[6.8/10] Like a lot of this season, there’s elements I like, but it’s all a little too disjointed to really come together as a satisfying finale. For one thing, the show goes overboard with plot twists and teases here, which becomes really distracting at point, especially when there’s a decent main throughline for the episode that gets bogged down in all the hints and twists.
Let’s just list them all out at once: 1. Big Joe is conspiring with Odval, 2. Zog is being taken to an insane asylum, 3. The mop girl is actually a wizard, 4. The secret home of the elves is underneath Dreamland, 5. Big Joe has the last page of the tome of kings that was missing from Derek’s copy, 6. Dagmar is trying to forcibly marry Bean off to the devil (or somebody sinister), 7. “The curse” on Dreamland’s rulers comes from a battle waged long ago between Bean’s ancestors and some other group (presumably the elves?). 8. The head of Steamland is spying on Dreamland (and presumably other locales) through their crowns, 9. Luci died and went to Heaven.
And that’s just the big stuff! I’m sure there’s other minor details here and there I’m forgetting that are nevertheless plot relevant. This season finale nearly crumbles under its own weight with all of that. Some of these developments are intriguing, and parceled out in a more judicious manner, they could be really cool. But they’re just spit-wadded at the audience one after the other to where they not only start to lose their impact quickly, but they crowd out the other things the episode is trying to accomplish.
Those seem to hinge on 1. Bean trying to be a different sort of ruler once she’s crowned and 2. Elfo worrying about the state of his friendship with her now that she’s the ruling monarch. The former is compelling enough, albeit a little stock. I like Bean trying to be a woman of the people and eschewing royal custom in favor of what feels natural to her and what she thinks really matters. Her willingness to forgo kegs of beer to repel the ogre threat is a silly but effective moment of growth for her.
I also like Elfo fretting about his standing with Bean after her ascension, only for her to stand by him as her best friend even when the ogres declare that they’ll leave if only she gives him up. It gives Elfo a nice chance to make the sacrifice play once their friendship is reaffirmed, and again, shows some character growth for Bean in her loyalty to her pals, even if it seems like they’ve mostly been jerks to one another up to this point.
I like those beats and the impulse to build the episode around them, but it’s also an episode built around twists and reveals that have little, if anything, to do with those stories in the immediate term, which makes this feel like a grab bag of an episode rather than something that puts a period, or even a semicolon, on the show’s third season.
The upside is that they were some good gags here. I like the return of Herman, the naysaying, Comic Book Guy-esque questioner of the rules who always seems to take a flaming arrow to the torso. The headfake and stacking joke there was nice. I also had a laugh at Alva spying on Dreamland through Bean’s headgear and remarking “Ah, The Crown, my favorite show.” Plus the return of “Shocko” the elf was a laugh. But those gags don’t solve the other problems at play in the finale.
Disenchantment’s biggest influence is plainly Game of Thrones, and there too, the show often found itself piling on so many new mysteries and hints and potential avenues for shocking new twists that they started to lose all meaning. There were plenty of twists on Futurama, the predecessor to Disenchantment as well, but they happened once or twice a season, not nine times in the same episode.
I enjoy a lot of the worldbuilding in the series and there’s some character growth in places that I appreciate, but it’s starting to feel like too much and too jumbled an approach to really work. My understanding is that the show is produced twenty-episodes at a time, so maybe, the first episode of season 4 will tie off some of these threads and make the whole thing feel a little more complete. But given how season 3 went, I’m not counting on it.