Matt Groening’s Netflix exclusive series, Disenchantment, returned for a second season and delivers on more story, humor, and heart than before.
I rarely do much TV related reviews, mostly because it feels like I don’t watch a whole lot of it. In the streaming age, however, I find myself checking out series more often. The ability to binge a series makes them easier for me to digest than keeping up with a weekly schedule (which I all too often fall behind on). Even then, I’m normally WAY behind everyone else between parental duties and other stuff going on here at the site…
But the times, they are a’changin’ and I was able to blow through all ten episodes of the new season of Disenchantment. As such, I’m here to tell you about it. I won’t be delving into any real spoilers here (though there will be plenty for Season one), nor breaking down each episode, but am mostly presenting my thoughts on the overall season, where it’s headed, and why you should absolutely give it a watch.
I’ve heard from a number of people that they initially struggled to get into the show’s first season…And I completely understand. The series is very much a slow burn story. While most episodes are standalone affairs, they all follow a connecting narrative thread that ultimately build upon one another. This makes for long-term payoffs in the story, and jokes from previous episodes that continue to deliver via cheeky callbacks. In this way, it’s much more akin to Groening’s Futurama series than it is The Simpsons.
The downside to this, is that the first few episodes of the first season are pretty tough to get through. It’s almost entirely about setup and introductions, many of the early interactions/jokes come off a bit flat. After a rocky start, however, the show absolutely hooked me (much like Futurama) and left me wanting more by the time credits rolled on the finale.
Season Two picks up almost immediately where the first season left off and doesn’t suffer from the problems of the previous season. From the minute it starts, until the final episode, I was sucked into the story and eager to see what came next for these characters. By having all the story setup out of the way, the second season has more freedom to delve deeper into the characters and lore than before, making the humor land more naturally, while keeping you engaged in the larger story being told.
Princess Tiabeanie (Bean) is whisked away by her recently resurrected mother, Queen Dagmar. Dagmar has turned out to be more than we assumed, having turned the entire Kingdom of Dreamland to stone and imprisoning Bean’s demon companion, Luci…All without Bean’s knowledge.
For Bean, she’s finally getting the chance to be with her mother, who’d been turned to stone when she was just a child. For the most part, Bean has been presented as a rebellious spirit, often listless and seeking purpose in her life beyond being a mere Princess. With Dagmar returned, she sees a chance to correct the path of her life and find the direction she’d been searching for (a running theme that pops up throughout this season).
Ultimately, her trip to the island of Maru, Dagmar’s magical homeland, turns out to be less of a reunion and more of a nightmare. I won’t spoil what all happens here, but Queen Dagmar’s plans for Bean turn out to be far more devious than expected. With the help of Luci, Bean decides to leave the island of Maru in hopes of returning to Dreamland and restore the citizens of Dreamland who’d been turned to stone.
In order to do this, however, Bean will need the aid of who overly-optimistic friend Elfo…The only problem is he died in the previous season. Thus begins a journey through hell to recover his soul, escape to his body, and use his ties to the Elf kingdom to help out Dreamland.
Believe it or not, all of this happens just within the first few episodes, and the remainder of the season sees Bean and her gang take over a bar, steal sacred fruit from the trolls, journey to an all new kingdom, and much more. I won’t go much further into it as I want to avoid spoilers, but the second season manages to tie up many (though not all) of the dangling plot points from the first season, while telling a new story and setting up some interesting stories down the road.
While Disenchantment is set in a magical kingdom, that’s essentially in medieval times, many of the themes presented in this new season are very topical. Much like Futurama, the series does a great job of infusing the story/humor with serious undertones. The result are surprisingly emotional moments, and entire episodes that leave you thinking on the themes presented long after it’s wrapped.
This is what makes Disenchantment so enjoyable to me. Beyond the humor and characters (who’ve really grown on me a great deal), the balance between the fictional story and real-world themes keeps me engaged. The episodes are fun to watch on their own, and something I can easily have going on in the background like other animated shows, but the overall story is more than worth coming back to enjoy.
If you’re on the fence about checking out Disenchantment season 2, I strongly encourage you to sit down with it. I breezed through it in a little over a day and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It takes all the momentum from the first season’s last few episodes and immediately makes great use of it. The jokes/humor lands better and features a bigger overall story that will keep you invested.
Now…I just have to wait until season three.