Season 2 doesn't fully follow on the brio the show displayed at the tail end of last season, but with a newfound pathos and lots of wit, Disenchantment has finally transmogrified into that rare beast of a TV show that leaves you asking for more. There's a noticeable tonal shift between the sombre premiere and finale and the middle batch of episodes that the show somehow pulls off like a charm. The season premiere follows Bean and her mother as they make their way to Maru, Dagmar's kingdom where she's welcomed by her brother and sister (the mysterious duo who kept a watch on Bean in Season 1 and sent Luci to retrieve her). The episode teases the show's intriguing mythology as Bean comes to learn of a prophecy involving her birth and her mother's real nature and caps it off with a surprisingly poignant sacrifice. There's also a nail-biting sequence in a Stygian library that might remind gaming nerds about a quest involving Filch in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone video game. Penned by Shion Takeuchi, one of the show's only two female writers, it's Disenchantment at its best, encapsulating the show's heft and humor.
The second season is brimming with new worlds galore and, with a larger roster of recurring characters and callbacks, the show finally feels expansive. In Season 1, the show almost immediately gave up on the quest premise it teased in its trailer, presumably not for budgetary reasons (given Netflix must have opened up its coffers to Groening to do whatever he wanted). Viewers expected a show that followed Bean on the run from Dreamland and King Zog (John DiMaggio), the father who wants to marry her off to a prince for political reasons. Instead, it almost immediately transitioned, after a father-daughter reconciliation in the pilot, into a series of low-stake comedic shenanigans in the castle and taverns of Dreamland. In Season 2, Bean's horizons are wider. She literally goes to hell and back, in addition to visiting Maru, an ogre village, Mermaid Island, and Steamland, a steampunk kingdom akin to Futurama's New New York crossed with Victorian-era aesthetics.
While a majority of episodes involve seemingly inconsequential gags -- tavern merrymaking, a castle heist, roommate conflicts between an elf and a demon, an elf plague, King Zog falling in love with a selkie and a murderous sea monster on the loose -- they are balanced out by subverting character tropes and deepening the characters' relationships. King Zog, who feels like if Robert Baratheon existed in a sitcom, Queen Oona, Bean's reptilian stepmother, who becomes a pirate and divorces Zog, and Derek, her lonely stepbrother, all break out of their one-dimensional molds. And while she is only prominent in one episode, Queen Dagmar (Sharon Horgan), who shifts adeptly between maternal warmth and malevolent intensity, is a memorable antagonist. Only Horgan could deliver the line “What? No hug?” with such spine-chilling mockery.