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The 'title card' from Once Upon a Swap.

folks, we've got a challenge on our hands. i just straight-up do not have much to say about Once Upon a Swap, and not even in the fun way where i write up a full-length overview anyways or something. in my experience with the Owl House fandom, this one's a pretty common contender for the show's worst episode, and like... yeah, maybe? it's not aggressively bad to watch or anything, it's just a very straight-forward take on a very straight-forward plot and it's all just a bit weird. so, today, both to account for a lack of analyzable content here and to try and buy myself a lead since i know i have a few busy days ahead of me, i challenge myself to see if i can write just a super normal, super short overview on this one, because it's what it deserves.

A screenshot from Once Upon a Swap, with Boscha and friends admiring King's cuteness.

we start off back at Eda's 'human collectibles' stand for the first time in a while, and a lot of the best bits of this episode are actually things i can cover right here! i like Luz trying to use the light glyph to help out and showing that she's still getting more adept with it, using it to make a neon sign of Eda's face. i also like that Boscha's here and, very correctly, identifies King as absolutely adorable and a great source of Penstagram clout. it's a pretty quick set-up that establishes each of our main trio as assuming the others have it easier, and i will say, if we're gonna have to do a body swap episode, i appreciate that there's no real pretense about it, with Eda proposing it like this is just something witches do all the time to prove a point about these types of arguments.

so, Luz is Eda, Eda is King, King is Luz. whoever has things the easiest gets to skip out on house cleaning. the show actually deploys a cutaway gag here, which hasn't really been in its comedic vocabulary so far, but i do like the idea that Hooty just inexplicably loves rolling around in mud for no reason. from here, the episode does something even more structurally weird and splits off into three discrete 'segments' for each character. without giving too much away, there's another episode in this series that's eventually going to play this format much better, but at the very least, it does make tracking each thread here relatively painless without me having to pick and choose and skip around.

A screenshot from Once Upon a Swap, with Eda as King about to take a nap.

Eda (who is now King, remember) is operating under the assumption that life as an adorable little creature means getting pampered, and it does, for about five seconds, before some kindly old ladies find her and take her to their 'kitty café'. there, she gets pampered, but too much, in a menacing way! oh noooo! i really have incredibly little to say about this whole segment of the episode, other than my note that "to become King is to become sleepy" and also to say that these old ladies are some really contrived antagonists. like, they keep going off about how much they despise specifically teenagers and it's like, i get it, King (who is Luz) is gonna end up causing trouble here, right? i get it.

speaking of King, it's time for King's segment! this one at least has a slightly more interesting premise going on, as King's instinct when given control over Luz's life is to become 'king of teenagers' and convert Boscha's lackeys to his side. it's not always coming up, but i do like when King's desire for authority manifests in weird specific niches. there's some fun stuff here, like how Boiling Isles water balloons also seem to generate a proportionally-sized kraken lurking in the 'depths' of their puddles, or the winged sneakers that grant the teens flight, or what is (as far as i remember) the only classical fantasy elf in this entire show showing up to say 'this sign gets it' when King helps vandalize a self storage sign.

i mean, not to put too fine a point on this elf thing, but it's a great example of how this episode is a bit weird, right? there's a lot of stuff we've never seen before and aren't really going to see again for the sake of bits. it's all extremely Season 1 energy.

A screenshot from Once Upon a Swap, with King as Luz being confronted by Boscha.

anyways, Boscha isn't taking kindly to not-Luz's new popularity and challenges King to a race, with King breaking Boscha's 'treasure shack' hangout in the process and ending up on everyone's bad side again. in fleeing, King winds up in the kitty café, and hey, in case you forgot the really fine point they put on it, those old ladies sure do hate teenagers, and decide to lock King (who, again, is Luz right now, a teenager) in with Eda (who is King, who is locked up with her).

Luz's segment is next, and this one ostensibly has the most potential for actual character exploration - Luz has constantly fantasized about being a witch and is now essentially all-powerful in Eda's body. it's only in the context of helping Eda maintain her business, but we do get to see at least a bit of what she would do with such power. at first, it's mostly unintentionally firing off massive beams of energy, but with the help of some oven mitts, she gets the hang of things, sprucing up Eda's wares with magic and creating a new, even flashier neon sign. it's a fun bit of theatrics, i guess. quickly, though, Eda (real Eda, who is Eda but is currently King, not Eda)'s suspicions become true, as some Emperor's Coven guards quickly close in on the stand and arrest Luz (who is currently being Eda).

and then Lilith shows up! i don't think it's any shock that Eda's cool, mysterious, sort-of-evil sister would be a recurring character, but i had completely forgotten that her second appearance was in this episode, given how much i usually associate her with really plot-heavy installments. for as much as i've griped about this episode's inconsistencies, one thing it does have down extremely well is Lilith. upon her arrival, she's willing to burn up direct orders to send Eda to the Conformatorium, because she wants to sit down and have a talk with her sister first.

A screenshot from Once Upon a Swap, with Lilith excited to reconnect with Eda, who's actually Luz right now.

much like the last time they met, Lilith's initial tone towards her sister is confrontational, but quickly turns towards delight at the prospect of being able to save her from - in Lilith's own words from later in this episode - 'her worthless life'. not knowing about the body swap (despite Luz repeatedly showing signs that she isn't Eda), she assumes that Eda getting caught was some kind of cry for help, and we get this episode's one major contributing factor to the show's overarching plot when Lilith drops the reveal that when they were younger, Eda and Lilith both wanted to join the Emperor's Coven, which only makes Eda's staunch refusual of all covens in the present day even more mysterious. Eda is obviously shocked by this, because she's not Eda right now, she's Luz!

it's also worth pointing out that it'll be a while before this even comes up again, because this episode was the first to be aired out of production order. from what i can tell, a lot of the season going forward is shifted around slightly, but this one still has the biggest jump, having been produced as the sixteenth and aired as the eighth. going forward, i will be following airing order, if only because that's the order everyone has experienced the show in so far, but now seems like the best time to bring this up.

anyways, one magical mishap later, and Luz has busted out of the Emperor's Coven precinct, which just so happens to be pretty close to the kitty café. our main characters reunite and admit that being each other is hard, but even with their bodies switched back, they still have to deal with all the enemies they've accrued through their various hijinks. Eda, in what i'll concede is a pretty clever solution, simply decides to weaponize her body swapping spell, firing it at around at their surrounding foes so they can escape while everyone's confused. and then Eda says 'let's never speak of this again', which i'm pretty sure is just writer code for 'yeah, we know too, whatever, you don't have to think about it again'.

i hope i don't sound too harsh in talking about Once Upon a Swap, because not every episode has to be a wall-to-wall plot-filled banger that i can talk about all day. it is totally fine for a show to have a bit of a weird week. if anything, i'm mostly just disappointed because i feel like this premise could lead to a lot of fun character analysis, but Eda and King's segments really don't give me anything to chew on, and while Luz's segment does pose an interesting question of what happens when she goes from beginner witch to extra-powerful, it doesn't end up doing an awful lot with that question. to activate a bit of writer's brain, i think if i were in charge of writing this type of episode, i might actually end up shuffling the swaps a little bit, or at least finding ways to explore the ones here in more detail. oh well. at the very least, i'm glad to see Lilith around more.

next time on The Owl House - Luz heads off to... magic school... again...?

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