Adding a Dash of GAME OF THRONES To WILLOW
Or how the early reign of Queen Sorsha probably really sucked...
Before the Willow Disney+ series premiered, I posted on my Twitter feed some ideas on how it might go. Basically Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk) getting kidnapped by evil forces, especially after the death or disappearance of Queen Sorsha’s (Joanne Whalley) husband Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), seems like something that would bring back a lot of bad memories of Bavmorda, the evil queen from the Willow movie. The last time a woman ruled Tir Asleen with an only daughter as an heir, it was Bavmorda — and the daughter in question was Sorsha herself. Even if Sorsha is innocent, this looks really bad, and I predicted there’d be knives sharpening all over Tir Asleen. And it’s not like Sorsha can pre-emptively attack would-be rebels…it’d make her look really guilty.
(Image courtesy of LucasFilm, borrowed from here.)
Hence the absolutely deranged idea of including her daughter Kit (Ruby Cruz), her only remaining heir with Airk missing and possibly dead (and I’m assuming Bavmorda having killed off the rest of the extended Tanthalos family earlier to secure her own position), in the rescue mission. Sending her only remaining child into danger would weaken anybody’s claim Sorsha is trying to be Bavmorda 2.0 with Kit as Sorsha 2.0, and if Sorsha’s enemies move in Tir Asleen, Kit wouldn’t be in immediate danger.
(One of the Myopia podcast crew pointed out that this is supposed to be a kid’s show, but I said all you’d really need is one scene — Sorsha emphasizes to Kit the importance of getting this done quickly so that she still has a home to return to. Have some people giving Sorsha some dirty looks before Kit leaves to recruit Willow and Sorsha looking a bit nervous and you can infer the rest.)
And Sorsha’s ascension in the first place seems like something that’d be…controversial given all the people in Tir Asleen whom Bavmorda’s regime has wronged, with Sorsha herself as an accomplice. With General Kael dead and Bavmorda banished to another dimension, anybody with beef now has only one target. Given how Sorsha still became queen, I imagine a lot of blood money got paid out or political concessions/reforms got made. And one wonders where the cash is coming from…are Sorsha and Madmartigan confiscating land and money from Bavmorda’s loyalists or looting the assets of the druids Sorsha killed during the final battle? That last one would be the fantasyland version of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
And that’s just the domestic politics. Before the events of the movie, Bavmorda’s armies waged war on neighboring countries, with the bulk of Tir Asleen’s peer kingdom Galladoorn’s army defeated and its capital sacked offscreen during the movie itself. And although Sorsha seemed to be at Nockmaar Castle while General Kael (Pat Roach) was leading the attack on Galladoorn, who knows what dirty work she was doing for Mommy Dearest in the meantime. There’s this fan-art of Sorsha on DeviantArt that depicts her in a way that’s frankly a bit scary, and I imagine that was probably the last thing a lot of her mom’s enemies saw.
The sudden defeat of Bavmorda at the hands of Galladoorn’s survivors (Airk, Madmartigan), rebellious subjects of Tir Asleen (Fin Raziel, Willow), and Sorsha herself would be like the anti-Hitler resistance movement seizing power in 1940-43. Even if Galladoorn or the other kingdoms aren’t able to destroy the last remnants of Bavmorda’s regime by removing or killing Sorsha — the fact her husband is from Galladoorn probably makes that situation a bit less unpalatable — Tir Asleen is going to be a pariah. And Germany had to pay reparations after WWI and after WWII for all the damage, so that’s more bills for Sorsha to deal with. If Tir Asleen was left isolated, widely disliked, and owing people money, this might explain why Sorsha is so eager to marry Kit to Galladoorn’s Prince Graydon (Tony Revolori) in the TV series in the name of “stability.”
Furthermore, TV series reveals that Bavmorda had allied with the slaves of Galldoorn and that their leader was none other than Kael. In my earlier blog post, I said this would be the equivalent of Catherine the Great allying with Touissant Louverture to conquer France. Apparently when Bavmorda fell, the combined armies of Tir Asleen and Galladoorn hounded the remaining slaves into the wild country, where they became the outlaw band known as the Bone Reavers, who wear skull-masks in Kael’s memory.
Something tells me that as part of whatever arrangements that allowed Sorsha to succeed her mother, the proto-Bone Reavers got thrown under the bus. After all, as part of the treaty that ended the War of 1812, the British returned at least some American slaves who had fought for them. The Bone Reavers would be equivalent to the SS Division Charlemagne, recruited from France, who were the last to surrender because literally everybody on the Allied side would execute them.
It hasn’t been long since Sorsha was hunting people for Grandma Sauron — sacrificing people who sided with her evil mother for perfectly justifiable reasons to save herself would still be in-character. Depriving the Bone Reavers of manpower in the long run by adopting their captured children rather than killing them (i.e. the back-story of Kit’s more-than-friend Jade) would make this easier on Sorsha’s conscience — after all, the canonical film depicts her denouncing her mother’s plan to murder a child in their final confrontation — and would preserve manpower for rebuilding the two kingdoms, all while giving Galladoorn a pound of flesh that isn’t Sorsha’s.
Based on the recaps I’ve read about each episode, it seems like they went in a rather different direction — some critics make it sound like a CW program with magic and a strangely modern soundtrack. Although some turned out better than I expected (I’ve seen a video clip from the finale and I’m impressed with how they used Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”), I still think including my ideas would make the show more sensible and have deeper world-building.
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