If one looks at the Kingdom of Mewni over the course of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s third season, it really feels like it’s non-maagical inhabitants have dealt with quite a lot.
Earlier this season, we watched as the kingdom was taken over by Ludo (under the mind-control of Toffee), with many of the inhabitants forced to accept his rule, or be levitated into the sky.
And now, just as some sense of normalcy might have been coming back to the kingdom, Eclipsa’s daughter Meteora has appeared. Destroying villages and draining mewmans and other creatures of their life essence, could this be the calm before a bigger storm rears it’s head?
Tied into the previous episode titled Divide, we now get it’s follow-up, and the final episode of the season: Conquer.
From the start of the episode, it feels like the first half of Conquer, is repeating several things that we saw during the last half of the previous episode. We have Star off in the Realm of Magic, trying to bring her mother home. Meanwhile, Marco, Tom, and several of their friends, are still attempting to slow down Meteora.
One surprise to me during the scenes with Marco and the others, was in regards to Tom trying to re-energize their group after the events at the end of the last episode. For much of this season, when it’s comes to charging into battle or standing up for the rights of monsters, Tom has been mostly silent…except on a few, special occasions.
Several episodes ago, there was an altercation between Marco and Tom (when Tom forgot Star’s birthday), and I almost expected a major fight to break out between the two of them before the end of the season. However, this episode makes it seem like Tom has been working on getting over his inner, emotional turmoil. He also surprisingly, comes front-and-center for a bit of this episode, making me wish that the writers could have given him a bit more to do overall regarding these last two episodes.
At the beginning of the previous episode, there was a hint that Star is almost in the same position as her mother was, in the earlier Season 3 story, Moon the Undaunted.
Just like that story, Star is looking for answers on how to deal with a dire situation. Her mother was a very powerful and wise figure…and now, it seems that Star is on her own, having to make some very grown-up decisions. What has been most notable about the episodes Divide and Conquer, is that Star is unwilling to repeat the mistakes of the past (unlike her mother, she is not willing to utilize Eclipsa’s magic to try and stop Meteora).
What is also notable, is a subtle bit of character-growth that almost whizzes under the eye of the average viewer, when Star attempts to repeat something we saw her mother do earlier in the season. Unlike Moon however, Star lacks the proper knowledge to do what she did, and has to make a major decision…on her own.
That seems to ultimately be the takeaway from this storyline, that this is another turning point in Star Butterfly’s growth as a character, on her way to one day becoming Mewni’s next queen.
Sadly, while I did enjoy the little moments of character growth with Star and Tom, they were used rather sparingly, in a story that seemed to meander quite a bit.
I often look forward to these 22-minute episodes, as they have the chance to tell a much more interesting story. The tone of these last few episodes however, has reminded me of the pacing of the episode Monster Bash. That story revealed some intriguing revelations about Meteora’s past, but wasted a large chunk of it’s time fighting Mina Loveberry, rather than focusing on the theme of ‘monsters’ that was part of that episode.
Speaking of monsters, this season looked like it was going to do some intriguing things with this sub-culture of Mewni, as Star attempted to try and bring more attention to them. I would have gladly welcomed a scene at the end, where Star’s faith in the goodness of monsters paid off. I kept waiting for Buff Frog and a number of ‘good monsters’ to suddenly appear near the end, and join in on the battle to stop Meteora…but that moment never came.
In terms of Eclipsa, she ends up having one of the more dramatic bits in the episode, and it almost saved the story. Sadly, her time here is fleeting, and what her actions in the last few minutes, keeps us on our toes as to what she may have in store for the next season, as the credits roll.
Overall, much of the episode’s layout and structure, just feels ‘okay.’ This is far from the emotional rollercoaster that the earlier season three episode Toffee was (and personally, Toffee is still one of the more solid episodes the series has given us!). There is definitely emotion to be had here, but the episode feels like it’s moving so fast through the more interesting stuff, that we don’t really get the chance to feel like it ‘impacts’ us in a proper way.
