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The 'title card' from Enchanting Grom Fright.

if you've seen this show before, or happen to be watching along, you understand that Enchanting Grom Fright is a big deal, right? and how, in conjuction with a variety of other distractions this week, wanting to give this episode the overview it deserves might slow the pace a little?

this is an interesting one, in that i can't say i came into this episode completely blind. before i had even started watching The Owl House, or had increasingly glowing reviews from friends drawing me towards it, the big thing that we all know happens at the end of this episode was the thing i knew about this show. i'm talking around it for now, on the off-chance that i can spare someone the type of foreknowledge i had, but rest assured, we'll dig deep into it when the time comes. for now, let's just call this a major turning point in the series.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Luz displaying her plant glyph for an uninterested King.

before we get there, though, we have pretty much the entire rest of the episode to unpack! right off the bat, we're getting some leaps and bounds, as Luz has cracked the code on her next spell - a plant glyph hidden in the center of a flower. once again, magic is everywhere, and while i think there's an argument to be made for the idea that this spell comes a little fast, i'd also say i'm thankful that we're not spending whole episodes reaffirming what Adventure in the Elements taught us about the nature of Luz's magic. there's more important things to reaffirm, like how giving King wi-fi and cat videos is definitely a great idea and not a potential bad influence.

it's somewhat played for a bit here, but unironically, this moment does prove to be pretty pivotal to where this episode is heading. the last few episodes have marked a noticeable shift - we've gotten more and more mentions of the fact that Luz is going to head back home to the human world one day, and this scene starts tackling this double life head-on, as using the portal door for the sake of wi-fi and charging also opens contact with Luz's mother back up. Luz opting to respond to her texts with a simple thumbs-up is perhaps the single most relatable thing she's ever done, as a chronic emoji responder myself, and she's finally starting to openly confront ideas like how she'll explain all of this. she's easily assuaged by King's argument that she's doing the right thing by not freaking her mom out, though, and before we can linger on this too long, Gus and Willow arrive to bring Luz to Hexside.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Skara getting invited to Grom.

and it's not just any old day at Hexside! as the title promises, it's time for Grom, the 'social event of the season' and the Boiling Isles equivalent to a school dance. for as much as i've occasionally griped about finding the Hexside material a little less engaging, i do think this episode is one of those exciting opportunities that comes out of the compromise to make Hexside a more prominent location. you could have done a 'journey into Willow's mind' episode without needing to set it at the school, but this is demon prom! it's fun, and i love the exaggerated theatrics we see of a student having two doctors rush him in on a stretcher as part of an elaborate invitation to Skara.

Luz, of course, is very excited at the prospect of getting to attend a prom where she fits in better, after having been 'kicked out of [her] last school dance for dressing like an otter', but we quickly learn that, like all things in the demon realm, there's some unexpected twists and dangers attached to the whole Grom thing. Amity bumps into Luz - very noticeably softening her tone down from a 'watch it, nitwit' to an 'oh, hi' when she realizes who it is - and just moments after gathering her belongings back up, is declared Grom Queen in front of the whole school. Luz, quite obviously lacking some context here, is excited for her friend, but Amity seems rather shaken up about the whole thing and runs off as Willow notes that it's a hard burden to bear.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with a tapestry explaining Grometheus, the fear-bringer.

wandering off to get a better sense of what this whole Grom thing is actually about, Luz finds herself in the school gym (with the Snaggleback working as an impromptu disco ball), where she gives in to the insurmountable impulse to hit a cool button and discovers an entrance to a massive pit, and some medieval weaponry. Amity catches her from the rafters and we finally get to learn what the whole deal with being Grom Queen is. Hexside, like any good magical school, has a monster sealed underneath its halls - Grom, as it turns out, is actually short for Grometheus, 'the Fear-Bringer'. as Amity explains by way of cool magical tapestry, Grometheus tries to escape and menace Bonesborough every year, and it's a long-standing tradition for a student to ward it off, to the point where Principal Bump has turned the whole thing into a party.

it's a blend of pretty standard magical school concepts, but i like the way this premise ties them all together and adds the extra layer of the principal being arrogant enough about the whole ritual to turn it from 'dangerous trial' to 'fun social event'. Amity, despite all her confidence and magical prowess, knows herself well enough to say that Grom's mind-reading, shapeshifting powers are going to pull something 'very embarrassing' for her worst fear, and Luz tries to encourage her to talk to Bump about finding someone else, which Amity accepts gracefully. it's an interesting turn for someone who, in the past, has been so defined by her pride.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Eda suited up and King showing off a flyer for him and Gus co-emceeing.

