“Beyond the Shattered Sea” takes a long while to get nowhere, finding exactly the wrong time for so much exposition and sped-up character work.
This recap of Willow Season 1 Episode 7, “Beyond the Shattered Sea”, contains spoilers.
Hot on the heels of what was probably the best episode of the season, “Beyond the Shattered Sea” splurges all that newfound goodwill on a penultimate chapter that goes nowhere and takes ages to get there. Some expositional worldbuilding and a couple of semi-important character moments notwithstanding, there’s little here that wouldn’t have been improved by the continued presence of Christian Slater and the fun, swashbuckling energy of Willow Season 1, Episode 6. What we get instead is a featureless dreamscape interspersed with a relatively pointless subplot involving Airk and his new friend, “Lili”.
Willow Season 1 Episode 7 Recap
On the one hand, I get it. Willow has often deviated on what essentially amount to little side quests, and doing so, has left a lot of important characterization by the wayside. “Beyond the Shattered Sea” attempts, pretty artlessly, to account for that missing material by cramming it all into an hour. So, we get Elora’s magical tutelage on fast-forward, Kit and Jade’s relationship sped-up to second base, a neat sort-of ending to whatever’s going on between Elora and Graydon, Willow’s anxieties over his daughter and his past and his reputation as a great sorcerer despite not being one, and Elora finally vocalizes the fact that she knows the story ends with her death in the Immemorial City because she has seen it first-hand courtesy of the Crone.
Having listed all that, you don’t need me to explain why it’s a bad thing it’s all stuffed in one episode, let alone the penultimate one, and the pace has to slow to a crawl to accommodate it. It sets the stage for the final conflict – or the appearance of one, anyway, since I highly doubt Disney will settle for a single season – but it does so by reminding us how mediocre the show has been throughout its run.
Anyway, as mentioned, we also check in with Airk for a meaningful length of time, but to what end? He enjoys a tentative, then flirty, then slightly aggressive relationship with Lili, during which it becomes obvious to the audience way before it becomes obvious to Airk that she is in fact the Crone. She doesn’t come right out and say it, but the implication is pretty clear. But what’s the point of this? Is the Crone temping Airk to the dark side? Is some unseen portion of this little story integral to the changed version of Airk we see at the very end, dressed in leather armor with a new haircut? One assumes so, but it isn’t especially clear.
I did like the first transition from the Airk stuff back to the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, though, with him looking into that festering amber pool and seeing Kit floating in there, right where we left her. As predicted, Elora is able to pull her free with magic, and the full gang traipses to the edge of the Shattered Sea, which isn’t so much an actual sea as the silty remains of one, but nevertheless they must voyage through and beyond it, and since they’re all knackered from trifling with the trolls, they stop off at a cabin that is mysteriously lurking at the Sea’s edge.
This is a bit pointless as well, mostly an excuse to include a bit of eccentricity and leave the characters in place for long enough that the Gales can attack them. As the group flees on a strange vessel pulled by something called a mudmander, we get our only proper action sequence of the episode, hamstrung a little bit by the frustration of Boorman not using the Kymerian Cuirass and the Lux Arcana because he’s worried they might not work (read: waiting for a big moment in the finale). Graydon also suddenly realizes he’s a wizard, which absolutely comes out of nowhere when he starts flinging spells from his flute, and mostly left me distracted and a little confused.
But, yes, Graydon is a wizard now, and when he’s not creepily bonding with the mudmander – he names it “Kenneth”, after the protagonist in a romantic farce he’s writing (and apparently starring in) – he’s training with Elora. Willow works with them both since the script simply can’t decide if he’s a useless, lucky farmer or an actual sorcerer, and Kit and Jade take the time out to do their own training which is absolutely laden with sexual tension.
The biggest moment of the episode comes from an unlikely source: Kit. When Graydon lets the mudmander go, they’re forced to walk, and they keep doing so until they reach the edge of the Sea, a cliff that drops off into bottomless nothingness. Here, everyone has just about had enough, and they all say as much, but Kit keeps Elora on the straight and narrow with a nice speech. Together, they plunge off the cliff and emerge together on the outskirts of the Immemorial City, which is where they encounter the new, spruced-up version of Airk.
So, we’re almost there, folks, though it’s difficult to know what the finale has in store. Based on this outing, I’m not too hopeful, but you never quite know.
You can stream Willow Season 1 Episode 7, “Beyond the Shattered Sea”, exclusively on Disney+.