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Disenchantment closes out its first season with a major betrayal and a destructive cliffhanger

Illustration for article titled Disenchantment closes out its first season with a major betrayal and a destructive cliffhanger
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“Chapter X: Dreamland Falls” is an episode whose power derives from the knowledge that Disenchantment is playing a card that can only be dealt once. It’s not just an “all hope is lost” finale, but it’s also an “every character is either dead, doomed, or lost” finale. Disenchantment exists in a world where death isn’t really final for everyone, but nevertheless, “Chapter X” ends on a particularly dour note. A major betrayal precipitates the fall of a once mighty kingdom. A family has been torn apart. An entire civilization has become frozen in time. No one truly knows why, and numerous answers have yet to be revealed. It’s a cliffhanger by way of The Empire Strikes Back.


Of course, that isn’t how the episode starts out. It begins happily enough, in fact. Queen Dagmar has returned to Dreamland after a 15-year absence thanks to the Elixir of Life. Zøg throws a huge celebration befitting his queen. Dagmar initially brings some stability and class to the kingdom. She even decides to hold a funeral for Elfo, and everyone in Dreamland somberly attends. Yet, things are not what they seem in Dreamland. Queen Oona is furiously jealous of Dagmar’s return, especially because she knows that Zøg and Bean prefer her, and she begins to plot her revenge when as she hears Zøg’s cabinet threaten to get rid of her. Soon, people start turning into stone—Pendergast, Bunty, Sorcerio, and soon the rest of the cabinet. Oona is trying to tear apart the newly reunited family in a fit of jealousy. Or so everyone thinks.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that Dagmar would be behind the scheme, but Disenchantment does a good job of burying that lede. After all, Bean is thrilled that her mother has finally returned to her life. They ride together, drink together, and try to make up for all that lost time. Even Zøg has softened in her presence, remembering how it was Dagmar who turned him from a warrior prince into a majestic king. She’s a regal, intelligent figure, someone who passed along noble qualities onto Bean. In other words, she’s the perfect candidate to bring down Dreamland.

After Zøg, Odval, and Bean deduce that it was Oona who has turned the cabinet to stone, they decide to ask the retrieved crystal ball about her location. The ball reveals that she’s still in Dreamland and that the danger is near, but when Bean tries to ask the ball a question, it zaps her fingers. Dagmar tells her that there are things she doesn’t know about herself, things that will only make sense when she reaches maturity. Does Bean have special powers that she’s unaware of?

Before Disenchantment can answer (or, more accurately, avoid) that question, the series has to first misdirect and then reveal. “Chapter X” initially establishes Odval and Oona as a secret alliance, with him helping her get an urgent message to Dankmire against the wishes of the Royal Family. When it’s revealed that Odval is the only cabinet member not to turn to stone, it indicates that he and Oona are behind the mischievous plot. But despite Oona’s incriminating rambling and Odval’s assistance, it turns out that neither is responsible for the mysterious magic. Maybe Odval really wants to avoid a war with Dankmire, and maybe Oona is just frustrated that she’s being thrown aside by an interloper.

It’s Luci who feeds Zøg the truth about Dagmar. The crystal ball reveals that Dagmar was the one who poisoned the wine, and it was Bean’s playful behavior that saved her father from being turned to stone. Zøg’s love for Dagmar blinded him to the truth: She has been keeping major secrets from him for years, including a mysterious library hidden at the top of the castle where she has sequestered Bean from the chaos below.


But Zøg learns everything too late. He confronts Dagmar about her scheme, claiming that they could have just gone to marriage counseling. “This goes way beyond you and me, dear,” she says. “It is a dark battle of a hundred centuries and our daughter’s destiny.” Dagmar previously alludes to Bean that her father wants to change her, whereas she wants her as she was born to be, but what destiny has Zøg hindered? Do Bean’s mysterious heretofore unseen powers hold the key to the future of the kingdom, and if so, which kingdom? Is it Dreamland, or could it possibly be Maru, who has been potentially behind this whole plot?

“Chapter X” reveals nothing, preferring to separate or freeze the entire ensemble. Dagmar concocts the magical potion and releases it upon the entire kingdom. Everyone in Dreamland turns to stone, save for Zøg, who miraculously avoids it. Luci is captured in a bottle by an unknown shadowy figure. Bean and Dagmar escape Dreamland on a boat filled with mysterious creatures who set sail “for the homeland and a glorious future.” Meanwhile, Elfo, whose corpse falls into the ocean after Queens Dagmar and Oona’s fight knocks him out of his aquarium coffin, was recovered by mysterious redheaded figures. Though Disenchantment will likely spend the beginning of next season painstakingly resetting Dreamland to its normal state, right now it’s as lost as Cremorrah. But Zøg’s still a king, even if his crown has fallen into the ocean, and it’s his responsibility to restore order to Dreamland. Sometimes it takes a steep fall for a kingdom to rise to new heights


Stray observations

  • Who is unaccounted for in Dreamland? There’s King Zøg, Prince Derek, who’s locked in the tower and presumably evaded the potion, and finally Oona, who is still missing. It’s possible that Dreamland’s second Royal Family can band together to save the daughter of the first Royal Family.
  • Merkimer is briefly seen eating from the trough with the other pigs. He’s delighted to hear about the prospect of cabbage.
  • Despite Dagmar’s fears that Oona raised Bean, she was actually raised by Bunty and a group of friendly drunks, who taught her the fine art of stabbing.
  • Elfo watered the Fairy’s plants when she was in rehab. She will miss him.
  • Tess returns for Elfo’s funeral, though she has stopped wearing the eye because it was too painful to see the truth all the time. “Ah,” Luci replies, “that’s why humans tend to avoid it.”
  • “Incredible. All that malarkey with the magic elf blood actually paid off.” “It took all season, but it did, and by season, I mean fall or summer or whatever this is.”
  • “I should have done something earlier, but now I got no choice. I have to take action. I hate action!”
  • “We’ll track down Oona. I’ll use my skills as a hunter, and Odval will use his diplomacy to stab her with a broom handle.”
  • “Summon the army! This kingdom is under attack by a ruthless enemy who will stop at nothing: My wife!” “Which one?” “I do know how to pick ‘em, don’t I?!”
  • “I guess the only bright side is I’ve got nothing left to lose…except the thing THAT SAYS I’M A KING! Oh, come on!”
  • That’s it for Dreamland recaps this season. It was a bit slow going at first, but I ended up coming around to the series for the most part. See you whenever Netflix releases the next ten episodes.

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