How Willow returns to Nockmaar in Episode 4
In the latest episode of the Disney+ series pasture, “Chapter 4: Nockmaar,” the Wizard (Warwick Davis) and his companions landed in a key location first seen in the 1988 film: Queen Bavmorda’s Keep in Nockmaar. Once the place of power for the black sorceress (Jean Marsh), the long-abandoned building serves as the group’s resting place to tend to some wounds and consider their next moves. But some ancient black magic lingers in the halls and tower of the cursed edifice to rival any character.
There’s so much to discover in this episode, so SYFY WIRE brought together producer/writer Julia Cooperman and cast members Erin Kellyman (Jade) and Amar Chadha-Patel (Boorman) to review some of the big themes and moments in the hour .
***Warning: There are spoilers for this pasture Series episode “Chapter 4: Nockmaar”, below.***
Nockmaar: The haunted house
This is arguably the darkest episode of the season so far. Was that an episode you really wanted to write, or was it just given to you on rotation?
Julia Cooperman (writer): It was an assignment. But let me tell you, it was an assignment that absolutely suited my strengths and interests as a writer. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with horror, and as a genre storyteller, I’ve always been drawn to the darker, more gothic, macabre side of sci-fi, fantasy, you name it. When it came time to tell a haunted house story, I believe I was the first and only writer credited for that particular episode.
How did the return to Nockmaar become a story point?
Cooperman: Nockmaar is a huge bridge back to the original film. In Willow’s case, it’s a place with great history and first-hand experience. It was always a self-contained horror story that we envisioned for this episode. Jon Kasdan, our creator/showrunner, mentioned that it represents that turning point in the story, where the characters leave the territory set and illustrated by the original film and pilot, and then head into the unknown. It felt like the perfect place, both for the malevolent energy still saturating its halls and for its history with our leads. It’s the perfect place to take root for a second.
The hallways also lure each of the characters into a quasi-dark night of the soul?
Cooperman: Yes, it’s sort of in the DNA of a scary story. Even with something as cartoonish as, like, Scooby Doo, you have characters that go off, explore dark corridors and wander through the corridors together. The pleasure was all mine to break and find those moments.
Talk about breaking this episode early.
Cooperman: I vividly remember the episodic pitch for this episode coinciding with the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. It was the first of our pitches via Zoom. I was so, So nervous and walked away over the weekend with some suggestions from my fellow authors on the best way to crack it. Center stage is this triangle of Graydon (Tony Revolori), Willow and Elora (Ellie Bamber) as they break new ground. They are all our characters most magically attuned. They all obviously have very different histories with magic and with this place, and so it just felt mature and rich, sort of a pole between these many different faces of magic and magical ability.
Two women at war
Let’s talk about how much Nockmaar Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Elora gets under your skin.
Cooperman: Yes. To Kit, it is representative of that maternal bloodline and the shadow cast over her by that lingering hereditary influence of Bavmorda, which the pilot warned her about. And then for Elora, still figuring out who she is – and is she the chosen one – it’s this perverse validation of digging into that childhood past that she had here. She was born in the dungeons. On the 13th night at the top of the tower, she was almost sacrificed. Where better for these two to truly engage with these questions of identity and selfhood, and who they are becoming, than Nockmaar? But hopefully it will successfully pit all of our characters against some of their darkest fears.
One of my favorite scenes in the episode is when Jade collapses on Boorman of all people after killing her mentor/father figure, Commander Ballantine (Ralph Ineson).
Cooperman: I’m so glad to hear that resonated with you because that was also one of my favorite scenes that I wrote. Given how real the characters felt and how much time we had already spent with them, it just felt right to be able to find those moments and unexpected conversations that could happen between two characters that have yet to really connect. And what would the two characters, who are also perhaps the most magical adversaries, do during this time? For Jade and Boorman, these are two people who are likely to belong to the group, the most pragmatic, hands-on characters who have some life experiences to share. And in this case, you see one of them comforting the other for this trauma they just went through. That was really something special and always interested me.
Erin Kellyman (Jade): I was very surprised about that [scene]. From what we’ve seen of Jade and Boorman so far, I think they’re both very irritated with each other. [Laughs.] They are very opposite at the beginning of the journey. But this thing that Boorman has already been through and that Jade is going through, I think binds them together. And Jade reaches out because she knows Boorman went through this. Boorman sees Jade experiencing this for the first time and remembers how that feels.
Amar Chadha-Patel (Boorman): I think Boorman spent a lot of his life not being overshadowed but being guided and led by other very powerful, famous characters pasture World. And he understands that he might have some knowledge to impart, and he’s not really giving it away very quickly. But in the opening scenes in Nockmaar, when Kit says she’s going to kill Graydon when it gets too dark, there’s a lovely moment where Boorman says, “Killing someone who’s not trying to kill you is pretty hard .” And he looks at Jade because she just went through that and that’s where this journey begins. I remember reading that episode and thinking, “I can’t Waiting to do this” because this softening of the two is so beautiful.
Kellyman: Also, I have a feeling that was Boorman’s way of telling Jade, “I see you.”
Chadha Patel: Yes, he pushes things down and doesn’t know how to commit, so he contextualizes it through his own experiences because he’s an emotionally closed man.
Grayson really goes through the ritual in this episode. But it’s also a moment to prove what he really can do, right?
Cooperman: The wonderful thing about all of these possession and exorcism stories that we looked to as inspiration for this story is that behind this experience, however traumatic and horrific it may be, there may always be a grain of truth or it. I think that certainly for Graydon. And there’s a lot that’s revealed in the process that might otherwise not have been unfolded until much, much later in the season. I love the brutal truth behind something that takes over your body and puts you in a real melting pot of sorts.
Elora is on a quest to save her love Airk (Dempsey Bryk), but should we get some vibes between her and Graydon?
Cooperman: As much as this adventure in Nockmaar serves to get them on their heels a bit and leave them in an interesting place that harkens back to the season, it also brings them together. From the very first discussions of this episode, we always knew that Elora would feel a certain sense of obligation and empathy for Graydon and his situation, while other cast members might not have been so sympathetic. We’re now on a war base, and that’s just part of what comes with territory. But she would devote herself to healing him, delving deep into her own magical abilities in the process. And maybe lead to some things we haven’t seen them capable of before.
After this experience, how does the company prepare for what comes next?
Cooperman: With the enemy so close on your heels, I’d say it can lead to some interesting detours and distractions. Looking ahead, get ready for some exciting detours for our characters that will take them to some cool places.
New episodes of pasture Premieres Wednesdays on Disney+.
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