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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 22) – Starcrushed

And here it is. The big one. The final episode, of a season that changed the rules of the game, for the series known as Star vs the Forces of Evil.

Well, enough with the cute quips. Onto the review!

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-Starcrushed-

After the events at the end of Face the Music, in which Mewnian songstrel Ruberiot publicly declared that Star Butterfly likes Marco Diaz, things have been a little odd between the two friends.

It also doesn’t help that Marco’s parents are throwing an end-of-school-year party, and Jackie Lynn Thomas is cozying up to Marco, every chance she gets.

Star’s girl friends decide to take her out, as a way to get her mind off her problems. At another end-of-the-school-year party across town, Star bumps into Oskar Greason (whom she claimed to have a crush on), and the two quickly strike up a conversation.

Meanwhile, Moon Butterfly, and the rest of the Magic High Commission (composed of Hekapoo, Omnitraxus Prime, Rhombulus, and Lekmet), break into Ludo’s castle and confront him…only to have a familiar presence, materialize before their very eyes!

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When it comes to final episodes in a season, I think many of us have certain expectations.

In the case of Starcrushed however, much like most of the storytelling this season, the writers of the show weren’t willing to just bow down, and spill all their secrets.

In a perfect world, this episode would have tied up a number of loose ends that we’ve seen so far this season (and carried over from Season 1). As it is, much like Storm the Castle last season, Starcrushed leaves even more loose threads open for us to wonder about!

This could be both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, you have those people that are frothing at the mouth for closure, while there are those, in our current ‘mystery box’ era of visual storytelling, who welcome the chance to keep speculating as we go forward.

Star’s storyline here, is a bit stronger than in Face the Music. Storylines about her emotional state have been a part of several stories this season (including one of my favorites, Mr Candle Cares), but here, it meanders a bit too often, as we try to bring to light her uneasiness, being around Marco and Jackie, as well as trying to socialize at the other party across town.

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Returning for probably his biggest role since the story Star on Wheels, Oskar Greason (voiced once again by Napoleon Dynamite’s John Heder), acts as a counterpoint to Marco, in Star’s portion of the story.

While the writers do try to give him a bigger presence, his appearance feels more forced than natural. While Marco pursued Jackie Lynn Thomas over the course of these two seasons, Star’s liking of Oskar seemed a bit more of a visual infatuation (I guess it has to do with his eyes?). Of course, Oskar did figure into Star’s Mewberty storyline back in Season 1, but it was never made clear just ‘how.’

We also get a number of cameos from several of Star’s inter-dimensional girl friends, and it was neat to see how she has friends across multiple dimensions, who are there for her when she needs them.

Marco Diaz also has a slightly more significant role in Star’s story as well. Also reeling a bit from what happened last episode, he is also feeling a little uneasy, ping-ponging throughout the episode between Star and Jackie, whom we see several times, trying to get him to unwind.

I can imagine some people wondering why the characters are reacting as they do, but I think these reactions were written by those on the writing team, who may have had real-world experience. I have heard of some people feeling a bit uneasy, when they find out someone they called a friend, may want to be more than that…and as illustrated in Starcrushed, it can be a situation that is not easily remedied.

Much like the structure of Face the Music, this episode focuses on parallel storylines, and just like in that episode, Moon Butterfly’s storyline proved to be the more intriguing of the two.

Most notable, is the chance to see the Magic High Commission in action, though it doesn’t last nearly as long as I wish it could have (plus, Hekapoo’s use of dimensional scissors here, is probably going to earn her even more fan-followers online!).

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To me, the highlight of the episode comes when Moon and the High Commission find themselves in a fierce battle, that is probably one of the most intense so far in this series!

Let’s just say that stuff happens, that had me wide-eyed for a number of minutes…and wondering what the ramifications will be, going beyond this episode.

We also get some additional character development for Ludo in this piece. It feels very brief, but the information we’ve gleaned from this episode and the previous one about him, feels like it could lead to something important later on.

Much like the previous episode, this one has a rather somber/serious tone throughout. Even when the show staff attempt to inject comedy into Starcrushed, I rarely found myself laughing. There’s a lot being thrown at us emotionally, and I found myself really trying to process the more serious stuff, rather than the funny stuff.

As the episode comes to an end, it’s final moments seem to pass by in a blur, as events force a number of things to happen in seconds, leading to an even bigger cliffhanger than the previous Season!

Let’s just say, I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened, and found myself rewatching the final scenes, multiple times.

Given where it ends, Starcrushed feels like we’re now caught in the middle of a much larger story. That fast-paced, 8-bit sounding intro that originally brought many of us into the series, feels like a far cry from where we are now. Have we truly moved beyond simply talking about rainbows, and puppies?

