King Zøg and Bean
Image: Disenchantment (Netflix)

“Chapter VI: Swamp and Circumstance” finally explores the mythology of Disenchantment by examining the relationship between Dreamland and the neighboring swamp kingdom of Dankmire. In short, Dreamland forced Dankmire to build a canal connecting the two territories, and then Dreamland and Dankmire fought a 100-year war over ownership rights, which only ended after Zøg agreed to marry Oona, a native of Dankmire. Since then, relations between the two lands remain fairly fragile, and Dreamland requires a delicate hand to maintain the peace. So, naturally, Zøg choose Bean for the job.

Credited to writer Eric Horsted, “Chapter VI” sports a pretty decent premise. After bailing on Dreamland’s Harvest Blessing ceremony to go get drunk at The Flying Scepter (possibly named after the amount of times Zøg flings his scepter through its windows), Bean tells her father that she feels useless and wants to have a role in the kingdom. Zøg decides to make Bean the Dankmire ambassador, i.e. a phony baloney job with a fancy title and a sash. It might be a job to make her feel important, but Bean ends up taking it seriously. She plays nice with the Dankmire chancellor and, more importantly, forces a smile and some kind words when the Dreamland delegation is forced to attend a three-and-a-half-hour, 16-act children’s community theater play called Of Humid Bondage. Oh, and it’s one of those plays where the actors enter the crowd and bother the audience.

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But just when Bean starts to get the hang of the diplomacy, Luci decides to throw a wrench into the works by getting her drunk just as she’s writing the speech for the royal banquet. Bean shows up hammered drunk to the banquet, drunkenly rambles while standing on the table, flashes the party when she hangs from the chandelier like a bat, and then vomits on the chancellor. In a few short minutes, Dankmire and Dreamland are back at war, and the Dreamland delegation is forced to flee the kingdom. Unfortunately, that means trucking through a marsh rife with Deliverance-esque hillbillies and a ravenous swamp monster.

Though “Chapter VI” further opens up the world of Disenchantment and is the first episode to be primary set outside the walls of Dreamland, it also successfully expands the relationship between Bean and Zøg. Despite Zøg’s bluster, it’s clear he cares for Bean and worries that she’s destined be a drunken layabout her whole life. Bean clearly hasn’t taken her father’s remarriage well, and it’s partially responsible for her acting out. The ambassadorship is a perfect job for Bean, one that requires her to essentially lie about how much Dreamland loves Dankmire. However, Zøg is still blithely unaware that Luci is a demon tasked with keeping Bean off the straight and narrow. He’s ultimately responsible for what happens, but it’s also all he knows how to do.

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Bean might have been responsible for getting everyone kicked out of Dankmire, and possibly another 100-year war, but she does save Zøg and her half-brother Derek, the whiny child of Zøg and Oona, from the hands of murderous hillbillies. She sweet talks them into giving a toast, sets them up to be eaten by the swamp monster, and then beats the swamp monster with her ceremonial sash. It impresses Zøg, especially how she can talk to all kinds of people and there isn’t a language barrier. It’s a skill she honed on the streets of Dreamland, hanging out with drunks and other lowlifes that wouldn’t be caught dead in Zøg’s palace.

“Chapter VI” ends on a sweet, understated moment that underscores the depth of feeling Zøg has towards his daughter. They eventually arrive back in Dreamland just in time for the harvest bonfire, an event that Bean has never been allowed to attend supposedly because Zøg doesn’t trust her. Bean goes every year anyway, but her father still disapproves. It’s revealed at the end of the episode why he doesn’t allow her to go: The Hay Man that Dreamland burns is a caricature of Zøg. It’s clear that he doesn’t want Bean to go because he didn’t want her to grow resentful of him, like the rest of the farmers.. But after the Dankmire ordeal, he allows her to go anyway, telling her to sneak back in when the Hay Man has burned to its ground. It takes a patient father to encourage her daughter to attend an event that features a ritualistic burning of his likeness.

Stray observations

  • On Disenchantment Signage: 1. “Harvest Blessing: No Fat Chickens”; 2. “Dankmire: 3200 Zøgdongs”
  • Bean switched places with a pauper for a year and Zøg barely even noticed.
  • Bean introduces herself at the Dankmire banquet as Tiabeanie Mariabeanie De La Rochambeaux Drunkowitz, which is a fantastic name.
  • On their way home, Zøg suggests that he build a toy graveyard for Derek’s ripped stuffed bear, or get his servants to do it. Derek just wants to go to bed, but worries he’ll have nightmares of the big skillet that he and his father were almost fried in.
  • “Ah, floor. You’re always there for me. So supportive. Not like walls or staircases, always getting in my way.”
  • “I got jealous of their wedding and put a dead owl in their cake. People, like, ate the whole thing.”
  • “You did alright. Covering up the indiscretions of those in power is a big part of the job.”

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