back at the Owl House, Eda's having King fit her for a tuxedo (cool women in cool suits! my one weakness!), as she's volunteered to chaperone the school dance, with King revealing that he and Gus are going to be co-emcees. the episode doesn't draw a lot of attention to this, but i will say, it is sweet that there's no obvious ulterior motive here - Eda's not talking about wanting to get a favor out of Bump or anything, she just wants to make sure something goes well for Luz. that supportiveness only goes so far, though, as when Luz off-handedly wishes she could take Amity's place, Eda laughs her off about it immediately and says that she's too fragile to fight Grometheus with her current knowledge of magic.

this kind of talk only makes Luz more dedicated to the idea of fighting Grom - and makes her ignore Eda's actual hidden advice that there is, in fact, a big spider in her hair - and she storms off to train. even after Luz exits, we get a few really nice lines of dialogue showing two sides to this. King has a point when he says that Luz is getting stronger and has already saved Eda from multiple monsters, but Eda also has a point about how Grom is a very different type of opponent, one who can prey on Luz's psyche and show her fears she doesn't even consciously know she's afraid of yet.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Luz vowing to take over as Grom Queen for Amity.

out in the woods, Luz once again runs into Amity, who, after a brief slip, confides in Luz that Bump won't let her back down unless she has a replacement already lined up. with only the slightest pause to even think about it, Luz agrees. i have... a lot of things to say about this scene! but not without the proper context. put a pin in it.

Luz is approaching her training with her usual upbeat attitude, perhaps as a way to keep her mind off all the texts she's getting from her mom, but Amity does her best to keep her focused on the task at hand by reminding her that Grom's presence is an issue for the entire island. one beatdown for Hooty later (Amity warned him not to butt in!) and the two head out front, where Edric and Emira are present to help conjure up some of Luz's potential opponents as illusions. brief sidebar: i brought up last time they showed up that i appreciate how they're not being pigeonholed into an antagonistic role, and we get that extended even further here when Edric completely flounders trying to start a conversation about everyone's worst fears, accidentally coming off way too vulnerable. it's fun and i'm happy to see them popping up more.

though Luz might think of herself as covering all her bases by having the Blight twins conjure up things like 'jerks online who wanna debate' and 'human souls trapped in cat bodies', Amity is quick to cut to the core of the issue in a way i find really interesting. the way she sees it, Grometheus isn't just going to target things that give Luz some heebie-jeebies - it's going to tap into something deeper than that, something that might actually be materially hard to confront or cope with. it's a really enticing bit of character contrast. Amity can't fight Grom because she might be too in touch with her own deepest fears, and Luz - at least currently - can't fight Grom because she's so out of touch with her own deepest fears.

when confronted with this type of hard question, Luz's gut instinct is that her realest, deepest fear is appearing fragile and inadequate in front of Eda, that she needs to do this not just for Amity's sake but to prove she can become a witch at all. the ensuing gigantic illusion gives the real Eda the opportunity to - well, for starters, admire how much she still looks great - but more importantly, step in as a mentor. while she briefly reprimands her pupil by asking 'what's the fun in watching a kid get eaten by a monster if it's my kid' (notice that 'my kid' talk again!), ultimately there's just no time left to prepare before Grom has to be fought, one way or another.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Principal Bump bashfully raising the roof.

for all the talk of people's innermost fears and protecting the town from a deadly monster, the 'school dance' part of Grom is adorable. there's a band of funny instruments that play themselves! that big dork Mattholomule found himself a date! Willow's making plant magic corsages for everyone! and, while Eda's worrying about how Luz is going to handle things, King is worrying about how good Gus is at talking in front of people, and if he'll be able to keep up as co-emcee. honestly, props to the writers for actually selling that vibe - obviously we're not here for a particularly long time, but Gus is pretty good at working a crowd, especially when we see Bump wordlessly pull off the world's most endearing 'ah, the students are talking about me, better play along with this raise the roof bit'. absolutely perfect awkward principal energy.

really, this shouldn't be the most surprising observation to make given this episode is built around a literal fear monster, but it really is doing a good job of showing how everyone in our primary cast deals with anxiety, especially as we loop back around to Luz and Amity. their conversation here is, again, a little hard to talk about without just completely spilling the beans on where this episode is heading. let's for now, just say that the way Amity's entire tone as a character changes when she's talking about how much she admires Luz's bravery, is... normal. normal friend stuff. normal stuff, for two friends. i will say, even setting aside how totally and absolutely normal this shift is, it clicks into place really well - emotions aside, i imagine you can't really keep putting that many walls up around a person when you just went spelunking through some deeply tragic memories together last week.

