When I first saw the trailer for The Dragon Prince, I knew I was going to like it.
When I saw that it was from one of the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was for sure going to give this a chance.
The first season was pretty good. Yes, the animation was lackluster, but when you got past that it was a fun show to watch.
The second season smoothed out a lot of the animation problems, and the story just kept getting better.
And I think the third season might be the best one yet. We get some more backstory, and the characters are deepened. It works great on pretty much every level.
Here’s the two-sentence review.
If you liked the first two seasons, then I can almost guarantee that you’ll like this one. And, it sets up the story in a way that looks very promising.
Now onto the good parts.
Spoilers for the third season of The Dragon Prince
The season starts with some back story on the history of humanity’s use of dark magic and their conflict with Xadia and the dragons. And, things are a little more nuanced than what was initially presented.
We see the original dark mage speaking to Sol Regum, the former king of the dragons, in which the large dragon demands the man give up dark magic. The mage brings up good points though. Humans in this world exist in a world with god-like creatures and magically enhanced elves, and without any magic humans are vulnerable. The dragon demands that humans give up advancing their civilization.
In the first two seasons, we only see that dark magic used by antagonists and it is considered evil, but this flashback shows that at one point humans didn’t have much of a choice.
Sol Regum also serves to show that the Xadian side isn’t all benevolent creatures. He was willing to burn an entire town to make a point.
Sol Regum is also where we left off last season. The old bling dragon guards the entrance to Xadia and Callum and Rayla need sneak past.
They try to appeal to the old dragon’s better nature. But he’s having none of it. And he was blinded by a human and has no interest in letting another one into Xadia, even one shepherding the dragon prince home.
Luckily, with a scarf and some of Callum’s newfound magical abilities, they trick him and get by unharmed.
We get our first good look at Xadia and it’s spectacular. Callum is right to be completely mesmerized by the place. Literally, every part of Xadia is made of magic, from the animals to the trees and dirt.
The giant samara to reach Rayla’s home was a nice touch and showed the whimsical, magical side of Xadia.
We also see Rayla’s home and the heartbreaking consequences of her decisions to not kill Ezra and Callum. Because her enchanted flower didn’t sink her friends and family knew that she didn’t complete her mission. They, however, didn’t know the noble reason why.
We also get to meet Ethari, Runaan’s husband, and Rayla’s adoptive father. He’s able to lift the spell for a short while, and at least let Rayla explain what happens. It’s a great moment, and at least one person knows that Rayla didn’t abandon her people. Ethari also gives her and Callum transportation to the Dragon Queen.
It’s during this trip that they encounter a Skywing elf Nix who says she’s an emissary of the Dragon Queen and will escort them across the Midnight Desert, although she might as well have had a sign that said double-cross. It’s also during this time that Callum and Rayla admit they have feelings for each other.
I like how this happened; when Callum is first kissed by Rayla, he backs off and Rayla takes this as a rebuff, but it’s more Callum was surprised and quickly comes ‘round and echoes the same sentiments before kissing her this time. I thought they would drag this on much longer, so it was a nice change to just have them come together.
Their journey gathers additional urgency as it’s revealed that the Dragon Queen has fallen ill due to the heartbreak of her husband and son dying.
Speaking of this, later in the season Viren reveals to his magical bug buddy the story of how he and King Harrow killed the Dragon King. Viren talks Harrow into getting revenge for his fallen queen, and the two of them go on a revenge quest so epic it’d make John Quick proud. Just the two of them ride into Xadia, and then you realize and even respect what they did. We knew from the beginning that Harrow did something to provoke the assassins but until this scene, it never hit me what he accomplished.
Harrow rolled up to Xadia with his magical best friend and killed what for all intents and purposes is the God-King of Xadia, a massive lightning breathing dragon. Of course, Viren has to show his true colors and isn’t satisfied with merely killing the king, he must also kill the dragon’s egg, the unborn prince of the dragons. Sometimes Viren’s just going to Viren. At least he’s consistent. And we learn why the dragon egg was hidden in Katolis, though I do wonder how they got all of that stuff back.
Meanwhile, Ezran returns to Katolis with Corvis and a pair of animals. It’s quite the statement and the young king needs one.
The Ezran part was really interesting. You had a young king and group of adults who all had their own agendas. The only one there who seems to be looking out for the young King is Corvis, and that’s because he was specifically requested. We know from last season and the young Queen Aanya how difficult being a young ruler and be especially when those around you don’t have your best intentions at heart.
The Ezran parts moved much quicker than I thought. I thought they’d be much more politicking and people trying to undermine the young ruler. We get a little of this between one of the council members and Opeli, and for a moment I thought Opeli would try and take power.
Then, I thought he’d name Corvis regent. I was wrong.
It doesn’t matter anyway as the Prince Kasef of Neolandia announces that he and two other countries are marching on Xadia. Things get worse when Ezran chooses peace and the three countries declare war on Katolis if Ezran won’t join them. The little king is put in a harrowing position as he doesn’t want to wage war with Xadia, nor does he want war with the other kingdoms.
