Disenchantment, Netflix’s fantasy animated series, has been one of the most-watched shows on the streaming platform. A show that is layered with humor and almost nails the genre has finally reached its conclusion. Disenchantment has received positive to lukewarm responses in the past for its out-of-the-box style of narrative. Season five of this Netflix original was released on September 1, 2023. Creator Matt Groening is back to showcase the adventurous life of Princess Tiabeanie, aka Bean, and her quest to get rid of her evil mother, subsequently helping her father return to Dreamland as a king and not a prisoner. Will Bean and her friends get to chart their destiny at the end of this series finale?
True to the Disenchantment style of storytelling, season five begins right after Dagmar, the Evil Queen Mother of Bean, throws her daughter off the balcony in a final attempt to get hold of the kingdom. Just moments before that, Bean had managed to chop Bad Bean’s head off so that the nightmare would come to an end. Dagmar believes her daughter is out of the picture, so she is on the lookout to resurrect Bad Bean. Dagmar is hoping for a daughter who will follow in her footsteps instead of rebelling against her every move. Bean, on the other hand, is on a quest to locate her father. Mora joins the expedition as well to help Bean get Dreamland back. Elfo, Luci, and the mop girl, Miri, try to handle the situation from inside the castle to prevent Dagmar from taking extreme steps. All their respective journeys are filled with funny yet life-changing events. Will Bean return to Dreamland? Or will she have to let go of her loved ones for the greater good?
The beginning of this season was a bit stretched out, unlike the previous installments, which set the tone for the next ten episodes. The narrative around Bean coming back to understand her mother’s motive and the journey from there on is a bit lengthy, even for a 28-minute-long episode. The writers try to close all the loopholes but forget to construct a balanced narrative. Various subplots have different kinds of pacing, which affects the engagement factor. At times, the narrative seems interesting. Bean trying to rescue her father is a good subplot, but the other storylines make the viewing experience strenuous. The plot is predictable to the core, and there is no element of surprise here.
Another subplot has Bean trying to channel her lightning magical powers and being aided by a certain queen of a distant land, Maru, who was a victim of Dagmar’s evilness. The writers took this long to help Bean understand the gravity of her powers and why it is of utmost importance for her to take control of them. It seemed the writers were in a rush to end this subplot leading up to the big showdown between the mother and daughter. This subplot could have been handled in a manner that makes the viewers feel this portion of Bean’s life was a long time coming instead of rushing into it so that the writers could easily move on to the next plot. A time travel angle was included for no reason. There are several subplots about the expedition involving Bean, her father, and Mora, which we think were included just for the sake of it.
The structure of the show was known for its overwhelming number of subplots, which was Disenchantment‘s appeal. This time around, it bothers audiences because the screenplay feels claustrophobic. Too many narratives are going on at a time. It is distressing and tiring to see the writers beat around the bush. There is nothing new when it comes to storytelling other than a few surprises here and there. There are some major deaths this season, which many of us saw coming. The writers also closed the book on several minor characters due to the show coming to an end.
The direction this season was a lot more erratic than steady. It felt aimless, just like the narrative, making the audience wish the show had a decent approach to storytelling. The direction at one point was an aspect that stood out in the previous seasons. There is no new approach given to the way the various plot points could have been executed. The only redeeming factors of this show are the animation, the dialogue, and the humor.
The dialogue and the humor of Disenchantment have gone hand in hand from the beginning, and this time around as well, we get to hear some snarky lines said by the leads. Some of the best lines are still given to Dagmar, voiced by Sharon Horgan. The dialogue is a big part of the character graph because we get to understand their state of mind and intentions. The on-the-face humor somehow works even this season. The pop culture references and the underlying satirical dialogue that mock fantasy dramas work like a charm. Sadly, the humor holds the ten episodes together only for a while.
The relationship dynamics between Bean and her father, King Zøg, are written and executed with finesse. The father pushing his daughter to pursue what she loves right in the middle of a crisis is something we would have loved to watch more of. They look out for each other despite a generation gap and other minor clashes. Elfo, Luci, and Mora’s relationship dynamics with Bean have sentimental value until the end. The writers did not overdo their parts. The animation, as usual, is another high point of the show.
Disenchantment is a feminist show, but an average screenplay lets down the entire narrative and its purpose. Dagmar’s character has the most cliched plotline, which is frustrating. The climax of the show was predictable, and the 15-minute-long epilogue was uncalled for. The execution of this sequence was carried out in the most formulaic manner. The voice actors have done a tremendous job of helping us tap into humor and the many other sentiments attached to the show. The standout performer is Sharon Horgan as Queen Dagmar. She has a shorter screen time than the others but delivers each spiteful dialogue with such intent. John DiMaggio as King Zøg is a hoot, just like in the previous seasons. His emotions are perceptible, and he is unabashedly honest.
Disenchantment has finally come to an end with this season, which we think was lukewarm compared to its previous installments. The writers here were banking on the sentimental value of the plots and the characters instead of building solid arcs and an engaging narrative. Season Five is neither a complete washout nor essential viewing. It only serves the fans of the show.