The episode also has a habit of showing us stuff that may or may not tie into things later on down the line. This is somewhat frustrating, because it just feels like more stuff we have to juggle in the air and ask ourselves: “did this-or-that mean anything in the grand scheme of this series, or is it just going to be something the writers will never address again?”
In the end, Conquer reminded me of a lot of stories I’ve seen so far this season: the kind of stories that tend to have a good idea and could definitely go deeper with the material, but feel like they just meander for 3/4 of their running time, before a lot of stuff happens in the last 4 minutes. At that point, the episode goes: “Whew…what’s gonna happen next, kiddies? Are you on pins and needles?”
Final Grade: B
For the end of Season 3 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, both Divide and Conquer felt like a storyline that was stretched a little too thin over 2 episodes. It was like they meandered on a very long second act, while jettisoning some nice balance and time for the first and third acts.
The opening of Divide where we see Star dealing with being the kingdom’s ‘acting queen,’ let alone the end in Conquer where things could have gotten more dark and intense, just didn’t hold enough to make me as excited, or eager to write about these episodes as I had hoped.
At this point, I will surely delve into Season 4 when the time comes, but I am a little less intrigued by where it all may go (plus, while the show is confirmed for a fourth season, there’s been no word on a fifth).
So far this season, we’ve seen Star show a progressive mindset in trying to change her kingdom’s culture. The season had a number of great opportunities to really make some deep, meaningful episodes about monster/mewman connections, but often squandered them on cheap laughs. For a season that started out strong with it’s Battle for Mewni storyline, I was definitely let down a little in the storytelling department here.
There’s definitely more I want to say after seeing where three seasons has brought us, but I think that’s best suited for a separate Animated Dissection post. For now, I bid you adieu.
With 19 episodes under season 3’s belt, here we are, at the second-to-last episode, and the first of a two-part story, that seeks to make this season go out with a bang.
At the end of the last episode, Queen Moon was severely injured, and disappeared through a multi-colored portal. With Moon gone, Star has now been made the ‘acting queen’ of Mewni, but finds it frustrating how everyone is looking to her for decisions.
With Meteora still advancing on the kingdom, Marco and Star’s friends try to slow her down, while Star attempts to try and find out what happened to her mom.
At the beginning of the episode, the writers try to balance drama and humor, as Star finds out that much of the Kingdom’s decision-making, was done by her mother…and without Queen Moon, most people are unable to think for themselves (making me wonder what happened with previous ruling parties).
While the stupidity of several of the royal personnel is a bit eye-rolling, it was intriguing to see Star reacting almost identically to her Mom in the earlier Season 3 story, Moon the Undaunted. Just like young Moon, Star is thrust into an awkward position of power, one that she finds herself struggling to work through.
It is also notable how Star is unwilling to take the advice of Eclipsa (who is partially to blame for Moon’s disappearance), or the Magic High Commission (who were found guilty of tampering with Mewni’s past history texts some time ago!). This signals a move that some would probably see as being foolhardy, but it seems that Star doesn’t feel like she can trust ‘the old ways’ of doing things. Much of this season has shown her trying to make changes to a broken ruling system, and this feels like another small step forward.
Most of Star’s time in this episode, is spent outside of the castle in the unnamed, paradise-like place she entered into in the earlier story, called Deep Dive. There is still the danger that Star could be sidetracked in her quest to find her mom, and the writers come up with a neat idea, on trying to keep her mind on her plan.
On the other end of the ‘divide,’ we have Marco staying behind on Mewni, trying to work on slowing down Meteora. This leads to the grouping of a number of characters we’ve seen him interact with over the season, as he attempts to put several plans into action.
While there is plenty that is good about the episode, Divide feels like it focuses a bit too much on gags in some areas, almost like in splitting the final story for the season in two, the writers had to ‘pad it out’ in a number of places.
One highlight is when we see Star and Marco talking over things before everyone splits off into their separate quests. Plus, we get to see how their fighting skills have improved over the last season. It’s probably one of the most productive conversations Star has in the episode.
