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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 8) – Curse of the Blood Moon

With the fourth season of Star vs the Forces of Evil counting down to the end of the series,the inclusion of full 22-minute episodes, often opens up the storytelling to a much larger, and hopefully deeper storyline.

One story that many of the show’s loyal followers fondly recall, is The Blood Moon Ball from the first season. There have been story-points that seem to have tied into that segment over the last two seasons, and it looks like we’re going to delve a little deeper into the Blood Moon with this episode.

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– Curse of the Blood Moon –

After a late-night meeting with Star, Marco finds himself wrestling with his feelings for her. Bringing this information to both Star and Tom’s attention, Tom confesses that it may be linked to the blood moon that cast it’s light on Star and Marco during the Blood Moon Ball.

However, being bathed in the light of the blood moon, may have also cursed Star and Marco. Seeking help from Tom’s relation Relicor, they descend into the underworld, to try and break the curse.

As in the case of some stories when they really want to play with a character, Star is amped up to “super-cute” levels of playfulness at times, and Marco’s desperation about dealing with his emotions gives voice-actor Adam McArthur some of his funniest work so far this season.

Tom’s inclusion in Season 4 so far has been quite striking to see, and this episode shows how the writers are keeping his emotional reformation going…though it does seem a little odd that only now after all this time would he confess that he may have cursed his two friends. The writers also work in his ancient relation Relicor, who is quite well-versed in the curse of the blood moon.

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Janna is once again involved, though seems to mainly be here to act as her typical no-help self, enjoying the torment and irritation that the others are going through. I guess it’s better than having Ponyhead along for the ride, abrasively criticizing everything and everyone.

Eclipsa shows up for what amounts to a minor cameo, though it is rather nice to hear her expounding some very sound advice about feelings.

What is surprising is the pace at which the story moves. It moves so quickly, that it doesn’t seem like we’ve been watching a 22-minute episode!

It is notable how much conversation there is in the story, though it feels like the show slows down a bit once we get to the underworld. There’s one bit I feel that could have been cut out, and maybe given us a few extra minutes at the end with Star and Marco. This was a good and entertaining episode, but it feels like it could have gone a little further, and become a great episode if they hadn’t stopped it where they did.

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Best line from episode (said by Eclipsa): “Feelings are worth feeling, even if they hurt.”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “Oh no…it’s too cute!”

In my personal opinion, I never really liked the attempts to make Star and Marco a couple. While many of the younger fans celebrated their fan-shippings of the two, I often longed for those early days of the series, when Star and Marco were “just friends.” Seeing them in that form of a pairing was what originally kept me coming back for more, and I do wonder where things can go from here.

The ninth episode of Season 4, will return us to our two-segment storytelling. With titles like Princess Quasar Caterpillar and the Magic Bell, and Ghost of Butterfly Castle, what does the show have in store for us next? See you next time for another review!

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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 7) – Out of Business / Kelly’s World

While the last episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil focused once again on Eclipsa and her trying to win over those around her, the seventh episode features some more intimate stories. We get a return to a previous locale, and the chance to explore a new one!

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– Out of Business –

The inter-dimensional store called Quest Buy is going out-of-business, and Star, Marco, and Janna go to see what they can find. Their journey takes them to the Quest Buy stock room, and into an area that holds great danger for impressionable young people such as themselves.

With it’s massive size, I often felt that Quest Buy could hold plenty of potential to be a place where big adventures could be had. As it stands now, it sadly seems my imagination went beyond most of what the show’s writers imagined for the place.

This is more of a “wacky adventure” storyline, especially with Janna along for the ride (though just how she is able to get to Mewni, we still have no clue!). She ends up being the kooky element added to much of the interactions, and this story seems to confirm she has an uncomfortable obsession with Marco (though if we’ll ever know why or how she developed this, is most likely never going to be answered).

This was an okay storyline, and I am finding these little diversions from the Queen Eclipsa storyline to be rather intriguing, as we get to see our characters just be themselves for most of the time. Plus, this feels like one of the few stories so far, where Marco can be a bit off-the-wall.

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Best line from segment (said by Baby Marco): “I’m Baby Marco and I’ve got wheels for hands! Wheeee!!!”

Final Grade: B-

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– Kelly’s World –

Marco decides to visit Kelly, and finds her home-world to be a dimension composed of hair-based creatures and environments. Seeing her feeling depressed, Marco decides to help cheer her up, and they go off on a journey to return a library book.

