The series has finally pushed the pedal to the metal just in time for what appears to be the beginning of the second act.
STORY SO FAR
Xadia is a magical land, but humans naturally screwed it up. For that, all the other races (mostly elves) banished them to the far side of the continent with the only way back guarded by the Dragon King, the most powerful being in existence. That worked for a millennium and change, but then humans somehow killed the Dragon King, forcing the elves to attempt to assassinate the human leaders. One of the assassins, Rayla the Moonshadow elf (Paula Burrows), is sent to kill a human prince named Ezran (Sasha Rojen), but stops when Ezran’s step-brother Callum (Jack DeSena) discovers that the Dragon Prince was not killed with his father, but stolen as an egg. The three go to return the Prince to his mother in hopes of ending the looming conflict. In season 1, they managed to get out of the human kingdom and hatch the prince, now named Zym. In season 2, they managed to get to the Breach, the only passage to the land of the elves, but Ezran was forced to return in order to take over the throne from his late father. Meanwhile, Ezran’s Father’s Royal Advisor Viren (Jason Simpson) has been plotting with the banished elf Aaravos (Erik Todd Dellums) to start a war between all the human kingdoms and the magical lands.
Rather than doing a summary and trying to avoid spoilers, I’m just going to say that this season finally started to pay off all of the clearly elaborate world-building that the creators put into this show. Every level of this world has been worked out and it pretty much all meshes perfectly together, something that allows a fantasy show like this (or like Avatar: The Last Airbender) to play out without having too much exposition. Yes, we get a lot of history lessons, but it’s mostly in the context of explaining how different cultures view similar events, so that doesn’t feel too forced.
The main thing this season confirms is that the last two seasons have been mostly a set-up so that the show can finally start accelerating and moving at a faster pace and on a grander scale. As a consequence, those episodes had often felt very slow and limited, but the investment is paying off now that all of the events and characters are starting to converge. In a way it does remind me of Avatar, in the sense that the show spent so much time focused just on our main group but still seeded all of the global-scale events that will eventually take place.
I also like that they maintained Viren’s status as being the antagonist, but not a crazy and over-the-top evil one (at least until the end of the season). He is misguided and he is allowing power to corrupt him, but it’s also made clear that he does have reasons for why he believes the current state of the world cannot stand (even if they’re bad reasons that lack empathy). The fact that he so often comes off as reasonable is one of the show’s best strengths because it shows how what starts off as casual species-ism quickly devolves into violence when given actual power.
Overall, this season made the show actually feel like it’s starting to live up to its promise and has set up the next season to be even bigger. The action sequences were better, the character interactions are more natural now, and the stakes are sufficiently high to justify more extreme decisions. Also, one of my ‘ships came in, so that was nice.
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