Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 3) – Puddle Defender / King Ludo
Halfway through Star vs the Forces of Evil’s Battle for Mewni storyline, things are looking rather bleak for the Mewmans in their dimension. Not only is the magic power that Star Butterfly and her Mother use failing them, but Ludo has taken control of the Kingdom of Mewni!
The third episode of Season 3, shifts us into more adventures for our main characters, revolving around unlikely alliances, both for Mewmans, and Monsters.
After circumstances force them out of their hiding place, Star takes her Mom to Buff Frog’s place. However, while Star seems to be right at home with the monster, Queen Moon seems a bit uncomfortable with their surroundings.
One of the more intriguing character developments to come out of Season 2, was regarding the monster Yvgeny Bulgolyubov, aka Buff Frog. Upon being given some tadpoles by Ludo, Buff Frog gave up (most of) his evil ways, and strove to become a caring and devoted father to his children.
Getting to see Star and Buff catching up like old friends was a treat, and the way the writers threw Queen Moon into the mix, proved to be quite entertaining. It’s also notable in showing how Star differs in thinking from her Mother. Whereas Moon is more confident with a plan in place, Star is more willing to improvise on the fly.
Much like the segment Mewnipendence Day did for Star’s character, it feels like this story works as a ‘growing’ experience for Moon. Some stories like to throw a character out of familiar surroundings to see how they’ll act, which is often a great way to learn more about who they are.
We’ve seen Moon interact with ‘monster royalty’ (such as with Ludo’s parents), but it seems a given that she’s avoided the more ‘common monsters,’ scattered throughout the kingdom. Of course, as we saw in Moon the Undaunted, she may have decided to avoid most monsters altogether, given how they affected her life.
A notable part of the story, is Moon trying to play a boardgame with Buff Frog. The scene is a highlight for me, given it ends up being humorous, but also gets rather serious when we learn a bit more about Mewman/Monster relationships, and each culture’s perceptions of the other on Mewni.
This was an overall entertaining story, and getting to see Star, Moon, Buff Frog and his children interacting together, proved to be a highlight! There was a decent balance of comedy and storytelling, that has made this one of my favorite segments so far this season!
Final Grade: A-
– King Ludo –
Now that he has taken over the Kingdom of Mewni, Ludo attempts to get it’s inhabitants to like him, but finds resistance from everyone. Meanwhile, Marco and King River are locked in the dungeon, with Marco attempting to get them out, and restore River to the throne.
Most of the entertainment value of the story, stems from Marco meeting up with three members of the royal court: the songstrel Ruberiot (whom we know from last season), court jester Foolduke, and a Mime.
I didn’t expect to find myself entertained by them, but their banter and Marco trying to wrangle them together, proved to be very memorable (notably the rather quiet visual reactions of the Mime!).
Even Ludo manages to have some funny moments. His personality can waver between funny and annoying, and here, many of the beats for his childish thoughts on being the Kingdom’s ruler, proved to keep me smiling throughout. I did have to wonder how many of his lines, were improvised by his voice-actor, Alan Tudyk.
Compared to the last Ludo-based segment we saw (episode 2’s Book Be Gone), this one feels a bit more entertaining when it comes to the comedy regarding Ludo. While there was a bit more ‘rinse-and-repeat’ regarding him being abused by the book in the last story, this one lets us see just how unfit he is to rule.
Of all the main characters, it is King River who is mostly sidelined in this story. He has a few more serious moments here than in the Marco and the King storyline, though I felt they could have pulled back on some of his incompetency, in the face of what is going on.
Even with my minor gripes, this story proved to be a surprise, and I’ve found myself watching it a number of times since it came out!
Final Grade: B
So far this season, this episode has offered a very entertaining 1-2 punch of stories, making it a pretty enjoyable viewing experience.
Puddle Defender helped shed a little more light on Mewni’s ‘monster relations,’ showing how Star Butterfly and her Mother interact with Buff Frog and his children. Almost like a nice breath of comedic air to calm us down, it also proves well-written and insightful, in giving some character development to Moon, and challenging her perceptions of monsters.
King Ludo feels a little like Puddle Defender in it’s storytelling, but doesn’t delve into the dramatics regarding character development. This story is largely Marco’s, as we see him interacting with a few members of Mewni’s royal court, attempting to save King River. The inane bantering of Ruberiot and Foolduke may wear thin on some, but there is a method to the madness (and some fun, silent comedy moments with the Mime in their group). King River gets a small chance to shine, but it feels like once again, he serves as little more than comic relief.
Next episode, the Battle for Mewni comes to an end, with the eerily named, Toffee. Star has headed off to her Kingdom to confront Ludo and Toffee, and circumstances are pushing Marco to step up his game. How did I feel about where this epic 4-parter went? Come back soon to find out!