The Dragon Prince is FINALLY Back! (Season 4 Review with SPOILERS)

It’s been a long time coming for The Dragon Prince: one pandemic later. In any case, Netflix has given the show four more seasons; four more seasons of one of the best examples of a neo-retro fantasy epic, and one of the most I-feel-like-a-kid-again experiences outside of Disney. As you can see, I decided I’m going to go over it season-by-season. Since each season is only nine episodes, and the show has a really simplistic plot, this post, along with reviews of subsequent seasons, will contain unmarked spoilers so that the entire thing isn’t just “It’s good, I guess.” Read with caution!

Last time we left off, two human boys named Callum and Ezran (until the latter had to step away to be the youngest king ever), and an elf named Rayla, managed to escort (read as: “babysit”) the Dragon Prince, Zim, back to his home in Xadia. Ezran’s late father’s evil royal advisor, Verin, almost stopped them, by turning his followers into veiny-muscle-dudes. However, Verin was defeated thanks to the power of friendship. After a three-year cliffhanger for us and two-year timeskip in the show, we’ll finally get to see what happens next!

But not before I reverse a cardinal sin I committed in the previous review: I never ONCE mentioned the boys’ Aunt Amaya! She’s the Best Girl! She’s the typical Awesome Aunt trope: swole, and takes no prisoners, but loves her family to pieces. Speaking of loving someone to pieces… her ship with the swole elf, Janai, is officially set to launch this season. More on that later though.

This whole season has been built up as “The Mystery of Aaravos”. However, I’m pretty sure we knew one thing about him: he’s the Avatar. If I remember correctly (as someone who never bothered rewatching the previous seasons), Rayla mentioned an Aaravos who could control all six Primal Sources. What we learn of him in this season is that he’s the typical “bad guy who manipulates powerful people and causes wars from the shadows because evil”. There’s most likely more to his story.

Fortunately, despite the long break, the show hasn’t missed a beat. The Dragon Prince is still whimsical, funny, and epic. I couldn’t help but smile for most of the season, and that’s just how I like it. 

Of course, it’s not all roses and picnics, especially not considering what the real world has gone through in between seasons. Racism has always been a theme, but was played off as something with an easy solution; typical “kids are always right and adults are always wrong” kind of stuff. The inverse is evident when Amaya gets hitched with Janai; their ship sailing would spell disaster for what’s left of the proud Sunfire Elves. It doesn’t matter that they love each other. 

This is even more evident in the party that Ezran plans, in which the Dragon Queen herself visits Katolis (is that how you spell the place?), and ideally, no one tries to kill each other. His speech in episode three hit me harder than possibly anything else I’ve experienced in 2022. It was at that moment that I realized how much I relate to him; we’re both kids who believe in peace, and just cannot understand why hate comes so naturally to the vast majority of people. What he said in it really hit home for me. As much as I’ve gone with the logic of “all the people involved in those conflicts are dead now”, it really wasn’t true at all. Like Ezran said, we must keep the hatred within us alongside the love somehow. Unfortunately, as simple as The Dragon Prince is, even it knows that there is nothing simple about this. In fact, I understand humanity even less now, especially since no practical “how” for Ezran’s process is brought up whatsoever; it’s just something “you gotta do.”

Aaaaanyway, despite how complicated it is, Aunt Amaya makes it look easy. On her end, an ignorant human does something really offensive to a Sunfire Elf. Amaya, being the badass that she is, convinces them to reduce the perp’s punishment from death to community service. It’s a very powerful scene, and something that politically correct people should keep in mind. 

However, it doesn’t end there. The one universal constant with marriages is that in-laws are the worst, and in Amaya’s case, it’s Janai’s brother, Karim. He is basically the elf equivalent of that snobby guy from season three who wanted Ezran to declare war on Xadia for no particular reason, i.e. he’s an utter jackass. He’d rather humans and elves continue to be racist to each other. At first, it seems like he’s simply concerned about his people, considering that there aren’t too many of them left. However, as Amaya and Janai continue to move forward and do good things, he just wants to yank the whole encampment backwards. 

