The Dragon Prince is a show that started strong, but left a lot to be desired given the short length of its first season. It introduced an intriguing world and some fun characters, but spent so much time establishing its lore that the plot took a back seat until the last few episodes. Season 2 turns out to be much the same: Once again, after a slow, but promising start, The Dragon Prince seems like it will finally start gaining some momentum–next season, that is.
When we last saw Prince Callum, Prince Ezran, and the elven assassin Reyla, they were on the run from the kingdom of Katolis to return the magical dragon egg when it suddenly hatched. Hot on their trail were Claudia, a dark magic user, and Soren, her bone-headed brother who intended on returning the two princes back home against their will. It was an action-packed finale to what was otherwise a slow burn of a first season, and while Season 2 picks up immediately after, it feels like the show immediately hits the brakes, focusing on establishing character motivations as opposed to pushing the plot forward.
While that’s certainly a disappointment, it’s not such a bad thing this time around. With another set of nine episodes focused on more buildup, almost every character was given a chance to begin a unique arc for themselves. Callum, for example, dealing with the repercussions of breaking the Primal stone, cannot cast magic anymore and struggles with whether or not he’ll turn to the dark arts to compensate. Ezran, a child himself, must act as the main guardian of the recently hatched dragon, Zym, while he reels from the news that he is next in line to become king. They don’t make too many strides forward in their quest to bring Zym back to his mother, but they make up for it with character growth that sets up their goals and challenges for the seasons to come.
Extra attention was even given to some of the side characters as well, in particular the siblings, Claudia and Soren, who were tasked with tracking down the two princes last season. We spend a good amount of episodes with them, which is fantastic because their chemistry together rivals that of the main characters. Soren is still as burly and brash as ever, but time is taken to show us a bit more about what drives him to be the best, while Claudia begins to face the repercussions of her proclivity with dark magic. Viren, the main antagonist of the series so far, also gets mixed up in his own side story, showing us his insecurities and reasons for wanting to go to war with the elves. There’s some disturbing implications that come with it, and considering the season begins with Aunt Amaya literally smacking two elves into a pit of lava, I can’t wait to see if the show will continue to get darker.
One highly requested (and much needed) change to The Dragon Prince was adding more frames of animation to its quieter, dialogue focused scenes. While it could still use some work, I’m happy to say that there isn’t one scene this time around that reminded me of the sometimes borderline stop-motion animation that plagued the first season. Fight scenes are still as exciting and creatively choreographed as ever, and just like last season, scenes of serenity give us some beautiful vistas showcasing the lush world these characters inhabit. Just like the first season, it wasn’t uncommon for me to pause the show and just stare at some of the visuals. Its sense of humor is still very much intact as well, occasionally catching me off guard with that trademark Avatar: The Last Airbender-esque humor.
There are a couple of issues lingering on from the first season that continue to hold the show back, however. Ezran is still an extremely underdeveloped character. He’s given more to do this season, which helps, but he’s still criminally underused as one of the show’s three main characters. His contributions to conversations usually amount to no more than naivete as a form of comic relief, and don’t give any insight into his feelings until the last episode. That grievance can be amplified by some of actor Sasha Rojen’s dialogue delivery as well, which sometimes comes off as flat. On that same note, Reyla, who arguably experienced the most growth in Season 1, was given very little to do this time around. She gets into all the fights and can clash with the best of them, but we already knew that about her. While I can respect that her spotlight was taken away to give other characters a chance to shine, it’s a shame the only thing we learn about her this season is that she’s working on overcoming her aversion to boats.
While there have been missteps here and there while The Dragon Prince begins its journey, I can’t fault it too much this time around considering the amount of care the writers are putting into each character. When the first season ended, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be excited to continue watching because it wasn’t quite enough to get me fully invested. While I’m still patiently waiting to see where the story takes the characters, I can’t wait to see where the characters will take the story. Yes, it’s disappointing that the characters have barely gotten any closer to completing their goal, but the quality time we spent with them this season was anything but filler. With battle lines being drawn and allegiances tested, everything is poised to fan the flames of the plot. It still hasn’t taken off quite yet, but when The Dragon Prince returns, I’m confident it will soar.