When she was first introduced in Season 2, Kelly seemed little more than a side-character, but as the seasons have gone onward, she seems to have become a favorite of the writing staff. We also see she’s not far from her ex-boyfriend Tad, who still seems unable to cut ties after finding a new calling in life. However, I find this minor story-point to be something that may ring true to the older viewers. It also ties into Marco wrestling with his own feelings in regards to Star.

Marco ends up being our guide to this world, and we get to experience it through his eyes. The Woolettes are a hairy-yet-violent people, and it ties a little into why Kelly has a huge sword she carries around. The episode reminds me a little of Marco and Kelly’s interactions in the Lava Lake Beach story from last season. It almost seemed like the two were an on-again/off-again couple, but the show just didn’t go anywhere with it.

We have seen Marco and Kelly work well together in some storylines, and this one was an entertaining one, that makes me eager to see if we’ll get some more good stories with them before the end of the season.

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Best line from segment (said by Kelly): “Yeah, it’s illegal in like, 12 dimensions!”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Unicorn Cake, in Out of Business): “Aw, don’t pay that no mind. It’s only raspberry!”

While I didn’t get the epic Quest Buy adventure I had hoped for in Out of Business, I was very surprised with the characterization and direction the storytelling took in the Kelly’s World segment. Much like how Ransomgram showed us a new environment and it’s world, the world of the Wooletts proved to be an intriguing new world to explore (if briefly).

The next episode gives us a full 22-minute story titled, Curse of the Blood Moon. The fandom has been going on-and-on(-and-on!) for 2 seasons about how the Blood Moon has made their “Starco” fanshippings a sure thing…but is it really true? See you back here soon for the next review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 6) – The Ponyhead Show / Surviving the Spider-Bites

This season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, feels like one of the first that’s had a pretty direct path regarding it’s storytelling.

Queen Eclipsa’s reign over Mewni is one of the larger stories, as she struggles to give the once downtrodden monster population greater freedom, while also having to put up with many who claim her to be pure evil.

This episode looks to try and do some things for her image on several fronts.

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– The Ponyhead Show –

Star attempts to help Eclipsa become better acclimated with the mewman population. Flying Princess Ponyhead has started a streaming show, and she is willing to allow Eclipsa to appear on it…or so she says.

When it comes to Ponyhead, she’s one of those characters that you either want to laugh with, or throttle. This is sadly one of those stories where the writers have put her in uber-abrasive mode, which just doesn’t work for me. We also get some reappearances of Ponyhead’s sisters, though they seem moreso there for background noise.

One of the few bits of humor, comes from a cooking show segment involving Marco and Kelly. There’s one bit with Kelly that is still giving me chuckles even after the story ended.

Star and Eclipsa are part of the main subplot, as they try to help Eclipsa find an angle that may make her palatable to viewing audiences. Eclipsa even gets to sing a song, with the melody and imagery ending up being one of the other saving graces of this episode besides Marco and Kelly’s bit.

Sadly, Ponyhead’s overpowering persona is what keeps me from really enjoying the segment, and it’s another case where making a character overly-obnoxious, just doesn’t push my buttons.

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Best line from segment (said by Kelly): “No no, I mean you did ruin wrestling for me that’s true but, you know I just walked around and dealt with it. Let’s go make some sandwiches, it’s not like you’ve never ruined anything before!”

Final Grade: C+

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– Surviving the Spider-Bites –

Eclipsa has an important meeting with the royal Spider-Bite family, but Star can’t seem to find her. With important alliances on the line, Star attempts to stall them until Eclipsa can be located.

There’s a certain vibe to the episode that makes it almost seem like a variation on last season’s Monster Ball storyline. From the monster castle environment to the dress Star is wearing, it appears to be another scenario where she is trying to act as a unifier. For much of the segment, Star carries the narrative. It’s not the best, but I do sometimes like seeing stories where Star struggles to make the best of a bad situation.

Much like Lake House Fever, this episode looks to give us more information on the lesser-known Spider-bite family. However, their characterization feels like just a small step-up from when Star and Marco encountered Rich Pigeon and his royal family last season.

There are a few interesting subplots about appearances and history, that ended up adding some twists and turns that were quite unexpected. There are some added historical revelations that came to light, let alone some questionable actions of Eclipsa’s, that may cast doubt on her truly being good for the kingdom.