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Best line from episode (said by Mr Diaz): “What could be weird? Two teenagers, sharing a home. One boy, one girl. Oh…oh no…”

Final Grade: B+

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Princess Pony Head): “So, yeah, those are basically all of the reasons why I would be the most reliable, non-flaky girlfriend ever-I gotta go, sorry.”

Starcrushed ends a 22-episode season, that took Star vs the Forces of Evil, down a much different path than it’s 1st season offered us. It played with story structure, secrets, and challenging our perceptions when it came to characters and their personalities. While it wasn’t perfect, the experimentation that went on following the exploits of Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz, still kept me intrigued over the past 7 months.

While reading this review, you may have seen my constant references to the previous episode, Face the Music. It feels like both that episode and Starcrushed, are linked in a way, where one cannot function without the other.

This episode also has a theme running underneath the main action. It seems to be how some of us wish for things to go back to what they once were…but sometimes, we find that life can’t be so simple.

The attempts to deal with Star’s emotions, let alone the growing threat to the universe, has built the show’s story arc up in a big way. This does make me wonder if going into Season 3 (when it finally does come out), if it can appease or satisfy many of us, who surely know that serious ramifications and consequences, may be on the horizon for Star, her parents, and the Kingdom of Mewni.

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And, that’s it!…for now, anyways.

It was recently announced that Star vs the Force of Evil has been renewed for a fourth season, and that Season 3 will start up sometime this year (either in the summer, or fall).

In the meantime, I hope to do some more Animated Dissection articles on Season 2, some of the show’s characters, and much more. There’s plenty to discuss regarding this season, plus, I’ve been sitting on an analysis piece for the character Toffee, for over a year now.

Speaking of much more, the Star vs the Forces of Evil comic book series is still in production, and I intend to review issues 5-8, once they are released.

Plus, next week sees the release of Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension. At over 160 pages long, I am already making plans to pick it up, and let you fine readers out there know what it has to say.

I just hope the book can shed a little more light on the world of Mewni, as well as some dimensions, we’ve only had a fleeting glance of.

Farewell for now, for we shall meet again soon.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 21) – Face the Music

The dual-segment episodes are over…now, nothing ahead (for the rest of the season), except full-length episodes!

With Season 2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil winding down, many of us are eager to see if a number of loose ends that we’ve been privy to, will be neatly tied up by the end of episode 22.

But, that episode’s review is for another day. For now, let’s dive into episode 21, the second-to-last Season 2 episode!

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-Face The Music-

At the behest of her Mother, Moon Butterfly, Star allows Mewni’s official songstrel to compose a song about her, for the upcoming Song Day celebration on Mewni. However, upon meeting him, Star has a few opinions about this royal tradition.

Meanwhile, Moon undertakes a small quest of her own, to find and retrieve the Butterfly Family’s spellbook, and Glossaryck of Terms. Her journey leads her to Lord and Lady Avarius (aka Ludo’s parents!), and some additional information about Ludo himself.

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The structure of both Star and Moon’s stories, almost feels like they could have been two separate story segments. However, within the episode, director Giancarlo Volpe chooses to intercut between the stories of Mother and Daughter, while giving them time together at the beginning, and the end of the episode.

For Star’s portion of the story, we find her trying to get out of her Song Day obligations, by giving the run-around to a new songstrel, named Ruberiot (voiced by Patrick Stump).

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Like most things that hint at her destiny as the future Queen of Mewni, Star tries to buck her obligations to work with Ruberiot on the song. Fortunately, the shirking of her duties, manages to not overstay it’s welcome in the overall structure of the story.

Ruberiot, for the small amount of screentime he has, manages to not be as much of a throwaway character as I had originally thought. Though he seems to be another in a long line of songstrels from Mewni, he soon shows that his views are of a newer generation, yearning to do things a little differently…leading to some interesting choices later on in the episode.

Marco does figure into the story, but unfortunately, he seems like set-dressing for most of it. I had hoped there would be a bit more for him to do, but I guess the writers may have been constrained by time.

To me, the highlight of the episode, is Moon’s journey into The Forest of Certain Death on Mewni, where she meets with Lord and Lady Avarius. We’ve seen evidence that Moon has been less-than-regal in her past, and to see her throw off her regal accoutrements and let her hair down (literally), is something that I and many others have longed to see for awhile now.

There were a few scenes in Season 1, that had me wondering about Ludo’s real age. He often seemed like a petulant child, given how he would whine and yell out loud, in his mad quest to get the royal magic wand.

Of course, given what transpired at the end of the first season, my first question is why Moon and River didn’t try to assist the Avariuses previously. However, in considering the affairs of Mewnians and Monsters, my guess is there is still a social divide between their factions, and Mewmans don’t meddle in the affairs of Monsters on Mewni.