enough about super normal friend behavior, though, because it's time for Grom to try and make its escape. i love the way the audience completely shifts their mode of engagement, with Skara and her date both revealing Hexside jerseys hidden under their prom attire, and while Luz might lose a little nerd cred for passing on the Buster Sword, she does have the much more clever idea of picking out a flail and sticking a glyph to it for some ranged magic attacks. while Luz makes short work of some of her lesser fears using the ice glyph, King succumbs to his stage fright and runs off, leaving Bump to commentate the event as Grometheus keeps escalating the battle. for a moment, it seems like Luz was right in identifying Eda as her potential worst fear, but when Grom takes another look into her mind, it ultimately settles on the shape of the portal door, and out steps Camila, who quickly reprimands Luz for lying to her about the demon realm. for as much as i talk about sometimes finding third-act twists in this show obvious, this one i do remember getting me off-guard on my first viewing, if only because i didn't think the show would do this so soon.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Grometheus transforming into a monstrous version of Camila.

of course, all of this is still part of Grometheus, as it elegantly displays by growing into a massive hybrid with Camila riding on top of what seems to be Grom's 'default' shape, and the fear-bringer quickly chases Luz out of the gym, right through a conversation King and Gus are having. we don't neccessarily get the deepest dive into King's stage fright, but it is nice to see him actually talk about his feelings, which feels like it wouldn't have happened even a few short episodes ago. the fight going off the rails is just the opportunity King needs to get back into the crowd's good graces, and with even the weakest bit of pandering to their school pride, he manages to lead everyone after Luz to see how things go.

eventually, Grometheus has Luz cornered, both physically on a cliff and mentally with increasingly intense questioning of why she 'can't face her own mother'. Eda arrives, prepared to help without any hint of an 'i told you so' given the very immediate danger, but before she can really even start, it's actually Amity who comes rushing in past her, putting herself between Luz and Grom. even with all her character development, it's the most self-sacrificial thing we've seen Amity do, really, and the ploy ends up working as a way to get Grom to shrink itself down into her worst fear - just a small, shadowy humanoid that takes the note Amity's been carrying and tears it up before slithering off. honestly, the way this gets animated adds a ton of personality to Grometheus, for me. Amity's visibly devastated, and without a single word, Grometheus seems to just intuitively know it's put her through as much emotional distress as possible, and just slinks away to find its next target.

Luz rushes to Amity and picks up the lower half of the torn note, revealing it to be Amity's attempt to ask someone out for Grom - the 'who' is left mysterious, but only for a few moments, and like, c'monnn, you know by now. she quickly offers to stand in and, even if the night has gone way off the rails by this point, symbolically invites Amity to Grom. unfortunately, Grometheus is preparing to attack again. fortunately, the animation is about to go wild, as Amity asks 'may I have this dance?'.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Luz and Amity about to dance to defeat Grometheus.

i love scenes where characters get to do a fight that is also a dance - it's one of my favorite visual metaphors and it can tell you so much about their personalities. i also love scenes in animation where you can tell the artists are really excited because the framerate and shading just skyrocket in quality. therefore, as you can imagine, i unabashedly love the next 30 seconds of this episode so much. genuine 'jump out of my chair cheering' levels of excitement. i love the way the dance incorporates both Luz and Amity's styles of magic, with a spin turning into an improvisational spell circle or a deck of glyphs being splayed out like a hand fan. i love the sweeping score here. i love that we follow up on the discovery of the plant glyph in the intro by having it get activated at untold levels of power, probably the strongest spell we've ever seen Luz perform, as it creates an absolutely massive blossoming tree that explodes Grometheus into chunks from the inside. i cannot emphasize it enough - i love every bit of this scene.

with Grometheus defeated, perhaps permanently (and some snazzy pink crowns granted to the two queens who got it done), Luz is quick to ask about the other half of that note, and Amity bashfully tosses it aside, revealing to us viewers that she had wanted to ask Luz out all along. and now i can actually start talking about this episode.

this is what i meant when i said i didn't come into this episode completely blind. before i even knew who Luz and Amity were, i knew that Enchanting Grom Fright marked a cultural moment where this show made some pretty big strides in LGBTQ+ representation for Disney as a whole. of course, as with any acknowledgement that LGBTQ+ people are, in fact, people, there was plenty of culture war nonsense about how Disney was going woke or whatever. i'm not here for that. it's a bunch of nonsense that i could spend an incredibly long time ranting about, but quite frankly, as this episode itself says, people who want to 'debate' online often aren't coming from a place of intellectual honesty, and they're not worth my time. besides, for everyone mad that a cartoon would imply gay people exist in the world, there's just as many people who feel incredibly seen and validated by representation like this, especially when lots of other Disney Channel shows on this metaphorical family tree like Gravity Falls fought tooth and nail for the right to even vaguely imply representation right up until they ended.

