The first season of Willow is over and the first thing to say is “I want more.” While the final episode brought this season’s stories together in a completely satisfying, entertaining way, the lore of this franchise and world is so vast that even without this episode’s big cliffhanger, these characters and actors are simply begging to be on screen more. So we’ll put that energy out into the universe as we dive into the final episode of the season, but hopefully not of the show.
Episode eight of Willow is called “Children of the Wyrm,” which to be honest I found a little bit intimidating. All throughout the season, the show has been setting up this idea of the Wyrm as a force even greater than the Crone, but I fully admit I just kind of ignored that. Which, it turns out, was a mistake because the idea that Bavmorda was an agent of the Crone, and the Crone is an agent of the Wyrm (if that’s even right?), becomes HUGELY IMPORTANT in the finale. So, I hope you were better prepared than I was.
Nevertheless, things began where the previous episode left off, with Elora and Kit coming face to face with Haircut Airk. It’s obvious he’s been taken over by the Crone, a fact that’s well established when he says he knows Dove is Elora because the Crone showed him. Beyond that, he acts seemingly normal upon seeing his girlfriend and sister, but the fact the Gales are behind them, creating a trap, makes basically everything he says hugely disingenuous. Airk begs them both to hear what the Crone has to say and despite knowing whatever is happening is a trap, they decide to go along with it.
Back at the giant waterfall, Willow, Boorman, Jade, and Graydon debate whether or not to jump off and follow Elora and Kit. Willow suggests maybe the pair needs to face the Crone alone, but both Jade and Graydon feel it in their bones they need to be there. Their instincts make Willow smile as they take the leap of faith. Boorman meanwhile is a little sceptical but he too jumps as Willow, his quest seemingly completed, appears to head back to his daughter. “Look after them,” he says as the James Horner score plays and, reader, I shed a tear or two.
Kit and Elora meet the Crone in her beautiful young woman form and Airk reveals she’s the harbinger of the Wyrm, the one chosen to take over the world. Neither Kit or Elora have a plan so when the Crone says each individual has to make their own choice about whether or not to join her, they decide to take another leap and head into the golden light. There, both Kit and Elora see everything they ever thought they wanted coming true. Queen Sorsha apologizes to Elora for hiding the truth from her and Airk tells her they’re about to get married. Sorsha also tells Kit she wants her daughter to be free of all obligations so she can live her life how, and with whomever, she wants. They’re both obviously very tempted. It all feels too perfect.
Kit seems as if she’s about to buy into the fantasy when she hears a voice. It’s her father, Madmartigan, who Willow casually mentioned before has been fighting the Wyrm from the inside. He tells her he’s always been with her and that she’s better than him. She’s Elora’s protector, her shield and sword, and with that, Kit finally gets what she actually wanted. Not just Jade, not just freedom, but the love and encouragement of her father. She rejects temptation and is punished by being turned to stone.
As this is happening, Boorman, Jade, and Graydon arrive in the Immemorial City and haphazardly sneak to the door behind which their friends are facing their fates. However, a giant storm is coming upon them very quickly and despite all their best efforts, they fail to enter and are turned to stone as well.
What about Elora? She’s happy with Airk on their fantasy wedding day, and it seems maybe she’s accepted the Crone’s temptations. She walks down the aisle to the alter, Airk and the Crone are waiting, and in the crowd are all her friends — Kit, Jade, Boorman, Graydon, and others. The Crone says all that needs to happen is for Elora to seal the marriage with a kiss, but at the last possible moment, Elora pulls back. A stunned Crone tells Elora by not choosing Airk, she’s making it certain war will come and everyone will die. Which is when another familiar voice rings through the scene.
It’s Willow. He breaks the spell of the Crone and frees everyone from their stone prisons. Even the Crone too, finally, sheds her human visage and reveals its true form. And what an ugly, final boss-level true form it is. The battle begins with Airk on the side of the Crone. Graydon finds Cherlindrea’s wand and uses it to attempt to attack the Crone, but she defends and snaps Graydon out of existence.
