January 28, 2023

Willow‘s Kit Tanthalos doesn’t look or act like a typical princess. Actor Ruby Cruz imbues Kit with a brash, mischievous charm that would put Madmartigan himself to shame. Stubborn and often irritable to a fault, Kit prefers leather armor to ball gowns, is quick with her sword and – as was noted in Episode 4 – takes it badly with her best friend and self-proclaimed protector, Jade Claymore (Erin Kelman) . Coincidentally, the level-headed and loyal Jade also adores Kit.

Fans have been clamoring for a strange Disney princess for years, and one way or another Willow has delivered. Jade and Kit’s story has all the beats of a traditional fantasy novel but with a modern sensibility, making it feel fresh and new in a genre that often teases strangeness but ultimately deviates from it. The result here is an organic and utterly charming storyline that doesn’t feel like it was conceived just to include symbolic representation.

The Lady and the Knight is a chivalrous – if slightly overwrought – trope that most fantasy fans will be familiar with. The lady is portrayed as a beautiful and dignified, if somewhat helpless, young woman in need of rescue. The knight is the strong and handsome man who has sworn to protect her. As their relationship grows, they often become romantically entangled. Willow takes this trope and gleefully flips the whole thing on its head. Instead of a young man, a young woman is determined to become a knight in shining armor and the beautiful lady in question is not afraid to get her hands dirty and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

It’s been an absolute joy to watch both Kit and Jade embody the roles of the Lady and Knight respectively, navigating their feelings for each other as they try to save Kit’s brother and, on a much larger scale, the world. While the characters themselves have repeatedly tried to deny their romantic feelings for each other, the romantic tension between them has only increased since their sword fight and stolen kiss in Episode 1. Being Heroes hasn’t given them much time to process those feelings, but the tension between them was undeniable in the private moments they shared together.

Instead of avoiding strangeness or making a spectacle of it, Willow celebrates it joyfully in a way that is still lacking in so many fantasy and sci-fi shows. Strangeness often becomes a complication in the story; a character may feel they need to hide who they are or come to their companions before their adventure can continue, but that’s not the case here. And Willow is not just a show about reckless adventurers. It’s a show about love and how to take care of each other. Over the course of the series, Willow and his companions have become a found family; they may not be related by blood, but they have come together to form a unit based on their shared experiences and understanding of each other, despite the occasional clash of heads.

It’s yet another trope Willow marries the couple’s story, but it is used for a purpose. Their love is not simple or cuddly; it is an integral part of and integrated with the entire world around them.

Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) and Jade (Erin Kellyman) stand in a fighting stance in a foggy forest in Willow

Photo: Amanda Searle/Lucasfilm

Many fantasy fans are also familiar with the concept of a dark, mysterious patch of forest with the power to show those who enter it what they desire most. “The Wildwood is enticing,” says Boorman. “It lures you in with its sights and sounds. Before you know it, you’ll be arranging weddings and dog sitting for casual acquaintances. He’s not entirely wrong either. Throughout the episode, Elora, Graydon, and Boorman are all faced with something they want, but it’s Kit and Jade that really take center stage.

Almost immediately after entering the Wildwood, Willow and company are captured by bloodthirsty Bone Reavers and separated from each other. Much to her dismay, Kit finds herself locked up with Elora, leaving her to worry about Jade’s safety. Elora, clearly as fed up with their mutual homesickness as Boorman, goes on to tell Kit, “I believe that love is the strongest force in the universe.”

Elora is talking about her relationship with Airk, of course, but the sentiment extends to Kit and Jade as well. What follows is a brilliant if somewhat brief moment between two characters who have otherwise spent most of this season at each other’s throats. It’s also incredibly refreshing to watch. Kit’s feelings for Jade aren’t downplayed, used against her, or turned into a shocking revelation. Instead, it is made clear that Elora and everyone else in their group of adventurers are really behind Kit and Jade.

Eventually, with the help of some truth plums, Kit and Jade are able to confess their feelings for each other in the depths of the Wildwood. It’s aided with the help of another common fantasy trope. But it’s a heartfelt confession of love that’s slowly built up over five episodes, and presumably much longer than that. For the first time since the show began, they can put aside their respective titles and just be two young women who are hopelessly in love with each other.

Of course, things don’t quite go according to plan – after all, there are more episodes in this season. Before they can kiss, Jade and Kit are interrupted by a gang of trolls. Kit is then pulled from Jade’s grasp and abruptly whisked away, leaving Jade the knight she always wanted to be. While Willow successfully putting a new spin on the dame and knight trope, it also cleverly acknowledges that Jade and Kit still have a part in it.

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