Tweetable Takeaway: Odd celebrations and pirates bring us back to Galavantfor mixed laughs.
Airtime: Sunday at 8/7c on ABC
By: Bailee Grissom, Contributor
This week, GALAVANT had two episodes that left me with completely different feelings. “Two Balls” ran on my nerves a little with the bawdy humor and it made me analyze how the writing is being presented each week. It reminds me of comedies from the 1970’s where the entire premise of an show could be based around innuendos and characters winking knowingly into the camera. While Galavant hasn’t devolved to that level, there was a “no balls” joke with a eunuch that felt stale and ran for too long. While I’ve been charmed by the first two episodes and, to a large degree, this episode as well, it makes me wonder about how the middling episodes will fare with their humor. Usually, the beginning of a series will stay strong and endings are easier to wrap everything up. The second episode, “Comedy Gold,” was much better, but we’ll have to see what Galavant does with the stuff in-between.
In “Two Balls,” our heroes come to Sid the squire’s town after more journeying. It’s taking them quite a while to get to the castle, which makes me wonder how far Isabella had to ride by herself in order to get to Galavant’s village in the first place. Perhaps we’ll get a flashback of her being badass with a cloak on a horse. Anyway, they arrive at ‘Sidneyland,’ much to Galavant and Isabella’s confusion.
Turns out, Sid is a bit of a folk legend back home, much like Galavant himself. There are statues and screaming fans, all for my favorite humble squire. He seems embarrassed about the whole thing, really, which is adorable. Sid asks his companions to go along with the stories about him, which means Galavant is demoted to the squire position and does so with a sulk. Isabella flocks right to Sid’s adopted parents and announces her engagement to their son, really getting into character.
Meanwhile, aforementioned ball jokes were going on at the Valencia palace. For some reason, I didn’t actually realize that King Richard was living in the palace of someone he had conquered and thought he was in his own palace. Turns out he’s just living there with his court while the people of Valencia suffer. He wants to cheer them up, because he’s such an idiot he forgets all the awful things he’s done, and decides to throw them a ball. A running joke here – and plenty of chances for dirty jokes in all three episodes so far – is that Madalena has been boning the jester pretty blatantly, right under the king’s nose. He cheerfully waves them off to go practice in her bedroom while a good bit about executioners learning to play party music carries on.
The songs this time around were pretty cute. A self-aware squire apparently hates the music and complains when he senses another song coming on. I like the transparency. There’s a song in Sid’s town – which is apparently Jewish – where he’s lifted on a chair and women swoon over him, dancing in the street, etc. I didn’t appreciate the over the top Jewish-ness of the townspeople. It felt like an overused joke, not funny, and generally in bad taste.
Galavant is still pretty sulky at this point, having been bossed around by Sid’s mother incessantly. The second song made me smile a bit more as it brings some more humility to Galavant (I’m sensing a pattern here). The squires of the town complain about their knights in song then cajole Galavant into complaining as well, shining a light on his own awful ego and general pompousness.
This song led to one of the better moments of the episode, where Galavant, realizing what an ass he’s been to his faithful squire, pulls Sid aside and warmly tells him how proud he should be of his accomplishments and why he hired Sid in the first place – because of his honesty. It’s a sweet couple of minutes between them and it lets me know that Galavant isn’t just a screaming jackass, but there might actually be some nice hero-ly qualities hidden under that smug exterior after all. They also saw an opportunity to say “this knight got knocked off his high horse,” and I nodded slowly in congratulations. Someone was sitting on that joke for three episodes.
Back at the ball, the executioners, unsurprisingly, are not very good at making things fun for the townspeople. King Richard, who is almost childlike in his absent-minded cruelty, finally gets it that the court hates the ball and gives them an opportunity to lob some insults his way. He takes them all in great stride, laughing along with them, until someone points out how blind he’s been that his wife is sleeping with the jester. For a split second, his face grows dark and I like to imagine the cruel side that we’re obviously not seeing in such a light-hearted show. King Richard, even if he doesn’t have all the lights on upstairs, isn’t a very nice man. I enjoy the undercurrent of absolutely awful things happening in Valencia that the show plays off with black humor and turns up the music for another dance number.
This episode ended sort of abruptly for me, but it was a nice stopping point to see the king ready to storm his queen’s bedroom and a new bond formed between Sid and Galavant. I thought maybe they would skip the heavy flirting between Isabella and Galavant in the next episode– it would be nice if she was just a badass princess on her own – and let him focus on rebuilding himself into a true hero.
Alas, no skimping on the flirting, except in “Comedy Gold,” it’s turned back into sniping at each other. I enjoyed this episode much more than the third, especially the inclusion of PIRATES! Well, technically pirates. They’re pretty lousy pirates and I’m wondering how Valencia gets on at all with all these people not very good at their jobs.
Keeping with the pattern of starting with a song, we see our heroes getting annoyed with each other because they’re constantly in each other’s pockets. Galavant weirdly only eats the raisins from trail mix, Isabella chews with her mouth open and I’m not really sure what Sid does to annoy anyone besides trying to get these two idiots a room. Fortunately the bickering is cut short by the introduction of my favorite characters in the series so far – the pirates!
They’re led by none other than the lord of Downton Abbey, Hugh Bonneville, as the down on his luck pirate king, Peter the Pillager. The heroes are tied up and start groaning as soon as the pirates launch into – you guessed it – a pirate shanty. This was actually my favorite song of the series so far, as their ineptitude felt genuinely funny, more like a Monty Python song than anything. They’re stuck on land, terrible for pirates, but they’ve “taken up gardening, sustainably, of course.” It’s just wonderfully goofy and I hope they keep the pirates around at least for another episode, or maybe for the grand finale that’s sure to come at the end.
Continuing with the winning jokes, instead of killing the jester, King Richard wants to learn how to make his wife laugh, leading into another great song. This one can be viewed as a bit meta, if you squint, as the jester tries to explain the structure of comedy and the king demonstrates just how hard it is to get something funny on the first try. It ends up being funny watching him fail, which don’t worry, writers of Galavant, you’re doing just fine with your show, forget about failing at comedy. Of course, we as an audience love watching people fail & King Richard’s routine had me smiling at just how ridiculous he is – he can’t even be evil properly. The same can’t be said for Madalena, who I think might end up being the true villain in end.
The Sesame Street ending for this episode ends with the heroes learning to work together to get to their destination – they’re “very diverse,” which I’m smiling about. It is nice to see some diversity in casting besides just having an all white group and the joke didn’t feel like the writers patting themselves on the back. The pirates take a lesson from them and they set off for Valencia on the water. With all their troubles set aside for the moment, Isabella tries to clear her guilt again by confessing to Galavant her double-crossing. Showing us that Gal still has a lot of growing to do until he fits into his hero boots, he doesn’t listen to her at all and the moment is lost for another episode.
Galavant works better when it doesn’t use as much innuendo, though a smattering of that is funny for a little while. I laughed more at all the incompetency in this episode, maybe side-eyed the weirdness of the pirates wanting to keep Isabella’s ‘girls supplies,’ but even that was funny. And thank god there weren’t any uncomfortable gags about Jewish people this time around. Hopefully, the Galavant crew keeps with the rhythm they found with this episode and we won’t have to worry about the middle episodes sagging before we get to the grand finish.
Bailee Grissom hails from Mississippi, but currently resides in Brooklyn. She can usually be found on film sets in the art department, but she can be pulled away with cups of tea, video games, and occasionally, to write.