Final Grade: B
When watching Divide, I couldn’t help but feel that many of it’s events, were largely just to set-up the events of the next episode. However, it does have some memorable moments.
Much like seeing Moon Butterfly in her younger days, we get to see Star trying to deal with being thrust into the spotlight as an ‘active queen.’ Her working through a number of emotions, helped make this story pretty enjoyable, though I was hoping for a little more drama during the second part of the episode for her.
Marco’s attempts to stop Meteora, helped give the episode some action, and prove just how ruthless Eclipsa’s daughter is (using magic-draining powers that may remind some of what Toffee was capable of in season 2).
Overall, if the episode had felt a little more ‘complete,’ I probably would have given it a higher rating. Still, it did prove to be entertaining.
And then…there was one left.
Come back soon, when I review the final episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s third season: Conquer.
Last week’s episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil, was one of those one-two punch episodes that I often long to see more of. The stories that give answers to some questions, and bring about some new questions, without going overboard.
This week’s episode was somewhat of a ‘grab bag’ of ideas, when I heard the plot for both stories. So, let’s see what we have to work with.
Upon finding a note left by Buff Frog saying that he is going away, Star and Marco are eager to find out where their monster-friend is. However, Marco steps aside on this trip when Star’s boyfriend Tom, quietly requests Marco excuse himself from the investigation, so Tom and Star can have some time together.
The absence of Marco from the story did have me perplexed once it got going, but then again, we haven’t really had a full-on Star/Tom adventure story (Marco already had one of those with Tom in Season 2’s episode, Friendenemies). There are also a few interesting moments in this story, where Tom may have some issues with Star and Marco’s friendship.
The revelation regarding Buff Frog and his decision to leave, definitely felt like it came out-of-nowhere. After promoting Buff Frog to the role of Royal Monster Expert in Starfari, I was seriously hoping that there would have been an episode showing Star and Buff Frog working to revamp the royal agency, but it seems that was something the show’s writers didn’t feel was worth exploring.
So far, most of the monster-related stuff has fallen on Star’s shoulders, with the events of the episode Monster Bash, seeming to be what pushed Buff Frog to leave.
As we also saw in Monster Bash, Tom has largely been on the sidelines regarding his girlfriend’s efforts to bring mewmans and monsters together. Surprisingly, he does actually seem to take a small interest in trying to get several monsters to believe that things are getting better in this story, but one has to wonder if he really is going to do anything in the future to work towards this goal, or if he was just saying those things to look good for Star.
There is definitely some emotion put into this story, and while I did like the writers giving Tom some more screen-time, there were plenty of places I felt the story could have been stronger in it’s execution.
Final Grade: B-
At the request of his parents, Marco returns to Earth, only to learn that his mom is pregnant, and a baby shower is taking place!
Realizing that he didn’t bring a gift, Marco and Star make a mad dash to Quest Buy, where they enlist the services of a magical painter, to make a portrait of Marco (on a very short timeline!).
Walking into this story, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a title like Marco, Jr. My first thought was that we’d see a return of the character Naysaya, though Mr and Mrs Diaz quickly explain where the title of the story comes from (and why they would name their unborn second child, after their first one).
I was pleasantly surprised when Marco’s Mom became one of the entertaining highlights of the story as well. Over the course of her time on the show, it feels like the writers have enjoyed steering Mrs Diaz to be the more thoughtful of Marco’s parents. Mr Diaz is made out as the more ‘kooky’ of the two, and even gets a few humorous lines here too.
Most surprising, was the story taking a sudden sharp turn, and going off on an unexpected story tangent! This reminded me of Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, where that episode’s title alluded to one thing, and then the subject matter went down a surprising path.
This was also another story where Star is there as a ‘supporting character’ for Marco. This proved to be quite entertaining, both in her proactive nature, and in her knowledge regarding just ‘who’ Marco is these days.
