Episode Review of W.I.T.C.H. Season 1 Episode 08: Ambush at Torus FilneyRating: Summary
Somewhere in the woods of Meridian, a band of Rebels attacked one of Phobos's caravans, going all Robin Hood style. At the same time in the city, Aldarn taunts a few guards, tricking them into chasing him before they collided into a very thick wall of glass, courtesy of earth's technology. The Rebels tied up the guards and took back some of their food for their fellow Rebels and sympathetic villagers. I don't know about you guys, but it's it foolish of Aldarn to show his face like that? I mean, he's supposed to be posing as a regular Meridianite and if he really wanted to continue to keep his secret allegiance to the Rebels, shouting, "DOWN WITH PHOBOS AND WITH TYRANNY!" isn't probably the best way to go. After their victorious raid, Caleb gave a speech that they'll need many more raids and surprise attacks such as this to win against Phobos. Aldarn asked Caleb if he could bring them more Earthly goods, especially those things called "chocolates" for the little children.
At the palace, Prince Phobos is furious because the Rebels seemed to know all of his trading routes, despite traveling under the cover of darkness. There must be a spy leaking these information to the Rebels. Cedric can't fight two fronts at the same time, what with him already busy trying to find the missing princess and dividing the Guardians of Earth. So he decided to advice the Prince on how to find out who's the spy: spread a false rumor that the Rebel leader cannot ignore. The spy would definitely sneak out and deliver this news once it reaches his ears and Phobos knew exactly what powerful object he has "found".
On Earth, Caleb and Blunk arrived through a Portal on a roof, but are busted when the Guardians arrived. Will berated Caleb for not telling them about it, but Caleb begged them to let it stay open just a little longer so that he can bring "chocolate" to hungry Rebels' children. The answer is no because to the Guardians, keeping their world safe from evil outweighs providing aids to the rebellions. Gee girls, what happened to helping the less fortunate? After all, didn't some of them give you food and shelter when you emerged out of that labyrinth? You could have just stood watch and kept it open long enough for Caleb to come back with food and tools.
At school, Hay Lin signed all of five girls up for the school's play for Drama Night (without their permissions and knowledge of it), just so that she could do the costumes. Naturally, her friends are pissed at Hay Lin for not giving them the heads up. The theme this year is mythology. Turns out, Yan Lin knew a great deal, including the story about the nymph Xin Jing and the Four Dragons:
A long time ago in the ancient land of China, there ruled an unkind and uncaring heavenly man called the Jade Emperor. Working for him were the four mighty dragons (the Red, the Yellow, the Black, and the Pearl Dragons). The Emperor's daughter, the nymph Xin Jing was deeply worried for the people on earth due to a drought and a famine. The dragons, too, took pity and decided to help bring the rain. Two would boil the ocean with their fire-breath and other two would fan the steam over the land, turning it into rainclouds. The Emperor was furious for their good action and ordered them to be imprisoned forever in four separate mountains. Disgusted by her father's cruelty, the nymph Xin Jing took it upon herself by joining the four dragons into herself, thus, turning into a pink dragon and flew off. Whatever left behind from her transformation and power was a crystal which would become the Heart of Kandrakar. I don't know about you guys, but I prefer the version in the original comic series as well as the original Chinese myth. I mean this version forgot to mention how the four dragons turned into the four main rivers of China! Heck! They didn't mention that these four dragons represent the four elements! We'll get back to this later.
Because this story tells the origin of their powers (no it didn't, Will! All Yan Lin implied was that there was crystal left behind! How would you even know that the dragons represented the four elements?!), the other Guardians are now more excited to participate in the play. Caleb came in and fails to learn how to eat ice-cream. Ha ha, very hilarious...moving on. The five girls built props, set the background designs, made the costumes, and Taranee will write the script and narrate due to stage fright...wait, what? Girl, you're still going to be on stage in front of hundreds of people, even if you narrate! With Taranee out and Cornelia playing the nymph (then who's going to play the Emperor and the villagers, because hell sure the rest of their classmates aren't helping!) they're one dragon short. Luckily, Blunk arrived and they decided that he'll be a short dragon.
