This Disenchantment review contains spoilers.
Disenchantment Episode 4
Maybe it’s a bit too Fry x Leela for its own good, but the Elfo and Bean relationship is one of the easiest for the writers to mine for character development. Luci is a comic relief jerk from Hell so there’s not much emotional depth to be found there, at least not at this stage in the series’ life, but bouncing Elfo and Bean off each other is an obvious way to explore the good and bad of both of those characters.
This time, it mostly ends up being about growth for Elfo. The whole joke of his character is that he’s bottomlessly naïve and innocent. However, as he previously demonstrated when he let Prince Merkimer turn himself into a pig, Elfo has a deep, strong selfish streak when it comes to Bean. “Castle Party Massacre” has a solid arc for him: he has to get over his nervousness with Bean, which he does, but when things don’t pan out for him, he must let go of his selfishness and let Bean get her happiness from wherever she chooses to. Finally, he must fully prove himself and his courageousness by taking one for the team and helping fix a problem he partly created.
Luci takes a background role, but I quite like how he’s used. He’s almost just a nice guy in this episode, a side effect of his intolerance for bullshit. It’s fun to have Luci around to cut through the crap and call Elfo out on his timidity, like when he point-blank asks Bean: “Do you prefer Elfo?” It’s a good device for Disenchantment to keep its will they/won’t they plot while still getting to comment on the cliched, sustained, twee nature of it.
King Zog, on the other hand, is wasted. He has a subplot about going to rehab to cure a stomach issue. However, there’s nothing to the subplot other than its jokes. There’s no character development or anything. It’s basically just comedic time-filler to keep Zog away from the castle until the Bean/Elfo story winds down, so your enjoyment of Zog’s story is based on your enjoyment of its jokes. For those of you just tuning in, Disenchantment just doesn’t make me laugh that much so far, so I found this plot largely useless. I can tell already that some people are going to love new character Chaz. I bet someone’s going to make a Twitter account for him. Sorry, I’m tepid on Chaz.
As always, there are a handful of good jokes. Though I’m not a fan of the overall rehab plot, Zog’s final line “I’ve had it with you and your successful methods” is good. Bean’s servant, Bunty, is one of the best side characters and I like her poor attempt at lying that Bean’s room is actually hers (“This is me bed that me family lives on”). And my favorite joke is the stickler townsperson who would like “some more clearly set out rules” about the “world of occasional magic and curses” they all inhabit.
“Castle Party Massacre” is another not so funny, but still nice-looking-and-sounding (I continue to enjoy the many variations on the series’ main theme) episode of Disenchantment. Most importantly, as the best episodes of the series are, it’s well-plotted. There are a few little missteps. I found the sequence of Bean asking people to dance from a first-person perspective (putting us in the shoes of the people she’s asking) an odd choice I don’t quite understand the purpose of. And I thought the unkempt condition of Dreamland should’ve been better established early on, before asking us to accept that the town well is so poorly attended to that there’s a dead horse in it.
Otherwise, however, this is a charming, emotional episode that develops Bean and Elfo’s relationship and forces Elfo to experience some real growth. If it falters in other ways, Disenchantment still has this whole sitcom character development thing down. And I’ve seen a lot of other sitcoms that have no idea how to do that whatsoever.
Joe Matar watches a lot of cartoons and a lot of sitcoms. He’s obsessed with story structure so that’s what all his reviews are about. Joe also writes about video games on occasion. He has an MA in English if you can believe it. Read more of his work here. Follow Joe on Twitter for more fun @joespirational!