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Willow - The Battle of the Slaughtered Lamb & The Whispers of Nockmaar - Review

21 Dec 2022

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Well, our heroes have had a rocky start so far in this continuation of the age old classic movie Willow. Enmity and discord have been a major part of the party so far. Our titular hero Willow has his secrets and is discouraged by Elora's apparent lack of magical talent. Princess Kit resents her former cook being her future Empress and is far more interested in her father's fate and his connection to Boorman rather than the fate of the world. Jade is slightly annoyed by Kit's attitude but too much of solider to say as much. And Graydon still seems to have little use. After the second episode we were left with a mild cliffhanger. Commander Ballantine, Guard Captain of Tir Asleen and mentor of Jade, has succumb to possesion and is now in league with The Crone and has captured Elora. Just before the credits began to roll on episode 2 we also saw Elora's first real success with magic which would have far exceeded Willow's hopes.

Which brings us to The Battle of the Slaughtered Lamb. Kit presses Boorman for more information about her father who tells her the story of the Kymerian Cuirass and Madmartigan's quest to claim it and defend the world. After discovering Elora is missing Jade finds Ballantine and realizes he's been corrupted. The team engages the corrupt guards, but they escape with Elora. Willow warns the team they must get Elora back by sundown or else The Crone will banish Elora's soul, succeeding in what Bavmorda attempted to do years ago.

Elora manages to escape her bonds and runs into the forest where she meets two humble woodswomen, Hubert and Anne. A first, they don't seem particularly concerned about Elora's predicament but after realizing who she is Hubert and Anne declare their undying loyalty to Elora. Ballantine finds them, kills Hubert and Anne, and tells Elora that she is to blame for their deaths and submitting to the darkness will ultimately save lives.

At a fork in the path Boorman suggests splitting up the team and he and Kit head for a cozy little inn and Boorman's home away from home, The Slaughtered Lamb. Kit presses for more information about the Cuirass and Madmartigan. Boorman reveals that part of the Cuirass is in a cave near the ruins of The Slaughtered Lamb. He finds the Luz Arcana, the Cuirass key, but lies and conceals it from Kit. Meanwhile Willow confesses to his friend and follower Silas that he hasn't been using his magic because he fears not having enough strength to fight when things get bad. As Silas basically tells him they still have to the bad parts Willow gets a vision of Elora approaching a dark fortress and realizes where they have to go.

When Elora and Ballantine reach the ruins of The Slaughtered Lamb she resists and finds she's able to burn the corrupt guards by just touching them. This delays them long enough for Willow, Jade, Silas, and Graydon to arrive. Jade pleads with Ballantine to allow her to help him but is forced to realize he's too far gone. The battle goes badly, even after Boorman and Kit burst through a rock wall and join in. While trying to show bravery and believing himself for being responsible for Elora's capture, Graydon is touched by one of the corrupt guards. Willow resists using his own magic until he sees Silas mortally wounded at which he screams in pain and rage and releases a blast from his staff that destroys the corrupt guards. Silas dies in Willow's arms stating he had a great life and did what he was supposed to do. Ballantine, back in control of himself by still possessed, asks Jade to give him his release and tells her he's proud of her.

In order to continue on their journey the team must follow the mountain path in Willow's vision. Graydon collapses and reveals he's been corrupted by dark magic. Desperate to find a place to rest Willow reveals they are at the gates of Nockmaar, former stronghold of Queen Bavmorda.

So things have picked up from the first two episodes. We saw Willow show how powerful he's become. Jade has reached a fork in her own path where she'll have to grown stronger after killing her teacher or be destroyed by it. And of course, we see Princess Kit get knocked down a few pegs. After confronting Jade for her apparent unwillingness to kill Ballantine in their first engagement, Jade is forced to tell Kit that Kit isn't the badass she thinks she is. Jade only lost all their sparring matches because she let Kit win and she had been training Kit at Sorsha's orders. Not to mention while searching for Elora at the begining of the episode Kit finds the plant Elora grew and basically pouts and keeps the information to herself.

The Whispers of Nockmaar starts with Willow warning the team they cannot enter Nockmaar as it's what The Crone wants. Elora and Boorman insist due to Graydon's conditions and basically because it's the only shelter for miles. Kit advocates killing Graydon before he turns which doesn't really surprise anyone though Elora begs Willow to save Graydon. Willow admits there could be a way using Bavmorda's old spell books but needs Elora to do it as he's not back to full strength.

