Enter Ricky Gervais as a smirking wizard named Xanax—and a new character who may help Madalena seize the throne.
Credit: Daniel Liam/ABC
S1 E6
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EW loves Galavant—so much so that multiple writers wanted to take a stab at recapping it. Here, Hillary Busis and Danielle Nussbaum have a tag-team discussion of the comedy’s sixth episode.

DANIELLE: The reign of mean Madalena continues! And I kind of love it. If you couldn’t already guess by the title of the episode, Madalena is being a bitch. Which means that lots of people—including our trio: Galavant, Isabella, and Sid—end up in the dungeon. But first, we’re treated to a tango à la Evita as Mad (see how appropriate her name is?) sings to Galavant, “I love you… as much as someone like me can love anyone.” Of course, as soon as he starts the song, she says, “Oh no.” Why does this show keep hating on the singing? It’s getting exhausting.

HILLARY: I agree. Of all the schticks on Galavant—and yes, there are a lot off them—the whole “we’re too cool to be in a musical (even though we’re doing a musical)” thing is turning out to be especially grating. This stuff kinda reminds me of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, another music-heavy show that took great pride in crapping all over its own genre. Galavant isn’t nearly as hipster scornful as Andrew—which is a very good thing—but at the same time, this thread is really making me nostalgic for Smash, a flawed series that nonetheless never stopped celebrating musical theater as a form of artistic expression.

That said! “The Tango Maureen,” er, “Madalena,” was tuneful and fun, especially since we really haven’t had any dance numbers before this moment. I’m slightly less enthusiastic about the episode’s B-plot—Richard and Tiny Chef go to visit a wizard whose main magical power is smirking like Ricky Gervais. Probably because he’s played by Ricky Gervais. How’d you feel about Xanax—and how do you think he compared to last episode’s big guest star, Weird Al?

DANIELLE: Xanax is supposed to make you feel better, but man was he a total downer.

HILLARY: The whole sequence—Tiny Chef and Richard trip on some kind of potion in order to delve into the king’s psyche and discover why, exactly, he’s such a weenie—reminded me of the “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” scene in Across the Universe. (Yeah, just outed myself as someone who’s seen Across the Universe.) I’m not sure if I mean that as a compliment.

DANIELLE: It all felt very “I am the Walrus.” But I did enjoy the literal gallows humor that came when King Richard accidentally hanged two people while asking the universe why he is said weenie. I also love that the “spirit guide” Xanax lives in an attic. (Or, as he yells to his mom downstairs: “It’s a laboratory!”) Of all the guest stars so far, though, I still like the Dread Pirate Crawley the most. Why bring these guys in if you’re going to just slap long hair on them and give them crappy songs to sing?

Meanwhile, back in the dungeons: Madalena throws Gal in with Sid and Isabella, who is still trying to tell Gal both that she’s fallen for him and that she didn’t actually want to lead him into danger. “I tried to warn you in so many songs, so many asides,” she explains.

We have to give a major shout out to Karen David (who plays Isabella) and her stellar pipes when she sings to Galavant about love. I was pretty impressed with the juxtaposition of the ballad’s sweet tune and the vulgarity of its lyrics:

Love is embarrassingly gassy and it leaves its dirty underwear in piles around the place.

Love is rude and it has a sort of smell.

And it thinks that you don’t notice til it blurts out things that make you want to smack its stupid face.

Pretty rad, right?

HILLARY: True, true—we shouldn’t move forward without acknowledging her and her big solo. Isabella also had one of the night’s funniest lines—Galavant deserves someone better than Madelena, “maybe someone who’s small and cute, and ethnically hard to pin down”—and, thanks to a conversation with Mad, helped Galavant pass the Bechdel Test for what may have been the first time.

DANIELLE: Which is what he was questing for all along. Oh, and Gareth gets his moment!

HILLARY: Yes! Gotta say, that’s probably the episode’s highlight for me as well.

Like the rest of Galavant‘s pastiche-y elements, the whole “gruff lackey with a secret heart of gold” thing has been done to death before—but actor Vinnie Jones manages to breathe some life into the archetype. (I also loved Mini-Gareth, who appeared during Richard’s spirit quest. He’s commanded to be Richard’s—er, Prince Dickie’s—royal guard; he responds, “I’m only 10, but all right.”) Gareth is sort of like the Mike Ehrmantraut of the Middle Ages—and he faces his greatest test when Madalena orders him both to torture the castle’s prisoners and transfer to his allegiance from Richard to her. After a decent amount of hand-wringing, he ultimately elects to go with his heart: “I might be a dog,” Gareth says, “but at least I’m a loyal one.” Awww.

Cue the night’s Big Twist. We know that Madalena has written to some shadowy figure who can help her take over the kingdom; in the half-hour’s last few moments, he appears. Did you guess his identity? (Not that it was super hard to figure out, given what happened in Richard’s “trip.”) And are you excited about the prospect of learning more about Richard’s big bad big brother, Kingsley—played by frequent onscreen Big Bad Rutger Hauer?

DANIELLE: Richard is probably my favorite character, and King Dickie is at his funniest when he turns all homicidal whilst trying to match wits with, well anyone. So I’m excited to see a new character that’ll push him toward that point. And while this ep’s songs were a 2 out of 3 on the awesome scale, I’m hoping for a 3/3 win on the next one.

HILLARY: Oh no—you just reminded me that next week marks the end of Galavant, at least for the foreseeable future. I think I’ve been in denial.

DANIELLE: Next week is the end of Galavant… for now! (Imagine me singing that. Actually, don’t. It wouldn’t be pretty.) You know what, though? I bet we’ll get another 10 episodes. It feels like a good summer show. Will you take that bet?

HILLARY: I will, because I’d rather lose for something I believe in than not take a chance. Or something. (I feel like Jack at the beginning of Titanic.) Quickly, before we retire to the attic, where we’ll take groovy trips into our own pasts: What’s on your finale wish list?

DANIELLE: The return of the Galavant theme song, a Gal and Isabella fall-in-love duet, more Mel Brooks shtickery (I miss it!), and Chef and Daisy getting together. You?

HILLARY: Sounds like a good list; I’d also like more Dread Pirate Crawley, a duet between Isabella and Madalena (sisters doing it for themselves!), and a resolution that brings the season to a satisfying close while still leaving a window open for possible future episodes. Because if we’re really not going to get any more Galavant beyond these eight episodes, I shall be very put out.

Episode Recaps

This medieval musical “extravaganza” features screenwriting by Dan Fogelman, music by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, and guest starring from John Stamos, Weird Al, and Ricky Gervais.
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