so, Amity has a crush on Luz. i'm here for it. i haven't engaged very directly with anyone who isn't here for it, but i have been informed that some people think this plotline comes in a little fast. to that, i would say... huh? what? i mean, i guess, but no faster than any other crush i've seen in a serialized cartoon like this. we've gotten like, five or six episodes within this first season charting Amity's arc from 'embittered former friend' to 'begrudging rival' to 'i've really messed things up as a result of the environment i was raised in, and want to treat people better'. if this was always the goal - and it very much seems like it probably was - we have to start somewhere. if not now, then when?

it's not like it comes out of nowhere, either. i mean, here's a hint - all that normal friend behavior i pointed out in this episode? it was actually about Amity having a crush all along. the way she talks about Luz, especially when she lets her guard down and admits she really admires her bravery, reads as a step or two beyond just a friendly admiration. the fact that Luz literally steps in, at risk of her own safety, to spare Amity from having to be embarrassed? that's how feelings like this develop. when she was mysteriously talking to herself in the halls about how going to Hexside together might change things about her and Luz's relationship? that was also probably about this! the clues were all there. i dunno, maybe my perception is tinted by this outcome being pretty much the first thing i learned about The Owl House, but i also think i would have come to a lot of the same conclusions on my own, anyways.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with the crowd lifting up Luz, Amity, and King after defeating Grometheus.

back in the episode itself, though, Luz doesn't notice this, so we're in for a long-term character arc, folks. she and Amity are too busy getting lifted up by the crowd, being joined by King too when he finally rekindles his regal bravado. this episode could have pretty easily ended right here, but i actually really love that we get to see what returning to the Owl House looks like after the night everyone's had. Eda is proud of Luz for managing to defeat Grom, but Luz seems uncharacteristically despondent about the whole thing, even going so far as to throw her Grom crown aside (for King to quickly scurry in and pick up, declaring himself 'king and queen, best of both things') as she heads upstairs.

as she sits on the windowsill, we get to understand why her mood's changed so much. she won, sure, but she didn't actually conquer her deepest fear. when put in front of her mother - or, at least, a demon's hyper-aggressive approximation of her mother - she didn't have any answers ready for why she fled to the demon realm, or how she feels about her life back home. the resolution of this, though, is one of the most powerful moments of The Owl House so far. my read on the situation is that, for a fear like what Luz carries, there is no resolution in fighting Grometheus - you can make it change shape or blow it to bits with a spell, sure, but the way Grometheus reads fear, it's not built to actually hold a conversation, to provide the kind of closure and catharsis that would actually help anyone like Luz. by opting to finally actually type out a message to her mom, Luz is displaying far more strength than she might even realize, the kind of strength that actually starts fixing fears instead of blowing them up.

A screenshot from Enchanting Grom Fright, with Luz sitting in the windowsill while texting her mom.

the ensuing text is written out really nicely, in a way that sums up where we're at without necessarily giving away to Camila that her daughter's not quite at summer camp. we've come a long way in a little under a season of television, as Luz now has all kinds of friends in the demon realm, people she can count on, who we get to see in a nice little montage of how everyone's handling the post-Grom burnout. and then, as if this episode hasn't given us enough to think about already, Luz's mother tells her that she 'loves receiving [her] letters'. Luz notes that this is a cute, perhaps old-fashioned way to refer to them keeping in touch through texts.

and then we get a glimpse at Camila's side of this conversation - next to a stack of physical letters, written by someone seemingly impersonating Luz. that seems kind of menacing and important, doesn't it?

so, clearly Enchanting Grom Fright gives us a lot to think about. it is, in a sense, bigger than the show itself as a moment in time for LGBTQ+ representation in animation - i mean, as i've said here, that's the part i knew going into this show above all else, that things were going to get sapphic. even within just the context of The Owl House, though, it feels like an important milestone. it's a summation of where we've been and the friends Luz has accumulated, and her relationship to the expectations of becoming a witch. it's an episode where King goes through kind of a panic attack and has pretty real feelings instead of just being comic relief. it's a moment where we confront one of the most inevitable questions looming over this story, of what it means to return home for Luz and how she's going to navigate that situation. and, on top of all of this, yes, it is also a historic bit of representation for a Disney Channel series being done in an incredibly engaging way. so, i dunno, hot take, but i think Enchanting Grom Fright is a pretty good episode of television. a lesser show could have easily fumbled this concept or played it a little sillier, but The Owl House is showing a real interest in where our anxieties come from and how we cope with them, and that's one of the many ways in which this show hooks me in.

next time on The Owl House - Luz gets to play the local magical sport!

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