The makeup of the Avarius family, reminded me a bit of the Gaunt household, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Though luckily, Lord Bludo seemed less likely to lay a wing on most who come to call at his door (though as some have pointed out, there may be an abuse issue that Lady Avarius may be trying to ignore, as seen by her right eye in the picture below).

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One of the more intriguing characters we are introduced to, is Ludo’s younger brother, Dennis. Of all the siblings that Lady Avarius names, Dennis feels like an important figure, that I am hoping to see more of once Season 3 comes around.

The overall theme of Face the Music, seems to be about telling the truth, and getting past the sugar-coating of certain elements.

The writing of the Princess Song, is a minor item in the story, that follows this train of thought. The songs for Mewni’s Princesses, are not meant to be anything more but ‘happy fluff,’ filling people’s heads with good vibes, but tiptoeing around more important things that the people of Mewni should know about their ruler.

Composer Brian H Kim, fresh off his music work on the segment Just Friends, brings forth a musical piece that attempts to be traditional, yet energizing for the younger citizens of the kingdom. However, given some of the content that Ruberiot sings about, I think I found myself cringing just as much as some of the characters in the show. This is not a knock on Kim’s music skills, but moreso the content of what is contained within Star’s Princess Song.

By the end of the episode, a lot has come tumbling out, and there is a tumult of emotions swirling around both Star, and Moon! It seems both Mother and Daughter, have dealt with secrets they felt they could handle, but unfortunately, the final minutes show turmoil engulfing both of the Butterfly women.

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from episode (said by Ruberiot): “Why did I drop out of lawstrel school? Goodbye, aspirations. Hello, flipping cornburgers.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Hugs!…he’s uh, he’s staring at us, isn’t he?”

Face the Music is the first full-length episode we’ve had since Bon Bon the Birthday Clown.

Moon Butterfly’s quest into The Forest of Certain Death, along with additional information about Ludo’s family, proved to be the highlight of the episode. I hope we’ll be able to get more information about them in future episodes.

Star’s Song Day storyline, feels a bit trite when compared to the more important stuff Moon is doing. However, it does show that she is willing to compromise, if she can find common ground with some people.

By the end of the episode, don’t be surprised if you feel a little uneasy for both Star and Moon (as well as Marco).

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Even though episodes 21 and 22 appeared back-to-back recently, I felt, much like with Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, it would be better to give each full-length episode, it’s own review.

However, you won’t have long to wait for my review of episode 22, Starcrushed. See you in a few days, when I give my opinions, on the final episode that Season 2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, went out on.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 20) – Collateral Damage / Just Friends

Here it comes. Every day, it draws nearer. Pretty soon, it will be upon us, and then, everything will go black.

I speak of course, of the ending of the second season, of Star vs the Force of Evil. Sure, the crew headed by creator Daron Nefcy is hard at work on the show’s third season, but we still don’t know when that’ll start!

Well, we got a few more episodes left until ‘the dark times.’ So, let’s review episode 20!

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-Collateral Damage-

While cleaning up trash around the school, Star accidentally destroys Otis, the school’s possum statue/mascot. At first, she doesn’t see what the big deal is, but soon finds that the destruction of Otis, has sent the entire school into a depressive funk!

Watching this segment, I suddenly found myself thinking: “when was the last time we actually had a full-on story take place inside Echo Creek Academy?

For the die-hard fans of the show, there are some callbacks/shout-outs to some characters we haven’t seen in awhile (even the snarky Brittney Wong has a few lines!), and a few more background characters are given a little screen-time.

Interspersed through the story, are remembrances of Otis the possum, as well as some humorous, historical flashback bits, narrated by Marco with a southern drawl.

This style of ‘reminiscence humor,’ feels strangely like some instances I’ve seen in episodes of The Simpsons and South Park. Even the over-the-top reaction by the entire school, seems to resemble the dynamics from the citizen of both Springfield, and South Park.

In a turnabout way, just as Marco became a ‘voice of reason’ to the students at St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, Star has her moments here, inside the walls of Echo Creek  Academy.

The overall theme of the story is about overcoming grief and loss, and we see Star has been trying to work through some of that as well (given her feelings about losing her family’s spellbook, as well as Glossaryck of Terms). However, just like in the story Brittney’s Party, we see how she is willing to set aside her own issues, and try and do what she does best: perk up those around her, who are having a not-so-good time.

The story feels almost like a reversal of the segment, The Banagic Incident, only instead of Star going off-the-wall, the entire school is, making her the only sane person left to talk some sense into everyone. That kind of storytelling can get pretty annoying, though unlike Banagic, this segment has enough momentum to keep it’s silly premise chugging along.

