Many years later, Elphaba enrolls in Shiz University and through various circumstances (set up by the headmistress, Mistress Morrible, perhaps?) ends up roommates with Galinda. The set-up of the bookworm and beauty queen rings a little cliché – likely not helped by later media that utilizes that idea like Mean Girls or The School for Good and Evil. Specifically, while Galinda later gains greater complexity, here she sticks a little too close to the airheaded cheerleader constantly mortified by her weird roommate. Though this is alleviated somewhat by Greg’s exceptional ability to portray the snooty and modest refinement of Victorian England. And although the character is not the most original, Galinda is still portrayed with enough subtlety and complexity to be a very believable character.
I have similar qualms with Borq’s infatuation with Galinda. Borq is a Munchkinlander in a nearby university who meets Elphaba and her group when he sneaks into the women’s university to see Galinda. I’ll buy that he fell head-over-heels for her initially because of her beauty. But his interaction with her are so limited – and they all end with her rejecting him – that I don’t believe that he could (or should) remain infatuated for so long. As it stands there’s really nothing to recommend her to him and it further serves to push the stereotype of the man that doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘no.’
Elphaba, on the other hand, is wonderful as ever. She’s grown into her mouth and while shy and awkward about her green skin, she’s exceptionally passionate, witty, and intellectual. She’s also clearly very confused about herself and attempting to find a place for someone like her. This is best shown in a scene where Elphaba explains to Galinda that she’s reading unionist texts not because she’s really interested in them or wants to read them, but because she’s trying to understand her father and the nature of good and evil – which is both relevant to someone so different and an overarching theme of the story.
Mistress Morrible is also a wonderfully subtle threat. It’s obvious that there’s something very dubious under her fawning and bumbling veneer, but it’s handled so delicately that it’s easy to dismiss her actions as harmless. Specifically, during a poetry reading she recites a poem that is likely criticizing Animals (talking animals who are quickly becoming second-class citizens under the Wizard’s rule), but easily bats away the criticism when Elphaba finally gets up the courage to call her out on it. Morrible also continually hints to Galinda that something should be done about Elphaba, but in very vague terms. Morrible’s cleverness and sense of people is also spectacular, especially as she’s able to pick up on Galinda’s magical talents far before Galinda does.