Subject: The Dragon Prince Season 3 - Vague Rambly/Ranty Thoughts (Spoilers Following)
Posted on: 2019-12-06 00:19:51 UTC
(CW: Violence, Death, Dismemberment, Mentions of Suicide)
So, I was finally able to get around to watching Season 3 of Netflix's The Dragon Prince, and I figured I might as well share my thoughts here.
So, I suppose I'll start at the beginning - well, around the beginning. I'll admit, my memory's a bit scattered as to events. So, firstly, a minor note - am I the only one who misheard Aaravos' name? Because this is the first season I've watched with subtitles on, and his name sounded a lot like Erebos to me before. But that's a minor point. I will say that I like how they worked their way around Sol Regem, and Xadia is a wonderfully charming land and does not resemble the nightmarish demonland I feared might await them - the worst thing they found there were the fart flowers, which just smell bad instead of trying to eat people like I expected, and the adoraburrs are, well, adorable.
One minor thing that I'm not quite sure on is why the shade assassins Viren created with Aaravos' help actually did their jobs. I was under the impression he wanted to scare the old kings and queen into action rather than replace them, and while he ended up getting what he wanted, it seems like it was a little much given what he was after.
I rather liked the fact that there was a solid commitment to peace set up while also acknowledging that doing so was going to be difficult. However, this, I think, is a decent place to one of my main two grumbles about this season, that being that I was actually hoping to see Ezran be pushed to a point where he has to learn, very quickly, about how to be a king and how to deal with political shenanigans, and instead.... he abdicates. While not entirely an incomprehensible decision - he is, after all, a child - it is still not one that I think was particularly well thought-out, nor do I understand why him choosing to abdicate gets him thrown in the dungeon, or how this allows Viren to be pardoned. After all, I'm pretty sure you're not found innocent of treason just because the person who was president when you did so left office (insert series of qualifiers acknowledging that you should be found innocent if your 'treason' was revealing or preventing the sort of acts that would cause a president to be forced out of office if they would not choose to leave), and I'm not sure why Ezran would pardon Viren as he's leaving the throne, particularly since it is very obvious that, once he has the chance, he'll try to take the crown and then go to war, which Ezran has specifically said he doesn't want to happen. Also, while I'm willing to concede that this is something someone might just not think of, why didn't Ezran just call Kasef on his ultimatum? After all, if a war is going to happen either way, it'd be better to have his forces be in the defensive position since they'd be much more able to use the terrain to their advantage, particularly given that I don't exactly recall any siege weapons being among those possessed by the combined armies of the other three kingdoms. Not only that, but even if Kasef managed to defeat the forces of Katolis in battle, the cost would probably be so high that marching on Xadia would become virtually impossible. Beyond this, he has a second, not-yet-a-traitor Dark Magician on his hands who he could bluff Kasef into thinking he would ask to rain fire and brimstone down upon the three armies, and with those kind of modifiers on Ezran's side and the aftermath to think of, trying to go against Katolis without your own magicians (which we can be sure that the three armies don't have from later in the season) is tantamount to suicide.
But, grumbles about what else could have been done aside, I'm not sure it works thematically. It sets up that peace requires strength and sacrifice, and then... Ezran leaves. He leaves, which, given the information at his disposal, will lead to the humans attacking right after the Zym returns, making it seem like giving him back was just an act used to get the Xadians to let their guard down, causing the war to flare up again and resulting in far more casualties than would have occurred if he'd stayed. Peace requires strength, requires sacrifice, but is ultimately worth it - now let's have our characters get it, or at least get a lot closer to having it, while walking away from the decision that would have really suited this idea and in the process come out just as well off, if not better, than they would have if they'd made that decision.
But, let's see... I rather liked the thing about Ghost-ing, it felt like it really fit, especially since Moon magic uses illusions and plays with the senses, and I continue to appreciate the casual gay. I also noticed that evidently, the people locked inside the coins aren't dead yet, which I like, though now that I think about it, there are probably numerous magical uses for elves which makes it feel a little like Viren is wasting resources by leaving them alive. It also makes me wonder if, perhaps, Thunder's petrification could be reversed, given that the spear inside of him isn't stone, perhaps by its removal by the hands of someone who loved the Queen.
Let's see... ah, I have to say, it is refreshing to see a winged humanoid design which doesn't place the wings on the back. Not that I mind that kind of design, per se, but it is rather nice to see different ones now and again. I'm quite glad that Soren got away and is now on the side of the good guys, and I am also fairly sure that what Viren did in the dungeon scene is gaslighting and wow was watching that not fun. On an actually fun note - Aaravos. I don't know about anyone else, but I find him to be, while clearly evil, also... actually kind of fun and funny to watch, especially given how he floats around however he cares to, but also being scarily powerful because he took one of the Sunfire elves and incinerated her. And I really think that the last battle was really cool and I absolutely enjoyed watching it (even if I'm not sure how the armies of Duren got there so fast since, as memory serves, the closest thing to a detour the four armies took was when they stopped by Lux Aurea, and as I recall, that wasn't a detour, and in fact, going around it would have been one). But - overall? I liked it.
However, there is a second grumble I have with this series, and this is something of a personal one - not so much in that it's something which affects me, personally, but it's a way of portraying things that I'm tired of, and that is with Dark Magic being always evil regardless of context. Now, at the beginning of the season, I actually had hope that there'd be some nuance introduced to it (foolish, given the ending of the last season, I know, but it's been a while). Generally, when somebody says, "You are lesser beings," and then tries to blackmail you by threatening to incinerate a town, he doesn't turn out to be right about much of anything. However... there really doesn't seem to be that much. From this season, take a look at what happens in Lux Aurea. While you could attribute this to the way the elves think, there is the implication that "Does Not Use Dark Magic" = "Pure Of Heart". That any bad person is going to use Dark Magic, and that no good person would. Or, if a good person does, its nature is inherently corruptive - see the previous season when some of Claudia's hair turned white because of how she used Dark Magic to heal Soren. But... the way Dark Magic is built in this series? I just don't buy it. A lot of it seems to be usable just by doing things like squishing bugs or just waiting for a creature to die and harvesting the ingredients then. The big, horrible price that Claudia paid for healing Soren, who was completely paralyzed from the neck down, as I recall, was... killing a deer. That's it. She didn't murder anyone, and I'm fairly sure it wasn't implied she had to torture it, she just killed a deer - which a lot of people do anyway because they need to put food on the table and deer are the best source available to them, particularly in the era in which this is set. Yet this appears to be painted as a flat-out bad thing for her to do. In fact, now that I think about it, the two times her hair turns more white, it's because she performed some kind of healing magic - the first time on Soren, and while the second time is contextually a lot worse, it was to bring her beloved father back from the dead, and evidently these are her most corrupt and evil acts. Granted, we don't know yet what the price for the second act was, but unless it was a sentient life, does it even matter (context aside, given that it's Viren, any price could be considered too much, but that's not the point)? In this series, there appears to be no situation in which making a sacrifice is justifiable, even if it is clearly the better choice and will either help a lot of people or drastically improve one person's situation without harming any other sentient being, and this idea bleeds into its magic in a way that is, frankly, disappointing.