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Galavant Review: “Completely Mad... Alena”/“Dungeons and Dragon Lady”

(Episodes 1.05 and 1.06)

TV Reviews Galavant
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<i>Galavant</i> Review: &#8220;Completely Mad... Alena&#8221;/&#8220;Dungeons and Dragon Lady&#8221;

Butts were clenched all week long as Galavant fans waited for the next episodes to air. Audiences were clamoring for more Madalena, and last night, their wishes were fulfilled. She demonstrated her diabolically good singing and dancing skills, and her inner Cersei was stronger than ever.

In “Completely Mad… Alena,” Isabella succeeds in her mission, and gets Galavant to the Kingdom of Valencia in the nick of time. But she is having second thoughts, for she’s fallen for the ruggedly charming knight with the dopey smile. She stalls the storming of the castle by convincing Galavant he needs a shower. After taking a whiff of himself, he wholeheartedly agrees. This plan of action takes them to the monastery of the singing monks, led by none other than Weird Al Yankovic. The monks are reminiscent of the seven dwarves: there’s smarty, cutie, shy-y, and bad boy. If there actually were a monastery where monks took a vow to sing, Weird Al would most definitely join it, and rise swiftly to the ranks of head monk. After confessing to Weird Al, Isabella goes to the king and calls off the plan. Alas, King Dicky retorts that if she doesn’t trade Galavant, he will kill her parents, and displays their heads on a silver platter to get the point across. (Nothing to fear, it’s just one of old King Dicky’s gags. The parents are fine… for now.)

In the castle, Madalena reveals whom it is that she really loves. In an ode to herself, “It’s you,” a long hallway of full body mirrors (all featuring the glorious Madalena in fantastic outfits) sing to her about how no one is as amazing as she is. For those suffering from low self-esteem, try singing this song when you wake up every morning. In a few days, you too will feel like a queen. After her ballad of self-affirmations ends, Madalena learns from the Chef about the king’s plot to capture Galavant.

The scrawny and sweet Chef has fallen for Queen Madalena’s handmaiden, Gwen. She is played by Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera, who is evidently amazing at playing maids after whom other lowly servants are in hot pursuit. They share a comically romantic duet, that is a ‘vie en rose’ look at the malaises of medieval life: “We would have a dozen kids/And maybe one won’t die… Thank the Lord our life expectancy/Is merely thirty-two/Yeah, it would be sweet misery/To share what’s left with you.”

Madalena allows Chef to take the night off to prepare a fancy dinner for Gwen, but it’s all a trick. She is setting, a “secret, evil, plan in motion.” She writes a letter to a mysterious recipient, asking for his help. Whoever could this mysterious person be?

Galavant and his crew storm the castle, as a doubtful Isabella frantically tries to convince them to turn back. But she’s too late, as they are instantly caught by King Richard and Gareth. Galavant learns about Isabella’s betrayal, and he is crushed. His head is hooded and he is to be taken to the gallows. But Queen Madalena has a few more tricks up those dangling sleeves of hers. When the king removes the hood from the man he thinks is Galavant, it is none other than the poor, frightened Chef. And what of Chef’s delicious meal for his beloved Gwen? More like a delicious meal for Madalena and her boy toy, Galavant.

In “Dungeons and Dragon Lady,” Madalena transforms into a full-on, fairy tale villain. With that deep purple, high collared dress, she looks like a sexier, more modern Queen Grimhilde. Galavant professes his love to her, and in a sexy tango, she sings to him that she “loves him as much someone like [her] can love anyone.” Then she tosses him back in the dungeon with Isabella and friends, saying that ‘someone’ is coming to help them for her aforementioned mysteriously evil plan. If Madalena is half as diabolical as her doppelganger Cersei, then this plan is going to be killer good.

In the dungeon, Galavant tries desperately to figure out what Madalena meant by telling him, “I love you… as much as someone like me can love anyone.” Everyone in the dungeon, from the jester to Gareth, tries to convince him to see the light. Isabella begs for his forgiveness, and Galavant forgives. In a ballad where they sing about the gross and annoying things they love about each other, Galavant realizes Madalena is not the one for him… and also realizes that the dungeon gates are unlocked.

Back at the gallows, the king does some soul searching. Why does no one respect him? Chef, about to pee his pants because that rope around his neck is getting awfully tight, suggests the King get help from Xanax… Xanax being the magician that replaced Merlin. They go to Magician Xanax’s laboratory, which is more like getting high at psychotherapy. Xanax (Ricky Gervais) gives the king a potion to reveal his inner feelings. The king has a flashback where he remembers the day his father died, and his older and manlier brother (aptly named “Kingsley”) was given the throne. But Kingsley turned it down, and Richard, his chubby little farter of a younger brother was named King. King Dicky realizes he has always suffered from distress over being the second choice. He was second choice for king, and now he’s second choice for husband. He returns to the castle, breaks up with Madalena, and banishes her to the dungeon. But her mystery guest has finally arrived, and it is none other than a very old Kingsley. He has come back to reclaim his throne. I’m guessing in the next episode, the terribly lovable king and Galavant will be brought together by shared enemies in Kingsley and Madalena.

Galavant’s leading ladies represent a new kind of royal damsel. Neither is in distress, (though one pretends to be). They’re both tough in their own right. Madalena is awful and awfully fun to watch. Lena Headey often voices her concern over the fact that women love her evil GoT character, Cersei, so much. But when we’re so often seeing women playing weak, merely pretty, or merely comical characters, it is empowering and refreshing to watch a woman who unabashedly wants power and sex, and can pirouette as well.

?Then we have Princess Isabella. Full name: Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta. Now that is a true name for a queen. Far too often, female TV characters are empowered by being portrayed as sexy femme fatales, or by being given more masculine traits. The problem with these characters is that, while they’re fun to watch, they just pile on more things to the laundry list of expectations for female perfection. They end up becoming less progressive, and more like female versions of James Bond. But Princess Isabella is a different kind of princess. She has a certain Bridget Jones element to her. While she is gorgeous and tough, she is also very awkward. Her heavy breathing, nervous babbling and slightly annoying personality make her relatable. She’s more interesting to watch than a perfect woman, and obviously, for Galavant, easy to fall in love with.

And with that ends episode six, and the butt clenching recommences.

Best Lines of the Episode:

Chef: “Your mouth is saying no, but I can see your rotten teeth through that smile.”

Chef: “I’m just trying to stay alive, and I find it helps not to ask too many questions.”

Madalena to Chef, always looking at the glass half empty: “You sleep in the kitchen?”
Chef, trying to look at the glass half full: “Or, do I cook in my room?”

Madalena to Chef and Handmaiden: “You guys aren’t cousins are you? Oh, who cares? You guys couldn’t get any weirder looking.”

Xanax’s Mom: “He’s in the attic.”
Xanax: “Mom, I’m in the laboratory. It’s a laboratory.”
Xanax’s Mom: “It’s an attic.”

Princess Isabella, telling Galavant to find a new love: “Maybe someone who is small, and cute, and ethnically hard to pin down.”

King Richard to Gareth: “I know you’re not a hugger, but if you were, I’d wrap myself around you like a leather jacket made of love.”

Madalena: “I will enjoy killing the girl who tried to kill my leftover man-mutton.”


Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter.

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