WARNING: Obviously MASSIVE SPOILERS for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance inside!
Prequels can be tricky business. Especially if the source material nearly forty years old and a beloved cult classic. Retrofitting character motivations, explanations for events, and expanding the world without losing touch with the original can be a knife’s edge. Sometimes you get Midichlorians. Sometimes you get The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. What Netflix and the Jim Henson Company have done is nothing short of real-life magic. For ten episodes, audiences get lost in a world of puppetry that feels as deep and emotionally resonant as any other Peak TV drama.
But just what was going on at the end of the first season of The Dark Crystal: AoR? Where does the story go from here? And how far away are our heroes (and villains) from the final acts that take place within the narrative of the original 1982 film, The Dark Crystal? Read on to find out, and keep in mind that major spoilers lie ahead if you haven't seen the movie or finished the new Netflix series just yet.
And for more of our coverage of all things The Dark Crystal and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, be sure to check out these recent write-ups:
- ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ Review: Jim Henson’s Legacy Thrives on Thra
- ‘The Dark Crystal’ Recap: Everything You Need to Remember Before Netflix’s New Series
- ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ Creators on How the Show Began as a ‘Labyrinth 2’ Pitch
- Exclusive Clip: The Cast of Netflix’s ‘The Dark Crystal’ Series Welcomes You to Thra
- Final Trailer for ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ Promises Intense Puppet Combat
Gelfling Won the Battle, But Not the War (Yet)
It always comes down to a fight. The Skeksis and the Gelfling battled it out for control of the planet. Casualties were felt on both sides. The Skeksis lost their General (Benedict Wong) to a combination of Gelfing sword magic and Skeksis trickery. What the Dual Glaive wound would have done to the General might have been fascinating to see, but his death at the hands of the wily Chamberlain (Simon Pegg) kept audiences from finding out. Combined that with the death of The Collector (Awkafina) at the hands of a Darkening-corrupted Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), and it was enough to scare the remaining Skeksis into taking the Gelfing threat seriously. Though they retreated, it wasn’t before the death of Maudra Fara (Lena Headey), the leader of Stone-in-the-Wood, one of the seven clans.
After an impressive climatic choreographed battle of puppets, the Gelfing heroes take the day. Despite Rian (Taron Egerton) losing the long sought-after Dual Glaive to the Hunter (Ralph Ineson) in a surprise attack, the seven Gelfling clans of Thra heard its call. However, if not for the sacrifice of The Archer (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) at the last second, everything would have been for naught.
If you aren’t up to date on The Dark Crystal lore, the important thing to know is the Skeksis and the Mystics are alien beings that used to be one. Still connected on a magical level, whatever happens to one happens to the other. By sacrificing himself, The Archer dispatched The Hunter and saved not only Rian but also gave the Gelfling a chance to fight another day.
The problem is now the Gelfling are united but without leadership. The deaths of Fara and the All-Maudra (Helena Bonham Carter), along with the accidental memory wipe of Cadia (Eddie Izzard), leaves three Gelfling clans without veteran leaders. Centuries of prejudice butting up against the imminent threat of destruction does not always mean lasting alliances; just look at human history.
But it turns out the Dual Glaive was housing another way to unite the disparate Gelfing, from a certain point of view. In the end, Aughra’s (Donna Kimball) annoyance with Mystic riddles was very justified.
Prophecy Is Fizzgig Poop
The problem with prophecy is everything. From self-fulfilling ones, to those that only tell part of the story, to inept prophets, to forking timelines, prophecy is just about useless except in the macro sense. Bad things are going to happen if a hero doesn’t stop it. That’s it.
So it was in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Princess Brea (Alice Dinnean), Deet, and Rian spent a great portion of the runtime going from one wise old person to another in search of answers. Whether it was Aughra, the Century Tree, or The Heretic (Andy Samberg), our Gelfling heroes chased the dragon that is prophecy looking for a path to victory. They found it in the form of the Dual Glaive, a weapon that ended up being smashed into smithereens at the moment it is most needed. Only in the aftermath of Aughra’s resurrection (not a surprise to those who have seen the film, though the show hand-waves away the detail for now) and the Skeksis defeat does Brea discover the truth: the Dual Glaive housed the Crystal Shard that can heal the Dark Crystal for good.
Speaking of prophecy being as useful as a screendoor on a submarine, while it wasn’t part of the finale, Deet’s earlier vision of Rian healing the Crystal and Deet sitting the throne while completely subsumed by the Darkening should give audiences a hint to never trust a prophecy. After all, we already know that isn’t what happens ... but the Gelfling don’t.
A Long Way to Go Before the End
Should Netflix choose it, Age of Resistance could run for at least two more seasons. The show played it fast and loose with the timeline, especially since only the Gelfling age and die with any sort of regularity. How far the prequel is from the events of The Dark Crystal could be anywhere from a few months to several decades. And there are many events left to connect between the two.
By the beginning of the 1982 film, there will remain only ten Mystics and Skeksis. Throughout most of the show’s early episodes, I wondered why the castle housed only eight Skeksis but clearly, there are more out and about in Thra. The Skeksis have only begun to build their Garthim army that will one day terrorize both Gelfling and Podling populations. The genocide of the Gelfling people looms menacingly in the distance, though perhaps more survived than we were originally led to believe if Gelfling themselves thought Deet’s people were already extinct.
Other major plot points yet to be addressed include the creation of false Crystal Shards by the Skeksis to obfuscate the retrieval of the true shard, which indicates at some point they will learn the Gelfling have the Shard. The Gelfling ruins that Jen (Stephen Garlick) and Kira (Lisa Maxwell) enter in the 1982 film is not yet destroyed. The Gelfling have yet to send their 49 strongest into the dream world to combine their power in order to write the prophecy on the Wall of Destiny in said ruins. That prophecy has yet to reach Skeksis ears, terrifying them into eradicating the Gelfling with even greater zeal. And, of course, the show has not yet revealed how Jen and Kira are born and truly end up being raised respectively by the Mystics and the Podlings.
All of these plot pieces could theoretically fit into a second season, but here’s hoping Netflix allows the world of The Dark Crystal to continue to unfold at a leisurely pace. Visual storytelling like this comes along once in a generation.
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