Today is the official start of our Jewel Riders recaps! It’s like Avalon: Web of Magic, except it’s not!
… Okay, we admit, the two do share some similarities. Like, there’s three girls with magical jewels and bonded animals, and they have to find some Mineral McGuffins before the Big Bad does. And one of our heroes is related to the Big Bad. And there’s a place called Avalon. And both series share (most of) the same soundtrack. And there’s lots of other stuff, which we’ll get to under the cut.
A note: the videos we’re posting are the international versions, so they refer to the princess as “Starla”. We’ll be using “Gwenevere” because that’s what we grew up with.
What Do We Remember About This Episode?
JW: Um, there was a badass thorny castle with purple fire all over the place. And a cat gets blasted by Magic Missiles. This is an episode I’ve probably seen only once or twice, so I don’t remember it very well.
Ry: Giant wolves and unicorns! Merlin in a big soap bubble! Cool Enchanted Jewels and Jewel Armor!
A Quick and Dirty Summary:
Princess Kale is pissed because Merlin didn’t choose her to wield the Sunstone and rule Avalon. Her luck seems to turn when she finds a “wild jewel” and bonds with the two dweasels that detected it. Now equipped with her newly-dubbed Dark Stone, Kale is ready to take over Avalon by force.
Meanwhile, at the Crystal Palace, Merlin is preparing Gwenevere for her Friendship Ceremony. In order to wield the Sunstone and become a Jewel Rider, Gwen must bond with a magical animal. The lesson is interrupted by a raven that somehow tells Merlin that trouble is brewing.
Gwen worries that she won’t be able to bond with a magical animal, but her Jewel Rider friend Tamara says some reassuring stuff about the Sunstone and its power.
Meanwhile, a winged unicorn named Sunstar tries to play ball with some other unicorns. She gets teased for having wings and not being able to fly. Her father (I guess it’s her father?) tries to reassure her.
(Ry: Yeah, it’s her father. He shows up again in the S2 episode “Vale of the Unicorns” as well.)
So, that trouble Merlin ran off to take care of? It’s a doe trapped in a Wild Magic bubble. Piece of cake, right? Well, Merlin didn’t notice the OBVIOUSLY EVIL expression on the doe’s face and gets trapped in the bubble. Turns out that the doe was Kale, and it was a trap all along. Kale tries to steal the key to Merlin’s jewel box, which contains the Crown Jewels of Avalon, but the raven from earlier steals the key. Merlin is then blasted into the Wild Magic.
After a very long aerial chase, the raven crash-lands in a forest. Sunstar, who is conveniently walking nearby, is tasked with taking the key to the Crystal Palace. She doesn’t get very far. Kale easily catches up with her.
Meanwhile, Gwen, the Jewel Riders (Tamara and the newly-introduced ethnic tomboy Fallon), and the Pack (Drake and two other wolf-riding men) learn about a threat to the kingdom. The girls decide to check out Merlin’s house … which is totally ransacked. Archimedes (Merlin’s talking owl, usually called Archie) survived somehow, and tells the girls that someone took Merlin’s jewel box. This is obviously a Bad Thing, so the girls ride off to find it.
After a ride through the Wild Magic via the Travel Trees, the girls find Kale with Sunstar imprisoned in her “dragon wagon”. This culminates in a giant Magic Missile battle. Gwen manages to get the key from Sunstar, but Spike (one of Tamara’s bonded animals) throws himself before a Magic Missile and gets tainted by Wild Magic. Kale flies off with the requisite Evil Laughter, while the party tries to figure out how the hell to cast Heal….
* My hearing is shit, so as a kid I thought that the theme song went, “Jump in the rain / when the sun shines”. It wasn’t until I bought the tapes when I learned that the lyrics were quite different. (Ry: I thought it said “Jump in the rain” for the longest time too!)
* The international titles look more badass, don’t you think?
* If Tamara is already a Jewel Rider, why does she still take lessons from Merlin?
* People can only hear magical animals speak if they have an Enchanted Jewel equipped. Tamara often has to translate for Gwen because of this.
* Ry: Tamara is actually the only Jewel Rider who can understand everyone’s animals. All the animals with Enchanted Jewels equipped can understand each other, though. So Fallon could ask Moondance to ask Sunstar something, but she probably can’t hear Sunstar directly.
* Okay, how stupid must Merlin be to not notice the OBVIOUSLY EVIL expression on that doe’s face?
* Tamara has a tiger-drawn carriage? At least, I think it’s a tiger. But still … she has a big cat towing her carriage. Why? (Ry: I actually always thought it was some kind of bear?)
* One thing that gets me down is when PEOPLE! PUT! EXCESSIVE ARMOR! ON THEIR GIANT WOLVES!
* What’s the point of those ribbons on Moondance’s saddle? That has always confused me.
* So, Merlin denied Kale the Sunstone not because she couldn’t control it, but because her alignment was not Good. Okay…. (Ry: I’ve always wondered if it was really Merlin who chose, or the Jewel itself?)
* Demanding the Travel Trees to ride the Wild Magic: Bad Idea. Politely asking the Travel Trees to ride the Wild Magic: Good Idea. (Ry: Yeah, politeness somehow gets related to magic a lot in this series.)
* Archie claims that the Enchanted Jewels are not meant for massive Magic Missile battles. Then what’s the point of having a magic jewel that can shoot Magic Missiles?
* Tamara is bonded to three of the most annoying animals ever. I hated the babies when I was a kid, and I still do to this day.
* The opening of the show and the bit where Sunstar walks through the forest are hilariously ripped off from Disney.
* The Travel Trees tell Kale that her Dark Stone hasn’t been tuned by Merlin. “Tuning” jewels is a concept that comes up all the time in the series. I think it’s basically analogous to bonding or unlocking the jewel, but the word is used in several different ways, thereby muddying the concept. (JW: Tuning jewels is also mentioned in Avalon, and it specifically refers to bonding with and controlling the jewel. Tuned jewels can’t be used by anyone else unless they’re given away freely.)
* In much the same way, Wild Magic is actually really nebulously defined during the series – at different points it’s the untapped magic of the land, the magic inside the Travel Tree tunnels, and much later a magical dimension that crosses all worlds.
* Oh neat – I never realized the floor of the Crystal Palace had a tree (Forest Stone) inside a sun (Sun Stone)!
* For future reference, Queen Anya’s purple cat is named Wintermane and King Jared’s brown wolf is named Goliath.
* Archie is basically an infodump/comedy character in place of Merlin – here, he explains all about the Crown Jewels. Further infodumps will follow.
* Fallon is a badass – she can apparently take down the entire dragon wagon on her own. This stunt is sadly never repeated.
* I laugh every time Archie says “The Enchanted Jewels are not weapons!” Because that’s basically what they use them for most of the time.
* This episode is basically Kara’s arc from the first half of Avalon: Web of Magic. Gwen wants to become a Jewel Rider, bond with an animal, and get an Enchanted Jewel. She then finds a winged magical animal that she shares a connection with.
* Tamara and Fallon (the Emily and Adriane analogues) became Jewel Riders before the series started. In Avalon, Emily and Adriane find their jewels before Kara joins the party.
* Archie is basically Ozzie. They both have long Greek names that are conveniently shortened, and they have similar vocal tics.
* Kale is the Dark Sorceress analogue. They both have some serious sister issues, and they both want to take over Avalon.
* The Crystal Palace shows up in Avalon: The Warlock Diaries.
Next time: The second half of “Jewel Quest”, in which the party gets a quest.