It helps that this segment starts getting interesting at the half-way mark, unlike some of the more lackluster episodes that suddenly spring the good stuff on us around the 3/4 mark.

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Oh yeah, you cover up those dark secrets!”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz, in The Ponyhead Show): “I never got to show off my Dad’s recipe for tortas ahogadas!”

Well, one story killed by Ponyhead, and another that gives some intriguing mystery to Eclipsa’s character.

Next, we return to the inter-dimensional store Quest Buy (for the final time?), in Out of Business. Then, Marco pays a visit to Kelly, in Kelly’s World. See you soon for the next review!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 5) – Yada Yada Berries / Down By The River

After a more “intimate” episode, the fifth episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s fourth season, attempts to show us more of what is happening to the world of mewmans and monsters.

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– Yada Yada Berries –

During a breakfast get-together for local monsters, Eclipsa is almost turned to stone when yada yada berries are found in her oatmeal! Incensed by this attempt on the Queen’s life, Star and Marco set out to find the culprit.

The style of this episode is one of those “whodunit” affairs, with Star and Marco following leads, interrogating suspects, and looking for clues. While there is a little humor mined from Star being overly-dramatic at times looking for the culprit, the whole affair feels a little, ‘meh.’

It is during the end of the episode, that we get into some more storytelling regarding how the mewman population heavily distrusts Eclipsa and the changes she has been making. I wish there could have been a bit more focus on this part of the storyline. Most of the mewman population we see are in general “angry mob” mode like we’ve seen on The Simpsons. We do see Eclipsa making an effort to get to know the local monster population by having breakfast with them, yet one would hope she would attempt some sort of event to try and resolve the issues that the mewmans may have with her, on a more personal level.

An okay story at best, but one where it felt like there could have been a much stronger story to be told instead of the whodunit mystery angle.

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Lookin’ for some answers…and ah’m gunna get em!”

Final Grade: C+

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– Down By The River –

When a mewman family known as the Maizley’s find their house repossessed by it’s original monster-owner (thanks to a new decree by Queen Eclipsa), they set out to find a new home. Their journey leads them into the nearby forest, where they encounter (former Queen) Moon Butterfly, and (former King) River Johansen.

The episode wastes little time in turning this into an “annoying neighbors” storyline, as everything the Maizley’s attempt to do, soon begins to grate on Moon’s nerves. This is definitely a new side of Moon we haven’t seen before, but I would have preferred if the story didn’t get so heavy-handed with the “annoying family” gags.

The most notable bit of going overboard, is with the naivete of the Maizley family. They are totally oblivious to the fact that their former gigantic house was once owned by monsters, and the humor of them being unknowingly annoying at times, wore on me as deeply as it did on Moon herself. It was established early in the series that Mewni was not exactly a paradise for the non-royals, but this episode makes it seem like Moon Butterfly’s rule provided for the people, more than we could ever have imagined beyond the early depictions of the kingdom.

What did end up saving the episode for me, was getting to see Moon and River playing off each other. It is rare to see Moon lose her temper (or mind), and we also get to see some nice scenes of her and River cooperating, when the irritation of the Maizley’s brings them closer together.

It was also fun to see a monster from last season reappear as the house’s new owner. Plus, he’s another example of the monsters not showing any sort of malice towards mewmans (even going so far as to pack up the Maizley’s belongings before sending them on their way).

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Best line from segment (said by River Johansen): “You don’t suppose The Hookman got them, do you?”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Yada Yada Berries): “B-b-b-but I wanted to crack the case!”

This episode seemed to show us how things are changing for a number of denizens within the kingdom, though sometime not for the best.

In the next episode, we get the return of Flying Princess Ponyhead in The Ponyhead Show, and the return of another of Mewni’s royal families, in Surviving the Spider-Bites. See you soon for the next Star vs the Forces of Evil review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 4) – Ransomgram / Lake House Fever

Star vs the Forces of Evil‘s last episode, returned us to the planet Mewni, now being run by Eclipsa and the monsters who were once shunned by the Mewman population. With the fourth episode, we pull back from the larger storyline, and focus a little more intimately on Star Butterfly, and Marco Diaz.

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– Ransomgram –

Marco receives a ransomgram that his dragoncycle named Nachos, is being held captive by the Neverzonians. Star eagerly tags along for the journey, but is surprised to find one of his other-dimensional friends along for the ride: a warrior named Brunzetta.

