Mark Watches ‘Over the Garden Wall’: Chapter 4 – Songs of the Dark Lantern

In the fourth chapter of Over the Garden Wall, the boys come across a creepy tavern that’s more… creative than it is creepy. UNTIL IT GETS SUPER CREEPY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Over the Garden Wall.

You know, I do love a good challenge in reviewing something for this site, and lord knows this is hard. There’s the first hint of a much greater story, though, and I am now more certain than ever that some of the things I’ve picked up on have to be a clue. To… something? For reasons?

Let’s talk about the tavern first. While not the same as “Schooltown Follies,” I still got a vibe from “Songs of the Dark Latern” that hinted at a parody of specific fairy tale and musical tropes. The people of the tavern play very specific roles, many of them desperate to cling to them. Not only that, but why do they all wear… I guess you could call it “colonial” wear, no? That seemed such a deliberate thing to animate, and it is completely unaddressed. The reason I bring it up is that it’s in contrast to the kind of dress we saw in the previous episode, which was more 1930s. So… why the difference?

There’s still the musical theater tropes present here, but the people in the tavern use song for identity. Throughout the episode, they want to know who Wirt is after they inform him who they are. The songs themselves are just so beautifully hilarious, which made Wirt’s attempt at a song even better. IT WAS SO BAD OH MY GOD. There’s a meaningful point to all of this, though: the tavern characters help Wirt find his identity. He’s a pilgrim. (Then Wirt references turkey and cranberry sauce and THAT’S A MODERN REFERENCE, WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING.) We don’t exactly know how Wirt and his brother got into the forest, but now that they’re here, they newcomers. Explorers. Adventurers! Through the discovery of this identity, Wirt finds a bravery he didn’t have before, which is how he rescues Bluebird from the woodsman.

But that’s a whole thing, too. I actually really liked Wirt finding the emotional means to become reckless; it felt like a huge change for his character, even if it might just be temporary or in the moment. However, that subplot pales in comparison to the continued theorizing about the Beast. LIKE, HOLY SHIT, WAS THE WOODSMAN ACTUALLY THE BEAST. He fit the profile, didn’t he? Carried a lantern, collected the oil from trees… OH NO. Honestly, I was surprised to see him at the beginning of the episode anyway, since characters don’t recall seem to recur in this show. (Except that damn turtle! Why is it always there?)

The final scene of “Songs of the Dark Lantern” confirms a different narrative, though. The Beast is real, it is not the Woodsman, AND THE WOODSMAN HAS TO KEEP HIS LANTERN LIT BECAUSE HIS DAUGHTER’S SOUL IS IN IT. Okay, so what the fuck is this universe? Does the Beast keep people trapped in the forest? Is it following Greg and Wirt, too? I’d been fine with the very loose serialization of this show, but… this is all connected, isn’t it??? AHHHH, THE BEAST IS TERRIFYING, Y’ALL.

This show is so wild. What have I gotten myself into?

The video for “Songs of the Dark Lantern” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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