If you prefer your dragon fantasy series light, fluffy and PG-rated, then you may be pleased to know that Netflix has a new season of The Dragon Prince.
This is more of a sequel to the original three seasons that ended with the bulk of the plotlines resolved as well as the genre-mandatory epic battle of good and evil. There were several intentional loose ends though. In particular, behind all the conflict in the first three seasons was the mysterious figure of Aaravos. Who is he? Where is he? What is he up to? These questions were left unanswered, which helped lend an air of underlying mystery to the story.
Season 4 jumps ahead two years. Ezran is king – very young still but older. Callum is now the chief mage and coming to better understand his powers. Rayla the Moonshadow elf is missing having gone on a quest of vengeance to find Viren, the mage who (under the influence of Aaravos) had caused the death of her family. Meanwhile, Viren’s daughter Claudia has spent this intervening time working to bring Viren back from the dead with the help of Aaravos…
It’s a decent enough set up but the supposed “mystery of Aaravos” is revealed via info dump a few episodes in and the main plot becomes a race to find his magically hidden location. As with the previous seasons, the dialogue is very kid friendly and often a bit twee or silly but the show also manages to deliver a quite richly imagined world and a genuine interest in all of the characters. Central to this is the idea that nobody (except maybe Aaravos) is essentially evil. Claudia, who is now a powerful dark mage, remains a goofy nerd but a goofy nerd bent on unleashing an agent evil.
Fans of General/Aunt Amaya will be pleased to know that she has her own plotline that explores the tension between the displaced Sunfire elves and the humans helping them rebuild. Currently, that plot doesn’t really interact with the main storyline though.
The Dragon Prince was setting out to fill that space mapped out by Avatar: The Last Airbender with a smart and often thoughtful animated fantasy epic framed for a young audience. As fun as the initial seasons were, it never reached the impact of Avatar but that is a very high bar. As with those original seasons, if you find the more intentionally silly elements grating, then you won’t enjoy this new season. I personally enjoyed watching it but the story just didn’t feel as layered as the original. With the new story arc as yet unresolved, I’ll be interested to see where it goes in further seasons.