By Isabella Green
While this certainly not the most autumnal thing I could choose to write about, I associate the show with the season. I was originally going to write this article just about those attributes, but getting there made me remember so much of how the show uses the fantasy tropes that exist both in and outside of it to set both the viewer’s and the character’s expectations. So here’s a deep dive into the one of the only things I associate with the season of spookiness.
There are some huge parallels used between the things the characters enjoy and the lives of the characters themselves. For example, Luz and Amity’s dynamic and character arcs are deeply similar to the characters of Azura and Hecate. Luz’s main drive to befriend Amity at first is due to believing that she is like Azura and can befriend Amity, who she has had horrible timing trying to interact with. Their first meeting is Luz cheating in class and beating Amity’s previously unrivalled record, their second is Luz being unknowingly taken to read through and share pages of Amity’s diary, it makes sense that Luz wants to fix things with her. This belief of Amity just being an enemies to lovers archetype melts away the more that Luz starts to understand Amity as a person and the more Luz stops viewing herself as the main character, destined to live through a life almost exactly like her hero. Ironically, when this starts to happen, the tropes in the story begin happening naturally as she isn’t trying to force anything to happen. Gus utilises characters to try to send a message to Hunter about knowing he is a Grimwalker by sharing a series featuring a character who is secretly a clone and is worried about how his friends would react; meanwhile his friend already knows and is trying to support him. It’s also a wholesome parallel to closeted queer kids whose siblings try to support them after accidentally discover are queer, which makes up a non-insignificant portion of the fan base. While likely unintentional, I still find it cute. Despite ultimately going over Hunter’s head and the others learning about him being a clone when it threatens his health, it’s still a sweet gesture.
A huge theme in the show is fandoms and being part of one. Luz only makes it to the Demon Realm because she doesn’t want to lose her favourite book, which is also her final gift from her deceased father. Once there, the first thing her and Amity bond over is the series. Considering Amity is later confirmed to be the only one in the Boiling Isles to purchase the Azura books, she is also likely somewhat-outcasted in her interests in the same way as Luz. Luz having friends in people who aren’t interested in Azura like Gus and Willow in season one and then later Hunter also adds some nuance to this point, in that you don’t need to have the exact same hobbies as all your friends, often just mutually being there for someone is enough to build a bond.
Is it any wonder why fandom is incredibly strong? At the time of writing, it has been over 4 months since the finale aired and (unsurprisingly) people are still discussing this gem of a show, this article and I included. And it’s not tough to see why. A genuinely beautiful story of a girl who finds she belongs much more in a world of people branded as demons and monsters making friends and fighting off the people who hurt her and her found family, with pacing that rarely slows down and leaves you on the edge of your seat, realistic characters and so, SO many background details and codes that add foreshadowing for anyone who looks deeply enough to pull it apart. To be honest, watching the show without access to the online discussion and fan art doesn’t do it justice. From background details that can only be noticed if you go frame by frame and fandoms hitting the nail on the head in terms of theories to one incredibly dedicated artist – who goes by MoringMark online – drawing daily comics of the characters that are still going, so much emotional impact is missing if you watch it detached from the community. And that does not mean that the show is not good or shouldn’t be watched now that it is over and theories for the future cannot be made. It is just a lot more fun to connect to others about something you enjoy. And I think that goes for most things.
This brings us back to the initial point of this article, what I was planning on writing about when I started this draft: the anticipation leading up to the release of ‘Thanks to Them’. It had been about four and a half months since the season two finale ‘King’s Tide’ had aired. We had been given small sneak peeks and trailers at conventions that had leaked online. The show had been cut short due to a horrible mix of Disney cancelling serialised shows and a lack of marketing. The trailer of the intro was largely a two-minute montage of the characters having fun on earth, a bittersweet reminder of what could have been but also a clear signal that the team were going to do everything they could to make the show good within the limitations they were given. I didn’t want the show to be over, but after months of waiting an ending felt better than emptiness. It was gearing up towards Halloween, and for someone who for the most part dislikes scary media and horror movies, this show about witches and demons was the closest thing I had to a way to celebrate the holiday. It wasn’t like the show disagreed. In an expert move, the show had used a timeskip to move the canon time to only a few weeks after the real-world time. This meant that an already ominous episode confirming many fan’s theories towards the main villain’s backstory and his relation to the main character was revealed in an incredibly natural way that made much more sense than anything else that could be done with the character’s location. We were shown details of the life of Philip Wittebane in a simple ghost tour that the main cast went on due to wanting to do something nice for their overworked friend. It also gives an excuse for why no one questions any traces of magic left behind in the human world as many of them could look like remnants of Halloween.
The actual episode was really well done, and definitely fit with its air-time. It had many moments between the characters that were really well done (and animated). From heart-pounding battles, sibling bonding moments between Luz and Hunter, to Masha obliviously teaching the kids about the town’s ghost stories. It delivered. The show always did. And that’s why I have such fond memories of waiting for it. Because no matter how high my expectations were, it managed to exceed them by miles.