Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 1) – Return to Mewni/Moon the Undaunted
Wow…has it really been almost 5 months already!?
When last we left our inter-dimensional cohorts in Star vs the Forces of Evil, Toffee had officially returned, and was in possession of Ludo’s body. The Magic High Commission of Mewni had been taken out, and Queen Moon found herself facing off against one of the most powerful foes she had ever encountered!
Things were also in a precarious place for her daughter, Star Butterfly, who was forced to leave Earth, but not before confessing to her friend Marco Diaz, that she had a crush on him.
There was so much left open (even some threads from the first season!), that we pondered just what the world of the show would look like, when it returned to us. However, I don’t think any of us could have fathomed the Battle for Mewni event that was announced on the DisneyXD channel.
This event combined the first four episodes of the season into a ‘movie,’ that was released on July 15th, 2017. While I originally considered reviewing the episodes as if they were a movie, I felt it best to focus on each of them by episode, just as I’ve done with in previous reviews.
And so, let’s see what the first episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s third season, had to offer.
After the events at the end of last season, Queen Moon is faced with several daunting tasks. These include reviving several members of the Magic High Commission and keeping her daughter Star safe. However, Star feels that they need to confront Toffee, and feels that her Mother is purposefully avoiding her duties.
Ever since seeing Star have some personal moments with her Mom in the Season 2 segment Game of Flags, I had been hoping for some more mother/daughter interaction, and that’s what we get here.
We see a bit of a personality clash between the two, notably in how Moon is struggling to do (what she thinks is) the right thing, and Star not quite seeming to fathom how dangerous things have become (possible shades of her Father).
There’s also a small scene with Marco and his parents, showing how they’re handling Star’s absence on Earth. It’s a nice little moment, before we are fully plunged into the more serious (and dangerous) world of Mewni.
While the story is integral to the Battle for Mewni storyline taking place, it felt a bit uneven, as we see Mother and Daughter struggle with their different viewpoints. We see Star falling back on wanting to use her wand multiple times, even though her Mom cautions her that the magic coursing through it is ‘tainted.’
A saving grace of the segment, comes near the end, when Moon begins to give more information regarding her past, causing Star to take pause. We’ve seen that some times she can respect her Mom, and there comes a rather touching moment between the two, as Star soon realizes some shocking information regarding her Mother, and Grandmother.
The segment is a nice lead-in to the following one, in that much like in her past, Moon is struggling with how to do the right thing…which I think almost any adult with a child can attest to.
Final Grade: B
“I did a lot of things you won’t be doing” – Moon Butterfly (Season 2, Episode 8)
This line always stuck out in my mind when I heard Moon say it, and it almost feels like it foreshadows this story, which is what (I assume) Moon tells Star, continuing the storyline from the previous segment.
After her mother is killed by a rogue monster general known as “The Lizard,” Princess Moon is thrust into the role of Mewni’s new Queen. However, as she grapples with the responsibilities and having to make grown-up decisions, she decides to try and seek help from an unlikely source: former Mewnian Queen, Eclipsa.
Like many, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the unknown backstory regarding Star’s parents. A young River Johansen (aka Star’s future Dad) also figures into the story here, but in a very minimal fashion. However, it shows that even at this young of an age, it may have been a friendship between River and Moon, that led to their eventual marriage. We even get to see young River verbally showing support for Moon, as many of the ‘adults’ around them, doubt her competence.
What is also notable, is that part of the story’s plot actually answers a question I had, regarding issue 2 of the Deep Trouble comic series based around the series’ characters. However, given what is transpiring within this story, it’s safe to assume that comic issue’s story, takes place after the events we see here.
There are a number of other familiar faces that show up in this segment as well. I was very surprised to see Mina Loveberry in the story, though not as off-her-rocker as she was in the segment Starstruck last season. There’s also a new relation introduced named Count Mildrew, who seems to be rather ‘dramatic’ about certain things. We haven’t seen him depicted in the series yet, and one wonders if he may resurface further in the season.
Of course, one of the more exciting moments, comes when we finally get some time with Queen Eclipsa (voiced by Esme Bianco). Her appearance here feels like a subtle hint of things to come in this season. Eclipsa comes off as being a bit off-kilter, but somewhat serious. However, I can’t help but feel she is hiding something sinister (her cheekmarks are spades after all…which represent ‘death’ in fortune-telling).
With the story being an intriguing character study of a preteen Moon Butterfly, I will say the moments with her dealing with the monsters, feels like the weaker part of the story. Some may note that it doesn’t quite go the way we saw in the Grandma Room tapestry from the Into the Wand segment, but I feel this is the writers saying how history, often isn’t like how it is depicted by artists, after-the-fact.
It is also notable, seeing a number of little character moments the animators give young Moon. Notable is her curling up into a ball, or gripping the long strands of her hair in a nervous fashion, similar to some things that we’ve seen Star do on occasion when she is frustrated, or fearful.
By the end of the story, I couldn’t help but find myself feeling sorry for Moon. She had to grow up before she was ready, and assume an air of nobility and seriousness, that she seems to wear at times almost like a mask. It is also clear she may have made some mistakes during the events we see, leading to some scars that have affected her, well into her adult life.
Episodes that give us introspection into characters usually press my buttons, and this one is definitely one I intend to keep coming back to.
Final Grade: A-
With the first episode of Star’s third season, we have a pretty good two-segment lineup.
Return to Mewni helps show a comparison/contrast between Star and her mother, Moon. Mewni has become a much more dangerous place, as we see Moon struggling to make Star realize that magic may not be able to save them. That struggle is integral to the storytelling, but at times, it feels like it doesn’t flow as smoothly as it should.
Moon the Undaunted finally gives us a look into Moon’s past, one that is informative, yet sad. We see how Moon as a pre-teen, is thrust into a world of responsibility she’s not yet ready for, and makes some mistakes along the way. I hope this opens up the possibility of more backstory for Moon and her husband River, telling about their lives before Star was born.
With 4 episode released at once, the episode reviews are going to be flying by over the next week or two. In the second episode, we’ll catch up with Ludo, following the events of the end of Season 2, in the story segment, Book Be Gone. Then, we’ll check in with Marco, as he journeys to Mewni, and encounters King Butterfly, in Marco and the King. See you back here soon, to discuss the next episode!