Episode Review: Star vs The Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 8) – Game of Flags / Girls’ Day Out
With last week’s episode, Star vs the Forces of Evil returned to entertain us once again, after a short hiatus.
While Star and Marco continued to build their friendship by going on an inter-dimensional adventure, we also got some additional drama, when we finally saw Ludo and Star meet again.
It was definitely a way to get us re-energized, and the titles of this week’s episode segments, definitely got the fandom’s blood pumping for more.
Star invites Marco to her Royal Family’s yearly get-together, which quickly devolves into a shouting match, before the adults rush off to play a game of ‘flags!’
Star eagerly wants to participate, but her Mother forbids it…leading to Star finding her own way into the game.
For much of Season 2, most of Mewni has been seen from the point-of-view of Ludo, or other monsters/creatures, on the outskirts of the planet’s kingdom.With this segment, we get deeper introspection into the Royal Family, which like most, is quite dysfunctional.
There is a sub-theme about being stuck at the kiddie table, when you want to be doing cool things like the adults. Much like past sub-themes that dealt with the problems of wet socks, or juice pouches, this theme feels like something that is ‘grounded’ in a relatable way that many viewers can relate to (we’ve all sat at ‘the kiddie table’ at family get-togethers, at least once in our lives!).
What’s notable about this segment, is that we get to see both sides of Star’s family, with her Mother’s relations being very aristocratic, and her Father’s relations somewhat barbaric in nature (along with finding our the King’s last name!). This leads one to wonder just why and how Star’s parents ended up together…was it a way to end some territorial dispute, was it love…or something else?
Star’s father is quite one-note in this segment, though one of my viewing wishes came true, when we got to see more of Star’s mother, AND see her have some one-on-one interactions with Star! This is probably some of the most ‘caring’ we’ve seen the Queen of Mewni be towards her daughter, since that teensy bit in the season finale, Storm the Castle.
The segment also has a minor mention regarding Mewnian corn, which makes one wonder if the show writers are attempting to make this a semi-important segment (maybe Star’s relatives will return later on in the season, for a possible confrontation with Ludo?).
It feels like Game of Flags may be a distant cousin to last season’s Mewnipendence Day segment. Both deal with Star confronting something about her family’s royal history, and actually looking at it from a different perspective…which causes her to re-evaluate her own views.
It never digs too deep, but Game of Flags’ reveal on more of Star’s relations, let alone its little asides to how even being an adult does not necessarily make you mature, makes it one of the few really good segments so far this season!
Final Grade: B
After freeing her homeroom class’ pet hamster out of sheer boredom, Star is put in detention, while Marco is tasked with getting back the runaway hamster (named Marisol).
While Marco deals with his task, Star is made the unofficial ‘Mayor’ of detention by a girl named Janna, and they set out to make their detention time a little more enjoyable.
The subplot about Marco recovering Marisol feels like previous segments, where the writers have to find some way to keep Marco in the story, even though it could have functioned just fine as a solo Star Butterfly adventure. Even involving the teacher Ms Skullnick feels a little forced (though we at least get to hear what her first name is).
During Season 1 of the series, Janna became a break-out supporting character in the series, and since then, the showrunners have slipped her irreverence into a few different segments. She seems to delight in subtle manipulation, but much like a trickster, it’s hard to tell if she just really likes messing with people, or if she does this just to see how they react to her weirdness.
Most of the time, Janna’s characterization seems pretty enigmatic, and it can be hard to tell what she does and doesn’t care about. If anything, maybe most of what she does, is to relieve her own boredom of a pretty normal outside world. Her most notable role in the segment, comes when she has to take the lead from Star, in asking Oskar Greeson for help (given that Star has become tongue-tied just at the sight of Oskar!).
The segment feels like it takes its time setting up the stakes, before 3/4 of the way through, it finally starts to get exciting. However, the momentum just never feels like it holds through, making it feel very ‘flimsy’ at times, as the writers seem to be trying to keep the jist of Star/Janna interactions afloat. Plus, one could easily see Star solving several of the story’s problems with magic, though if that were the case, the segment would be over pretty quickly.
Girls’ Day Out’s title also feels a little odd, given that I would have expected a bit more ‘out’ in the overall story. Maybe it could have used a snappier play-on-words title, like Coup D’etention, given Star and Jenna’s machinations in the segment to turn the tables on what detention is for the small group of troublemakers.
I have noted in the past, that I welcome more character-building segments, that could possibly involve the students around Echo Creek Academy, but Girls’ Day Out felt more like ‘filler’ to me. While we get a bit more time with Janna, it definitely feels like the weaker of this week’s two segments, when put next to the universe-expanding storytelling on display, in Game of Flags.
Final Grade: B–
So far in Season 2, it’s been hit-or-miss when it comes to enjoyable segments that keep a good pace, AND advance our knowledge of the world of our characters.
With Game of Flags, additional insight is given into the world of Star’s Royal heritage, let alone gives us a character-building story that allows her to grow in her own way. Though the game seems to fly by very quickly, the introspection of Queen Butterfly during the course of the segment, helps give it its unique flavor.
Girls’ Day Out sounded like a fun concept, but tying it into a school-related segment, it dawdles and just never feels fully fleshed out. Marco’s subplot feels like it could have been dropped, in favor of just focusing on Star and Janna, whose ‘mission’ part of the segment, is the only part that really made me take notice.
(Next week’s episode, has been gaining some excitement, given several of the show creators on Twitter, have called it their favorite episode so far this season. The first segment, “Sleep Over,” looks to involve quite a few of the supporting cast (including Jackie Lynn Thomas!), though the title design and the strange box make one wonder what is up. The next segment, “Gift of the Card,” is the more intriguing of the two posters, notably with the jewel-eyed lizard-creature, whom we’ve seen so far in the Season 2 opener. See you guys back here in 7 days!)