The end of Willow Episode 1 featured a huge revelation that will drive the show’s central storyline, meaning Episode 2 is largely concerned with the circumstances that surround said reveal, as well as the fallout that follows. So, spoilers ahead.
Towards the end of Willow’s first episode, we learned that lowly kitchen-maid Dove is actually Elora Danan, the infant empress whom Queen Bavmorda wanted to kill throughout the 1988 movie, and who the forces of evil are after here. So from here-on-in – much like the show – we’ll refer to Dove by her real name.
As played by Ellie Bamber, Elora Danan doesn’t initially believe she is the “High Priestess” in question, aka the “last best hope against the evil come to destroy us all.” Which is understandable as that’s a lot to live up to.
But she bears the mark of Elora Danan, so ultimately accepts her fate at the end of Episode 1, meaning it’s full steam ahead for Episode 2.
The destiny of Elora Danan
Via flashback – and with Willow sporting a nifty little goatee – we see that the sorcerer-farmer wanted to train Elora Danan in the ways of magic from a young age. But Queen Sorsha refused, preferring the child to live a normal life, away from that responsibility. Which is why Elora is given a secret identity.
In the present, Willow doesn’t appear all that bothered about protecting that identity however, bringing Elora and the rest of the fellowship down to his underground village, and introducing her to his people.
Actor Warwick Davis also seems to have spent a little too much time in the company of a previous co-star, as his delivery in scenes where he’s being carried on a wooden throne or doing magic badly is very Ricky Gervais.
But Willow remains adamant that Elora is the key, stating in ominous fashion: “If something happens to her, the world will burn.” Though that gets twisted later in the episode when he sees a freaky vision of the future where she dies on the battlefield, causing Willow to state in even more ominous fashion: “For our world to survive, Elora Danan has to die!”
Student becomes teacher
In spite of Willow’s efforts to train her, Elora Danan repeatedly refuses, wanting instead to rescue Prince Arik with the rest of her crew. While there are times when Willow himself worries that it might be too late to teach her, the farmer doubting her in the same way Sorsha previously doubted him. Giving the story a nice sense of circularity.
When Elora does accept the call, doubt creeps in for her too, Danan’s tricks failing and causing the teen to question her own legitimacy. Later in the episode she doubles down on that fear, claiming, “I’m not special. I’m just ordinary.”
But a central theme of the series is clearly going to be about magic not being learned, but being found inside oneself, with Willow the key to unlocking her power, but refusing to give her a wand until she’s good and ready.
Evil takes a friendly form
During the kidnapping sequence in Episode 1, hero warrior Ballentine (Ralph Ineson) is stabbed with a staff tipped with poison. And that poison is now flowing through his veins, giving him a newly evil purpose.
The villains now know that “the child has revealed herself,” and so Commander Ballentine kills or turns his cohorts, and closes in on Elora, seemingly to help her, but really to take her away.
And so he bonks her on the head and kidnaps Elora Danan for the “withered crone” whom we haven’t yet seen, but who is apparently pulling his strings, and stage-managing evil’s return.
The Verdict: Is Willow Episode 2 good?
Following an energetic start in Episode 1, Willow settles into more of a calmer rhythm over the course Episode 2, with characters getting to know each other, the odd romantic spark flying, and Elora Danan coming to terms with her fate.
While that’s tough for her to stomach – Elora’s storyline pretty downbeat for much of the episode – it does end on a positive note, with the flower she’s been trying to magically grow blossoming in Danan’s absence, thereby suggesting there’s hope for our heroes.
Willow Episode 2 review score: 3/5
While Episode 2 is less exciting than what’s come before, there’s character and world-building to be done, and this installment nicely sets up both the conflict – and themes – at the heart of the series.
Willow is now streaming on Disney+. You can sign up here.