Season 4 of ‘The Dragon Prince’ opens with peaceful tone, emotional issues


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Season four of the Netflix show “The Dragon Prince” premiered on Nov. 3.

By Caleb Johnson, Lifestyle Writer

Return to the fantastical land of Xadia. After a three-year hiatus, Netflix’s animated series “The Dragon Prince,” now sporting the new subtitle “Mystery of Aaravos,” is back and better than ever for its fourth season, referred to as “Book 4: Earth.”

When we last left the main protagonist, colloquially referred to as Team Zym, they had finally succeeded in their quest to return Zym to his mother. The team is composed of Callum, a human prince and mage voiced by Jack DeSena, Rayla, a Moonshadow elf voiced by Paula Burrows, Ezran, a young human king voiced by Sasha Rojen, Azymonidias, aka Zym the titular Dragon Prince, and Bait, a glow toad and Ezran’s animal companion and best friend.

In order to defeat the tyrannical Lord Viren, voiced by Jason Simpson, and his mysterious companion the Startouch elf known only as Aaravos, voiced by Erik Dellums, Team Zym did something unprecedented: They united the humans, elves and dragons and rallied together to stop the dark magical forces brought together by Viren and Aaravos that threatened to destroy peace in Xadia forever.  

To build up hype for the show, the production team did a surprise drop of the first episode on YouTube titled “Rebirthday” a week ahead of the season premiere on Netflix. 

“Rebirthday” was light-hearted in tone. In contrast with the last season’s ending, the showrunners decided to open with a more peaceful and joyous episode, while still having deeper underlying emotional issues.

Set two years after the Season 3 finale, Season 4 shows how the world has changed after the devastating battle of last season. We catch up with our favorite characters and see where they are after the time jump.

Callum is dealing with being a high mage and his complicated feelings about his birthday. Meanwhile, Ezran is adapting to being king and daily life in the palace.  

Viren has been temporarily resurrected by a dark spell performed by his daughter Claudia, voiced by Racquel Belmonte, and they seek to make the effects permanent by fulfilling Aaravos’ request to be released from his imprisonment. They are joined by Claudia’s new boyfriend, a humorous Earthblood elf named Terry, voiced by Benjamin Callins. 

General Amaya – Callum and Ezra’s maternal aunt who is deaf and only able to communicate through sign language and lip reading –  strolls through the woods with her partner Janai, Queen of the Sunfire elves voiced by Rena Anakwe, and her sign language interpreter Gren, voiced by Adrian Petriw. 

In a truly touching and comical scene, Janai’s attempt to propose to Amaya goes awry when she mistakes the court dancers as attackers trying to ambush her. This leads to a beautiful moment between the two women as Janai attempts sign language for the first time. The scene ends happily when Amaya accepts the proposal. 

These characters are the very picture of diversity. Amaya is deaf, something I have never seen in fantasy as disability is something often glazed over in the media. “The Dragon Prince” really seems to be pushing the boundaries of the fantasy tropes by including actual diversity in its characters. There are people of different skin tones, with disabilities, same-sex couples and non-binary individuals. 

My only concern about the pairing of General Amaya and Queen Janai is over tokenism. I fear they may begin focusing only on their relationship and what it means, rather than being independent characters with their own stories as they were in the past. They are an interracial, same-sex couple, disabled and able-bodied, and a human and elf couple. I am afraid that this oversaturation of diversity factors may play against them.  

While I love the presence of diversity, the reason for my fear stems from the fact that too many different things can take away from the meaning of the characters. It is true that intersectionality matters, but it should not overshadow characters being represented with authenticity and not just be forced into roles and storylines for diversity’s sake. 

For intersectionality to truly make an impact, it should come from a place of true understanding and representation, not a false pretense. I can only hope we get good character development that helps to make Amaya and Janai seem real and authentic and not just two-dimensional characters. 

One character conspicuously absent from the premiere is Rayla, Callum’s main love interest and fellow member of Team Zym. I wish we could have learned more about her character as all that is present in the episode is a vague explanation that she’s been gone for two years. This creative decision seems baffling to me as the love story between Callum and Rayla had been built wonderfully over the past three seasons, leading to what seemed like a happy union during the Season three finale when they finally became a couple.

One great improvement this season was the animation. It looks like the “The Dragon Prince” production team wisely used their hiatus to improve their work. The animation looks smoother and less choppy and the sound quality and voice acting seem to have improved as well. 

In an interview with Comicbook, the show creators shared the difficulty of making a show during the pandemic, but they were glad for extra time to flesh out the story, work on other fun projects like the franchise’s board game and build the universe of “The Dragon Prince.”

Overall it’s looking to be a great season. At a 2020 Comic-Con Zoom panel the show’s creators shared that the show has been renewed for four more seasons, bringing the total to seven, one for each of the sources of magic. I’m excited to see what else they will bring to the table.