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The 'title card' from Covention.

Covention is another one of those early episodes that's doing a lot of set-up work (although given we're now about a fourth of the way through this season already, i wonder how 'early' you can really call this?), but at the very least, it's very intriguing set-up, and the show seems well-aware of it, because it wastes no time getting us right into our premise and throwing lots of plot hooks at us!

after some brief Good Witch Azura talk with our core trio (King seems to be a fan, Eda is very much not), we're right off to the titular Covention, which takes the cake for 'best written wordplay that you'll probably get tripped up trying to say out loud', at least so far. as Luz quite succinctly puts it, it's a 'job fair for witches', following up on the various classes we saw at Hexside. rewatching this episode, i was really caught off-guard by how much important lore stuff is getting dropped here. to sort of condense the most notable bits from throughout the episode into one section - it's generally expected that witches on the Boiling Isles are supposed to join a coven, specializing into a specific branch of magic but losing the ability to perform all other types. there's hypothetically hundreds of covens, but there's nine main ones corresponding to the various types of magic and color-coded uniforms we've seen from Hexside so far, namely abominations, plant magic, and illusions. there's also sort of a tenth, the Emperor's Coven, serving as the elite guard for the currently unseen Emperor Belos with access to all flavors of magic.

that's a lot of lore, but it's all pretty important lore, and that's really only half of what this episode is here to convey to us. we've known Eda's been an outlaw from the start, but this episode specifies that a big part of that is because she's refused to join a coven, having no interest in tying herself down to a particular style of magic and seemingly no interest in serving under the Emperor's Coven either. Luz still wants to go anyways, and that desire only increases when her genre-savvy nerd senses detect a bit of unexplored backstory from Eda, noticing instantly when her mentor says 'I haven't been to one since we were girls'. i like this turn quite a bit! we've talked a bit about how Luz's media literacy can be a hurdle in adjusting to the Boiling Isles, but it's fun to see it pop up in more benign ways too.

A screenshot from Covention, with Luz and friends looking up at banners for the nine main covens.

Eda might hate covens, but she evidently hates the Azura books more and caves in, coming along to the Covention under the fool-proof disguise of 'put all your hair into a big ball under your hood'. we get a look at a few of the main covens, with Tiny Nose getting equipped with a 'power glyph' by the Construction Coven, Gus showing off his illusion magic, and a brief glimpse of someone actually getting inducted into a coven, with a sigil placed on their wrist generating some mysterious blue 'veins' of light. yikes! almost like covens are Bad, Actually, or something!

oh, and King has what honestly ends up being essentially a C-plot about taking free gifts from all the coven booths, interpreting them as 'offerings' from his 'subjects'. it's cute, but there's kind of just one joke to it, so this is the only time it's gonna come up. at least he had a really good episode last time!

Luz ends up heading to the crown jewel of the Covention, a panel for the Emperor's Coven, and acknowledges to Eda that she understands the point she's trying to make about covens but wants the agency to go learn about the Demon Realm herself. it's a nice touch, and i appreciate that this episode doesn't get bogged down in Luz needing to understand this very bluntly explained dynamic. Eda doesn't intend on going in, but winds up following to avoid suspicion from guards. she might hate it in here, but she does get an opportunity to laugh way harder than she should at her own jokes about the Emperor's Coven, which only endears her to me more. it's a good thing she decided to duck in, though, because the 'mystery guest' happens to be the other half of that 'we' business from earlier - her sister, Lilith.

A screenshot from Covention, with Lilith magically casting aside her mask and cloak.

Lilith is, right off the bat, a very cool character. more media should give the protagonists a cool evil foil, and Lilith fills the role incredibly well, with a lot of crow-based iconography (including an absolutely sick mask that just stops showing up after this episode, unfortunately) in place of Eda's owl motifs. ideologically, she's pretty much the exact opposite attitude of her sister, introduced as the leader of the Emperor's Coven and wearing the title with nothing but pride.

she also happens to be tutoring Amity. i guess? this plot thread really doesn't come back up again for either of these characters, because it's mostly here in this episode to provide us with some fun thematic parallels. Amity's still bitter over the trouble Luz caused at Hexside and only gets more upset when she learns that Luz is actually a human trying to learn magic. Luz tries to be at least kind of civil, but draws the line when Amity ends up picking on King too, busting out her best Good Witch Azura impression to challenge Amity to a witch's duel, only to very quickly realize this is a very real thing with very real magically enforced stakes.

i feel like with the amount of stuff this episode has going on, the actual agreement upon the duel kind of goes by a little quickly, but it works to keep the plot moving, with Luz getting an apology if she wins and Amity getting to essentially ban Luz from all magic if she wins. for as quickly as this confrontation moves, i do really like the joke of King insisting Luz has to do this for his honor, only to end up fully admitting he doesn't think she can win. he has a sensitive side, yes, but King can also be a little jerk!

A screenshot from Covention, with Eda laughing at Lilith.

