I do not know a single person in my life who has even heard of Netflix’s “The Dragon Prince.” When I told people why I was so excited for Friday, the third season premiere, no one seemed to be able to relate. This reaction is a shame to me, because anyone who is not watching “The Dragon Prince” is missing out on some truly great fantasy television and season three absolutely solidified this notion.
It is important to mention that “The Dragon Prince” is as much of a fantasy as a show can get. It may seem obvious because of the title, but the show’s close adherence to the fantasy genre and the show’s willingness to lean into fantasy really makes every episode that much more enjoyable. Season three illustrates this point through its fantastic setting.
The setting and worldbuilding are consistently the most interesting part of “The Dragon Prince.” This season, our main characters Rayla and Callum (and, by extension, the audience) venture into the magical world of Xadia for the first time in the series and it is an absolute joy. The animation beautifully captured the many new settings that were explored this season and it was all incredibly fun. We also meet new races of elves and see their societies, such as the powerful Sunfire Elves and the majestic Skywing Elves. From frolicking in Xadia’s meadows to scaling its tallest peaks, seeing more of this world is always a treat.
The world of “The Dragon Prince” was also expanded in other ways. As in last season, this season saw a flashback to the days before the series began, when King Harrow and his then High Mage Viren ruled together. This time, we learned more about how the egg of the Dragon Prince came into their possession. This flashback was a lot of fun, as it is great to get a chance to see more of King Harrow and a not-quite-so-evil Viren. Plus, the sequence had a few excellent touching moments that come from places you would not expect.
While the world of “The Dragon Prince” makes the show worthwhile on it’s own, the show would not work without its wide cast of amazing characters. Just about every one of the show’s characters had a role to play this season. Ezran’s attempts to deal with the socio-political challenges of being king was very interesting, Amaya’s encounter at the border was gripping.
and Rayla and Callum’s adventure, while not crazy dynamic, continued to be action-packed. However, the character I found most compelling this season was easily Soren. On the surface, Soren is one of the show’s most one-dimensional characters, but this season he began to break out of the mold of a strong but naive knight to becoming the most dynamic character. His change disrupts the status quo in a major way and I really hope to see more characters do so in further seasons. Also, the romance storyline of the season, while personally not my favorite, was well-executed. I will not mention which characters this applies to in order to avoid spoilers (even though it is abundantly clear very quickly), the romance element was handled as well as could be expected. and I was happy that the writers went ahead with it rather than confirming it at the end of the series so that there is time to explore it fully.
Unfortunately, not every character’s storyline quite hit the mark. From the first episode, it has been clear that Viren is evil and will do anything to achieve his goals, but this season has dumbed down his villainy to such a cartoonish level that it is often hard to take seriously. It is easy to question why any of the characters around him do. I also felt like the first few episodes really rushed by some important elements of his story to get him to where he needed to be in the story. So a big moment in the fifth episode of the season that should have been one of the most exciting and nerve-racking instead felt a bit hollow due to its rushed nature. Much of these issues stem from his relationship with Aarovos, so it is likely that as their relationship evolves, Viren may once again be interesting.
Viren’s one-dimensional character also has a fallout of negatively affecting some of the characters around him. Season two standout, Corvus, had almost no impact on the plot this season. Equally as insignificant was newcomer Kasef, a prince from another kingdom, who was an interesting rival initially but quickly becomes a simple “bad guy” with little else to him. But the most unfortunate casualty of the season is Claudia. Except for the literal last scene of the season, she barely is involved and has very little agency. If past seasons were any indications, that is not the kind of character that she is and so I am pretty disappointed there was not more to her this season.
While Kasef ultimately left me disappointed from a narrative standpoint, he can be seen as good in another standpoint: representation. “The Dragon Prince” has knocked it out of the park on this front in the past, and continued to do so this season. Kasef and new characters in the Sunfire Elf kingdom were all coded as non-white, a deaf character is never defined by her disability and there are two queer relationships shown in the show, one explicit and one ambiguous, in addition to the straight relationships. There is something really special about being able to live in a world where none of the issues affecting these marginalized groups exist through watching this show.
Overall, “The Dragon Prince” season three was a success. While it was not totally free of issues and I really want to see more characters as dynamic as Soren, the show on the whole succeeds. A fantastic world and fun characters more than make up for any faults in writing the show may have and is a much watch for any fan of fantasy.
Images courtesy of IMDb.