Willow season 1 episode 6 recap – who betrayed Madmartigan?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: December 28, 2022 (Last updated: January 26, 2024)
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Willow season 1 episode 6 recap -


Christian Slater enlivens a fun hour of Willow as the show seems to be finally finding its feet.

This recap of the Disney+ series Willow season 1 episode 6, “Prisoners of Skellin”, contains spoilers.

If my memory serves me, Airk has only appeared in Willow once since he was kidnapped way back in the premiere, and it was in a brief stinger at the end of Episode 4. I raise this since he shows up again at the start of “Prisoners of Skellin”, still wandering the same, ruined Immemorial City, being tempted by the voice of the Withered Crone. It’s a reminder that this show is ostensibly about him, or at least about a quest to rescue him. But we’ve seen him so infrequently, and the plot has busied itself with so many other things, that these few minutes — few seconds, even — feel like director Philippa Lowthorpe trying to reassure us that there is still a point to all this while we busy ourselves with other things.

Willow season 1 episode 6 recap

Namely, in Episode 5, Kit and Willow were kidnapped from the Bone Reaver camp by trolls, separated from the rest of the group, and suspended in a spiky iron cell that hangs high above a possibly bottomless pit. The trolls’ costumes and makeup might leave a little to be desired — though I’m a fan of their idiosyncratically posh voices — but their lair, the wide shots of which I’m sure are sprung to life by a computer, is exactly the kind of place you’d imagine trolls living, all rickety wooden bridges, buckets on chains, magma fissures, and screams of torment.

Kit and Willow find themselves imprisoned next to a verbose bloke with an eyepatch who claims, initially, to be Madmartigan, but is visibly Christian Slater. As we come to learn, his name is really Allagash, one of the hunting party who accompanied Madmartigan when Queen Sorsha sent him to find the Kymerian Cuirass. He has been pretending to be Val Kilmer for years, but his deceit makes clear that the episode is going to at least in part be about Madmartigan, and he does indeed turn up at the end in a sense, but we’ll get there soon.

Allagash claims that Boorman‘s story about Madmartigan’s betrayal was technically true, only it was Boorman who was the betrayer. Now, admittedly, a man pretending to be someone else while languishing in troll prison isn’t the most trustworthy, but Kit and Willow have no choice but to team up with him to facilitate an escape while Boorman, Graydon, Elora, Jade, and Scorpia try to facilitate a rescue. Remember, Boorman claimed to have “slaughtered” all the trolls during his escape from Skellin in the first place, which the flashbacks at the time proved he was lying about, so he makes a comically unreliable leader as he attempts to lead the gang through passages he can’t remember while avoiding trolls he didn’t actually kill.

Elora also struggles mightily with the setting, in part because she’s scared of heights, but also because both she and Cherlindrea’s Wand have a bad reaction to the bubbling pools of the amber elixir that the Withered Crone has taught the crones to brew in exchange for their services. She’s basically keeping them all strung out on the stuff so they do her bidding, and the liquid seems to be the same substance that was leaking out of Ballantine and Gradyon during their possession. In other words, the stuff is integral to the Crone’s operations.

Both parties are heading for Wiggleheim’s Tomb, the hidden treasure vault of a Nelwyn adventurer which is supposedly the resting place of the Cuirass. He’s also a bit of a prankster, since his tomb is locked behind secret levers and a set of riddles, and this bunch hasn’t exactly proven themselves the smartest. Boorman and Allagash are too busy fighting, Willow is sulking with Elora for losing Cherlindrea’s Wand, and Graydon, who is smart, is missing after being led away by some trolls to attend to a spillage on Triton level, whatever that means (the gang all entered the Dread Mines of Skellin in disguise, so the trolls think he’s one of them.)

When the tomb is finally opened thanks to Jade and Elora, both Allagash and Boorman sprint inside and start fighting over the loot like children, while Kit, drawn to the golden glow of the riches, heads inside alone and is confronted with Madmartigan’s sword. When she picks it up, she hears her father’s voice (provided by Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley’s real-life son, Jack). He implores her to help him, but knowing she’d be sacrificing her life if she tried to, Jade and Elora pull her to safety as the tomb collapses around them. When they emerge outside, Allagash has stolen both the Cuirass and the Lux Arcana.

On the way out we finally get a bit of action with the trolls in a scene that also — very coincidentally, it must be said — reunites the group with Graydon. Allagash returns wearing the Cuirass, which apparently isn’t working, to buy the others time to escape in an unearned heroic self-sacrifice, telling Kit as she leaves that Madmartigan went into the tomb to fight whatever was down there so that she and her brother could protect what’s really important — Elora Danan.

Kit doesn’t take this well. Ruby Cruz does good work here lending some genuine emotion to what might be perceived as needless antagonism from the script alone. Kit has always been unreasonably hostile to Elora, and to everyone, really, but here we get a glimpse of why; how she has always felt that her father picked his responsibilities to the chosen one over his daughter time and time again. And how, even now, when she heard his voice and had the opportunity to potentially save him, she was once more pulled away by the focus on Elora. But it’s the wrong time for this confrontation since Elora’s frayed emotions are collapsing the mine around them, and during the argument, a falling stalactite crashes through the solid amber beneath Kit’s feet and plunges her into a river of the trolls’ elixir. The hole closes above her, and as the others try to break through, she seems to drown as Elora picks up Cherlindrea’s Wand, which has — again, conveniently — fallen right at her feet. Whether Elora manages to break through and save Kit is left as a cliffhanger, since we cut away to Airk again.

Airk, exhausted and thirsty, drinks from a pool that looks a lot like the ones in the mines, and is lured by a soft voice to an imprisoned young woman (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, of Game of Thrones) who asks him if he’s going to let her out. The deliberately anachronistic ending song is The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”

You can stream Willow season 1 episode 6, “Prisoners of Skellin”, exclusively on Disney+.

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