That pretty much becomes the story’s crutch: it’s a passably-okay segment that gives us a bit more history regarding Echo Creek Academy, but it feels a bit too off-the-wall at times.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): Ferguson! Alfonso! I haven’t talked to you guys all year, but you are always there in the background, doin’ your thing!”

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-Just Friends-

Star and Marco are eager to attend an upcoming concert, featuring their favorite band, Love Sentence! However, Star shocks Marco, when she tells him that she has invited Jackie Lynn Thomas to come along with them as well!

Even though Marco is getting along well with Jackie, he still feels nervous that he’ll find some way to mess up the evening. However, Star keeps trying to break him out of his funk, and make Jackie feel included in their activities.

It’s been awhile since we last encountered Jackie, and aside from a minor cameo in the story Mathmagic, this is her first full-on interaction with Star and Marco, since the Bon Bon the Birthday Clown episode.

The trip to get to the concert feels like it meanders, in trying to give us some decent entertainment value. The writers seem a bit too preoccupied in trying to make Marco uncomfortable, and throw all sorts of little things in his way.

A positive is that even after how we saw Star look at Marco and Jackie interacting in the Bon Bon episode, she still makes an effort to not alienate Jackie, and supports Marco’s attempts to be with her. I really love that aspect of the writers showing what an awesome friend Star can be. It was that same kind of characterization, that I felt made the segment Naysaya so good.

Though in essence, maybe the whole inviting Jackie to the concert, was Star’s way of seeing if she could handle seeing Jackie and Marco together? It should be noted that Star acts pretty excited about the whole thing, but maybe she’s trying to gauge her feelings about the two of them.

Of course, where most of the fans who watch the story will probably be most transfixed, is at the concert portion at the end.

Brian H Kim helps give us a new song by the group Love Sentence (with lead vocals by Nick Lachey, formerly part of the boy band, 98 Degrees), as well as a small reprise of one of their songs we’ve heard before.

Of course, it all leads to some moments that, if you’re an emotional person, may leave you unsure just how to feel.

Of the segments that have hit in the last few weeks, this was the one I was most interested in seeing. Sadly, it is punctuated with a fun opening, a meandering middle, and gut-punching ending. However, the beginning and ending bits, manage to override the middle, and pushed my final grade up a bit.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Oh, don’t be silly! I just wanted to be down here by the stage so I could feel their sweat spraying on my face!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz, in Collateral Damage): “Others just stare and wonder, ‘what’s a possum?'”

Well, that was a pretty okay episode.

Collateral Damage gave us a humorous take on school spirit, and working through grief. More kooky than dramatic, but somehow, it’s one of the few off-the-wall storylines that just clicked with me.

Just Friends looked to be laying on the drama regarding emotions surrounding Star, Marco, and Jackie. It elevated itself slightly above Collateral, but mainly on the strength of what happens in the third act.

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And with episode 20, we are officially out of 2-segment episodes for Season 2! Next week, we’ll get two 22-minute episodes back-to-back. There are still plenty of questions still unanswered so far this season, and we’ll have to wait and see if we get any answers.

The next episode I’ll be reviewing, is titled Face the Music, and it looks like Brian H Kim will be giving us some more of the good stuff, as Star will have a Princess Song made, and sung in her honor.

Of course, after the way Bon Bon the Birthday Clown was structured, I think we’re all expecting to find some surprises beyond just the song. See you all back here real soon!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 19) – Heinous / All Belts Are Off

Well, after the last episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil diverted into realms of storytelling that seemed to greatly concern the fate of the universe, this latest episode appears to focus on returning us to the Earth dimension, where Star and Marco have plenty to deal with on their own terms.

So, let’s get this party started, and dive on into episode 19!

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-Heinous-

Marco and Star are surprised to come home, and find Ms Heinous and her servant Gemini, talking with Marco’s parents!

However, instead of blasting the former head of St Olga’s with narwhals, Star and Marco consent to Marco’s parents request, to find an amicable resolution to Ms Heinous’ woes.

After her very brief appearance in the season 2 segment, Gift of the Card, many of us hoped for more in regards to Ms Heinous’ grudge against “Princess Marco,” for causing an uprising that brought down St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses (in Season 1). Fortunately, this segment manages to give us plenty of Heinous to entertain us.

Most notable during the story, is the tag-team dynamic between Marco and Star. A number of recent episodes, have given us stories that focus on them in separate situations, but here, we see some great examples of how well they can play off each other in a tense situation!

There is also a minor subplot in regards to the character Rasticore Disastorvayne, whom we last saw in Gift of the Card. Not much is revealed regarding his fate, but it almost feels like the information we are provided about him, may just be a subtle hint at another character’s fate…?