Jade head to gates to defend against a possible attack from The Gales. Kit attempts to console Jade by more or less telling her to keep a stiff upper lip and that Jade did what was necessary. Jade rebuffs Kit, telling her she has no idea what it feels like to kill an innocent but later admits to Boorman that Kit is right and Jade will end up being the one who will be forced to kill Graydon. Kit returns to Willow and Elora without the key ingredients and gets annoyed when Elora suggests she search for an alternative.

While attempting to exorcise Graydon, he begins to speak in Airk's voice but Willow warns this is just an attempt by The Lich (one of The Gales, the one who does the possession) to stop break their concentration. Another voice breaks in taunting Willow and tells Elora that Willow's keeping secrets from her. After Elora demands answers from Willow he tells her he'll finish the exorcism himself.

As the fortress seems to split up the team they face their own personal demons. Kit, after recalling her mother telling her grandmother Bavmorda's spirit still is part of her finds a tapestry of her grandmother gaining her powers from The Crone. Jade finds herself standing over her mother's recently slain body and is forced to engage a fight with a specter of what appears to be General Kael from the original movie. Elora hears a familiar voice and finds herself in the dungeon, witnessing her own mother's execution. Boorman, after searching the fortress on his own finds a vault door that seems to be whispering and attempts to break in only to hear the voice tell him the Cuirass key has been stolen from him. Boorman, after attempting to break into a vault hears whispers that the Lux Arcana has been stolen from him.

After returning to the main hall Elora finds Graydon alone who tells her Willow successfully exorcised him but was himself possessed by The Lich and suggests they can find him in the high tower where Bavmorda once attempted to banish Elora's spirit. When they reach the top of the tower Graydon predictably reveals himself to be possessed by The Lich. When Willow arrives, Graydon shows Elora the truth about Bavmorda's defeat and mocks Willow who responds he'll once again defeat evil with a little help from his friends. Jade, Kit, and Boorman arrive stopping Graydon and Kit convinces Elora that she has to power save him. Elora sucks the evil out of Graydon, curing him. As the team departs Nockmaar, Willow tells Elora that they now have a fighting chance and Boorman realizes he had the Lux Arcana all along. Kit asks Willow about something she heard in Nockmaar, about Bavmorda having The Blood of the Six. Willow explains that it's part of a dark line of magic which is now part of her and Airk. Far behind them, The Gales recieve order to kill the entire team except Elora.

The episode ends with Airk awaking in a ruined city, alone.

We get a little of Bavmorda's backstory in this episode, something that was impossible to show in a two hour movie. We find that she isn't some towering supervillain but once a young and promising sorceress who was kidnapped by a sect called the Order of The Worm. The Crone gave her unnatural powers to be a sort of high priestess to the coming darkness. Graydon also reveals to have an interesting backstory after we find he has a massive scar across his chest that he's not supposed to talk about. While hallucinating, Graydon sees his father calling him a dissapointment and an older brother, dead by a broken neck. As Elora extracts the evil from him we see a young and possibly possessed Graydon killing his older brother.

Kit took a few steps forward by finally dropping her spoiled princess act. After hearing Boorman sarcastically telling her she'd make her grandmother proud and hearing the voices in Nockmaar telling her about Bavmorda, Kit tells Elora the truth about her magical ability. Whether or not she'll continue to resent Elora remains to be seen but she does seem to want to be sure to never follow in Bavmorda's footsteps.

Overall the two episodes were really little more than somewhere between ok and good enough. We got some serious backstory, some good fights, some facing of demons, nice call backs to the original film, etc. But honestly nothing that jumped out and screamed "You gotta keep watching." While there's enough mystery and intrigue to be mildly curious the show seems to be lacking a major wow factor that makes one want to binge watch a show. Considering we're at a halfway mark that seems to be a fatal flaw if the showrunners are shooting for multiple seasons. I find myself with being content enough to wait for the next episode rather than be the annoyed fan boy who wants all episodes at once. The sad truth is the show Willow is starting to remind me of a quote I remember from another older tv show. To paraphrase, Willow is a bit like a bit like popcorn at a movie, you forget about it as soon as it's done. The truth is I'm not entirely sure what I'm hoping will happen or want to see but even with the flair of the original movie, the show Willow just seems lacking. If I wasn't a fan of the original movie, I might have walked away by now.