The following contains mild spoilers for the first three episodes of Willow on Disney+
I’ll admit, the world of Willow was unknown to me until a few months ago when I learned of the upcoming Disney+ series. I was a mere one year old when the 1988 George Lucas and Ron Howard film, of the same name, was released, so I’m not too surprised that I hadn’t yet heard of the cult classic. I love all things fantasy though, so inevitably the show made its way onto my ever-increasing watchlist. However, all it took was a text from a friend that said “I don’t know if Willow is on your radar, but you will love it. It’s gay within the first 20 minutes!” to skyrocket it to the top of that very list.
The series picks up 20 years after the events of the film, and the pilot very handily begins with a quick recap of those events. There’s a Chosen One prophecy (like any good fantasy story), an unlikely hero (Willow Ufgood, the titular role!), and a princess (Sorsha) who turns against her mother, the Queen, to save baby Elora (our Chosen One) and ultimately bring about Queen Bavmorda’s destruction.
Once the Sorsha-narrated recap ends, we’re taken immediately to a cliffside training session between two of my new favorite TV characters, Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Jade (Erin Kellyman). Reader, the moment Kit took off her helmet and swaggered over to banter with “best friend” Jade, I knew that though she probably doesn’t need it, I would protect this queer child with everything I have.
Later the same night, Jade begrudgingly puts on a dress (which she hates) and accompanies Kit (who she very much does not hate) to an event being held in the latter’s honor, because you see, Kit is the princess and daughter of Sorsha (see above). She is set to marry Graydon, the Prince of Galladoorn (yes, that is the self-proclaimed best friend of Spidey in the Mr. Zendaya Spiderman movies), to unite their two regions. Because of course. It’s the age-old story of the headstrong princess who refuses to live a life she hasn’t chosen based on rules she hasn’t made. But in this story, our princess would much rather end up in the arms of her best friend.
Complicating those matters for Kit, is the fact that Jade will soon be leaving Tir Asleen to train to become the first ever female Knight of Galladoorn, something she’s dreamed about her whole life. Kit does not take the news well at all, and has an entire Gay Panic™ about it in front of half the queendom, before deciding her only available course of action is to run away. But before leaving, she stops by her “bestie”’s quarters to give her an entire kiss on the mouth, lest her feelings be unclear. It’s complicated for Jade though, because sure, she loves the princess, but she’s not about to give up everything she’s worked so hard for.
But before they can have a real conversation about it, the castle comes under attack and Kit’s twin brother Airk is kidnapped. A mission to get him back commences, with Kit, Jade, and a prisoner named Thraxus Boorman making up the adventuring party (look, if a show puts a bunch of characters on a quest, I’m going to treat it as if it’s a D&D campaign, sorry about it). Also joining them on said quest? Airk’s secret girlfriend (who, spoiler alert, learns she IS ELORA), and a certain powerful sorcerer by the name of Willow.
The first three episodes of the series are filled with action, sweeping and lush green landscapes, and the kind of fantasy lore that can be a little totems schmotems, but that I love all the same. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the remaining episodes of its eight-episode run, is how Kit, Jade, and their relationship will factor into the larger story. So far we’ve seen Kit as a cynical, rough around the edges, stubborn, and singularly-focused shunner of tradition, which yes, is incredibly fun to watch. But combine that with Jade, whose strong but seemingly wary disposition is rooted in her desire (and initial assignment) to protect Kit, and you’ve got a recipe for some dramaaaaaa! We don’t yet know a whole lot about Jade’s past; was she raised solely by her mentor-turned-possessed-bad-guy Ballantine? Were she and Kit always best friends? What led to her fierce need to protect? There’s a lot going on on this show, so I hope we get to learn more about how Kit and Jade became Kit and Jade.
I can’t help but root for these two crazy kids; for Kit to find her place in a world that demands she fill a role she doesn’t want; and for Jade to become the knight and protector she’s always wanted to be. Is it too much to hope that these two things happen hand-in-hand? The show so far hasn’t shied away from its queerness (Hannah Waddingham even shows up as one half of a lesbian-coded twosome) and I truly hope that continues as the rest of the series unfolds.
New episodes of Willow drop every Wednesday on Disney+.