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The 'title card' from Wing It Like Witches.

of the much-hyped final chunk of episodes for season one, Wing It Like Witches is definitely the most low-key. we just got off the back of two episodes that taught us a lot of interesting things, particularly about Amity, and while the final two episodes aired a week apart, the presence of an enticing 'to be continued' makes me read them more as a single big unit, and obviously the season finale's going to have something going on, right? smack dab in the middle here, then, is a relatively relaxed episode about Luz doing some sports to stand up for a friend, but i think it's also a good checkpoint to stop and take stock of what's been going on lately and get some further insight into these characters.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Boscha in her room surrounded by her trophies.

for starters, Boscha! we've seen her around as part of Amity's gang and gotten to know a thing or two, but with Amity pretty definitively not being the person she started this season as anymore, it's time for Boscha to step up as resident mean girl of Hexside, and we get our best glimpse yet of how she's earned that popularity and how it shapes her. Boscha, as it turns out, is the captain of Hexside's oft-mentioned sports team, the Banshees, and grudgby season has arrived. she's got a cool jacket, she's got a room full of trophies, and she's got a killer monologue about how it's okay if people don't like her as long as she's establishing fear and dominion. everyone in town loves her for being the hometown sports star, to the point of setting some very funny unrealistic expectations for their own kids.

but a lot has happened at Hexside lately, and we're really starting to see that come home to roost. Willow's using her magic to impress people and make new friends (by way of face-shaped botany), and when Boscha tries to pick on her, Amity actually shuts her down completely by noting how immature it is to be so obsessed with this social hierarchy. it's a nice cold open that does a lot in a pretty short window of time - we're seeing social dynamics shifting, we're seeing Amity follow up on that promise to stick up for Willow more, and on a meta-textual level it feels like we're seeing the writers find their footing with writing Hexside stories that don't feel quite so contrived.

as the episode really gets going, we see Luz being, of course, incredibly excited that it's time for the local magical sports season to begin. Eda reveals that when she was at Hexside, she was MVP on the Banshees (back in her 'gory days'. separate from her glory days. Eda has phases and layers.), although that was partially because she got really good at cheating. nice balance between 'Eda was a jock in her youth' and 'Eda has always been a bit of a trickster'. Luz isn't super happy about Eda's attitude, but correctly identifies when to just back down about the whole thing, leaving Eda and King to go wax nostalgic about her grudgby career.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Willow explaining her new-found confidence to her friends.

in history class (are you taking notes at home? Emperor Belos appointed head witches to the nine covens 50 years ago. write that down! we're in history class!), Willow once again manages to impress the class by pretty casually dropping some correct answers. when Luz notices how much her friend's reputation has shifted overnight, Willow notes that working things out with Amity has helped her a lot with her social confidence. it's a small beat, but it's one i really like - we've gotten a lot of Amity focus lately and i don't think it's giving too much away to say that we'll continue to get a lot of Amity focus, but Willow's feelings about that damaged friendship matter too and i like that the show's taking the time to acknowledge that it's been healthier for her, too. it'd be easy to reduce her to a prop in Amity's redemption, but it doesn't really come across that way thanks to moments like this.

unfortunately, though, Boscha very transparently feels threatened by how things are changing and is doubling down on her bullying, openly making it her mission to target all three of our core Hexside characters. worse yet is that her status as star player of the Banshees means that everyone, including the teachers, is totally fine with this as long as she can somehow relate it back to practicing for grudgby. for as unfortunately real as this moment is, it also leads to one of my favorite jokes in the entire show -

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Bump passing by the recently-bullied Luz, Gus, and Willow.
WILLOW: We should have just kept a low profile. Boscha could get away with murder if she wanted to.
PRINCIPAL BUMP: What's this? Boscha got away with murder? I can't say I approve, but at least she's trying new things...

- so clearly things are stacked against Willow and co. a little bit. Amity is around and eager to offer some help, but she's also increasingly tongue-tied around Luz (which largely seems to go over Luz's head), and the main takeaway Luz gets is that Boscha 'only speaks in grudgby terms'. when Boscha goes as far as dumping a trash can on Gus and Willow from a few floors up, Luz pulls out what Eda identifies later in this very episode as kind of a signature move for her - challenging Boscha to a match of grudgby for her friends' sake. the stakes are set, with Luz looking to earn some respect for her friends and Boscha looking to earn some new targets to practice on, menacingly kicking a grudgby ball clean through a tree and setting it on fire for intimidation points.

unfortunately, Willow and Gus have never even played grudgby, but they're willing to try things Luz's way, which is to say 'heavily inspired by classic sports underdog stories like Good Witch Azura 2: The Field of Deadly Fates'. the offer is also extended to Amity, but the idea of 'Running around in cute uniforms? Sweating?' with Luz proves to be too much for her increasingly obvious feelings and she leaves in a hurry. Amity really has had one of the most transformative arcs in this first season, and 'flustered dork' is a very fun turn to see as we approach the end.

