The creators of Galavant were so pleasantly surprised to be given a second season they titled its first episode “A New Season ... AKA Suck It Cancellation Bear.” Unfortunately, season two, which wraps up Sunday, hasn’t made much of a case for season three. But it could have, and should have, done just that. Instead, it all went wrong.
The biggest problem is that most of the characters spent the entire season feeling completely frustrated. Galavant, desperate to get back with Isabella, was saddled with the well-meaning but clueless Richard as his traveling companion. Isabella was held prisoner first by her own parents, then by her wedding planner’s mind-control scheme. She also spent most of the season thinking Galavant had dumped her. Gareth struggled with his budding feelings for Madalena, unsure of how to express himself. Sid flailed trying to fit in, like, anywhere. And so on.
Traditionally, fairy tales—which the show both embraces and makes fun of—are about overcoming incredible obstacles, impossible quests, etc. But when everyone is annoyed all the time, there’s precious little room for anything other than jokey asides—especially when you have to squeeze a few song-and-dance numbers, and a guest star or two, into each 30-minute show.
Which was its own issue. Just like season one, ABC aired two Galavant episodes back-to-back each Sunday. Why not structure the show as full hour instead? Season two’s final episodes take place during a climactic battle that finally unites all of the characters. (Yes, there’s a joke about how the storylines barely converged all season.) The episodes flow together almost seamlessly. This really highlights how the show could benefit from pacing that doesn’t feel so frantic. And while Galavant is a parody, it’s at its best when being propelled forward by a plot we actually care about. Richard realizing on the battlefield that he has what it takes to be a good king ties season one to season two, and gives us a much better reason to care about his character than, say, the fact that he’s only recently lost his virginity. Or his pet dragon, though the (obvious) twist with that subplot was actually pretty great.
Finally, why did the show wait until the end of the season to embrace the scarier side of fairy tales? Wormwood’s tempting of Madalena to the “dark, dark evil way” was fantastic, especially after it seemed like she might be softening with Gareth in her corner. She’s always been evil... but now she’s dark, dark evil. If by some miracle the cancelation bear is beaten down again, and Galavant returns, it should skew spookier. Way spookier. Galavant’s zombie army proved that the show can still have great fun while being ghoulish, and that it doesn’t need to rely on the promise of a happy ending to drive its plot forward.
Images: Stills from Galavant episode 209, “Battle of the Three Armies” (ABC/Nick Ray)