Where Willow the movie ended, the fourth episode of the show began. Nockmaar. Castle of the evil Queen Bavmorda. The place where Willow, Sorsha, and Raziel saved Elora Danon and thought they’d put an end to evil. Well, evil is coming back 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 big chunk of exposition. Graydon (Tony Revolori) explains to everyone what exactly happened here: Bavmorda attempted to perform a ritual to banish the soul of Elora (Ellie Bamber), but Willow (Warwick Davis) and his friends were able to stop her. He knows the story so well he even knows the spell Willow supposedly used. It’s a heroic tale, but one that we, as well as Willow, know is only partially true. Nevertheless, it’s important for the characters and audience to get a refresher on these events because they were going to come back in some very unexpected ways.
Kit (Ruby Cruz) brings up the very real possibility that someone is going to have to kill Graydon so that they aren’t all killed by the demon he’s possessed with, and he agrees, mentioning that he “has some experience” with this. And he’s not referring to the demon who infected him a few hours ago. It falls to Willow, who believes Bavmorda might have something in this castle that can help them: a book called The Malatrium, which is made out of skin. In it, he finds a complicated spell he believes can save Graydon, but he’s going to need help.
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As the group begins to gather ingredients. Willow gives them two rules. The first is easy: don’t eat any of Graydon’s evil goo. Second is do not go into the high tower where Bavmorda tried to banish Elora’s soul. Seems simple enough, right? Everyone goes off to do their jobs. For Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), that begins with drinking very old booze and becoming enthralled by a mysterious locked door. Jade (Erin Kellyman) admits she’s confused because this isn’t the life she thought she’d have as a knight and mourns that she had to kill her mentor, Ballentine. Kit, as bratty 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 attempting to free Graydon. This should be easy for two would-be-sorcerers, but Elora still doesn’t believe she’s truly magic and even gets pronunciation advice from possessed Graydon. Most importantly though, we see that Graydon has very bad scarring over his chest from something he’s not supposed to talk about in his past. He also sees a vision of his father yelling at him to make him an heir with Princess Kit, which he believes will redeem his son from his past. The plot thickens.
Elora and Willow continue their spell to help Graydon and Graydon seems to channel Airk. 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 says to Willow that he must tell Elora the truth, she gets 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 huge adversary. Boorman is tricked into thinking someone stole his precious Lux Arcana. Kit sees visions of her grandmother, Bavmorda, and Elora seemingly 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’s supposed to feel like it’s from the original movie.
Yup. Nockmaar is really messing with this group. So when Kit and Jade finally run back into each other and Boorman finds them, they have every right to be suspicious if it’s him or not. When asked to tell them something only he would know, Boorman says they have the hots for each other. It’s both a signal that it’s the real him while also making them both super uncomfortable. That tension is broken though when Boorman violently accuses Kit of stealing his magical key, only to have both women overtake him. That moment is, again, only broken by something more pressing… a light rising in the tower they are not supposed to be in.
Elora, after seeing her mother, goes back to check on Willow and Graydon only to find… Graydon is fine? And Willow is gone? Graydon explains the spell worked, he’s better, but Willow was infected with it and left. They go off to find him and together come up with the idea that maybe he went to the high tower. Now, if you weren’t already wildly suspicious of Graydon before, this should have been the signal that not all is well. Alas though, Elora trusts him and the pair go up to the tower. It’s their light that Kit, Jade, and Boorman see from across the castle.
In the tower, Graydon quickly reveals himself to still be the demon and decides he’s going to finish 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, by the way), and though he scolds Elora for breaking the one rule he had, she believes he’s going to quickly and easily save her. Not so fast.
Demon Graydon shows Elora the events of the first movie in which Willow pulled off not a huge, epic spell, 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: with his friends. As he says that, the dreamy shadows of young Sorsha and Raziel from the movie enter the room just as they did in the past, only this time they’re subsequently replaced by Jade, Kit, and Boorman. Willow’s friends have once again arrived to save the day. Add in a touch of that James Horner score and the moment was, to me, the best of the series so far.
The trio manages to stop Graydon momentarily, but Willow gets stuck. Elora is the only hope to defeat the demon, but she still lacks that confidence. This is when Kit finally tells her that she did grow that bush in the woods two episodes ago. She has magic in her, and she has to do something. Willow is—oddly—against this, but Elora just improvises and sucks the demon out of Graydon’s body like a puff of smoke. And as it’s happening, 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, which 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 that was the end, there was one more scene. Arik (Dempsey Bryk) wakes up in a grand, desolate city. This is Immemorial City beyond the Shattered 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 also being chock full of revelations, action, and then being so hugely inspired by the original film all worked very well. And now, halfway through the season, you really get the sense 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 about getting to Airk.
Willow is streaming on Disney+.
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