The season 2 episode Running with Scissors, was one of the most mind-bending storylines the show attempted, when it was revealed how Marco quested for over 16 years in alternate dimensions, before returning back to Earth (aged 30 years, but in his teenage body). We were never privy to any of those adventures, but this storyline gives us a taste of what he encountered during those days!

Star is mainly along for the ride in this storyline, but it’s fun watching her fan-girl out to both Marco and Brunzetta (seeing her tongue-tied at times, reminded me of Gravity Falls’ Mabel Pines). Though it is rather strange seeing her almost like a child amongst the ‘more mature’ characters, she still manages to have enough power to hold her own in several of the battles we see.

Brunzetta is also a fun new character added to the show’s supporting players. She manages to trade barbs pretty well with Marco, and her skills during some of the action sequences are pretty sweet (though this will probably be the only time we’ll see her before the season ends).

The numerous action sequences, a new dimension and a new character, along with Star being humorously fan-girlish, makes Ransomgram one of the most entertaining stories so far this season!

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Abs dimension.”

Final Grade: B+

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– Lake House Fever –

Star spends an afternoon with Tom and his family at their lake house, but a dangerous storm prevents her from meeting up with Marco and his family. Star then spends time with Tom’s family, but finds his demon mother Wrathmelior…to be a little hostile towards her.

While we encountered Tom’s family (the Lucitor’s) very briefly last season, this is the first time we get to see a bit more about who they are in a less-formal setting.

There is some minor comic-relief in the form of Tom’s relations, notably with his great-grandfather, Relicor. It’s a little strange that Star has no idea who Relicor is, given that she dated Tom for awhile (I guess maybe that was before Tom got in touch with his emotional side and opened up more?).

There are also some revelations that tie into the end of Season 3, in some ways I didn’t expect. Star seems be caught in the middle of an emotional triangle, with her feelings for Marco, and also for Tom. The episode tries to get her to come to terms with her feelings, but it’s hard to tell if she has truly done so (she is a teenager, after all). It is also surprising to me, that the maturity Tom went through in the last season, has not been ret-conned! During the story, he handles much of their conversation about some past events, in a very mature and understanding fashion.

Despite the humor being a bit lackluster, the rather serious turn when it comes to Star having to confront her emotions, twisted the story in an interesting direction. Plus, it does make me wonder what the rest of the season has in store, when it comes to Tom and Star.

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Best line from segment (said by Tom): “‘Milkshake,’ is totally a word, Relicor!”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Princess Turdina, in Ransomgram): “Let’s dismantle the patriarchy!”

The next episode, looks to plunge us right back into the New Monster Order in Mewni, with the segments Yada Yada Berries, and Down By The River. See you soon for the next episode review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 3) – Moon Remembers / Swim Suit

After the first two episodes of Season 4 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, the series has now returned to it’s regular two-story-per-episode structure. The questing storyline is now over, and it looks like it’s time for the show to settle down, and see what the New Monster Order over Mewni has in store for Star Butterfly, and the rest of the kingdom.

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– Moon Remembers –

After being rescued from the Pie Folk, Moon Butterfly’s memory is still in the process of coming back to her

Star and Marco take both her Mom and (reluctant) Father to meet with Eclipsa, though Star is fearful of how her mother will react to the decisions she’s made in her absence (such as giving the royal wand to Eclipsa, and putting monsters in power).

Star and Marco take more of a back-seat to this episode, as does Star’s father, River (who once again is saddled with being “the comic relief”).

The highlight is seeing Moon and Eclipsa interacting again. It was Eclipsa who was largely responsible for Moon’s absence at the end of Season 3, and it was nice to see her try to make amends for what happened, even if Moon doesn’t know the full set of circumstances.

I welcome storylines that manage to slow down and show us character growth, and seeing Moon and Eclipsa together again, reminded me of some of my favorite moments from Season 3. I do also like that the storyline ends on a questionable note, as if not everything can be tied up nice-and-neat when it comes to some circumstances.

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Best line from segment (said by Marco Diaz): “What, I can’t say Globgor now? Glossaryck said nothing but the word Globgor for, like the last year!”

Final Grade: B

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– Swim Suit –

Now that they’ve found her mother, Star wants to spend a day at the beach with Marco, and Tom. However, things get put on hold when Eclipsa’s request to have Rhombulus free her crystal-encased husband Globgor, leads to the two getting into a heated battle in the castle.

