It’s happened! It has finally happened. Despite my best efforts to not like Esteban as a character, Team Avalor has finally won my vote for this incredibly interesting, deeply conflicted character. From the start, I’ve always criticized Esteban as being too unlikable to care about as a character. I’ve also criticized the way that the status quo never changes for him. he often goes from ‘Learning his lesson’ right back into being the worst to everyone as soon as the next episode rolls around. While King of the Carnaval didn’t redeem his character by any means, it did provide him with a lot of great moments and a surprising amount of depth. If I haven’t said this before, I’ll say it now. Esteban is easily the most complicated character on this show, and in my opinion, that makes him the most interesting.
When relatives of Esteban’s come to town during Carnaval, Esteban gets suspicious. I understand this. My relatives are sketchy as well. Victor and Carla, voiced by Lou Diamond Phillips and Myrna Velasco respectively, provide an interesting dynamic as villains for this show. They aren’t magical or powerful in any way. In fact, they’re sort of just your average Joe’s, but they’ve got a need for revenge and the fact that they are tied so closely to Esteban provides a lot of insight into his past. The truth of the matter is that Esteban didn’t use to be a very good guy. We were quickly reminded of his partnership with Shuriki and how that has affected him now. One of the major things I like about Esteban is that he has this need and want to be a better person for his family, even if he isn’t quite there yet.
The whole set up leads to some interesting developments, one of which was Esteban’s first ever song. While Esteban’s song was not a beautiful ballad or a catchy pop tune, the entire scene was brilliantly put together. Watching Esteban poor his heart out while dodging booby traps left and right was absolutely hilarious and heart breaking at the same time. I honestly feel that when I think about this show, this scene will now stand out as one of the highlights. It’s just such a perfect blend of humor, drama and story telling.
The action built to a fun chase through town in a giant chicken which was once again tense yet hilarious. Watching Elena move the Chicken by trying to escape was awesome and seeing this out of control parade float racing through town was funny, despite the fact that it was something of a high speed chase to get back the crown’s possessions. Once again, that nice balance was struck between humor, action and story-telling.
I really loved how this episode ended. While things wrapped up, there was actually a lot left up in the air. I LOVE that Esteban still didn’t quite confess to his past sins. The longer this lie keeps up, the juicier the drama will be when everyone finds out and secrets waiting to burst gives the show a nice sense of serialization. I also loved that Victor and Carla left with the promise of return. There are a lot of villains I want to see come back, but it was good to see that these two actually have plans in the works. The open endedness of the conclusion provides a great reason to tune in next week, not that I needed a reason, but it’s still nice. Children’s shows rarely get a large amount of serialization, playing out more often as several stand alone episodes, but I think shows like Gravity Falls and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic prove that kids are capable of following complex storylines from week to week and I’m excited that Elena of Avalor is taking even more of that plunge than before.
My first reaction to this being an Esteban episode was not great, but in the end it actually turned out to be one of my favorites of the season. Esteban continues to surprise me with his many layers. He’s a character who doesn’t always solve problems the correct way and he makes mistakes, but that makes him relatable and realistic. It also makes him wildly unpredictable and incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to see where this episode leads us as the show delves deeper into a persistent, ongoing story. Perhaps as we ramp up to a season finale, Avalor is in for some big reveals!