By Raena Doty
Interim Asst. Arts and Features Editor
After a nearly three-year hiatus, “The Dragon Prince” is back with an expanded cast of characters, vibrant animation, and a beautiful score. The fourth season was well worth the wait.
The first three seasons tell the story of humans and elves learning to reconcile shared bad blood and rewrite history going forward. The fourth season takes place two years later after the dust has settled and there’s finally resources to start rebuilding.
There were plenty of loose ends from season 3 coming back to haunt everyone, though. Claudia has finally managed to resurrect her father Viren, and now they must find a powerful elf named Aaravos, who is trapped in a magical prison.
At the same time, Callum, now High Mage, Ezran, now officially king, and Rayla, who has been missing for the past two years, realize that Aaravos is close to escaping and embark on a journey to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The introduction of Claudia’s new boyfriend, Terry, is very welcome. He provides an interesting point of view in the story as an elf who is both sympathetic to Claudia’s dark magic and afraid of getting blood on his hands.
The subplot about the Sunfire elves who lost their home because of Viren’s actions in Season 3 was my favorite. They now live in tents in a camp, hosting humans as their guests. Janai, the queen of the Sunfire elves, wants to marry Amaya, the human general of Katolis, but her younger brother Karim is urging her not to make it official.
The conflict between the humans and elves is very exemplary of the themes of the season because there are no villains and heroes. Rather, the conflict is about whether to make things right with restorative justice or punitive justice.
Janai and Amaya’s relationship being featured so prominently is heartwarming. Though there have been LGBT+ relationships in seasons past, none of the others have been quite as important to the main plot.
I did find some of the gaps between Season 3 and Season 4 a bit strange. Anyone who read the graphic novel “Through the Moon” by Peter Wartman and Xanthe Bouma will anticipate Rayla’s initial disappearance in the season, but no explanation is given for why she came back when she did, or what she was doing for the two years she was gone. Anyone who didn’t read the graphic novel won’t know why she left in the first place.
I also want to know more about how Claudia and Terry met. Why is Terry sympathetic to dark magic, despite no elves other than Aaravos ever feeling the same? Why did he leave his family and home for Claudia?
The season ended rather abruptly, but knowing that it will be back through Season 7 makes it easy to forgive.
But in general, Season 4 came back with a bang: great music, great characters, great design, and as ever, great humor.
The first three seasons repeatedly showed it is the youth who will have to shoulder the weight of the mistakes of their parents, and it is exactly because they are so young that they are able to do this. The characters were flexible, kind, and courageous.
In this season, everyone is a little bit older, and rather than telling the viewer to be a youthful spirit with the courage to stand up for what is right, the series shows what it will mean to pick up the broken pieces of a history filled with bad blood and old rivalries.
The work will be hard, Season 4 says. Conflict will happen and there may not be clear lines of good and bad. But it is still worth it to do the work for the sake of those who will be here in 20, 50, 100 years.
After two years of a pandemic and political turmoil decades in the making, that’s exactly the message I needed to hear.
A-: A breath of fresh air