Disenchantment Episode 3 Review: The Princess of Darkness

Bean and pals go on a bender in one of the best episodes of Disenchantment.

This Disenchantment review contains spoilers.

Disenchantment Episode 3

It’s a bit unfortunate Disenchantment felt the need to take two episodes to set up its premise and that, in all that premise-setting, it accidentally introduced kind of crappy versions of its characters. “The Princess of Darkness” works as an antidote to all that, presenting the most solid versions of these characters and how they interact with each other yet, in a well-paced, self-contained plot.

Though they were meant to help us get to know her, ironically, the first two episodes made Bean out to be a pretty simple character. Because she was fighting back against an obviously undesirable arranged wedding and rebelling against her blatantly evil father, she was a more basic hero character, totally justified in her actions and easy to side with. She was a bit rebellious and liked to drink, but in “Princess of Darkness,” she’s a chaotic alcoholic, a drug user, and just a bad teen overall. It makes her more fun to watch and certainly more complicated to side with, especially when she’s robbing her own ancestors’ graves.

King Zog is almost a different character now and is a lot more likable as a result. He’s still an evil, selfish prick on some level (he continues to siphon Elfo’s blood with the goal of creating an elixir of life), but he’s much softer and, positioned against Bean and her atrocious behavior, takes on the role of a put-upon father.

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The first two episodes also struggled to demonstrate whether the lead characters actually cared about each other. Here, Luci remains evil (he’s a demon after all) and is still all about making Bean’s life worse and being mean to Elfo. But, when push comes to shove, he saves Bean from burning to death, showing he does have a conscience of some kind. This makes him less of a total bastard, and more like Community’s Pierce or, duh, Futurama’s Bender. And, as it should, the episode culminates in Elfo and Bean returning the favor by saving Luci from being melted to death in a volcano.

I do have a bone to pick with that last bit, which is that Luci is immune to fire, so…? In the first episode, he sits comfortably inside a campfire, so why would a volcano kill him? I’m not expecting very strict magical rules from a sitcom, but come on, why specifically give a character the trait of being immune to fire and then claim that lava can kill him? So, demons from hell love fire but not lava? What?? Huh???

If you read my other Disenchantment reviews, it’s going to get boring hearing me being a constant killjoy like this, but, sorry, though the storylines are enjoyable, I don’t find the series very funny yet. That said, this is one of the funnier episodes with a number of standout lines and sequences. Oona, high on snakeroot, darting around in a circle, scream-groaning, made me giggle. The pro-gender-equality social justice bandits aren’t bad (“Hey, that’s my grandmother’s necklace!” “Or your grandfather’s”). Elfo slapping Big Joe with his own severed arm is unexpected and hilarious. And Bean’s coked-out monologue about starting a band is the series’ first big example of truly inspired comedic writing (and Abbi Jacobson’s delivery is awesome).

The art is always nice in this series and this episode is no exception. The bright colors of the volcano are particularly good-looking. Also, I knock Disenchantment’s animation sometimes for looking a little too stilted, especially in action sequences, but I have no complaints here. The most actiony bit is the joyride at the start and it works just fine. When the carriage falls into the water, it does so with a detailed animation that has a quality, hand-drawn feel to it.

As is typical with this series, I would like to have laughed more, but “The Princess of Darkness” is a solid episode of Disenchantment and easily the best of the first three. It’s got a well-structured, clear plot specifically about how the lead characters are willing to fight opposing forces to save one another. What more could you want from an action-adventure sitcom? Well, some funnier jokes, sure, but otherwise, hey, not bad.

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!

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3 out of 5