Willow Episode 3 review: Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan casts mysterious shadow over story

Willow Episode 3Disney/Lucasfilm

Willow has featured movie characters Sorsha, Elora Danan, and Willow himself, but there’s been no sign of Madmartigan. In Episode 3, we learn more about the fate of Val Kilmer’s OG character.

Madmartigan was just as much the hero of 1988’s Willow as the title character, with Val Kilmer playing a swashbuckling cad very much in the vein of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo.

But in spite of the fact that the character fathered Arik and Kit with Sorsha, he’s nowhere to be seen in the new series thus far, having scarpered when the twins were kids.

Slowly but surely we’re discovering the reasons for his disappearance, and in Episode 3, we get closer to learning his fate.

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Spoilers for Willow Episode 3 to follow…

Madmartigan’s absence explained, kind-of

As played by Amar Chadha-Patel, Boorman is the closest the TV series has to Madmartigan, his character being headstrong and selfish, but also pretty heroic when he doesn’t think anyone is looking. So it’s no surprise to learn that he and Madmartigan were seemingly something of a team.

One of their treasure-hunting expeditions involved a magical breastplate that bestows awesome power on the wearer, but only if they are worthy. And as this story progresses, it sounds like Madmartigan might have gone missing while searching for said treasure.

Trouble is, the show really feels like it’s dragging out revealing his fate – especially in this episode where Boorman hints at and alludes to what happened to Madmartigan rather than outright stating it – which makes for a somewhat frustrating viewing experience.

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Happy cameo turns tragic

Episode 3 finds Elora Danan escaping the clutches of Commander Ballentine, the hero-turned-villain by his poisoned blood. She makes it into a nearby forest, where Elora comes face-to-face with a pair of woodspeople, one of whom is played by Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham.

They’re initially wary of Danan, before quickly changing their tune when they see her mark and learn her true identity. Then the duo are all about hearing Elora’s tale, and pledging their allegiance to her.

But this story doesn’t have a happy ending, as Ballentine tracks them down and murders the pair for daring to stand in his way. It’s a shocking scene, but one that Willow needs to underline the withered crone’s power, even from afar.

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Willow steps up

What about Willow himself? Well Warwick Davis seems to have an increasingly difficult task in the series, as his character is becoming very “Basil Exposition,” delivering long, tongue-twisting speeches to explain history, give context, or try to explain what’s going on.

Which is tricky enough for an actor, but he’s also seems to have a useful “vision” for each and every time the gang hit a dead end, which is useful, but also frequently a little too convenient.

Willow does get a true hero moment at the end of the episode however, when during ‘The Battle of the Slaughtered Lamb,’ he grabs his magic staff, and absolutely DESTROYS every villain in his vicinity. Begging the question, why didn’t he do that sooner?

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The Verdict: Is Willow Episode 3 good?

Episode 3 is good for giving a sense of the threat that our heroes are battling, through that tragic Hannah Waddingham moment, and also via Ballentine’s brief arc.

As played by Ralph Ineson, the Commander was introduced as a hero in Episode 1, then did despicable things thanks to his possession in Episode 2. After committing even more heinous acts in Episode 3, he ultimately received redemption at the death as he begs Jade to “release me” before finally being put to the sword. It’s emotional stuff as well as being seriously efficient storytelling.

Willow Episode 3 Score: 3/5

Ballentine’s fate – as well as that of the tragic woodswomen, and one of Willow’s best mates – made Episode 3 a sad instalment that did a good job of raising the show’s stakes.

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Willow reviews

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