Episode Review: Star vs The Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 1) – My New Wand / Ludo in the Wild
For those who saw Season 1 of Star vs The Forces of Evil, its 13-episode premiere was definitely a little weird…and a little wild.
We watched as Princess Star Butterfly learned some valuable lessons about magic and friendship, used dimensional scissors to take us to strange worlds, and encountered a number of evil beings, many of them after Star’s royal magic wand.
If Season 1 got us to walk through the doorway, Season 2 has the potential to make us sit down, and become further drawn in, to the world that Daron Nefcy is creating in one of Walt Disney Television Animation’s most popular new shows.
And it all starts here: the first of 22 episodes, for Season 2.
After the events of the Season 1 Finale, Star Butterfly has become enthralled with her ‘new wand,’ which is actually her old wand, that has changed since her encounters with a lizard-creature named Toffee.
However, the wand ends up going haywire, leading to Marco being trapped in Star’s ‘Secrets Closet,’ with the door locked!
Glossaryck of Terms, a little blue figure residing in Star’s Magic Wand Instruction Manual, returns for this episode as well. Much of his screentime, has him as a cryptic repository of knowledge to both Star and Marco, as well as examining the newly-changed wand.
Given the title, one would assume we’d be treated to plenty of spell-casting and wand-testing scenes, via Star. However, the wand ends up taking a backseat to most of the episode’s antics, as Star and Marco try to get Marco out of Star’s closet.
Like some of the later episodes in Season 1, Wand has a habit of shifting gears pretty quickly, leading to some pacing issues.
There are still some intriguing bits to be found within the segment, and much like keywords playing a role in previous episodes, this one has two that end up being part of a learning experience for Star.
There also comes a small revelation, that may surely cause some fans to start speculating very soon about ‘some things,’ but I’m of the persuasion that it might be nothing (in my old age, I need more proof).
The most interesting bits for me, were the moments where time is taken to finally examine what has changed regarding Star’s wand. However, it is a bit surprising that given its transformation, that a more thorough examination had not been considered, following the final events of Season 1.
Final Segment Grade: B-
When last we saw Ludo at the end of Season 1, he had lost everything, and been thrown through a portal by Star Butterfly.
This segment picks up with him ending up on a strange planet, where the elements and numerous creatures menace him, as he struggles to survive.
At times, it feels a bit like a Chuck Jones cartoon crossed with Ingmar Bergman’s tales of existentialism, as Ludo attempts to find sustenance, with his efforts usually ending in pain, or abject failure. There also is a repetitive feel to some attempts, but it just goes to show how one sometimes has to keep pushing on, in order to get the payoff. One could almost see traces of Alejandro Inarritu’s The Revenant in the segment as well.
Much of Wild is told with minimal dialogue. For much of the segment, voice-actor Alan Tudyk gives forth a series of whines and grunts, that might soon grate on your ears. However, it is in Ludo’s little moments of contemplation and introspection, that make for some of the more enjoyable bits in the segment.
This story may seem a bit odd to the viewers who come just for their “Starco fantasy fix,” but to someone like me, I found its change-of-pace to be quite intriguing. Needless to say, this might not appeal to some of the ‘younger fans’ in its content, but for those of us who love when a series tries to experiment outside its comfort zone, it does make us wonder about other ways Season 2 segments could stray outside ‘the norm.’
Like the Magic Wand segment, there are little bits that have carried over from the Season 1 premiere, and some scenes that feel like a tease, that one hopes will be paid off (soon).
Final Segment Grade: B
I didn’t really know what to expect from Season 2’s opener. Given the fast pacing of the first season’s opener, I was a little surprised at how this episode’s segments, pulled back and took their time.
The animation style has also changed in regards to the style from Rough Draft Korea, being a little less frenetic than Mercury Filmworks’ work from last season’s first 5 episodes (which was what originally made me latch on to the show). Rough Draft’s style works pretty well for some of the slower moments, but the movement is a bit awkward when characters have to be a little more spastic. The style seemed to work best with the somber tone of Ludo in the Wild, given the languid pace of Ludo’s ‘rebirth’ following the events of Season 1.
My New Wand tries to be a more intimate portrait of Star and Marco dealing with an unexpected situation, but its pacing feels like it meanders in its roundabout story of Star Butterfly, Marco Diaz, and Glossaryck of Terms. There’s some good moments here, but following the animation-house shake-up of the first season, it fell short of being wholly enjoyable.
Ludo of the Wild, while not being as focused on the series’ main characters, is impressive for being ‘artsy,’ and focusing on a serious/humorous approach to the plight of Ludo, following the destruction of his lifestyle after Season 1. Some areas can get a bit repetitive as he struggles, but its story about perseverance in the wild, mixed in with some fun camera angles, kept me entertained. It also provides an intriguing mixture of Chuck Jones and Ingmar Bergman story tones, shaking up what we’ve seen in most stories told within the series.
Most notable about the episode, is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reworking of the group shot, in the the opening theme song:
There have been quite a few characters removed, some familiar ones added, and some that we can only leave to speculation, on how they will play a part in the upcoming season. Out of all of them, the lizard creature in the group on the right, has me most intrigued. Perhaps he could be someone…reborn?
*And so, after a little padding regarding the aftermath of Season 1’s finale, we may now be ready to go further into the brave new world of Season 2. Next week’s episode, will deal with Star thinking ahead to becoming the future Queen of Mewni, in “Mr Candle Cares” (though who Mr Candle is, I have no clue). The second segment, “Red Belt,” deals with Marco trying to ‘level-up’ in karate, from his current green belt (with a stripe) status. See you guys back here in 7 days.*