meanwhile, Eda's been going over some of her fondest grudgby memories for King, even donning her old team jacket and pulling out her 'RAD CHEATZ' box, but the trip down memory lane is interrupted when Hooty reveals he's caught a potential intruder/'special friend' in the forests surrounding the house. it's Lilith, back after a few episodes of absence, and still trying to see if she can talk her sister down to a peaceful surrender. there's a sense of increased urgency, as she mentions the Emperor has 'big plans for the Isles' that Eda should be part of his Coven for, but the two really are still bickering like overly competitive sisters.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Lilith holding up a photo of her and Eda from their grudgby days.

the petty sibling energy only gets stronger when Lilith notices the old grudgby photos and reveals for King that she was there too - looking very different in her youth with some crazy poofy orange hair and big nerd glasses - as captain of the Banshees. ultimately, despite this arrest being more-or-less what her job hinges on at this point, Lilith can't resist staking the whole thing on a one-on-one grudgby match. i've brought it up throughout the season, whenever Lilith's around, but this really is the peak example that ripples back outwards into my reading of those earlier situations. Lilith is loyal to Belos, and that loyalty has placed her as a diametric opposite to her sister, but she's still using wagers and games as emotional insulation from the idea that her chosen ideology might one day demand that she actually harms Eda.

off in the other emotionally charged grudgby feud happening today, Luz finally learns what grudgby actually is, and the answer is basically 'magic basketball with dangerous traps placed throughout the field'. she cues up the soundtrack for Rocky - oh, excuse me, that phone clearly says Ricky - and promises to put her friends through an intense training montage, but when Gus asks what a montage is, we instead get a montage explaining the art of montages, complete with inexplicable animal pajamas. i'm not sure this type of meta humor fits into the overall comedic voice of the show that well, but i won't pretend i didn't laugh. when training actually begins, it proves a little overwhelming for the group, but Luz is determined to keep throwing herself at the problem until they positive-think their way to victory, accidentally breaking Gus's grudgby flags and Willow's hair clip when she tries to replicate a stunt from Azura's magical sports adventures.

i've talked pretty extensively throughout the season about Luz's tendency to view her problems through the lens of the media she's familiar with, and this episode is definitely treading that familiar ground. this time, though, it's more on the terms of challenging Luz's belief that (in Willow's words) 'a good attitude and a dope music soundtrack' can overcome basic facts, like how she and her friends have literally never played the sport before. not the freshest reason for Luz to stumble and need to make things right, but i do like seeing more of the dynamic we saw back in Understanding Willow, where Luz's friends understand this problem-solving impulse and know when to nurture it and when to tell her to back down. sometimes, that's what you need friends to do, and i think it paints a pretty even-handed picture about how getting to know people at Hexside has done more for Luz's personal growth than being a bit of an outcast in the human world.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with a flashback to Amity's days as captain of the Banshees.

and speaking of personal growth, it ends up being Amity who comes to check on Luz while Willow and Gus are off recovering from practice. it's interesting to have gotten three episodes in a row that all feature her so heavily, and i wonder if some people maybe got a little sick of this, but i'm personally very much here for it, in terms of actually showing us the strides she's making to be a better person. we also get shown, once again, that Amity is actually the exact same type of dork as Luz, as she reveals that she was the previous captain of the Banshees and wound up setting the game aside when she hurt her teammates in her own attempt to recreate the Thorn Vault from Good Witch Azura 2. they are the same person, deep down! it's adorable! and so is Amity getting flustered when she realizes Luz has leaned in really close, because Luz, like any nerd would, 'really loves backstories'.

Luz doesn't quite get as despondent as we've seen her sometimes, but she does come to the conclusion that the best way to settle matters is to set aside her fantasy of being as cool as Azura, and to offer herself up as Boscha's new target if it means sparing Willow. Boscha knows enough to say Luz is being very noble about this, but that doesn't stop her from eagerly tossing a few fireballs off at Luz, leaving Amity to go let her friends know what's going on. she can't even get through a full explanation of the situation without making it abundantly clear multiple times that she's head-over-heels for Luz at this point ('She can be so stupid, which I love - I mean hate!'), but she eventually gets the point across and the group heads off to help. sidebar: Gus putting his broken flags on an IV drip and having the pole rattle around behind him when they all run off without anyone commenting on it is one of the funniest things in this entire show, no contest. all-timer episode for bits.

