Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 14) – Bon Bon the Birthday Clown
It’s finally here. That most special of special treats bestowed upon the fandom of Star vs the Forces of Evil: a full, 22-minute episode!
Of course, the title Bon Bon the Birthday Clown doesn’t sound quite as exciting as Season 1’s 22-minute episodes, but if we’ve learned anything from Season 2 so far, it’s to not judge an episode or segment by it’s title.
So, let’s see what this episode has in store for us!
Star is eager to attend a seance with Janna, to resurrect Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, on his 100th ‘death day.’ However, she panics when she realizes the seance is the same night as the school dance, which she was planning to attend with Marco.
Things seem to work out, when Jackie Lynn Thomas asks Marco out to the dance, and he eagerly accepts! While Marco goes to the dance with Jackie, Star and Janna head to the cemetery, but as the night goes on, Star begins to have second thoughts about not going to the dance…
From the start of the episode, it becomes pretty apparent that Bon Bon is doing things a bit differently from what we’ve seen before. The introduction to the episode, almost feels like how The Simpsons usually start off their episodes: Sending you down a side path, and then eventually directing you onto the main one.
Director Giancarlo Volpe has directed some of my favorite segments this season (such as Mr Candle Cares, and Naysaya), and like those favorites, he definitely cranks up the emotions in this episode.
Front-and-center, is Star becoming a little more quiet than usual, upon seeing Marco and Jackie together. It’s definitely a different reaction for Star, who since Season 1, has kept championing Marco to hook up with his crush.
Star’s inner turmoil can be seen throughout of the episode as well. She tries to keep herself preoccupied with the seance, but in little moments here-and-there, we see her mind drifting. To watch the scenes is both intriguing and emotional, especially when it seems Star might be developing a small streak of…jealousy?
Speaking of Marco and Jackie, seeing them together brought a big smile to my face. I have to commend the writers for not just sweeping their story arc under the rug after the last episode. Season 2 feels like it’s been a major champion of character development, and we get plenty of that here.
The writers get down so many of the nervous nuances about going to dances, as well as the awkwardness of first dates (Marco trying to make small-talk with Jackie? Yup, been there, done that). Plus, Jackie proves to be full of surprises in this episode.
On the lower end of the character-development spectrum in this episode, is Janna. Given the way we see her act around Marco, I can’t help but wonder if her obsession with invading his personal (and private!) space, is somehow tied to a previous crush she may have had on him when they were younger. Maybe something happened, and she turned that disappointment into just being weird and anarchic most of the time?
This is one of those episodes that will probably leave some of the show’s fans feeling confused, and a little frustrated. There’s some pretty heavy stuff that happens in Bon Bon, but we don’t get any solid resolutions. It’s like the episode has set in motion several new pieces of machinery, but what they’ll produce, is still up in the air.
There are definitely a few things in the narrative that have left me pondering as well. One of them, is a sub-theme about rats, that weaves its way throughout. It feels like there’s meant to be some inter-linking connection about them, but after viewing the episode several times, I still haven’t been able to figure it out.
Ending the review on a positive note, it almost feels like the writers try to balance out the changes we experience, with some references and callbacks to previous episodes. Some past segments have just given us one or two, but Bon Bon really goes to town! We get everything from visual references, to reused lines, and even a return of several spells Star used in the first season (I never thought I’d hear “syrup tsunami shockwave” again).
Final Grade: A-
In the end, I struggled with trying to come up with my final grade for this episode. When comparing it to longer episodes like St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, and Storm the Castle, I found that Bon Bon the Birthday Clown blew past them, with a more solid structure, and the way it dabbled a bit more in emotions, than action.
I’m always up for episodes that give us an emotional resonance, and this may be one of the first that really pushes hard in that area. Plus, the final moments, leave us even more eager to know what the final end-game will be for this season.
(And, just as we jump back into Season 2, we’re pulled away! Word is this episode is considered a “winter finale,” which means we’ve most likely had our last taste of new “Star vs the Forces of Evil” episodes for the year 2016.
At this time, rumor is that maybe we’ll get our next episode in February of 2017, but until then, I plan to try and do some little “Animated Dissections” in regards to the series. I’m already working on one exploring Marco and Jackie’s relationship, and how it may be “a necessary evil” in the course of developing the show’s storyline.
Plus, the “Star vs the Forces of Evil” comic series is still being produced, and I intend to continue reviewing upcoming issues too. So, stick around. I don’t plan to have the winter hinder my thinking and analyzing this weird-and-wild series.)