Episode Review: Star vs The Forces of Evil (Season 1, Episode 11) – Mewnipendence Day / The Banagic Incident
Last week saw a major episode release regarding Star vs The Forces of Evil. Not only did Star Butterfly end up entering the terrifying St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, but the episode spent a full 20 minutes telling the story!
This week, the 2-segments-per-episode format returns, with what seems to be a little history lesson about Mewni, and an earth quest that Star partakes in.
Well, enough chit-chat…let’s dive right in!
As the episode begins, we find out that Star has invited a number of persons to partake in celebrating Mewnipendence Day with her.
The events call for a re-enactment of the battle that drove the kingdom’s monster population away, leading to the founding of Mewni. However, Marco’s questioning over certain events, causes Star to have second thoughts.
Meanwhile, Toffee has a new plan to help Ludo obtain Star’s wand. Though the majority of Ludo’s minions are willing to go along with it, Buff Frog is the one who questions Toffee’s motives.
Watching episodes of Star, I and many have been curious about the history of her dimension. Though its founding story is truncated given the run-time, we do get a pretty decent summary on what happened many years before.
I can’t help but wonder if much like the Telmarines in Narnia, the Mewnians were displaced humans from our dimension, that just found themselves in this other world, where they learned about magic. Heck, part of their heritage is growing corn, so my head-canon is that they could be displaced Iowa farmers!
Given Star’s reactions, I assume this is the first time she has put on her own Mewnipdence Day celebration. As such, when she gets a first-hand review of the accounts of the battle via a children’s pop-up book, she begins to quietly contemplate what she’s been taught her whole life.
On the other side of the fence, Toffee continues his quiet machinations, right under Ludo’s beak. It is a little strange to see Ludo acting like a little kid for much of the episode, which makes me wonder if this was largely Toffee’s doing, aka placating him until he can serve a proper purpose later on. As well, Toffee also seems to be ‘modernizing’ Ludo’s castle, given we see him utilizing some more advanced technology.
It was also nice to see some animosity between Toffee and Buff Frog. Though not the smartest monster there is, the loyal Buff provided some of the more memorable moments in the episode, including one in its final scenes.
This episode seemed a little light on the comedy at times. The underlying theme of Star contemplating the holiday, let alone Buff Frog’s reactions to Toffee, put it in the realm of something a little more serious, with some lighter sprinklings of comedy thrown in.
On the plus side, there was a little more emotion in this episode than St Olga’s, but even with some character and story advancement, there still didn’t seem to be an overly satisfying feel to the whole episode. Good effort, though.
Final segment grade: B
While trying to stave off boredom one day, Star is quickly entranced when she reads about an item called The Banagic Wand (“Earth’s coolest magical treat!”).
Fascinated by this earthly magic item, Star eagerly tries to get Marco to help her find it, but he ditches her due to his karate lessons.
Star then decides to set out on her own, on a perilous quest to find “a better store,” wherein lies the limited supply of that, which she seeks!
Given her inter-dimensional naivete, we’ve seen Star misunderstand some earth-customs and items in the past. Segments like School Spirit and Fortune Cookies have given us metered doses of her going a little overboard, but this segment thrusts her out into our world, in a major way.
Banagic almost feels like a dare put forth by the writers and storyboard artists: how crazy can we make Star, without breaking the audience?
Pretty much from start-to-finish, Star seems to be in one of the most manic modes ever, almost like her boredom has driven her to insanely pursue this new item. I will admit having my own insane bouts of ‘must find this limited item’ syndrome (had an attack of it last Friday!), but I think the concept can only be pushed so far before the audience asks to be let off the bus.
For those who have read creator Daron Nefcy’s original comic concepts of Star (where she is a delusional grade-schooler who “imagines” the world around her to be full of magic), this segment almost feels like it’s paying a small homage to its roots. This can be seen in some areas, where Star misinterprets certain people and places, as something else entirely.
Star’s manic personality in this episode does start to wear a little thin in regards to where she’s taking us. Though in a sense, I can’t entirely fault them suddenly making it as if her brain fell out.
I’ve seen such character detours in other series like My Little Pony, and Urusei Yatsura. The magical girl Lum in Urusei would sometimes have episodes where she’d also go on cutesy-crazy autopilot for some storylines, while being a little more serious in others.
On the other end of the segment’s story spectrum, is Marco, who attempts to work through his latest karate training, while trying to fend off the taunts of the annoying Jeremy Birnbaum. It’s nice to see a little more side-development regarding Marco and his karate lessons as a ‘story B.’ At least it beats a ‘when in doubt, send in Ludo’ subplot.
Though it is intriguing to see Star go on a quest, it feels like the episode is attempting to stretch out a joke a little too long, and it snaps from the strain. Even Marco’s story feels a little too tacked on. It almost felt like they could have just had him leave at the beginning of the episode, and show up back at the end, and it wouldn’t have really mattered.
Final segment grade: B-
Well, that was…interesting?
Episode 11 felt a little like a mixed grab-bag of content. With a Mewnian-history-related first segment, and a ‘wacky hijinks’ second segment, it reminded me of how I felt regarding episode 6 (which featured the segments Mewberty and Pixtopia). However, I was more willing to accept the weird humor of Banagic, than the forced humor of Pixtopia.
Mewnipendence Day definitely feels like another piece of the puzzle in understanding the backstory to Mewni and Star’s royal relations. However, the puzzle I was more intrigued by, was seeing how Toffee was continuing to play his little ‘chess game’ regarding Ludo and his ‘pawns.’ Some minor character development and cameos, also makes one wonder what’ll be coming in the next episodes.
The Banagic Incident is probably going to be considered a little “too weird” by many who watch the show. Playing around with Star’s naivete can be fun, but it felt like they may have gone a little too manic, in trying to stretch out the laughs in this episode. School Spirit was an episode that showed Marco and Star off on separate adventures, in a way that managed to balance pretty well. In Banagic, it just feels that Star’s questing story steamrolls over the smaller ‘plot B’ story of Marco’s.
*Well, another episode down…and only two to go. Yes, in case you didn’t know, Season 1 of “Star vs The Forces of Evil,” is only 13 episodes long! Though word is the thirteenth episode will be a full one like “St Olga’s,” episode 12 will be another 2-for-1 format. Next time, be prepared as the characters partake in an “Interdimensional Field Trip,” and be thrilled as: “Marco Grows a Beard.” Though we’ll have to wait a full month until September 14th, to see just what they’ll have in store for us. Courage, people…Courage!*