Where Willow the movie ended, the fourth episode of the show began. Nockmaar. The castle of the evil queen Bavmorda. The place where Willow, Sorsha and Raziel saved Elora Danon and thought they wanted to put an end to evil. Well, evil returns in the person of a possessed young prince, and the castle is ready for it.
Episode four of the Disney+ series Willow is called “The Whispers of Nockmaar” and it began with the group, now fully reunited, entering the abandoned castle for a large part of the exhibition. Graydon (Tony Revolori) explains to everyone what happened here: Bavmorda attempted to perform a ritual to banish the soul of Elora (Ellie Bamber), but Willow (Warwick Davis) and his friends managed to stop her. He knows the story so well that he even knows the spell Willow probably used. It’s a heroic tale, but one that we, as well as Willow, know is only partially true. Still, it is important to the characters and the audience to get a refresher on these events because they would come back in some very unexpected ways.
Kit (Ruby Cruz) brings up the very real possibility that someone will have to kill Graydon so that the are not all killed by the demon he is possessed with, and he agrees, mentioning that he “has some experience” with this. And he’s not referring to the demon that infected him a few hours ago. It falls to Willow, who believe that Bavmorda may have something in this castle that can help them: a the book is called The malatrium, which is made of skin. In it, he finds a complicated spell he believes can save Graydon, but he’s going to need help.
When the group starts gathering ingredients. Willow gives them two rules. The first is simple: don’t eat any of Graydon’s evil nonsense. The second is not to enter the high tower where Bavmorda tried to banish Elora’s soul. Seems simple enough, right? Everyone leaves to do their job. For Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), it begins with drinking very old liquor and becoming captivated by a mysterious locked door. Jade (Erin Kellyman) admits she’s confused because this isn’t the life she thought she wanted as a knight and mourns having to kill her mentor, Ballentine. Kit, as sassy as ever, tries to help Willow and Elora, but seems more annoyed than anything else.
The episode jumped between each character’s personal battles with the castle, as well as Willow and Elora trying to free Graydon. This should be easy for two wizards who would be, but Elora still doesn’t believe she’s truly magical and even gets to speak advice from possessed Graydon. But most importantly, we see that Graydon has really bad scars across his chest from something he won’t talk about in the past. He also sees a vision of his father yelling at him to make him an heir with Princess Kit, who he believes will redeem his son from his past. The plot thickens.
Elora and Willow continue the spell to help Graydon and Graydon appears to be channeling Airk. Do you remember him? The prince this whole expedition has been about? Willow urges Elora and Kit not to trust the voice, it’s just the demon trying to distract them, but when he tells Willow that he needs to tell Elora the truth, she becomes very suspicious and leaves Willow to finish the spell alone.
With Willow hopefully helping Graydon, everyone is still dealing with the castle playing tricks on them. Jade is forced to face the ghost of her mother and fight a great adversary. Boorman is tricked into believing that someone stole his precious Lux Arcana. Kit sees visions of her grandmother, Bavmorda, and Elora apparently travels back to the moment she was born and was smuggled out of the castle as a baby. Her mother even claims to see her standing there, all grown up, in a moment that should feel like it’s from the original movie.
Yep. Nockmaar really messes with this group. So when Kit and Jade finally run into each other again and Boorman finds them, they have every right to be suspicious whether it’s him or not. When asked to tell them something only he wanted to know, Boorman says they’re hot for each other. It’s both a signal that it’s the real him, while also making them both super uncomfortable. However, that tension is broken when Boorman violently accuses Kit of stealing his magic key, only to have both women take him over. That moment is again only broken by something more urgent… a light rising in the tower they should not be in.
Elora, after seeing her mother, goes back to check on Willow and Graydon only to find… Is Graydon all right? And Willow is gone? Graydon explains that the spell worked, he’s better, but Willow got infected with it and left. They go to find him and together come up with the idea that he might go to the high tower. Now, if you weren’t already very suspicious of Graydon before, this should have been your signal that all is not well. Alas, Elora trusts him and the pair head up to the tower. It is their light as Kit, Jade, and Boorman watches from the other side of the castle.
In the tower, Graydon quickly reveals that he is still the demon and decides that he will complete the ritual that Bavmorda started and get rid of Elora for good. Willow arrives (we still can’t figure out where he went or what happened to him in between, btw), and even though he scolds Elora for breaking the one rule he had, she believes that he will quickly and easily save her. Not so fast.
Demon Graydon shows Elora the events of the first movie where Willow didn’t get a big, epic sorcery, but a simple magic trick that distracted Bavmorda and that’s how she was defeated. Not through real magic, but by her own carelessness. Willow is unfazed though and says he’s going to win again the same way he did the first time: wwith his friends. As he says that, the dreamy shadows of young Sorsha and Raziel from the movie enter the room just like they did earlier, but this time they are later replaced by Jade, Kit, and Boorman. Willow’s friends have once again come to save the day. Add a touch of that James Horner score and the moment was, for me, the best of the series so far.
The trio manage to stop Graydon for a moment, but Willow gets stuck. Elora is the only hope to defeat the demon, but she still lacks that confidence. That’s when Kit finally tells her that she grew that bush in the woods two episodes ago. She has magic in her, and she has to do something. Willow is—strange-against this, but Elora just improvising and sucks the demon out of Graydon’s the body like a smoke. And as it happens, the truth about Graydon’s past is revealed.
As a young boy he had an older brother. But somehow Graydon was possessed –much as he is now –and killed his brother, something his parents have forever blamed him for. Elora is shocked by the revelation, but the fact that she was able to magically save him means that’s a conversation for another time.
And so the group leaves Nockmaar, all believing in Elora Danan more than ever, and glad to be out of the castle that messed with their minds so much. As they leave, the evil Gales watch them, ready to pounce. And just when you thought it was the end, there was another scene. Arik (Dempsey Bryk) wakes up in a grand, deserted city. This is immemorial city beyond the broken sea. Our heroes have a long way to go, and many more mysteries to solve.
“The Whispers of Nockmaar” was my favorite episode of Willow yet. The way it told its own creepy, weird story, while being packed full of revelations, action, and so hugely inspired by the original movie, worked really well. And now, halfway through the season, you really get the feeling that the journey can begin. Elora Danan is without a doubt the person everyone expects her to be. Everyone has seen it. And now it’s just a matter of getting to Airk.
Willow is streaming on Disney+.
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