How Marco gets out of the situation with Ms Heinous, is a rather intriguing bit of writing, and in some ways, seems to startlingly reflect on some current social and political issues.

The writers even attempt to include a smaller, ticking clock subplot to move the story along (regarding some of the Diaz’s neighbors), but it feels like it wasn’t really needed, with so much other stuff going on.

The entertainment value of the story, reminds me a bit of the mind-bending bits in Mathmagic, crossed with the pacing of The Hard Way. Even with the rather unneeded ticking clock subplot, the return of Ms Heinous made for a very enjoyable story.

However, like most characters this season, Heinous still has some additional information being hidden away, that I hope will be revealed (soon).

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Ms Heinous): “That’s right, Princess Marco, I recognize you. Even with your super-cute new haircut!”

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-All Belts Are Off-

The Grand Master of the How to Karate video series, is coming to Marco’s karate dojo, and Sensei is tasked with selecting a student to represent the dojo for his arrival. Surprisingly, Sensei ends up selecting Jeremy Birnbaum over Marco for the honor, causing Marco to try and find a way to show Sensei that he may have made a mistake.

So far this season, we’ve seen Sensei appear in several stories, and have learned a bit more about the master of the local strip mall dojo. Sensei isn’t the most interesting supporting character, but at times, he does provide some humorous insights.

Most of this segment, focuses on Marco observing the rather horrible things that Jeremy likes to do for kicks. The writers try to make his ego and sick jokes humorous, but I rarely found much to laugh at. It reminded me of how the writers attempted to make the character of Rhombulus in the segment Crystal Clear seem funny, given his hair-trigger responses to things. Even there, I just grew tired of the antics.

Star shows up for a quick cameo in this story, but she doesn’t provide much more than a very small observation about what Marco is doing.

While I did try to find ‘the good’ in this segment, it just ended up reminding me too much of the segment, Crystal Clear. Stuff happens, yet the overall structure of the storytelling, doesn’t make me feel compelled to come back and re-watch it anytime soon.

I won’t lie, in admitting that the situation Marco faces, is very similar to something I encountered some time ago, and I can’t help but wonder if the writers may have experienced the same kind of ‘gloss-over’ in their careers/lives.

If there is a saving grace, it’s in some character interaction between Marco and Sensei. Sadly, I wish there could have been more of that, to bump the grade of this episode up a bit.

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from segment (said by Sensei): “I gotta stop learning life lessons from children’s shows. I’m still ignorant, in the ways of friendship.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Mr Diaz, in Heinous): “I can’t believe our son led a revolution, and we didn’t even know!”

Much like the last episode, this one seems to have one very entertaining segment, and one that doesn’t hold together so well.

Heinous brings about the return of St Olga’s former headmistress, and involves us in a rather intriguing storyline, where a dispute is attempted to be resolved through diplomacy, rather than violence. There seem to be some hints of future character and story development here, and I do applaud the more mature direction the story goes in.

All Belts Are Off returns us to Marco’s local karate dojo, but seems to meander along it’s path, before coming to the message at the end. It shows Marco realizing how he can be mature without being in the spotlight, as well as his relationship with his Sensei. Unfortunately, much of the story is dragged down by the rather unfunny things that Jeremy Birnbaum does throughout it’s running time.

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And with episode 19 of Season 2 out of the way, that leaves us with one more two-story episode, before we have two half-hour episodes to end the Season on! The first segment titled Collateral Damage, deals with Star causing some more chaos around Echo Creek, and trying to fix the damage she’s done. Then, in Just Friends, we get Star, Marco, and Jackie Lynn Thomas, going to a concert for the band, Love Sentence! Just what will happen with Marco and the girls? I’m just as eager to know as most of you! See some of you back here in a few days for analysis!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 18) – Crystal Clear / The Hard Way

While the last few episodes of Star vs the Forces of Evil have had stories that focused on Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz handling some problems of their own, episode 18 of the second season, zeroes it’s focus back on Season 2’s larger, universe-altering storyline.

But enough talk about doom and destruction, let’s dive right into our analysis of Episode 18!

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-Crystal Clear-

Late one evening, Star and Marco end up being trapped in crystals, and taken by a snake-handed creature named Rhombulus.

The over-reactive Rhombulus, brings them to Chancellor Lekmet of the Magic High Commission, on suspicion that Star, is behind the alarming draining of magic within the universe.

Just like the segments Running with Scissors and Mathmagic, Crystal Clear gives us some more insight into a few more members of the Magic High Commission (as witnessed in the segment, Page Turner).

Unfortunately, the segment’s focusing on Rhombulus and the Chancellor, proves to be one of the least-entertaining character explorations so far this season.