Eda winds up running into Lilith while trying to sneak out, and seeing them interact is very interesting. they both open with some snide remarks, but Lilith's immediate instinct about why her sister would come here if she's a wanted criminal is that she must finally want to join the Emperor's Coven like her, which she genuinely seems completely stoked about. even when it becomes clear that this isn't the case and that the sisters' students have wound up agreeing to a duel, Lilith seems kind of amused by the whole thing and willingly lets Eda roam the Covention freely, wanting to 'see how good a teacher [she] really is'. i'm putting a pretty fine point on this, because i find this dynamic to be, first of all, very interesting, and secondly, the core of understanding Lilith's character. she might talk a big game about enforcing the Emperor's will, but she can't help but try and give her sister a ton of chances to avoid the consequences of being a criminal under the laws she enforces.

Eda seems fully committed to actualy prepping Luz for an honest win, but when it becomes clear that Luz's one spell is pretty much solely based on utility - sidebar, one of my favorite comedic bits in this whole show so far is here, when Luz's reaction to 'how would you dodge a blast of fire' is to just silently pull her hoodie up and lay down - her mentor decides to take matters into her own hands. Luz, being the noble protagonist she is, isn't super fond of receiving outside interference (via a set of 'magic traps' Eda has planted) but has no choice once the bell rings. even with the traps, Luz's mostly on the defensive throughout until trying to actively warn Amity about what's going on, which leads to King getting caught in one of the traps and Eda's plan getting caught. 'fortunately', in big scare quotes, for Luz, Lilith wound up on the exact same train of thought as Eda, giving Amity one of those power glyph stickers from the Construction Coven to enhance her magic. internal logic!

these next two bits happen sort of simultaneously, so excuse me separating them out into two threads to cover them both as full conversations and/or completely rad magic fights. in not quite this order -

A screenshot from Covention, with Amity demanding Luz say she's not a witch.

Luz runs after Amity to try and apologize for how things went, but Amity is having none of it. the cast of this show is super-talented all around, but i had to note down and now subsequently highlight that Amity's voice actress, Mae Whitman, is kind of absolutely killing in here in a way i thought we wouldn't be getting until way later in the show. the "hey, it's actually really tough being top of the class" material isn't the freshest, but the performance goes a long way in selling it and getting me invested. the other main thing keeping me hooked here is the way Luz reacts, willing to admit that she's not a witch - not yet, at least, but she's trying. there's still some animosity there, but Amity seems to respect that the two of them are both trying hard in their own ways and undoes the magical bet they took before heading off.

A screenshot from Covention, with Lilith mid-duel against Eda.

meanwhile, Eda can't help but celebrate that Lilith has stooped to her level and provokes her into an impromptu duel in front of the whole Covention audience. writing about really well-done animation like this, especially without any real artistic expertise of my own, can be tough, but i cannot stress enough how cool this fight looks. Lilith is doing all sorts of crazy blue fire magic and teleportation, while Eda is effortlessly deploying a sprawling network of what i can only really describe as 'mega-Hootys'. it's all anime as hell and i love it.

what i love even more, though, is a bit of juicy character writing! when it seems like the duel is getting out of hand, Eda manages to bring her sister's guard down by bringing up her owl curse, saying that she 'doesn't know how much time [she has] left'. it ends up being a bit of a ploy to throw some Hex Mix at Lilith and run off, but there's a very sincere vulnerability to Eda's tone that leaves it genuinely ambigious how much she means what she's saying. this immediately stuck out to me even on my first viewing as some excellent character writing - is Eda really getting worse at handling her curse and living on borrowed time? maybe! we don't know yet!

Luz and Eda catch back up, have a reaffirming talk about how 'being a true witch' is kind of a meaningless title, and manage to get out before Lilith can sic the Emperor's Coven on them, but we actually end on a scene of Lilith. at first, she's lamenting how hard it is to reach out to her sister, but a delightful little goblin woman who i can't wait to tell you more about sometime shows up in her mirror, cryptically saying to 'remember what Emperor Belos has promised you' in exchange for the capture of Eda. again, this ties back into what i was talking about earlier - Eda slipped away this time essentially because Lilith let her, or, at least, constructed a situation in which escape was still very much an option for her sister. there's an interesting struggle brewing there, huh!

Covention, as an episode, can come off a bit clumsy at times with how many plates it's spinning, but all of the plates it's spinning are ones that end up being pretty important, and someone had to spin them at some point. in 22 minutes, you get the coven system codified, our first proper Amity episode to set her up as a rival to Luz, an introduction to Lilith, not to mention a dozen other things that might not be as immediately important, like 'hey, the Boiling Isles have an emperor' or 'Gus does illusion magic and so when you see the light blue Hexside uniform, that's for illusionists'. there's not exactly a ton of breathing room in this one, but it still manages to tell a nice little story, do some nice little bits, and ends up with a lot to unpack, especially on a second viewing.

next time on The Owl House - Luz has a sleepover!

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