I am always up for a good Marco-centric storyline that proves to be ‘weirdly entertaining,’ and this one hit a number of the notes that made me enjoy it more than I had any right to.
Final Grade: B
I will admit that overall, this episode was pretty good, though definitely not as intriguing as the last one.
Is Another Mystery gave us a Star/Tom team-up that we hadn’t experienced before, but the subject matter felt like it could have used an extra episode of storytelling, to make the emotional moments really hit home.
I have a feeling some people may not enjoy Marco, Jr as much as I did, but I have a soft-spot for Marco-related stories, and the weirdness that was on display here, just worked for me!
Next episode, we see Princess Pony Head return to St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, in the storyline Skooled! Then, Star and Marco supposedly end up in a strange situation, in Booth Buddies. See you back here in a week for another review!
Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 16) – Butterfly Trap / Ludo, Where Art Thou?
Season 3 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, returned last week, with an episode that just felt…underwhelming.
This week’s episode however, covers two subjects that had me much more intrigued.
Join me in reviewing them…won’t you?
It’s finally time for Eclipsa to stand trial for her past actions. While Queen Moon and the Magic High Commission preside over the trial, Star is also on hand to watch the proceedings.
This is one of those stories where it feels like a lot of talking goes around, but buried within the conversations, is some interesting information. Naturally, the Magic High Commission proves to be just as ‘overly-verbose’ as they have been in previous appearances, and it is largely up to Queen Moon to wrangle them in.
One of the highlights of the story, is the Box of Truth being used for the trial. This definitely streamlines the storyline, and manages to provide just the right mix of drama and comedy.
I feel if the trial had been a bit heavier on the drama of the situation, I might have given the story a higher grade. However, I was pleasantly surprised and very satisfied, to find that this story actually managed to not only be entertaining, but dropped some very important information about the Kingdom of Mewni (information that may very well affect it’s future!)
My one hope is that the episode’s ending revelations don’t just get shoveled under the carpet (seriously showrunners, there’s some good stuff to explore here before the season ends!).
Final Grade: B+
In the wake of Ludo disappearing after the events of The Battle of Mewni, almost noone has given his whereabouts a second thought…except his younger brother, Dennis.
With a little help from Ludo’s former cohort Spider, Dennis soon tracks down his older sibling…but is not quite prepared for what he finds.
Near the end of Season 2, we were introduced to Ludo’s family. Not only was it revealed that he was one of several children of Lord Brudo, and Lady Avarius, but he was also ‘the runt’ of their dysfunctional royal household. Also, there seemed to be noone who really cared about him, except for Dennis (whom Queen Moon met in the episode titled, Face the Music).
I was very pleased to see that Dennis’ minor appearance at the end of Season 2 was not merely a red herring, and that he had quite a substantial role here.
As for Ludo, it seems that the events earlier in this season, may have pushed him a little further than many of us assumed he could go. As we learn what has become of him, the story manages to slowly build up the ‘creepy’ factor, and I think many people’s expressions will mirror those of Dennis during these scenes.
This episode felt more like a ‘learning experience’ regarding both of the brothers, and how their oppressive home life weighs heavily on their personalities. At times, this story reminded me of last episode’s The Bogbeast of Boggabah, only this story takes it’s ‘crazy character,’ and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with that plot-point.
The ending hints that we haven’t seen the last of Ludo, but I do hope we will get some more information on Dennis, and how this story may shape his future.
Final Grade: B
Well, compared to last week’s episode, this week’s two stories actually had me very entertained, and intrigued by what had been revealed!
Butterfly Trap showcased Eclipsa’s trial, which happened to be entertaining, insightful, AND set up some new questions as we barrel our way to the end of the third season.
Ludo, Where Art Thou brought back Ludo’s younger brother Dennis, and also showed us that Ludo’s psychological underpinnings may be harder to mend than we originally thought.
Next week, I have a feeling that the stories may not be as intriguing, but hopefully just as entertaining.