At the very least, he doesn’t try to kill her. Well, sure, he challenges her to a duel to the death, but he wanted her to forfeit so he can win by default. That’s exactly what happens, but he gets arrested instead because the duel is supposed to be illegal (his arc is definitely not over yet). Janai says this awesome thing about people’s history not defining how they are in the present, which—wait—isn’t that kinda the opposite of what Ezran said in episode three? Well, in any case, that’s also something that politically correct people need to keep in mind.

While that’s all nice and dandy, the overarching plot of the show at this juncture involves Claudia going through a whole rigmarole to release Aaravos. Callum and Co. literally catch wind of this, and that means it’s time for adventuring once more! Our old pals Callum, Rayla, Ezran, Zim, and now Sorin! What’s not to love?

Actually, the answer may surprise you: Callum and Rayla. Their ship sailed back in season three, but in the name of shock value, her metaphorical crew has a saboteur. In between seasons, Rayla left to find Verin’s body (or something?) but to no avail. Callum, naturally, is hit hard by this, since he loves her. However, when she returns, he… hates her guts? Well, he definitely behaves like an utter jackass, that’s for sure, suddenly acting like her ex and not her current partner. I really don’t get this AT ALL. I’m not sure if Rayla’s departure was shown at the end of season three (it definitely wasn’t in the recap), but there really is no context so I can’t tell who is more at fault. It’s one thing if she never told Callum, but it’s still indecent for him to be such a turd-monkey to the girl of his dreams. The cherry on top is that he’s set up to be one of Aaravos’ future thralls. Oh goodie.

Speaking of characters changing, no one changes more in this season than our antagonists. As I implied before, Sorin is a good noodle and he’s great as always. However, Verin and Claudia both do a big 180. Verin literally comes back to life after his big fall from season three, and he’s a mess. He doesn’t want to touch his staff or use dark magic, or be evil. He even has panic attacks and a new fear of heights. I was really surprised by this, because I was certain that he was the evil human mage shown in the very, VERY beginning of the series, staying young by snorting those butterflies as seen in season one. He might still have a connection with that dude, since his staff isn’t really his; Claudia uses it in ways that he never knew existed. 

Claudia, on the other hand, stops being the derpy, adorable teenage girl, and becomes quite cold. She has some of her charm, but she’s done a LOT of dark magic, and will cast as many spells as it takes to free Aaravos, who can make her father’s living-mumbo-jumbo spell permanent. Also, somehow, evil Claudia wins the heart of some elf named Terry. He’s cute and funny, and kills someone literally for the first time in his life this season. I bet he’ll be her moral compass for a while.

Let’s end this discussion by reflecting on how the season ended (since this is a spoiler-filled review after all). The teams on both sides journey to the mountain of Umber Tor to find Rex Igneous, who has a clue to Aaravos’ whereabouts. It’s literally carved into his tooth. To build tension, each party of course arrives at the same time, confronts each other, and the bad guys escape with the prize. Our heroes are safe from the grumpiest dragon ever (also I got the entire backstory of the series wrong in my first review apparently, even though I wrote that overview minutes after watching the first episode? Well, good thing I’m not official in any way), but they didn’t have silly putty nor the ability to obtain the map. So… they’re in a bind right now. Also, Verin uses his staff and seems to revert back to his old self, albeit with dark magic veins covering his face. Wait… IS he that dark mage from the VERY beginning? In any case, there’s still more to this that we don’t know, such as Ezran possibly having a connection with the human who thwarted Aaravos in the past, who is implied to have had the same Rubik’s cube that Callum has now. Also, that staff of Verin’s is referred to as “the Staff of Xiod” (I’m guessing that’s how it’s spelled). Xiod might be that dark mage, regardless of whether or not Verin and him are one and the same. 

In conclusion, this new season was as amazing as ever, and I already miss it. I’m not going to give a rating this time, because I feel like that won’t be necessary until the series as a whole is concluded (which, hopefully, will go swimmingly). If you haven’t watched The Dragon Prince, then I’m sorry for spoiling the entire series up to this point (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Also, if that’s the case, you should watch The Dragon Prince.

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