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I am beginning to wonder whether "the very first thing you see" refers to the title page...that disenchantment is the "entire nature of what you are watching".[1] Someone or some being is, perhaps, "enchanted" ie. put under a spell. The spell induces visions which we are calling the show. The purpose of the show is that this person or being is attempting to no longer be under the spell. OR at the very least, the show is about breaking spells.

Literal

  • A main plot point within the show's narrative is that Dagmar is enchanted by a petrification spell (frozen in stone). We can deduce that whoever created this magic is a powerful magician. It is revealed that Dagmar herself is a powerful magician (her secret chamber in the castle is filled with potions) who accidentally enchanted herself (with the help of Bean). The potion she used is the same as was used by the people of Maru (or Maruvians) to bring about the downfall of Cremorrah (the infernal amplifier). It appears to also be their intention to bring about the downfall of Dreamland, through their agent, Dagmar. (Hence, Dreamland Falls, the play on words being to do with Elfo and the waterfall, as well as the demise of Dreamland).
  • So, we know Dagmar is a powerful magician, allied with an even more powerful one: the ENCHANTRESS OF MARU! She is the one responsible for the enchantment of Dagmar, and the introduction of Luci as an emissary to get Bean a) to revive Dagmar, and b) to begin to fulfil her destiny (whatever that may be). So we can see that enchantment as well as disenchantment are clearly narrative themes.
  • One as yet unexplained pieces of the puzzle seems to be a lack of suspicion of Odval by King Zog after Dagmar poisons herself. Zog trusts Odval not to have tried to poison him - otherwise Zog could easily have had him killed. Zog also suspects Bean to have switched the goblets, and so he must have known that Dagmar tried to poison him, but accidentally poisoned herself. This apparent discrepancy (disguised as cognitive dissonance) could be explained by Zog being placed under a spell by Dagmar (with or without the involvement of Odval).
    • Zog describes falling in love with Dagmar "at first sight" and this is possibly the inception of the spell: Dagmar, working for the Maruvians, sought to bring down Zog and Dreamland by making him fall in love with her. (This is speculation based on the events of episode 10).

Figurative

It also works in the sense of the word meaning "disappointment" - as in when a seemingly magical situation turns out to be much worse than one had expected ("I went to Disney Land and it left me feeling in a state of disenchantment") or when expectations are demolished ("I watched the new Star Wars and my childhood is retroactively ruined"). Both Bean and Elfo have grown tired of their respective situations:

  • Bean is tired of being a princess with stereotypical role and expectations attached. She wants to be in control of her own destiny, and marry because of love or drunkenness, rather than for a political alliance at the behest of her father King Zog.
  • Elfo is disenchanted with being a 'happy go lucky' elf in Elfwood; seeing it all as superficial, he wants to feel misery. He is disenchanted with the artificially happy state of mind of the elves - a kind of psychosis - and wants to experience the 'down' of life, as well as the 'up' .

So the show explores the disappointing aspect of the word as much as its magical connotations.

Meta-narrative

What I am beginning to think is that disenchantment is also a meta-narrative theme, in that the show itself is playing with as many different ways in which a person or being can be enchanted / disenchanted as well as, finally, being about someone or some beings own enchantment, (possibly even the audience's) and that the show is all about them breaking their own spells. It could be that Disenchantment turns out to be a "dream within a dream" like Inception, or that the characters break the fourth wall and become aware that they are fictional characters in a fantasy world. There is a lot of potential ways in which this theme can be explored. Of course, all this is speculative but that is the challenge Groening laid down: he is asking us to consider the nature of the show, not just the events within it - although they are obviously clues about the show's overall nature.

References

  1. Matt Groening said in this interview last year (2018) with Collider[1]: "If it's good fantasy, things are not what they seem to be..." and "I will give this challenge: the very first thing you see - it's staring you in the face - will give you a clue aboutthe entire nature' of what you are watching...
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