First up, we have Is Another Mystery, in which Buff Frog disappears, and Star and Marco attempt to find him. Next, there’s Marco Jr, where Marco ventures back to a place we never thought he would return to so soon: Echo Creek! See you back here in a week for another review!
Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 15) – The Bogbeast of Boggabah / Total Eclipsa the Moon
So far, we’re well past the half-way point for Season 3 of Star vs the Forces of Evil.
This season, much of the focus has shifted to the inter-dimensional land of Mewni. We’ve seen the Kingdom of Mewni almost fall, Marco Diaz is now living in the castle, and we’ve learned that the former head of St Olga’s, Ms Heinous, is actually Meteora…the daughter of former Queen Eclipsa…who is still alive!
Like many viewers, I am hoping we’ll get some revelations to some of these things before the season ends. But for now, let’s see what episode 15 was all about.
As Queen Moon continues to prepare for Eclipsa’s trial, Star wants to discuss the events and revelations of the Monster Bash she attempted to put on a few episodes ago. However, Moon dismisses her daughter, and King River decides that now is a good time to take Star on a quest…a quest to find The Bogbeast of Boggabah.
This is another one of those episodes that makes you think you’re going down one path, only to suddenly direct you onto a number of others.
When it comes to River-centric storylines, I’ve become a little bored with these “crazy king” type of stories. River’s antics here reminded me of the earlier Season 3 episodes Marco and the King, and a bit of the story in King Ludo.
We are shown a little more in regards to Mewni beyond the castle walls, as well as some of it’s forested areas and those who dwell within, but sadly, much of the story just feels like a big distraction from a much better story between Star and Moon.
Boggabah tries to be humorous with River’s antics and Star’s frustrations, but I found myself being moreso on Star’s side of wanting to just get back to the castle. The story also throws in a new costume change for Star, but even that new addition to her wardrobe can’t seem to shake my feelings that this story just felt like another throwaway episode.
Even the tacked-on moral at the end, just didn’t have much weight to it.
Final Grade: C+
Queen Moon continues to research former Queen Eclipsa’s history, but upon consulting with Eclipsa over records in the castle…finds that they seem to have been tampered with.
Eclipsa then requests they sneak into the Royal Archive in the Bureaucracy of Magic, to look for more information…a move that puts Moon on edge!
Unlike adventures with King River, it feels like almost every journey Queen Moon goes on, is another way to learn more about this (supposedly) proper figure.
The journey also manages to reveal more secrets regarding the Butterfly family, as well as the Bureaucracy of Magic. Plus, we finally have a name for Eclipsa’s monster-husband!
The interaction between Moon and Eclipsa, reminded me a bit of seeing Moon interact with Buff Frog earlier this season. In both situations, she started out seeming uneasy around this other figure, but softened towards them as more things were revealed.
It’s not a very strong story, but it has moments along it’s meandering journey, that made it more memorable than Bogbeast. Plus, it provided clues that I feel will actually lead onto future revelations within the series.
Final Grade: B-
This feels like the second time this season where we’ve returned from hiatus, with an episode that has a rather blase first part, and a semi-intriguing second part.
What was most notable, is that the stories tied into a specific time-frame, showing how Star and River went on one adventure, leaving Moon and Eclipsa to have one of their own. However, I feel that Moon got more out of her adventure than Star did.
There also was the observation that both Star and Moon are the frustrated ones in their stories, paired up with someone who is a bit off-the-wall, and they come out the other end of the story, having learned something. In the end though, it is Moon’s journey that proves to be the more memorable one, and Star’s just feels forgettable.
Over the three seasons, we’ve only had a few times where Star and her mother actually had episodes where they got to interact more as mother and daughter. I am hoping maybe with some revelations coming around the bend, we’ll get that dynamic back before the end of the season.
Well, this episode was just okay…but I’m really looking forward to the next one!
Next episode, Eclipsa is finally put on trial before the Magic High Commission, in Butterfly Trap. Then, in Ludo Where Art Thou, the little despot’s younger brother Dennis, goes on a quest to find his missing relation. See you back here real soon!