With only an abridged season 3 to wrap up its story, The Owl House was only expected to do so much. The odds were against it from the get-go. As such a plot-heavy show — a rarity for Disney Channel — it seemed impossible that The Owl House could pull off what it set out to do, when dealt such a shitty hand. And yet showrunner Dana Terrace and the rest of the creators on the show manage to defy all expectations, telling a tight emotional story that resonates far beyond just three episodes.
“Watching and Dreaming,” the final episode of The Owl House, doesn’t hold back on the emotional punches. In fact, what really seals the deal is one particularly devastating moment that the show pulls off with particular finesse. It’s a risky, well-worn trope that is somehow treaded perfectly — and with it, the finale takes on a level of poignance that elevates the already great show to new levels.
[Ed. Note: This post contains major spoilers for the series finale of The Owl House.]
“Watching and Dreaming” picks up right where the previous one left off. After finding their way back to the demon realm and figuring out just what the heck happened to everyone, Luz and her friends end up getting spotted by the Collector, the omnipotent yet childlike entity who has taken control of the Boiling Isles. From there, it’s a race to save the day: Luz reunites with King and Eda and they need to somehow convey to the Collector that his idea of fun isn’t so fun, all while the evil Emperor Belos possess the heart of the Titan, the large dormant creature that makes up the landmass of the Boiling Isles, so he can enact his master plan to eradicate all witches.
Unlike the previous two specials that made up this season, the finale is less introspective. That’s not a bad thing. Luz has spent the past two episodes looking inward, forgiving herself for her past mistakes and learning what she really wants. Most of the emotional groundwork has already been laid this season. This episode uses all of that as a launchpad, catapulting Luz back to Eda and King as they save the day.
Because we’ve seen Luz work out her issues and confront them head on, it’s very evident how both Belos and the Collector represent these trials that once stood in her way. Emperor Belos, who at this point we know to be the colonial-era witch hunter Phillip Wittebane, represents control and conformity — Luz’s external fears. But the Collector, with their childish impulses and deep insecurities, is more of a reflection of Luz’s greatest anxieties. Now that Luz has conquered them, she can extend a hand to the Collector and try to get him to see what he’s doing wrong. She, Eda, and King tell the Collector about their story, which means revisiting familiar haunts and recounting memories. It’s typical finale fare, giving both the characters and the audience one last romp through memory lane.
And then the unimaginable happens. Halfway through the episode, Luz dies.
More specifically, she sacrifices herself to save the Collector, after Belos has fully possessed the dead body of the Titan and is infecting everything and everyone with some fungus-like growth out of The Last of Us. As the mushroom growth consumes her, she looks wide-eyed at King and Eda and confesses that she doesn’t know what to say. And then she’s gone, all that’s left of her some little orbs of light that float around the Boiling Isles, visiting all of the other characters. They don’t know exactly what happened, but as they look up at them, there’s a deep sense that they realize it’s a goodbye.
Of course, this is a Disney Channel show, so this death isn’t permanent. (Don’t worry! Killing the main character off in the middle of the finale also isn’t the move in a story fundamentally about finding one’s place and being around people who love you.) But for a good five minutes, it feels like it just might be for real. The characters certainly think so. And the episode gives this Disney Death just enough time to feel impactful, but doesn’t drag it out so it’s a gotcha moment five seconds before the end. Eda and King’s sorrow turns to rage as they lash out at Emperor Belos. Amity and the rest of Luz’s friends are shell-shocked in the moments before they rally. Most heartbreakingly, Luz’s mother Camila — who is still trapped in a frozen puppet form — sheds a tear.
But more importantly, this is the moment the Collector learns that there are people out there who will do the right thing no matter what — and that there are people out there who care about them and they should be worthy of that care. (Oh, and also that death is a thing that happens to mortals, but that is somehow secondary.)
It’s a tricky trope to tread, but The Owl House nails it. And that just makes Luz’s eventual comeback even more satisfying. It feels earned, especially with the heart-to-heart she has in the “Space In Between” with the original Titan himself. Luz confesses one last anxiety — that she’s no better than Belos in her desire to protect her friends. But the Titan dismisses it. There is no point in comparison. Belos is selfish and wants to be the hero of his own story. Luz has only ever acted for others. It’s the last metaphorical hurdle she needs to vault over, one last insecurity to reflect upon, before she can pick herself up again and fight.
And pick herself up again she does — with a cool new (albeit temporary) makeover. She, Eda, and King kick some ass in some of the most beautifully animated fight sequences in Disney Channel history. The most satisfying part of it all is we know that Luz’s emotional journey is complete. She’s accepted and forgiven herself.
In the end, the Big Bad gets defeated. Luz and her friends win, and they’re all reunited. There’s even a time skip epilogue that indulges a lot of fun character moments. But it’s not just pure fan service (even though, some of it kinda is). From the get-go, The Owl House has been about found family. Showing us that these characters still mean something to each other after time has passed really resonates. This isn’t a story where the found family dissolves after the adventure or bittersweetly grows apart; these bonds are made to last and last they will. The Owl House gave us almost everything that it could’ve in its limited three episode final season — and also gave us a gut-punch in the finale that is going to stick with us for some time.
The Owl House finale will be available to stream on Disney Plus on April 9.
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