The theme of this story seems to carry over a little from the last one, given that there is an expected maturity and decorum one hopes for in regards to Eclipsa being the new Queen…but Rhombulus is his usual stand-offish self, and dead-set against accepting the New Monster Order.

Marco and Tom are along for the ride, though mainly for minor comic relief. There are a number of gags involving Marco trying to find a pair of swim trunks, but this only gave me a few chuckles.

This story shows Star struggling to do something she wants to do, but finding herself trying to be the mature one in the situation between Rhombulus and Eclipsa. I found this to be one of the highlights of the story, and serves as a reminder that adults can sometimes be as immature as children (and young people can sometimes be the more mature ones in some cases).

We also see an interesting dynamic of Eclipsa trying to be reasonable, but also letting her emotions almost get the better of her. Plus, there’s plenty of new magic we get to see her unleash with her wand/umbrella.

Rhombulus is his typical bombastic self, though I was surprised to see the writers give him a few funny moments. There also is a tie-in mention to a Season 2 reveal, but along with most references on this show, I’m not expecting it to be anything more than just a little aside that will get lost in the season’s storytelling.

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Best line from segment (said by Rhombulus in Eclipsa’s body): “Why does my face have so many holes in it!?”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Eclipsa, in Moon Remembers): “Oh I’m sorry. I just got lost in a solo.”

Compared to the previous episodes, episode three makes me eager to see what the storytelling will be regarding the changes that will be coming to Mewni…and if Eclipsa really can be trusted.

In the next episode, Star has to help Marco deal with a Ransomgram from another dimension, and also spends a day with Tom and his family, in Lake House Fever. See you soon for the next episode review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 2) – Escape from the Pie Folk

The opening to Star vs the Forces of Evil’s fourth season, plunged us head-first into the search for Star’s mother (Moon Butterfly), while also showing what has been happening around Mewni since the revelations at the end of the last season. We were also introduced to a new group of Mewmans, known as “the Pie Folk.”

In Escape from the Pie Folk, Star Butterfly, Marco Diaz, and (former) King River now find themselves on Pie Island. As they continue their search for Moon Butterfly, they must keep their wits about them in regards to the duplicitous Pie Folk, and their ruler, the Pie King.

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After the more ‘manic’ storytelling of the previous episode, this one feels a bit more comfortable in how it is able to slow down a bit. It helps that most of the previous season’s recapping was already done in Butterfly Follies.

It doesn’t take long for Star and her cohorts to find trouble. King River seemed to hold some very strong prejudices against the Pie Folk in the last episode, and it seems in this one, he may not be overreacting.

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Like several of the folk encountered at the Pie Carnival, there are those that seem interested in either making pies, or squeezing every last cent out of unsuspecting visitors to the island. Plus, given the theme of pies, Star’s new outfit, and even the appearance of the pie king, I can’t help but wonder if some of the visuals were meant as an aside to the old 1980’s cartoon series, Strawberry Shortcake (the pie king looks a bit like the Peculiar Purple-Pie Man from that series).

While the search for Moon Butterfly is the main priority, there are some small subplots that keep rearing their heads.

At one point, Marco ends up obtaining a monkey to assist them, but it is anything but helpful. Unlike some of the recurring jokes in the last episode, Marco’s subplot with the monkey ends up being quite entertaining as the story goes on. Plus, the monkey ends up tying into a previous season 3 appearance that I had almost forgotten about.

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Speaking of previous connections, there’s several elements of the pie-folk and their lineage, that is actually covered in the Magic Book of Spells publication that came out last fall. Based on Star’s Magic Instruction Book, the publication chronicled the various Queens of Mewni, and certain revelations tie into what we find out here. I’m sure for those who have read up on their Mewnian history, there will be some excitement seeing how more of the show’s history comes to light within the animated series.

It is during the final third of the episode, that things get a little more emotional than I expected. Star not only ends up singing a catchy little song, but learns something about her past that was very much unexpected.

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Best line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “Our spirits are bonded!”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Don’t worry, you have a purpose on this mission Daddy, just not right now!”

Escape from the Pie Folk ended up being a much more satisfying episode than I expected, mainly due to it focusing on a central storyline.

The duplicitous pie-folk are good for a few chuckles, though it is the emotional elements that are enfolded into this story, that helps elevate it above Butterfly Follies. This is another episode where I wish that energy could have been more evenly-distributed throughout the episode, to make it more enjoyable.

The next episode of Star returns to having two segments. See you soon when we review Moon Remembers, and Swim Suit.