Rhombulus’ erratic nature, put me in mind of another crazy character we’ve seen earlier in the season: Mina Loveberry. Both of these characters seemed intriguing at first, but their stories just meander…and not like the intriguing ‘meandering’ that we get from a story with someone like Glossaryck of Terms.

The Chancellor is also a rather blase character. He’s in a high position of power, and yet Rhombulus is one of the only creatures that can understand him(?). There is a small addendum that Rhombulus is Lekmet’s caretaker, but it feels like it’s glossed over pretty quickly.

Star is the only other character, who gets the most conversation time with Rhombulus during the story. What is most interesting, is that when faced with a rather over-reactive being like Rhombulus, Star acts as a pretty calming ‘voice of reason’ (maybe this could be something she’s learned from being around Marco?).

In a way, the story feels a bit like Page Turner, in that we’re given some information that may make this story a bit more relevant in future episodes, but for now, it just feels like a lot of stuff is being thrown at us…boring stuff.

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from segment (said by Rhombulus): There’s nothing evil about Lekmet. He’s the most pure-hearted, hard-working angel/goat/demon there ever was.”

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-The Hard Way-

Now that Ludo has Glossaryck of Terms, and Star’s ancestral spellbook in his clutches, he is dead-set on learning how to properly use his wand. At first assuming he’s going to have to use force, Ludo is surprised at Glossaryck’s willingness to teach him!

It feels like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Ludo operating within the world of Mewni, and there’s quite a number of revelations to be had here.

When it comes to Ludo, Glossaryck has no qualms about teaching him magic from the book. It feels like there’s no strings attached, as Glossaryck gives Ludo plenty of positive reinforcement to his wand usage…though, is there possibly more to what the little blue man has in mind?

This story feels a bit like Crystal Clear in how it gives us little tidbits of information, though unlike that story, there’s enough ‘open space’ in this story, that the information we are given, ends up sticking in our heads.

We even get a little more information on Ludo’s past. We’ve seen scant information about his past up til’ now (with a weird little bit in the Season 1 story, Marco Grows a Beard), but the items revealed here, makes me wonder just how old Ludo really is. When you think of how he has reacted, he acts like a spoiled child at times, who just wants to be taken seriously.

The directors manage to do a lot with such a simple story idea, and it makes The Hard Way, very easy to go back into, and watch over and over again!

Of course, like most stories this season, the final few minutes are where the writers drop a house on us…and not just any house, but a 3-story mansion of eye-popping revelations!

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Ludo):” Oh, I’ve got plenty of taint already.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Glossaryck of Terms, in The Hard Way): “…You kiddin’ me?”

Both segments in this episode, feel like they are giving us some very important information going forward, though they each have their own ways of doing so.

Crystal Clear attempts to give Star (and us), some more information on the Magic High Commission, as well as what is going on in the universe, regarding the draining of magic. Unfortunately, the rather erratic nature of Rhombulus, doesn’t really make him as interesting (or endearing) as the last few High Commission members we’ve met. Star also seems to be included out of necessity here as well, but does show her ability to listen, and show compassion to those who are somewhat erratic.

The Hard Way ends up being the more interesting, and better-structured story of the two on hand. Getting to learn more about Ludo, as well as Glossaryck’s teaching ‘methods,’ ends up making the story just fly by. There are also plenty of new revelations, and one major bit of information, that definitely makes the story stand out in a big way.

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With episode 18 down, that just leaves 4 more to go for Season 2 (including two 22-minute stories at the tail-end!). Next episode, we finally get the proper return of our favorite club-cheeked taskmaster, Ms Heinous! Plus, Marco intends to prove his worth to his Sensei, against the rich and snobbish Jeremy Birnbaum. Word is these stories are both Marco-heavy in their content. Will that be the case? Come back in a few days, and we’ll see!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 17) – Mathmagic / The Bounce Lounge

And we’re back, to review another episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil!

Well, after the one-two punch of intrigue that was episode 16, let’s dive right in, and see what episode 17 has in store for us!

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-Mathmagic-

After accidentally creating a ruckus in class during Ms Skullnick’s math lesson, Star is forced to go up to the blackboard, and solve a math problem.

However, Star has no idea what she is doing, and decides to claim ignorance…but suddenly, finds herself stuck in a time-loop that refuses to end, until she solves the math problem!

This is another one of those ‘lessons for Star’ storylines, where Marco takes a backseat, and she has to figure out just what the heck is going on. And frankly, for being a story that seems to spend most of it’s time spinning it’s wheels and going nowhere…it’s pretty fun!

If you’ve read some of my previous Star reviews, you might have seen me mention that the concept of ‘time,’ is something that pushes my buttons (thank you, Back to the Future!). After seeing some time-related elements in last episode’s segment, Running with Scissors, Mathmagic provides us with another story about how time and space work in this series, beyond the norms of our own Earth realm.

