NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Willow season 1 episode 1, "The Gales."
Willow's story began in the 1988 film of the same name, with an aspiring magician from a Nelwyn village and an infant girl destined to unite the realms. Together, they helped defeat an evil queen and banish the forces of evil. For this new Disney Plus original series, the adventure continues years later as a group of heroes set off on a new quest to save their world.
Let’s take a look at how Willow’s first episode, “The Gales,” takes us on an epic quest through an enchanted land.
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Let's be real: 1988 was a long time ago for most of us and some probably have not even seen the Ron Howard flick. So, as should be expected, Willow starts off with a recap of everything one needs to know before getting into this show.
Once upon a dreadful time, a child was born destined to save the world. Elora Danan was continuously pursued by the forces of darkness before she was rescued by an aspiring sorcerer and a mercenary. Together, they went on a quest to defeat Queen Bavmorda and rescue the kingdom of Tir Asleen from a curse. But after the evil queen was defeated, Willow (Warwick Davis) had a vision that the darkness would return and destroy the new Empress, so Elora was hidden away to protect her and the realm.
But that’s enough about the past. Willow moves on to introduce its viewers to a fresh set of characters. There is Kit (Ruby Cruz) and her twin brother Airk (Dempsey Bryk), the children of Queen Sorsha (Joanne Whalley, who is reprising her role from the film) of Tir Asleen. Kit is training with her friend Jade (Erin Kellyman) while Airk is frolicking away with kitchen maid Dove (Ellie Bamber), when duty calls the young royals back to the castle to attend the visit of the king and prince of Galladoorn. The reason for this visit? The upcoming wedding between Graydon Hastur (Tony Revolori) and Kit in order to unify the two kingdoms.
Kit isn’t thrilled about the marriage but finds solace in the idea that her life doesn’t necessarily have to change much and that she can continue to spend her days with Jade… The thing is that these two young women appear to be a little more than friends, even if they might not be ready to admit it to themselves. However, when Jade tells the princess that she has been accepted to train with the Shining Legion and will not be around anymore, Kit gets upset and takes her anger out on her future husband, making it abundantly clear in front of everybody that she is not happy with the fact that she does not get to choose her own future.
After hearing ominous whispers in the halls of Tir Alseen, Sorsha discusses the fact that there has been reports of turmoil beyond the Barrier with the king of Galladoorn, but he dismisses her concerns. Feeling like something bad is in the air, Sorsha turns to an old acquaintance in the dungeons, Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), to vent. Later on, Kit decides she has had enough of this princess life and decides to leave Tir Alseen, but not without giving Jade a goodbye kiss.
The voice Sorsha keeps hearing is Willow’s and she wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing him again saying that “The Gales are coming” and that she knows “what to do.” Indeed, the castle is attacked by Death Dogs and other creatures. It’s time for the Queen and her allies to unsheathe their swords. She frees Boorman and everyone is off to fight the Gales, including Kit and Airk. The battle won, they all gather their breath only to realize the retreating creatures have captured Prince Airk.
The fellowship of the missing brother
Kit volunteers to go west to search for Airk, and so do Jade and Kase, while King Hastur volunteers the help of his son, Graydon. Queen Sorsha offers to pardon Boorman’s crimes if he guides them beyond the Barrier. But to successfully complete this mission, they need one more, a sorcerer, and 30 minutes into the first episode of this show it is high time it starts pointing us in the direction of its titular character.
Queen Sorsha tells her daughter that she believed that if Elora Danan was kept hidden, evil would remain far away, but Willow disagreed. He believed that evil would find a way in no matter what and that they would need magic to protect them. But that’s not all the Queen tells Kit. The spirit of Bavmorda survived all those years ago, and it lives on in Sorsha and her children. Willow had a vision that this spirit would one day return and destroy Tir Asleen, and before the attack, Sorsha had the same vision.
Off to cross the Barrier and go search for Airk, the team of unlikely companions realize they are being followed by Dove. Deeply in love with Airk, with whom she basically got engaged before all hell broke loose at Tir Asleen, Dove is very much decided to help them look for him. But the team is set on sending her back first thing the next morning. As they all gather around a campfire, Dove asks what the Barrier is and Kase explains it was built for Elora Danan, prompting the kitchen maid to wonder what happened to her. Jade tells her of a prophecy that says she will one day return to protect and unite the world against the forces of darkness.
Determined to search for Airk, Elora sneaks off in the early hours of the next day and manages against all odds to cross the Barrier without having to go through its gate. When the others catch up to her, they are attacked by Bone Reavers and Kase is killed. The rest of the group narrowly escapes and eventually reaches their first destination, the Nelwyn village where the last sorcerer lives.
The adventurers finally meet the man they have been looking for, Willow. He already knows what happened to Airk and tells them the prince is now a prisoner of the Withered Crone in the Immemorial City. But as he is in the middle of his speech, explaining to them how they must go beyond the edge of their world, Willow trails off and gets distracted when he notices Dove. He walks up to her, lays his hand on her arm, and recites an incantation that unveils a mark on her skin. Dove isn’t just a kitchen maid, it turns out she is Elora Danan! Last Blood of Kymeria, future Empress, High Priestess, Semprum Sorceress of the Nine Realms…and a very confused young lady who did not sign up to be the world’s last and best hope against evil.
That’s it for the first episode of Willow! Looking for more adventures in this epic world? The first season of Willow is now available on Disney Plus.
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Marine Perot is a freelance entertainment writer living in London. She has been writing about television for 10 years, which led us to work with various publications including Paste Magazine, Radio Times, Konbini, Giddy, and more. Her favorite shows include Lost, Outlander, Game of Thrones, and The Haunting of Hill House. When not writing, Marine enjoys going on adventures with her corgi and reading a good book.
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