In the second episode of the first season of Galavant, Galavant is forced to train back into shape, and Richard attempts a new technique to win his wife’s affection. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Galavant.
Despite that there’s an obvious parallel in the journeys of Galavant and Richard, I do appreciate just how different these characters are from one another. In many ways, this episode feels like a giant middle finger to a lot of the bullshit, ridiculous tropes that you see in fantasy about what role women are supposed to play. In particular, it’s both the women who don’t actually need any help from anyone throughout this. And it’s the men who have terrible opinions and behaviors that are shown to be toxic, gross, and worthy of being laughed at.
This plot could have been a lot grosser and harmful if we’d not had the same ending. I admit to feeling a tad weird about the notion that being feminine is inherently a bad thing, especially since femininity in male villains/antagonists is a negative trope all by itself. I get that the joke is that Richard being super masculine is actually worse than what he’s normally like, but his default state is still a villain who is flamboyant. It’s a complicated thing, I know, and I am sure that’s not a message anyone on this show intended to send. I like that Timothy Omundson gets to be so over-the-top! It makes his character a great deal of fun. The flipside, though, is that Richard tries to put on this hyper-masculine swagger, only to discover that his wife isn’t interested regardless. It doesn’t matter if he’s masculine or feminine; he could be a million other things, but she just doesn’t like him.
In that, I can see a deeper point about who this character is. Madalena is absolutely using him, first of all, which shouldn’t be surprising to Richard because SHE ANNOUNCED IT WHEN SHE CHOSE HIM OVER GALAVANT. But her continued rejection of him isn’t because of any performative element of his personality. She is just using Richard as a means to an end! But like Galavant, Richard won’t accept that there’s really nothing he can do to win her back. She’s got her own plan for her life, and he’s just a cog in that machine. So, does the final scene of “Joust Friends” mean that Richard will finally accept the truth? Or will he continue to be in denial?
Wow, he’s an even bigger mess than I thought he was, y’all. And him being a mess is not even a plot twist! I knew that he’d long ago stopped being a “hero,” and the first episode made it clear that he was not up to his usual standards. But in “Joust Friends,” an absurd set of events means that Galavant has to joust against one of his old rivals (JOHN STAMOS???), and guess who actually does the majority of the work?
Right up until Galavant wins, it’s Isabella who is show to be the competent one, the one who is better trained physically, and probably the one who could have actually beat Jean Hamm fair and square. Granted, she’s doing all of this as part of her manipulation of Galavant in order to save her parents. Still, she has to make sure that Galavant defeats his rival in order to get enough money to journey to Richard’s castle. Does the money matter? Apparently, but I could also tell that the writers don’t really care to explain the logistics of this stuff. It’s actually not all that important. What is important, though, is the sweat training montage right in the middle of this episode, which leads to perhaps my favorite joke so far: Galavant trained so hard in such a short span of time that when he had to joust, HE WAS TOO SORE TO MOVE. Couple that with Hamm’s drunkenness, and that means we get the most unreal joust of all time. IT WAS SO SLOW, I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.
The point being: even when Hamm and Galavant were on the ground, after they’d both hit rock bottom in a rather literal way, it was Isabella who encouraged Galavant to keep going. Would he have gotten to his feet if she hadn’t been there? Actually, if Isabella wasn’t here, Hamm would have easily won! Hamm wouldn’t not have been drunk on absinthe, and Galavant would have already fallen off his horse. Like ten times.
I CANNOT GET OVER THE DUAL DUET AT THE END OF THIS EPISODE. What the hell, y’all??? It’s so weird and cruel and weirdly charming? It’s also the sort of self-aware humor that, two episodes into Galavant, makes me think I’m really going to enjoy this show. The song is styled so deliberately like all the big love duets, yet the content of it is so over-the-top. It’s a mess. LIKE THIS SHOW. Like Galavant himself! Oh my god, how is this show real?
The video for “Joust Friends” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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