With this segment, we also get the return of a familiar face, in the form of Father Time (last scene in the segment, Freeze Day), and, more information on a newer character, named Omintraxus Prime (voiced by Carl Weathers). Omnitraxus had a small cameo in the segment titled Page Turner, and just like Hekapoo in Running with Scissors, he gets an expanded role here, that shows just what he’s capable of.

Mathmagic could have easily been a throw-away segment, but the fact that we got some more information about ‘alternate universes,’ and a little more information on Omnitraxus, may mean there’s something here, to keep in mind as we move forward.

It does feel like there’s a bit of fan-service when we see several alternate universe Star Butterfly’s (among other things), but overall, it’s a decent story about Star understanding a bit more about how the universe works.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “What is happening, and why do you keep wearing these terrible hats!?”

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-The Bounce Lounge-

Star gets a visit from Princess Pony Head, who tearfully informs her ‘bestie,’ that their old hangout, The Bounce Lounge, is closing!

Wanting to save their old hangout, Star and Pony Head decide to get their old crew back together, in hopes to keep the party going!

Having seen a number of cartoon series over the years, it seems a given that sooner-or-later, a series will get to a story like this one, where a group of friends band together to save a place that means a lot to them. To most who watch movies, this will probably seem closer in tone to the main theme of The Blues Brothers (minus the Police chase at the end, among other things).

The story plays a bit fast-and-loose with Star and Pony Head’s past, as well as a number of their Bounce Lounge friends. Most of the story, is mainly them trying to get the gang back together.

Where the story trips up for me, is in regards to it’s payoff at the end.

Milly Sparkles (the Bounce Lounge’s owner), is the character that is largely throwing out little bits of information here and there about the lounge, but it is in her final revelation, that may make some ask, “why didn’t you just tell us ‘that’ in the first place?”

There is the rather grown-up message about how nothing lasts forever, and in a sense, sometimes, we may need to move on. That may not be easy for younger viewers to grasp, but for the older viewers (like myself), it’s something we’ve all encountered at least once in our lives.

Milly Sparkles’ voice is provided by Constance Shulman, which may sound familiar if you watched cartoons in the 90’s. Constance was the voice of Patti Mayonnaise from the TV show, Doug (both on Nickelodeon, and ABC)and Milly marks her first animation voice-over work, in over 18 years!

Another notable cameo, is the character of Johnny Blowhole, a dolphin who was first introduced to us die-hard fans, in the current Star comic book series (available at most comic stores near you!). This does make me wonder, if the Deep Trouble comic mini-series, is canon with the show (can anyone on the show confirm this for me? Please?!).

We also get some return appearances by quite a few other characters (such as Kelly and her boyfriend Tad from Goblin Dogs), as well as a much larger cameo appearance, by the pirate bunnies we’ve seen on-and-off throughout the series (though we still don’t have names for them).

The segment reminds me of a few anime I watched in my teens, where every-once-in-awhile, we’d have a ‘random dance party’ episode. Despite the somewhat lukewarm ending, it was fun to see Marco get swept up in the excitement, as the Bounce Lounge came alive again (thanks to Brian H Kim’s ‘sick beats’).

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Princess Pony Head): “What!? I thought that’s what you were thinking!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Mathmagic): “You expect the punch line to be one thing, but what you end up with is just logic. Classic anti-humor!”

Well, episode 17 wasn’t as wholly-entertaining as the last episode, but still, not that bad overall!

Mathmagic has some mind-bending fun with time and space, while also teaching Star a lesson about trying. The information Omnitraxus Prime gives about alternate dimensions (let alone the imagery we see about them), makes it a segment I’ve come to watch several times!

The Bounce Lounge fills itself up with that youthful vigor to try and bring life back to a place that needs a helping hand, though falls a bit short in how it wraps itself up in the end. Even so, it has enough good vibes and good will to get me to bop along to it’s catchy beats!

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And now, comes another couple days hiatus, while we wait for episode 18. Just like Hekapoo and Omnitraxus Prime, another character from the segment Page Turner, will be showing up in the first segment of the next episode, and it looks like Star is going to be taking a little trip with him. Plus, the segment after will hopefully answer a question many of us have had for awhile: Now that Glossaryck is under Ludo’s control, will he end up driving the crazy little bird-creature, even crazier?  We’ll see you back here soon, to find out!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 16) – Baby / Running with Scissors

Wow. Probably not since I decided to review the entire first season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, have I done another review so close to the previous one.

But, this is the world we live in, where new episodes are going to be popping up every few days, until we hit that magic Season 2 finale, at the end of February.

