*Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode four of Willow*
Willow‘s fourth episode is its best, with a simple premise and superb execution. After Graydon Hastur (Tony Revolori) is possessed by the Crone while fighting Ballantine (Ralph Ineson), the group goes to Nockmaar, the former kingdom of Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) to treat Graydon’s infection.
To the surprise of no one, the castle is haunted, which means that audiences will be set to a game of cat-and-mouse with Bavmorda’s spirit, who has been tormenting Willow’s (Warwick Davis) group, and our protagonists, who currently have a hard time discerning what is real and what is fiction. And while there are a few predictable moments here and there, the episode is still tons of fun.
The action scenes and cinematography are, predictably, its weakest parts, so I won’t talk about those much because they repeat what was previously lacking in the last three episodes. But since this is a “dark” castle, and the cinematography was already murky to begin with, expect this episode to have even darker cinematography unless you turn your brightness up, which may not even suffice.
Regardless, the atmosphere is incredible. Graydon is about to be possessed unless Willow and Elora Danan (Ellie Bamber) take the demon out. You probably know how it’s going to go down. The demon will try to get into Elora and Willow’s heads, trick Elora into going to the place Willow told her not to go, and then be saved at the last minute by Elora finally showing her true powers. Once again, it’s all been done before, but how it’s directed is terrific.
Director Debs Paterson greatly understands what makes a haunted castle truly scary and plays around with those elements throughout the episode. A dark, haunted castle translates into claustrophobia. Put two characters in the same room, one disappearing out of the blue, and you’ve created incredible claustrophobia. This happens more than once during the episode and is always effective. The sound design is also outstanding, especially when Bavmorda’s spirit torments the group.
One of the episode’s best scenes is when Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) admits to Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Jade (Erin Kellyman) that, lo and behold, he did find the Lux Arcana but is keeping it to himself after it was “stolen.” It was never stolen. Bavmorda was messing with his mind. Episode three sets up Boorman as a lone wolf with a hidden agenda. And it would’ve been interesting for his arc to follow a “traditional” path, but episode four immediately subverts those expectations and reveals something to the main characters by having a spirit torment someone’s mind. That’s brilliant and the least predictable element of the show so far.
The “exorcism” bit is relatively conventional, but Tony Revolori’s performance is impeccable. He’s one of the most consistent parts of the show, and we even get to know a bit more about his past, which was handled well. It was revealed that, while being possessed by an unnamed entity, Graydon killed his brother (also played by Revolori), who was set to be the Prince of Galladoorn. That changed when his brother died, and it looks like their parents (Derek Horsham and Talisa Garcia) covered up the incident by making Graydon the heir of Galladoorn. That part of Graydon’s childhood may get explored in future episodes, and it could be one of the show’s best arcs if done right.
We haven’t seen much of Airk (Dempsey Bryk) in episodes two and three, but the end tag sees the prince in the Immemorial City. We get our first glimpse of what the city looks like — an abandoned, dry place, perfect for the Crone to do her bidding, while her minions are now set to kill the entire group and abduct Elora. Will they succeed? Or will they get killed by Elora, who is growing more powerful each week? Time will, after all, tell everything.
The fourth episode of Willow is now available to stream on Disney+.