It works well. Ezran wants peace but Katolis has been in conflict with Xadia for so long that it’s impossible to sway his people. He has seen what revenge does. His father wanted revenge for Queen Sarai, and then the Dragon Queen took her revenge against him Ezran sees that it’s an endless cycle if things continue this way.
Peace is what people should strive for, but it never even occurs to his advisors. It also shows Ezran’s naivete. He thinks that as long once the Dragon Prince is returned everything will be okay. But, the three other kingdoms still think they’ve been attacked and believe revenge is their duty.
It also shows just how tenuous leadership and ruling can be. Ezran is the king, but he doesn’t command loyalty. As soon as he does things against his advisors’ agenda’s they immediately start undermining him. This culminates with Ezran abdicating and Viren taking the throne himself, to lead an assault on Xadia.
However, Soren realizing his father is the worst and wanting to make amends breaks Ezran out. This leads to my favorite bit in the whole show. A glowing Bait appears to give away their position.
When the soldier remarks that it’s cool, all Soren says is “Yeah, hay’s great.” I don’t know what it was but it hit perfectly and I burst out laughing. I think it speaks to Soren’s back story that him wandering around the city with a glowing hay bale doesn’t raise suspicion. He connects with Lujanne, Corvis, and Opeli. Corvis and Opeli retreat to Durran as Viren invades Xadia.
Viran tricks the Queen of the Sunfire elves into getting him close to their power source and he corrupts it with dark magic killing the Queen and many of the elves. Her sister tries to intervene but is stopped by General Amaya, the two flee along with Jania warriors. He then turns his soldiers to giant lava warriors and they march.
Side note: The side story that’s been running since season two between Amaya and Janai was a masterpiece in visual storytelling. We see them start as enemies and then their grudging respect for each other finally culminating in friendship (or more, it’s not quite clear, but I could be mistaken).
The last parts of this show were pitch-perfect.
The build-up to the final conflict was amazing. Their last-ditch effort was for Zym to wake up his mother but that doesn’t work. It looks hopeless. But the handful of characters decide to do what’s right. It’s powerful. It’s one of the more dire circumstances I’ve seen. For a minute, it’s the last Dragonguard, Callum, Rayla, Ezran, and a defecting Soren.
They are facing an army and the five of them are willing to die for Zym. It’s heartfelt and inspiring really.
One by one, some allies show up. Amaya and the Sunfire Elves show up. But they are still vastly outnumbered when the final battle commences. Ezran returns with Dragons and even that can’t turn the tide.
Things look grim as then lines are broken and Callum is about to be killed by a transformed Kasef, but he is rescued by Queen Aanya and Durran shows up Riders of Rohan style and changes the course of the battle.
But because things are never easy, Viren sneaks up the Stormspire and attempts to kill Zym. It looks like he’s about to succeed when Rayla tackles him over the cliff.
And I was holding my breath.
In my head I knew:
That Zym would be okay.
That they weren’t about to kill Rayla like that.
That Callum would save Rayla.
But still, it was very well done.
Things start looking up for our heroes though when the Dragon Queen wakes up to see her son is alive and the races of Xadia banned together to keep him safe.
But, things aren’t all perfect. Claudia was able to resurrect Viren (by sacrificing a couple people in the background) and his bug friend is in a cocoon in the corner. We’ll get to see Aravos return as an evil butterfly in season 4.
That’s it for season 3.
I thought this season was really good.
There are some definite highlights.
I don’t think enough can be said about Soren’s writing. The changes he goes through are amazing. He realizes that his father is a manipulative evil person and even shows he’s willing to kill him to protect Ezran. He goes from thuggish brute to failed assassin to hero.
Callum and Rayla’s Relationship
It was well done. It felt natural, and they didn’t draw it out.
Amazing. She’s great and I love her. Also, her shield reminds me of a Gundam.
Just the cutest.
The Final Battle
It was perfect. This is what a finale should be. It was epic. It had stakes. Several times I thought the heroes were doomed. Honestly, it’s what I wanted from Game of Thrones, and The Dragon Prince did it ten times better.
- The humor on this show works. Ezran’s guards were hilarious. The axe bit was great.
- As an unabashed lover of The Last Airbender, the nods to it are my favorite. Especially with Calluma and Soren having the voice actor, when when had Callum recognize the boomerang, it was perfect.
- I liked Lujanne’s Sailor Moon reference when she turned it human.
- I kinda thought we’d be done with Viren. He’s a great villain and incredibly hateable, but it looks like he’ll be back along with Koh the Face Stealer…I mean Aravos.
- I wonder how things will work now. I can’t imagine all the elves and all the humans will want to get along.
- I’m not sure how big the world is, but I like to think the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender are taking place on the other side of the world.
- I laughed when the baking showed and started wrecking people with the rolling pin.
- I really like King Harrow and hope we learn more about his days as king.
And now the wait for season 4 begins.
originally published at https://vocal.media/geeks/the-dragon-prince-season-3-review