Meanwhile, Cedric faked a news that the powerful Seal of Phobos has been found. Hearing this, Vathek snuck out of the palace to find Blunk so that he can deliver the message to Caleb. Still furious at the girls for not allowing him to keep one Portal open for his Rebels' cause, he decided to keep his mouth shut and go back to Meridian alone to find the Seal before Cedric and his men does! If Caleb finds it first, he can use it to open any Portal he wants whenever he wants and bypass the girls' safety rule! This is going to end well...He coerced Blunk into finding the next Portal for him and upon arrive on Meridian, contacted the cloaked man who said that he discovered it, yet having no idea what the object is. The old man led Caleb up a hill to a nearby village but it turns out to be a trap! The cloaked man is Cedric and they never found the Seal to begin with. Leaving Caleb stuck in what appeared to be quicksand (I think I've seen this before in Disney's Aladdin
, but since this series is technically a part of Disney...oh, well...), Cedric heads back to the palace to figure out who is the spy.
Back on Earth, Yan Lin sensed that Caleb is in danger again and warned the girls just before they were about to perform their play for the principal, teachers, and parents for Drama Night. Hay Lin stated that they can't leave now or they'll be expelled...wait what? EXPELLED FOR CANCELING AN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY DUE TO AN EMERGENCY? ARE YOU SHITTING ME, SHEFFIELD? SCREW YOU! Yan Lin teaches them how to conjure up doubles of themselves called "Astral Drops" by saying it backward: "Spord Lartsa!" Saying it forward would make the Astral Drops disappear back into the Heart. While their doubles put on the play, the real Guardians will save Caleb...except the fact that the Astral Drops don't know the play and their minds are practically blank! And cue the backfired plan, especially when the Astral Drops literally hosed down the audience with REAL water for the raining scene instead of using the confetti ones for special effects.
The real Guardians arrived at Torus Filney and Will is immediately attacked by the living sandpit. Turns out it's a living monster called...Sandpit. How original. Two children told them that it ate a lot a people, including their brother. The Guardians must dive into the monster and rescue Caleb who's trapped below. Beneath is a cave and the creepy part is that the victims are being frozen in time as the monster slowly encase them in harden sand. If this were a live-action series, I think this scene would be creepier and cooler, especially when Taranee's holding a torch to see the phantom-rocked remains of the victims. Kinda reminds me of the people who were buried under the ashes when Pompeii erupted centuries ago. Caleb is trapped in a pillar and warns them not to touch the wall, the ground, or the ceiling. Luckily, the were able to get him out as well as the other victims who seemed to be still alive somehow. They fought against Sandpit and with Taranee's hot fire attacks, Sandpit is literally turned into a cold dish made of glass!
Time to go back home and reap in the glory because their Astral Drops have been doing the work for them. Turns out, it was a disaster and the girls found themselves being punished with detention for the action of their giddy doubles. On the bright side, at least Phobos still doesn't have the Seal that bears his name. Turns out that Cedric was right about a spy. Phobos ordered a list of the guards who left the palace yesterday around the time when the false rumor broke out. Unbeknownst to him, the camera zoomed into a sewer where the real Seal of Phobos was dropped and there it stayed undisturbed for 12 years...despite having rain and running water in said drainage.Overall Thoughts
Honestly guys, half of this episode sucks to me: the part about Hay Lin's play adaptation of the Four Dragons. In the original comic, her play was a success and it was more well written into the story! Here, it's treated more as a side plot for conveniences! Hay Lin's play was based off from one of the earlier issues and it did play an important part in the story: teaching the Guardians that their elemental powers came from the sacrifice and selfless action of ancient beings. In the comic, the Grumper sisters, two girls who loved nothing more than to spread rumors and gossips, enjoy dividing the girls by making them argue with one another. Hay Lin had to tell her friends the rest of her Grandmother story to make them realize that by working together, the dragons brought rain and saved the people on earth. They shouldn't let somethings so small and petty like the Grumper sister's words divide them! I won't give you the rest of the comic issue's detail, but after the girls returned from their mission, they attended Hay Lin's play (with Irma as the Red Dragon) and it was a huge success.