Another person Elora loved is dead and she seems ready to give up. But Willow reveals his arrival is because he needs to be at her side. This confidence boost amps up Elora’s powers and so she hits the Crone with a mighty bolt of green magic from her hands. The battle between the two begins.
Boorman, meanwhile, takes off the Kymerian Cuirass he’s been wearing when he realises he’s not worthy of it. It’s not his story, he says, it’s Kit’s. And so he puts the armour on her and runs off to continue fighting, with an aim not to return. Airk returns and engages Kit and Jade in combat. So there’s Elora and the Crone on one side, andAirk, Jade, and Kit on the other (best seen in a killer overhead shot), but something isn’t right. Elora still can’t break through and so Willow boosts her confidence again, this time as a voice in her head. He tells her she needs to stop being afraid, be ok with making mistakes, and truly unleash her full power. Which she does. She nails the Crone with a huge blow and tackles her to the ground. The lightning bolt fight hits epic proportions when, finally, Elora breaks the Crone’s defences and kills her.
The day is seemingly won, except Airk is still possessed. He runs to the Crone who says this was always the plan and that it’s him, not her, who is the actual harbinger of the Wyrm. They kiss and she passes whatever power she had to him. Airk is now the ultimate evil, so Jade tells Kit maybe now is the time to activate the Cuirass.
I’m gonna step back here for a second because, if you’re like me, you probably thought — to this point — the Cuirass was kind of dumb. We knew it was supposed to be powerful and everything but it looked so old and unimposing. Well, here’s one of the many places Willow really blew away expectations, because when Kit activated it, the Cuirass grew into a full suit of awesome body armour, making her all but invincible.
And so Kit engages her brother in combat, armed with Madmartigan’s sword and the Kymerian Cuirass he left them to find all those years ago. She’s truly the embodiment of her father and, rather quickly, defeats her brother. She’s ready to kill him, but she can’t. Willow breaks his staff and hands her his green gem. He tells her, if she talks to him, he may come to the light. Flashbacks to their childhood play as Kit pleads to her brother and, eventually, he returns. And now, finally, the day is won.
Boorman returns, covered in goo from battle, but not Graydon. He’s really gone and the group promises to make sure his bravery does not go untold. Willow does, however, say that while they defeated the Crone, the Wrym is still down there. And, soon, it’ll come for them because they’ve really pissed it off. Elora seems almost drawn to the place, like business is not yet finished, but she does leave, and our heroes walk into the sunset.
But what about Graydon? Dead? Alive? It’s unclear but we see him wake up on the battlefield we’ve come to recognise from Willow’s vision of the future. There, among hundreds of fallen soldiers, he sees Elora — a different, wiser, scarier — Elora, who tells him he’s at the beginning of all things, the end of all things, the age of Elora Danan, and she needs somebody by her side. She needs… him.
Which is all he’s ever wanted to hear. If you remember earlier, these visions to trick people to come to the side of the Wyrm promise them their heart’s desire. We know Graydon loves Elora, so it seems fairly likely he — this burgeoning sorcerer who is oddly susceptible to possession — will break bad once again and become the latest harbinger of the Wyrm. A new Crone. But not this season.
And so the first season of Willow ends the same way every episode ends, with a rock song (this time, Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”) and illustrations of the characters — one of which is Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan, a nice finale touch. Then, as every episode began with a book opening, the first season ends with a book closing. A book that gets put on the shelf. We’ve completed Volume 1 of Willow. There are two more volumes to go.
Will audiences get to see volumes two and three? Disney+ has yet to greenlight a second season, so we don’t know yet. But what we do know is that even if Willow doesn’t come back, this eight-episode first season was a pleasure. Each actor was so wonderful and the tapestry of fantasy so rich, even though it was quirky and weird and played slightly disjointed rock songs, it all just worked. Elora Danan has defeated the Crone. She has not yet defeated the Wyrm and maybe eventually she will, but for now, we rejoice in a damn fine season of television.
While you’re here, why not check out Gizmodo Australia’s guide to what’s streaming this month on Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Stan, Binge and more. We’ve also got one for all the good movies coming out in 2023 if that’s more your thing.
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