WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in theaters now.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil introduces a host of new characters, both friends and foes to Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Aurora (Elle Fanning). Their most dangerous foe is Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), the secretly despotic queen of a nation near the magical Moors who intends to wipe out all non-humans.
A surprisingly deadly ally of Ingrith is Gerda (Jenn Murray), the queen's right-hand woman. More so than almost any other henchman (especially from Disney films) Gerda proves to be incredibly intelligent and dangerous. She's the ideal evil minion throughout the whole film... up until her final moments, at least.
Skills For Days
Gerda initially appears to be the Mr. Smithers to Queen Ingrith's Mr. Burns. She's frequently seen at her side, able and capable of doing whatever random task her lady asks of her. This includes introducing guests at dinner, ordering the waitstaff around, and even attending to her more manic impulses. She's even shown to be a blacksmith, working to make iron bullets alongside a legion of other smiths to prepare the kingdom's army for a coming conflict with the magical forces of the Moors.
Her most dangerous skill by far, however, proves to be her ability with a crossbow. When Maleficent is framed for cursing Prince Phillip's (Harris Dickinson) father King John (Robert Lindsay), she flees the castle. In the time it takes for her to soar away, Gerda is able to grab a weapon, rush up to one of the battlements of the castle, train her sight on Maleficent and wound her with a single shot. An amazing feat for even the best sniper. Gerda sends the powerful Dark Faerie plummeting into the sea to her near death, coming closer to actually killing Maleficent than almost anyone else across two films -- and she did it in one try.
Keeping One Eye Open
The sudden arrival of Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is the only thing that saves Maleficent. He dives into the waters of the ocean and pulls her out. However, this act doesn't go unseen. Unlike many minions across countless stories before her, Gerda actually remained behind to confirm whether or not she killed Maleficent instead of just assuming she's gone. Because she stays, Gerda's able to confirm that Maleficent was saved and that it was done by another Dark Faerie.
She even goes to Ingrith and tells her what happened. That includes admitting that she wasn't able to kill Maleficent as they had intended. While Ingrith is mad, she doesn't react too poorly to the news. On the contrary, because Gerda actually told her superior about what happened (instead of trying to hide it to avoid possible punishment), Ingrith is able to adjust her schemes and enact an almost successful attack on the magical creatures. They're lured into a trap, all because Gerda was intelligent and actually did her job. It's a shame then that she goes out the way she does, given her track record for the rest of the film.
The Goofiest Death Possible
The most personality that Gerda ever shows is when she arrives in the church for the "wedding" of Aurora and Phillip. When Aurora's magical guests take their places in the church, the soldiers of Queen Ingrith bar the doors from the outside. Then Gerda takes her place at the organ, which is revealed to be full of dangerous red dust produced by Lickspittle (Warwick Davis) that is fatal to magical creatures. She plays the organ as if it were her symphony, throwing her entire body into the performance. It's dark, something a supervillain would do. It hints at the core of this character, and just how frightening she really is.
And then she dies the sort of death befitting Goofy. Realizing what's happening, the Fairy Flittle (Lesley Manville) sacrifices herself by flying directly into the organ. When the dust hits her, she's killed. But her body transforms into flowers, which fills the instrument and prevents Gerda from playing any more. This saves all the magical creatures in the room.
Flittle's fellow fairies attack Gerda. Gerda tries to swat at them, but in her sudden panic, she trips backward and off the side of the balcony where the organ is located. She falls to the ground and presumably dies on impact because she's never seen again for the rest of the movie. It's a strangely comedic death for a character who, earlier in the film, had been anything but silly. Apparently, even the most skilled minions aren't impervious to being dumb.
Directed by Joachim Rønning, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Jenn Murray, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Juno Temple and Brenton Thwaites. The film opens Friday nationwide.