Hay Lin's story version differs from its comic adaptation here and there: the the nymph Xin Jing was portrayed as the Jade Emperor's daughter and they decided to have the dragon's boil the sea into rainclouds. In the comics, the nymph wasn't the daughter of the Jade Emperor and the Four Dragons actually scooped up the sea water and sprayed it onto the earth, turning it into rain directly. Kinda like what the Unagi serpent did in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yeah, apparently dragons' "gargled mouthwash" seemed gross so they decided to change it in the animated series. But you gotta remember that when stuff like this happens in mythology, it doesn't sound gross. I mean, c'mon! Athena sprout from her father's head after Hephaestus chopped it open! Dragons are actually considered agricultural water creatures in Asian mythology. Yet they still breath fire here and in the comic, due to Western misinterpretation to their own. Speaking of which, the four dragons' design in this episode isn't as good as it should be. I mean Asian dragons are always portrayed slender like a serpent in a very elegant way. Here, parts are them are portrayed more like Western dragons with wings and fat stomachs like a lizard! And don't get me started on the design of the Jade Emperor In this episode, they made him looked like some sort of warlock from an RPG computer game! What the hell?!
At least they got the colors right: the Red Dragon represented Irma's element as Water, thus, why she got the part in Hay Lin's play in the comic series. The Yellow Dragon represented Cornelia's element because he loved the earth the most and was the one who heard the people's plea for help. The Pearl Dragon breathed fire and the Black Dragon was the best flyer like Hay Lin. The Nymph represented Will's element of energy and will power for she was the one who combined their essences into herself, freeing them from imprisonment and leaving behind a part of herself as he Heart of Kandrakar. As for the dragons, their earthly bodies became the four main rivers in China that still run today.
This myth is, in actuality, based on a REAL Chinese myth: In the real version, there is no nymph and the Jade Emperor is actually a very wise and benevolent ruler. Heck, many Asian culture still revered him today, including my family during New Years. The reason why he became a cold-hearted and uncaring man was because he was placed under the spell of his new wife, an Evil Fairy Queen, with her enchanted singing voice. With him being distracted, there's no rain for weeks and weeks, causing the people to starve. The dragons asked the Emperor to send rain and he said he'll do it soon. But still under his evil wife's enchantment, he has forgotten his duty, leaving the four dragons to take matters into their own hands by scooping up sea water and turning it into fresh water rain. Still not in his right mind and common sense, the Emperor punished the dragons by imprisoning them under four mountains. Not wanting the people to perish, the dragons decided to turn themselves into the four rivers of China: The Red/Long Dragon turned into the Yangtze River; the Yellow Dragon into the Huanghe; the Black Dragon into the Heilongjian; and the Pearl Dragon into the Zhujiang River. This way, the people of earth will still have access to water whenever the Emperor is under someone's spell. Here's a link to the story online if you're interested: abandonedtowers.com/stories/th…
This episode also introduced two other main things: the Astral Drops and the Seal of Phobos, both also came from the original comics although from different issues in the same saga. The Astral Drops are the Guardians' perfect double should they ever need to leave for missions without arousing suspicions from their teachers, parents, and friends back home. The difference is that in the comics, the Astral Drops still have the Guardians' actual memories and behaviors (if the Guardians concentrate hard enough to make them so), but here they don't have their owners' knowledge and memories downloaded into their brains, thus making them seemed very stupid, such as ruining the play by hosing down the audience with actual water! In the end, they dissolved back into the Heart and their masters when the latters said, "Astral Drops", but the real Guardians get the blames for the mess their doubles did. Guess you shouldn't try and solve all your problems with magic! Trust me, this does make a better and more intense story later on in the comics and a little bit in season two.
As for the Seal of Phobos, it's a magical object that can tear open Portals in the Veil. It was stolen by the Princess' nurse maid 12 years ago who used it to bring herself and the infant to Earth, away from Meridian. In the original comics, the Guardians found it inside a book which was hidden inside a wall in the basement of one of their friends' house, leaving us to believe that the Princess' adopted parents and the same nurse maid used it to escape to Earth and had hidden it in their basement for all of those years. Basically, this freakin' seal is the Keyblade! In the animated series, it was lost in the chaos when the nanny and the lost princess bypassed the Veil and fell into the drainage in the sewers. Because of its revealed location to us at the end, we can assume that we'll see it again in a future episode and that it'll play a more critical role.
