Willow star and writer on episode 1 twist and surprise returning character
Dissecting that big series premiere twist... **Warning: This article contains spoilers for Willow episodes 1 and 2**
Well, who saw that coming? New Disney Plus series Willow saw a huge twist at the end of its first episode when Warwick Davis's sorcerer, who had been off screen for most of the runtime, finally appeared and revealed that a character we'd been following was in fact not who we thought she was.
After much speculation as to when and how the prophesied hero Elora Danan, whom the plot of the original film revolved around when she was just a baby, might appear in this new series, it turned out we'd been watching her all along.
She had in fact been played by Ellie Bamber, whose character Dove was a kitchen maid in love with Sorsha's son Airk, and who didn't realise she was in fact Elora, with her real identity having been hidden from her.
Bamber spoke exclusively with RadioTimes.com about this big reveal, explaining how her character will move forward throughout the series now the truth is out.
Bamber said: "Dove is a a kitchen maid and she's great at making muffins. And she falls in love with the prince and kind of asserts herself in this quest, even though no one really wants her there.
"Then the big reveal happens at the end of episode 1 where she figures out who she truly is, and her journey is really about coming to terms with that and figuring out how to handle her power. Also what she's going to do with it and how it works and where even to start and how to accept that. I think it's a lot to really accept when you've just been told that."
Meanwhile, the show's writer and executive producer Jonathan Kasdan explained the decision to keep Elora's identity a secret, revealing it was baked into the show's design from the beginning.
He said: "The design of the show was always to play a little bit of a three card monty game with the opening episode and to make you, the viewer, wonder, 'Is one of these girls Elora Dannon and does she not realise it? What's happening?'
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"And then we hoped it was the most satisfying one for that to be, and not just satisfying for her as a character but for Kit, the daughter of Madmartigan and Sorsha, to have all of her expectations upset in a way that felt true to me, to my adolescence, where nothing is what you think it's going to be and friends come from unexpected places, as do adversaries.
"And those were all themes we wanted to weave into this story and that felt true to it."
Kasdan revealed that the casting of Erin Kellyman, who plays Jade, was meant to work in part as a red herring, so fans believe she will turn out to be Elora because of her "flaming red hair".
Asked how long it took to cast the real Elora, Kasdan said: "It took about a day. I was vaguely aware of Ellie from her work in Nocturnal Animals, I knew that I was interested in her when I saw her name come up on the list, but within 10 seconds of her tape I knew that there was no one else gonna play that part.
"She just had this luminous glow about her that [was] so reminiscent of this baby [Elora in the original film]. And it was like, 'Well, how do you look at that and not think, "Of course, this is what it was meant to be."'
"Ellie's an unusual thing in this situation, because she's almost as inherent to the show as Warwick and she wasn't even alive when that movie got made. So that, for me, is the most serendipitous piece of casting that I was able to have."
As well as Elora, Willow and Sorsha returning from the original film, we can also expect Madmartigan to play a "huge part" in the Disney Plus series, although star Val Kilmer was unable to return for filming.
Willow is streaming on Disney Plus now, with new episodes arriving weekly. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.
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