“We were extra hard on him to toughen him up, and look what happened!”
Ludo is probably my favorite character in ‘Star vs The Forces of Evil’, and depending on where the writers are planning to take this, he might turn out to be the most important.
Who is Ludo?
In Season 2 of
‘Evil, the bard Ruberiot, who has vowed to sing The Truth, no matter the consequences, calls Ludo an envious jester. And yet Ludo might be the key to the core narrative of the show, and to the destiny of his entire world.
Ludo is a fool. He is weak and stunted in every conceivable way - mentally, physically, emotionally, morally.
In fact, one has to wonder how he even manages to be the heroine’s main antagonist at all. In Season 1, he had assembled a gang of vicious monsters and thrown his clan out of their ancestral home. Surely he must have SOME hidden talents?
In the episode ‘Ludo in the wild’, we finally learn what these are. For the first time, we really get to observe the pattern up close.
Ludo is alone. Weak, cold and hungry, surrounded by creatures much stronger and craftier than himself.
He starts stalking them. They are kicking him around, and yet with glassy eyes, he keeps on following them into their nests, returning to their abuse like a moth to the flame. Except this particular moth is not flammable. They may feel pity for him, or disgust, but whatever he feels does not go any deeper than the most basic, ludicrous flashes of hunger, fear, pain and outrage. And… affection.
Are we starting to see how the trigger-happy warrior princess Star Butterfly might have first caught his attention?
He’s always watching. Worming his way into his abusers’ lives, until they are becoming used to him. They think they know what their power dynamics are.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ludo turns the tables. Perhaps even without realizing it himself, he has studied his abusers, knowing them on an intimate, if purely instinctual level.
If you are what you eat, and Ludo is all the way at the bottom of the food chain, then congratulations: Ludo is a part of you now.
Ludo’s talent is surviving abuse and mirroring his abusers
(he even gets the better of Star Butterfly when he learns magic and steals her spellbook), in a twisted mockery of family relations. He did it with Arachne and the Bird (his two mothers…), the horde of rats, probably with his first troop of monsters as well. Oh yeah, and his actual family, where all of this started.
Ultimately, of course, his domain will fall apart. Once he has gathered his armies and his prizes, he hardly even knows what to do with them. All of his attempts at grandiose shemes are short-sighted and doomed to fail. As a survivor, he only lives in the moment. Easily tricked and robbed of all his achievements, or manipulated by those with much greater designs into doing their bidding. His armies of abusers are quick to turn on him again once he inevitably loses his focus, because frankly, they are not even sure why they ever… adopted him in the first place.
He has no past, and he has no future. It’s funny how he commands his army of rats to rebuild an ancient monster stronghold - ultimately doing little more than shoving debris around, before the house of cards inevitably falls apart again. In dreams and stories, houses represent your mind, your inner life. What does this ruin say about Ludo?
Ludo was the runt of the litter, and he has never grown up. Ludo is a child. Reverting again and again, repeating his cycle of survival and abandonment.
There is a remarkable scene where the wise, ancient entity Glossaryck is trying to teach Ludo magic, and just after Ludo expressed his disappointment that convincing Glossaryck to work for him did not require torture, he immediately demands Glossaryck torture HIM. Just a couple of scenes later, he meekly asks Glossaryck to praise him, even tuck him into bed calling him “my darling”.
Yeah, take a wild guess how those wires got crossed in Ludo’s head.
Ludo is attracted to abuse, to the abusive use of power, and abusers are attracted to him. He is the very focal point of the eponymous Forces of Evil.
Despite what you might have thought when you picked up this waaacky show, when it comes to Evil, with a capital “E”, they are being dead serious. Hint: it’s not the kind that is reliably confined to an impressive villain character, a single person or faction.
Star Butterfly will have to dip down and go deep.
As you might have guessed by now, the monsters themselves are not the Forces of Evil (though the Jury is still out on Toffee). They are the remnants of proud nations who have been decimated, robbed of their lands and pushed to the margins of civilization, many of them turning bitter and violent.
In a way, Ludo is the ultimate monster.
And ‘Evil is his story.
The battle for the soul of that world is going to be fought inside Ludo.
Jarco Interrupted | Graveyard Battle | The Portal Turns | Save Star
Brian H. Kim
From Star vs. the Forces of Evil - Bon Bon the Birthday Clown.
I wrote much of this episode in one marathon session. The score in the episode’s final act is basically wall-to-wall, and I wanted to make sure that the whole sequence in the graveyard had a big arc while still being cohesive and sounding like one big cue, instead of a bunch of little ones.
0:00 Jarco Interrupted – Yes this is a Blood Moon Ball reference. Yes I know the ship names. Yes I prefer Jarco to Mackie.
0:18 Graveyard Battle – I uploaded a version of this cue that was not used for broadcast. It was like 30% too busy and clashed with the huge amount of spells in this scene, and it was butting up against dialogue. So the version in the episode is more streamlined, with more emphasis on the rhythm and bass than melody. But I really dig this version I uploaded, because you can hear Star’s theme in a new context – bigger, more danger – and there are a lot of funky dissonances going on.
1:35 The Portal Turns – Bad stuff going down. Star’s emotions have made the portal turn, giving Ludo the upper hand. I think this section is a good place to trace the path of the show’s score since the first episode. Partway through this cue you hear Ludo’s theme being played on a prepared piano, an instrument we associated with Ludo’s evolution in Ludo in the Wild. And we introduced this melody in the first episode, Star Comes to Earth, but it was originally played on a kind of tongue-in-cheek theremin sound, with some plinky small percussion. Not anymore.
2:47 Save Star – Great scene to score. I decided to hit the big emotional melody as soon as Marco turns around to help Star, which is a change in the music I could have done later after we see Ludo flying away, but there was something more epic and sad about scoring Ludo’s exit from the point of view of our heroes, and not from his own. And I love that wide shot of all four friends holding hands to save each other, so I was happy to get the opportunity to write something soaring.