Through all of its madness and cringe-worthy scenes, ABC’s “Galavant” might just be the only show on television that’s not bending over backwards for the audience’s approval. It’s the “friends with benefits” show that has absolutely zero strings attached because they might not make it another season. And trust me when I say that they’re well aware of this — it’s basically a “do whatever the hell you want” card, and they definitely swipe it in the season two finale. After all, this might be the end. Capital T-E “The End;” And if this is really it for the musical, then they certainly went out with one hell of a show.
The first part of the finale “Battle of the Three Armies” plays off of the “Hobbit” franchise’s “Battle of the Five Armies” in both name and style. If J.R.R. Tolkien had somehow written “The Hobbit” as a Broadway musical directed by Mel Gibson, then this 20-minute episode would hit the target dead-center. First, in arguably the catchiest episode recap in history and surprising throwback to “A Knight’s Tale”, the Jester (Ben Presley, “What We Did on Our Holiday”) gives us the lowdown on what’s been going on this season, which earns him a round of applause from the armies about to face each other to the death. Meanwhile, Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia (Karen David, “Castle”) faces her own challenges when the Valencian army suggests suicide as an alternative to battle, which leads to a “Braveheart”-style speech and a song.
“It’s a Good Day to Die” is frustratingly catchy. It exposes the Hortensia confidence and the ultimate fear of the Valencians when the battle begins; it even reprises a duet between a young couple whose house is unfortunately located right in the center of the battlefield. But despite these humorous inserts, emotions really rule most of this episode. Especially the hesitation shown by Queen Madalena (Mallory Jansen, “Young & Hungry”) when the magician Wormwood (Robert Lindsay, “Atlantis”) requests her use of dark magic to win the battle. “Actually, I’ve been having second thoughts about the dark evil way,” she spills. Even though it’s whiny and grabs a quick laugh, it’s totally believable — I mean, it took a while for even Anakin Skywalker to turn into Darth Vader. It takes a lot of thought, and apparently a Disney-esque musical number and synchronized choreography for the Queen to give in.
The first part of the season finale ends with a reunion of friends and the reprise of “It’s a Good Day to Die” that gives way to the clever “Oh please, this isn’t ‘Game of Thrones!’ ” line that will most definitely be recycled by fans. Just as the Jester ponders leaving the audience on another huge cliffhanger similar to that of season one, the screen promptly switches to black.
The final part of the season finale begins with duet with Richard (Timothy Omundson, “Supernatural”) and his younger character’s counterpart (Alfie Simmons, “The Woman in Black 2”) that’s cringeworthy, but stylistically pleasing. It highlights an important question we all might be pondering. What would our younger selves think about who we are today? So even though it’s incredibly cheesy and off-key, there’s a deeper, emotional meaning much like that we’ve seen in the more recent episodes of “Galavant”. The writers are taking all the right stylistic chances with this episode.
We’re thrown back into battle and as Richard fights Wormwood, we finally see the true power that’s been previously dormant in Richard after the supposed death of the lizard/dragon Tad Cooper. The change between fighting freestyle and with a vengeance that Omundson shows is striking and quite terrifying, so I almost wish we could have witnessed it sooner. Now completely worthy of the “One True King” title that we’ve all been waiting for, Richard pursues lost love Roberta (Clare Foster, “Ripper Street”) in an attempt to save her from a life of becoming an old cat lady, earning him a ticket from the police on the way that hits us all in that secret “oh, c’mon!” spot, I’m sure.
Overall, the (possibly final) season finale of “Galavant” took chances that paid off in the long run, while still playing off the “cheese” factor it’s well known for. One last joke pokes fun at the unlikeliness of a renewal for the show and the possibility of the cast being sent to “crappy cable TV” before it finally all comes to an end. Almost. Because Tad Cooper finally turns into a big fucking dragon at the end, and I’m personally proud of that.