Well, enough chit-chat, let’s dive into episode 16 of Season 2!

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-Baby-

Concerned for her daughter’s magical training, Moon Butterfly sends Star’s fairy godmother named Baby, to have her evaluated.

Pretty soon, Star finds herself trying to make a good impression on Baby, while Marco is tasked with providing refreshments during the evaluation.

While I was entertained by Baby, I can see this story dividing some of the viewers, when it comes to entertainment value. My guess is some of the younger viewers might find it odd, while some of us who have been in the workplace for awhile, will get the humor in regards to Baby’s ‘interesting’ evaluation methods.

When it comes to characters, Baby is a strange amalgamation of cuteness, along with a facial expression that rarely belies what she is thinking, as she scribbles on her clipboard. Star’s father at one point calls her a ‘monster,’ but it’s hard to tell if she really is one, or if he’s just upset that she ate up his food (Baby has a bottomless appetite, that is used for comedic value in a few places).

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Big Bang Theory, than Baby’s voice should sound familiar. Actress Melissa Rauch voices this new character with a cutesy tone, that has a slight, ‘off’ quality to it.

This is a segment that seems to shoot right for the middle. It feels like an important story, and yet, it doesn’t. There aren’t a lot of major revelations, and it feels like a smaller piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle, as we hurtle towards the end of Season 2. However, the items we’ve been told here in Baby, at least feel a bit more concrete than the revelations we were given in last episode’s segment, titled Raid the Cave.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Baby): “…how do you think it should work?”

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-Running with Scissors-

Not wanting to take the laser-puppies out for a walk in the rain, Marco borrows Star’s dimensional scissors, and manages to get the job done without leaving his room.

However, he soon abuses the power of the scissors, and is accosted by Hekapoo, who is the forger of all dimensional scissors.

Marco’s attempts to retrieve the scissors, soon leads him on a journey…one he could probably never have imagined undertaking.

As a character, Marco is often a fascinating study for me. While Star has magic powers to help her out, seeing an ordinary human being like Marco thrust into extraordinary situations, is greatly entertaining. Plus, as we’ve seen in other episodes, he is not one to give up when obstacles are thrust in his way.

This was one segment that I had no idea where it was going…and where it went, was somewhere that just blew my mind!

When I first saw Hekapoo in the segment Page Turner earlier this season, I simply assumed she’d be a one-shot background character. However, this segment shows that she serves a far greater purpose in the world of inter-dimensional travel. Of course, I am now curious as to why she was included in the Magic High Commission’s meeting in Page Turner (I’m guessing that the forging of dimensional scissors isn’t very profitable, and is more of a hobby for her?).

Much like how some segments made Star’s acquaintances Tom and Princess Pony Head seem less annoying, this segment really made Hekapoo a palatable character in my eyes. She definitely seems to fit into the archetype of a demon or a trickster, with the task she gives Marco. If she had a human equal, I’d say she could be an inter-dimensional version of Star and Marco’s human friend, Janna.

Another fun piece of the puzzle, is that we get more backstory on just where Princess Pony Head got those dimensional scissors she gave to Star in the segment, Party with a Pony.

This is a segment I could see spawning so many fanfictions within the Star community, both related to Hekapoo, and Marco’s journey. We’re only shown a fraction of what seems to be a truly huge story, and that in itself, with it’s myriad possibilities, makes the ‘teaser’ that is this segment, so much fun to watch!

If it seems I haven’t given away much regarding this segment, that’s for the best. To tell much more about it, is to give away so many of it’s mind-blowing scenes (I’m still trying to come to terms with some of them even now). Coupled with Brian H Kim’s music, they still give me pause to ponder (especially the final scene!).

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Hekapoo): “You humans are lame times a thousand. Boop!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Running with Scissors): “Oh no. He’s gone scissor-happy.”

…whoa…this episode is that rare one-two punch where both segments make for a wholly-entertaining 22 minutes!

Baby continues to build up the show’s Mewnian lore, as well as give some more insight into Star’s abilities, and hint at what the future could possibly hold. The overall segment is not very strong, and while many can probably guess the outcome, Baby’s low-key evaluation methods provided me with plenty of entertainment.

Running with Scissors to me, is one of the highlights of the season. A Marco-centric storyline, that shows just how far he’ll go to prove himself, even if the situation may not be totally safe. Star takes a backseat in this story, but I think like myself, you’ll be a tad more entranced by Hekapoo, and her demonic wiles.

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Now this was an episode, that makes me eager for what the next one will bring! Episode 17 of Season 2, will feature Star having to deal with mathematics (and possible repercussions?), and we are going to be making a return visit to the inter-dimensional Bounce Lounge (last scene in Season 1). See ya real soon!