Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bean embarks on adventure for immortality (and Elfo) on a rollicking Disenchantment

Elfo, Porky, Bean, Luci, and Big Jo
Elfo, Porky, Bean, Luci, and Big Jo
Image: Disenchantment (Netflix)
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This season, Disenchantment has done a good job of introducing macro serialized elements without much labored narrative table setting. First, there’s Zøg’s quest to drain Elfo of blood for the Elixir of Life, which the show has mostly treated as a background gag but now has returned for a full-fledged storyline. Then, there are the shadowy figures from the faraway land that sent Luci to torment Bean, but also clearly have bigger fish to fry. Finally, the series has introduced minor characters—Big Jo, the creepy exorcist, and Gwen, the formerly cursed witch whose candy house was destroyed in “Chapter V”—that return to facilitate a quest. Though Disenchantment’s stand-alone episodes have been hit or miss, not uncommon for a freshman series, they have succeeded in building out a world with characters and ideas are not soon forgotten.


In “Chapter VIII: The Limits of Immortality,” Elfo has been kidnapped by a mysterious Hay Man just when Odval and Sorcerio have discovered that the Elixir of Life requires a special vial called the Eternity Pendant. Zøg sends the kingdom’s knights on a quest for the vial, and Bean and Luci tag along to find Elfo, who’s clearly a low priority for the rest of the search party. Their expedition leads them to many exotic locations: First, Gwen’s new candy condo, where she reveals that the spellbook that Odval and Sorcerio found belonged to her ex-husband Malfus, who became obsessed with making the Elixir of Life; second, Malfus’ hideout in the Devil’s Snowcone, where he reveals that immortality is a curse that destroyed his marriage, which prompted him to throw the Eternity Pendant over The Edge of the World; and finally, the Edge, where a griffin (half-bird, half-man, half-lion), the last female of their kind, explains he traded the vial to the king of the Lost City of Cremorrah.

The boondoggle of a quest lives and dies by the different figures the search party meets along the way, and thankfully, they’re all pretty funny and compelling. Malfus’ oddball loneliness registers comedically and emotionally; his hermit nature has ironically rendered him ineffective at keeping out visitors (his two-party Cave of the Single Trap can only stop a maximum of two people) but has also taught him that death makes life worth living. As he explains, when life is endless, so is everything else. Meanwhile, the griffin is one of Disenchantment’s best creatures so far, a strangely regal creature that bemoans that her people are going extinct because men don’t want to fornicate with giant birds anymore. It’s a pitch-perfect idea executed succinctly. Plus, the griffin is in luck: Sorcerio is totally down to fornicate with that giant bird/lion/woman.

At the Edge, it’s revealed that Big Jo was the one who kidnapped Elfo and has been following the search party the entire time to find the location of the vial. Jo takes off with Bean, Luci, Sorcerio, and the griffin hot on their trail, but after a failed attempt to take down Jo’s carriage, Bean and Luci are thrown in the hold of cargo ship with Elfo. They eventually find the Lost City of Cremorrah underneath a desert and Jo explains how Cremorrah fell into decline: Cremorrah, a wealthy kingdom with a snake-based economy, was attacked by Maru, a neighboring kingdom with a mouse-based economy, with a magical potion that turned all of its inhabitants into stone. The various absurd mythologies in Disenchantment have frequently bled together, but the Cremorrah-Maru debacle holds interest, if only because the idea of a mouse-based economy toppling a snake-based economy with magic is just the right kind of silly.

Plus, Maru clearly has influence and power far beyond their own walls. “Chapter VIII” reveals that the shadowy figures are Emperor Cloyd and the Enchantress of Maru, and they have dispatched a stealthy assassin solely to make sure the Eternal Pendant doesn’t end up in the hands of Jo. When Bean, Luci, and Elfo escape with the Pendant and bury Jo in the Cremorrah forever (or until he returns; after all, he escaped that volcano with only a severed hand), Cloyd and the Enchantress are overjoyed that their plan is coming to fruition. Immortality drives people mad and can bring civilizations to their knees, so it’s possible Maru is exploiting Zøg’s desire for immortality to bring Dreamland to its knees. After all, he is blind to what’s precious before him. Only time will tell.

Stray observations

  • On Disenchantment Signage: 1. “Edge of the World: Home of the Fading Shriek”; 2. “Yodel At Your Own Risk”; 3. “Welcome to the Lost City of Cremorrah: Formerly the City of Cremorrah”; 4. “The Estates at Fire Lake: A Retirement Coven”
  • The griffin saves Bean, Elfo, and Luci from being swallowed by the desert, and it’s clear that he and Sorcerio had sex in the interim period.
  • Sorcerio may not have cracked the Elixir of Life, but he did make a shampoo that makes any animal laugh. He gifts Malfus with a laughing horse, and though he’s initially delighted, he soon becomes irritated by his presence. “You know, I’m profoundly lonely, but I think you should leave.”
  • “You know how hard it is being a father without a mother doing all the work?”
  • “Is it cultural appropriation to wear a beak?”
  • “Send all the knights on a quest for the vial. Cancel all other quests. We’ll find the one true god next year.”
  • “Entertainment is just a tool that pacifies the masses and leads to the decay and ultimate collapse of civilization. Let’s clap along.”

Vikram Murthi is a freelance writer and critic currently based out of Brooklyn.