel like it's worth pointing out for some reason. It's really convenient that he has the ability to detect the presence of our heroes' super-powered macguffin in this episode. It would be a shame if this was just a one time thing the writers threw in as an excuse to get Phobos to send his minions after the girls.
After fetching Caleb and Will the girls face off against a creature known as Gargoyle and manage to escape through a portal. Gargoyle reaches through the portal to grab them but Will just closes the portal, which is a cool scene. Gargoyle has an interesting design, kind of this stone golem thing with a giant eye like a cyclops, and a mushroom like head, and seaweed like hair but he has tragically little screentime for this episode. While the girls were in the castle the show built up Cedric as the Villain the girls would end up facing but than they fight Gargoyle instead. It feels like it would have been better if Gargoyle was saved for another episode and they just fought Cedric instead since he gets a fair amount of buildup.
Overall it's a pretty solidish episode but I feel like the first episode was stronger. I feel like this episode nicely shows some of the show's strengths but it also begins to really show some of season 1's weaknesses. The pacing in this episode is a bit of a mess and that's the main thing dragging it down.
A 6.8/10 probably.
It's weird because I feel like I'm holding this show to exorbitantly high standards that it can't possibly meet but than the thing is in season 2 it does meet those standards. Heck even within Season 1 there is a bit of improvement as the season progresses but we'll talk about that when it comes. The show feels like it has a lot of potential and as it goes on I feel it manages to straighten itself out and become something special, anyways, here's the third episode, the key:
The episode picks off after the last one, I’d say maybe a day after it at most. Cedric and another character named Raythor inform Phobos that they believe Caleb had help from someone in the castle with his escape, since they found his shackles in his cell and the key for them is missing. I didn’t mention this last episode but a big blue guard guy named Vathek was pretty blatently helping Caleb out, which included sneaking him the key in question. It’s never stated how they know Vathek was the one who gave Caleb the key but I really like that this episode is sort of expanding on something from the last episode.
On earth Hay Lin is dressing up Caleb to help him blend in, much to his protest. Hay Lin is the artistic one of the group and she seems to have all kinds of outfits designed for her unwilling fashion model. This seems like a good time to go in depth a bit with Hay Lin so I will. As I mentioned she’s very much into art and she can be seen dabbling in all sorts of artistic endeavors throughout the series, such as how right now she’s dabbling in fashion design. She’s an extremely very bright and cheerful character who does alot but later on we’ll learn that she actually has a crippling issue with self doubt and she can be quite paranoid..
She’s probably my least favorite of the five but she’s still a really good character. She gets a ton of really good character moments and her wide eyed optimism makes her an excellent addition to the group.
After an amusing scene of Blunk trying to sell some junk he collected on earth Blunk learns that Vathek is in danger and heads to earth to try to sell that information to Caleb. I really like how they handle this, apparently Caleb stashed the key somewhere after he escaped so Vathek could retrieve it and be covered for his escape. Caleb quickly deduces that Blunk is responsible for the key’s disappearance and after finding out that Blunk had the key with him vows to return to Meridian to return it.
There’s a scene of the girls practicing their powers in a remote beach area which is a neat touch. They seem to be starting to get the hang of things but it’s still pretty much a trainwreck.
They learn that Caleb went back to Meridian and go after Blunk for answers. Hay Lin’s reaction to Blunk having the clothes she made for Caleb is amazing. The girls learn that Blunk has the ability to sniff up portals which is neat and follow him to Meridian,
At one point Caleb runs into Aldarn from the first episode and I love the scene of Aldarn asking Caleb about how he crossed the veil and asking what it’s like on the other side. Caleb talks about how the teenagers there he saw earlier in the episode “stand on boards with wheels and do 360-fakey ollies” and say “like” in the middle of sentences for no reason. Aldarn says all of this “sounds good” and honestly it’s really a really endearing scene.
I like how Aldarn continues to be the sort of counterpart to Caleb’s unflinching bravery. There’s a consistent trend with him basically trying to reel in Caleb’s more crazy and ambitious ideas. Anyways, Caleb, Aldarn, and the girls run into eachother. I like how we see Aldarn trying to use the earth lingo he heard from Caleb to flirt with Cornelia (for the record, he doesn’t know the girls are from earth). It’s a brilliant little humanising touch for Aldarn, who is otherwise a fairly minor supporting character.
I really like how at this point the girls seem to largely treat this whole guardian thing like some kind of game at this point, it makes the impact when they start to realize how bad things are on Meridian in a few episodes hit a bit harder. It’s a good touch.
The girls manage to frame Raythor for the whole missing key thing and he gets dragged off to Phobos. I don’t remember if this is mentioned later in the season or something but eventually we learn that he got dropped in the abyss of shadows which is apparently Phobos’s preferred means of execution that was built up throughout the episode. Basically the only thing Raythor has going for him is that he has one of Wolverine’s voice actors doing a great job with him. He largely feels like a one note villain and it’s a shame because I like his design. It kind of feels like it isn’t so much that Cedric thinks Vathek is innocent after all of this so much as that Cedric is just happy to have a chance to get rid of Raythor. Maybe there’s some kind of rivalry there, who knows.
Anyways, the episode ends with Hay Lin dressing Blunk up in ridiculous clothes. Blunk seems to be pretty into it and it’s just a cute way to end the episode.
Honestly this is the strongest episode out of the entire show so far. The pacing is excellent. Theres some great humor, we’re starting to see the build up Meridian, it’s pretty solid. It’s easily an 8/10. There's a really bad production snafu where Irma's voice comes out of Will's mouth during one of the scenes that holds it back. This show may be made on the cheap but even than that's kind of ridiculous.