the B-plot with Eda and Lilith actually gets wrapped up a lot earlier than i had remembered, in the middle of all of this. Eda's been left without any of her tricks (Luz found her box of tricks and assumed she was doing her mentor a favor by cleaning out an old dirty lunchbox, as her adorable little note conveys), but she still has enough raw grudgby talent to eke out a narrow win. in keeping with how petty this whole thing has been, Lilith has a pretty emotional reaction to losing and insists she can't afford to keep returning to the Emperor empty-handed. Eda seems pretty moved by this and opts to hand over her golden ring, as a token of Lilith's efforts to present to her boss. Lilith, in turn, seems moved by this gesture, but ominously promises that she'll be back soon, with back-up this time. and so, we're left waiting. Eda's waiting. and Hooty's waiting, too. hoot-hoot.

back at Hexside, Willow steps in to take responsibility for the beef with Boscha, patching things up with Luz by acknowledging that she was 'just trying to help in your Luz way' before re-challenging Boscha. Gus is still tending to his wounded flags, so Amity steps in as their third player, solidifying her turn to the protagonists' side in case there was any doubt left after everything she's been through. it's a nice moment - i mean, it isn't mindblowing given the gradual softening up she's been going through, but it is nice to see her outright tell Boscha that she's not the Amity she used to be, that she sees befriending Willow and Luz as making her life better.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Luz discovering the glyph for fire magic.

the ensuing grudgby match shows that, for all her worries about not being good at this, Willow actually has secret reserves of jock energy we never could have predicted. we get some fun moments of teamwork, like Amity using a giant abomination hand to wrestle away swinging axes so Luz can run the ball down the field, and we also get the reveal of Luz's next glyph! much like the plant spell, i could see an argument being made that this one happens quickly, but i do like the way it happens - using her ice spell manages to slow down one of Boscha's fireballs, and prevent it from burning up, allowing Luz to catch it and spot a fire glyph burnt into its surface. previous knowledge unlocking further new knowledge is cool! it's like a Metroidvania!

much like with the Clawthorne sisters, this game ends up coming down to a tied score and just enough time for one last play. Willow opts to let Luz take another shot at setting up the Thorn Vault, and i can see why she and Amity were so insistent on trying this all along, because it's an incredibly cool technique, with Willow running across a massive growing vine straight to the goal. this seems to give them the win as the buzzer rings, but as they celebrate, the Banshees' score skyrockets to a maximum 999. Boscha reveals that she's caught 'the Rusty Smidge', which grants instant unconditional victory, and says that 'all magic sports are like this'. Luz has this to say, while coming as close to staring point-blank into the 'camera' as possible.

LUZ: That just invalidates all our efforts! If catching that thing is so important, why do anything else? There's no reason to watch any of the other players! That's such a stupid rule!

remember when i said needing to write more stories at Hexside seems to bring a certain sharply-directed bluntness out of the writers, about how they feel about other popular wizard fiction? this is the other thing i was thinking of. right here. it's maybe the angriest Luz has ever sounded about anything so far, and honestly, she's right. go off.

the actual scoreboard ends up mattering incredibly little, though, because the real victory here is that, through good sportsmanship and respect, Willow's won over all of Boscha's friends, which makes all her threats a little empty. it's a little cheesy, and i tend to not be huge on stories that hinge themselves on the idea that being nice enough is all it takes to get rid of bullying, but i don't hate it, given how this show has also put in a lot of time to approach this issue from the much more sensible angle that it can very often be the bully's responsibility to do some self-reflection and act better.

unfortunately, there are still pretty direct consequences to the whole thing, because while Luz and Willow were running their last play, Amity wound up getting hurt pretty badly - breaking her leg, as we'll find out in like, 30 seconds when we see her in a cast - and needs to be retrieved from the field. no danger here, other than Amity getting so flustered at the idea of being picked up that she blurts out 'Who's Amity?'. Gus asks for another montage, and we indeed get one, showing the group having fun with sports and, on a more emotional note, Amity being welcomed into the Owl House, solidly considered 'one of the gang' now.

A screenshot from Wing It Like Witches, with Amity being welcomed by her friends at the Owl House.

so, like i said up top, not a ton really happens in Wing It Like Witches, on its surface. given where we've been and where we're about to go, though, i appreciate having a bit of a breather, and i still think this episode is an excellently executed breather. we're getting reaffirmations of the friendships Luz has forged and how well her new friends understand her, even when she gets in over her head. we're seeing that all this recent emotional closure and new beginnings stuff has been good for Willow in a lot of ways. we're getting a lot of flustered Amity content, which i'd say isn't all that fresh if it weren't for the fact that it's actually incredibly refreshing when you realize this is one of the first times a girl has been allowed to have a crush on another girl on Disney Channel? and, perhaps most menacingly, we're receiving a reminder of how deep the Clawthorne sister grudge runs, and the sense that things might finally boil over on that front soon.

as i mentioned earlier, the next two episodes aren't technically a two-parter, but they might as well be, in my book. brace yourselves, folks, because a lot's about to happen and i'm going to have a lot to say about every bit of it!

next time on The Owl House - Luz visits a castle! THE castle, really.

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