The Dragon Prince has the potential to be spectacular if it can get past the fart jokes
The program handles complicated subjects with finesse… on sometimes
[Editor’s note: This post includes minor spoilers for The Dragon Prince’s fourth season.]
The new season of The Dragon Prince doesn’t waste any time in informing us that one of the new characters farts. He also farts a lot. Terry, an Earthblood elf, is not just the new lover of dark mage Claudia, but he also farts when he is frightened or laughing. And those farts smell like petrichor (a term you may remember from different artistic photographs on the internet that refers to the fragrance of rain on parched soil). Claudia thinks this sweet and laughs, but her recently revived father, Viren, rolls his eyes.
Viren suffers a panic episode just after one of these fart-fests, and when he comes to, he has a moment of introspection. He and Claudia have only 30 days to make his resurrection permanent — but what if he spent those 30 days simply living his life and spending time with his beloved daughter? Claudia quickly objects, stating that she has made significant sacrifices to bring him back and wishes to keep their small family together. The two traverse such a profound subject with no proper solution, and it’s such a touching moment that one nearly forgets about the fart joke that happened just before. Almost.
This whiplash isn’t new to The Dragon Prince, but it’s more noticeable in the fourth season, which deals with the show’s most serious themes and implications yet. The fourth season begins up two years after the program last left off, and throughout that time, the characters face several difficult challenges.
Claudia has spent the last two years attempting to resuscitate her father, and in order to make that resurrection permanent, she’ll need to liberate Aaravos, an ancient elf genius imprisoned for his misdeeds hundreds of years ago. While she’s gone, youthful King Ezran leads a new age of peace between the Human Kingdoms and the magical realm of Xadia, but he must cope with the residual tension that comes from centuries of conflict. Meanwhile, Ezran’s half-brother Callum devotes himself to his profession as a high wizard in order to avoid the pain of his girlfriend, the elf assassin Rayla, who abandoned him two years ago without saying anything.
The program has never shied away from more mature stories, and it’s really stunning to witness Callum and Rayla’s heartbreaking reunion and 12-year-old Ezran admitting that the hurts of the past won’t be erased with a pastry-filled celebration. The Dragon Prince isn’t only about youthful heroes saving the world from one big evil; it’s about young heroes bringing two sides together in the hope of peace after centuries of division.It has a large, political perspective, and the main protagonists not only influence their own lives, but the futures of all the elves, humans, and dragons in the kingdom. Finally, there is peace, but it is fragile, and the play does an excellent job of confronting the truth that ancient scars do not heal with a single magnificent victory. That merely highlights the sillier tonal changes even more.
That’s not to suggest The Dragon Prince can’t have its lighter moments. In reality, some of the greatest all-ages animation on the market effectively mixes heavier story themes with lighter moments. These gentler sequences frequently expand out individuals and relationships, displaying many aspects to them. After all, when a character is pitted against a huge evil, we only learn so much about them. It’s nice to see scenarios like guard Soren attempting and failing to conceal Callum’s surprise birthday celebration or Claudia uncomfortably introducing her new lover to her father.Moments like that are still amusing, but they aren’t as outlandish. When the fate of the planet is at stake, it is critical to remember what is worth fighting for, whether it is jelly tarts or brotherly bonding.
However, The Dragon Prince frequently misses the tone transition. From characters making pop culture gags to the aforementioned fart humor, it appears like the program is trying too hard to establish that it is still aimed at a younger audience. But, at its best, The Dragon Prince does not pander to those viewers, instead treating them with the maturity they deserve. Because kids can handle these tougher themes and don’t require stupid jokes to keep them entertained.It’s one thing for cute animal sidekicks or funny-named food products to give a few laughs here and there, but it’s quite another for emotional situations to be buried behind an avalanche of humor. Nonetheless, there’s enough substance that the program can brush aside the majority of the cringey wreckage.
The Dragon Prince: The Mystery of Aaravos is now available to watch on Netflix.