After years spent storytelling in Springfield (The Simpsons) and space (Futurama), Matt Groening turned his satirical mastermind toward medieval times with Netflix’s Disenchantment. The animated fantasy sitcom, which ends its five season run this month, follows Abbi Jacobson‘s Princess Bean (aka Princess Tiabeanie Mariabeanie de la Rochambeau Grunkwitz) of Dreamland and her best pal Elfo and her own personal demon Luci as they go on various D&D-style adventures, chase love, and deal with Bean’s family drama. Season four ended with Bean’s biological mother, Dagmar, throwing her off a balcony and over a cliff into the ocean, to usurp her leadership of Dreamland. Luckily, Bean is rescued by her mermaid love Mora, who wants the two of them to just run away together and leave Dreamland’s elves and Dagmar’s psychotic parenting behind — but Bean can’t do it. And so the final season of Disenchantment sees Princess Bean gathering the troops to storm the castle to take back her kingdom.
First up, Bean wants to find her dad, King Zog, who lives in Steamland, to help her fight her mother. They also circle around to pick up Mora, work together with some very cool pirates, find themselves locked up in Twinkle Town Asylum, destroy Dagmar’s siblings/allies in nearby towns, and finally figure out how Princess Bean can unlock the full strength of her blue zappy magic lightning powers. But Dagmar’s got magic too, now, and also a daughter doppelgänger named Bad Bean. In fact, it’s Bad Bean who stabs Mora the Mermaid in the final battle! But don’t worry, she comes right on back to life thanks to a sacrificial wish by Luci! In the end, Bean gives back the magic of Dreamland to the elves in her Happily Ever After speech:
“Ladies and gentleman, girls and boys, Elves and Trøgs, and yes, Moleman, I’m looking at you! Today is a day of victory and celebration! Dagmar has been defeated and CRUNCHED by a big rocky cave thing! Satan has been vanquished and emasculated! All our enemies have been killed, or they ran away! And best of all, I’m in love!”
Disenchantment‘s final season is as silly and meta and gross and heart-warming as all the ones that came before it, and it spends a whole lot of time doubling down on the idea of personal choice. Yes, Bean’s a Princess of Dreamtown, but what do the people there really owe her? And what does she owe them? When are other people’s expectations a prison, and when are they the gateway to embracing your power? What parts of our parents are we destined/doomed to become, or can we really actually grow into our own people? When is it time to undermine those in power? And what is queerness if not Mommy Issues manifesting as a misplaced responsibility to save everyone around you?
In the end, Bean and Mora decide to get married, and then muss up their hair and skip out on the whole ordeal, just like Bean did in the first season when she was engaged to a dumb prince. They swim away to a secluded beach where they spend their days making out on the sand in the sunset. Not bad for a hard-drinking misadventurer whose life was ruined over and over again before her heart of gold found its mermaid home.