Finally, I'm puzzled by Phobos and Cedric's plan to capture this "spy" in their mist. Akino Ame was right in saying that Phobos's securities suck! Seriously, Cedric tells this false "rumor" about finding the Seal of Phobos to three generals who told it to their entire unit who told it to the kitchen workers who problem went home and told it to their husbands and/or wives, etc. How can you really tell which is the real spy when anyone besides Vathek could have gone home and tell those in league with the Rebels about this? Lame execution of evil planning, people!
Overall, it wasn't a bad episode. Despite the flaws, I still enjoyed it. I just wished they had done justice to Hay Lin's school play adaptation of the Nymph and the Four Dragons. Seriously, it's already bad enough that they left out some important details, but Hay Lin said that they'll be expel for ditching their own play. SERIOUSLY SHEFFIELD INSTITUTE? YOU DON'T PROVIDE YOUR STUDENTS WITH PROPER ADULT SUPERVISIONS DURING COMMUNITY SERVICE DAY, YOU SERVE FOOD OUT OF THE GARBAGE TO YOUR STUDENTS, AND NOW YOU'RE THREATENING TO EXPEL FIVE STUDENTS FOR DROPPING OUT OF THEIR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY BECAUSE OF A POSSIBLE EMERGENCY? Guys, remind me to do a "That Darn Question" article about how evil and terrible both Sheffield Institute and Alfea College for Fairies are!Stray Observation
A la Robin Hood style to the Rebels!
Aldarn, if you're trying to continue your undercover as an associate with the Rebels, you might not want to reveal your face and your allegiance in front of Phobos's guards!
Must be fiberglass or one of those really strong material glasses from Earth.
I thought the Infinite City was green, not red... Cornelia: "Urgh, can't we just transform and fly up?"
Will: We can't risk being seen just because you decided to wear heels today."
Oh sure! Says the girl who decided to use magic and cheat during a ski trip.
Whatever happened to helping those less fortunate peasants and Rebels who helped your friends survived while they were lost in Meridian, Will? You know you could have two Guardians going with Caleb to get some supplies while the rest of you stay behind to guard the Portal until the others returned.
Girls, you have the right to drop out of the play. After all, it's not your handwriting and it's not really mandatory.
Wait...how can you tell who's the spy? I mean all of your men and workers have to return to the village at some point and they're all going to tell their spouses and friends! How are you sure exactly who is the spy and who's not?!
Ha ha, Caleb doesn't know how to eat ice-cream.
WTF? The Jade Emperor looked like an RPG character or Wotan from DC Comics!
The dragons are fat with wings?
At least Xin Jing looked decent in this episode.
WTF? That pink dragon is a Western dragon, not Chinese!
Will, how can you tell that this story is the origin of your powers when Yan Lin didn't even mention the dragons representing the four elements. Saying the word "crystal" is ambiguous...I mean a lot of other mythologies have crystals and/or magic stones. How can you tell that it's YOUR Heart of Kandrakar?
Hay Lin's dragon costumes were better designed in the comics.
Cute how Blunk thought dressing up as an angel means that he's a bird.
Expel for canceling a play? Sheffield, you are evil.
I've seen something like this before in Aladdin
. But W.I.T.C.H. is also a Disney comic series, so I guess spooking it from their own company isn't really stealing.
Yan Lin, you're a terrible mentor, you know that?
That doesn't look like quicksand, but more like a puddle of tar.
LOL, Dragon Dance...a real dragon dance is more like this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipvjaV…
Ha ha, ugly clothes.
Okay, this scene is pretty cool and creepy, especially the people frozen in the sand pillars.
Taranee, how did you knew that those people are still alive?
And the Guardians are punished for what their Astral Drops did...guess you really can't use magic to solve all your problems.