Review – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – Episodes 5 & 6

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Episode Summaries:

She Knows All the Secrets: Everything is finally coming into place. Rian needs rescue as he is passed off from skekMal to skekSil. Deet and Hup arrive in Ha’rar, both pretending to be something they’re not. Things come to a head in the citadel, with sisters turning against sisters and the All-Maudra finally steps up to the truth-but at what cost?

By Gelfling Hand: The heroes’ impromptu trip to the Castle of the Crystal is interrupted by an angry Lore. Seladon manages to be both clever and incredibly ignorant at the same time as she mishandles her mother’s death and the transfer of power. The Skeksis enjoy the old pastime of massacre and Aughra sets the Archer on a morbid mission. 

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Marni Hill – The last time we saw Aughra, she had realised that Thra was the answer to the missing Song. Now it’s a matter of getting Thra to talk, but again, nothing seems to be working. Her old methods no longer worked. The Mystics methods came with no results. What was the issue this time? It takes asking the Sanctuary Tree to help heal a Darkened creature for her to finally just sit and listen. The other methods of communication made too much noise and was probably drowning Thra out. Her continuing character arc is subtle, but very satisfying to watch an old entity learn new tricks.

There’s nothing been written to support this theory, but while watching the Skeksis increase their consumption of essence, they seem to become maddened drop by drop. Not that they haven’t always been a bit unstable, but I’m sure they weren’t urinating on the Castle walls while simply channelling the Crystals power into their bodies. Essence is Thra’s vodka, it seems. Merely the act of destruction and murder is enough to get the Skeksis version of dopamine going and the essence exacerbates it. Capturing and draining an entire castle full of rebellious guards? A lovely and joyous pastime! 

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I’ve heard people claim skekMal to be the most terrifying of the Skeksis, but I believe differently. skekMal, while quick of mind and on feet, his way of life is quite simple. Find a reason to hunt, live for the hunt and only complete once the hunt is finished. skekSil is the truly terrifying one, quiet and conniving. Simon Pegg and Warrick Brownlow-Pike do a brilliant job at bringing Chamberlain to life. The argument between Rian and Chamberlain is not the pinnacle, but a great example of what makes the character work. We saw Chamberlain try to sweet-talk Gurjin in a previous episode and he appears to have a system. Sweet-talk first with a thinly veiled threat, if the threatened one refuses to fall for his words, then he snaps, and this is where he gets scary. There is literally no low to which Chamberlain won’t sink to get his way. Watching him get pummelled with peachberries gets more gratifying to witness with every repeated viewing. 

I suppose it’s time to talk about Seladon. Her loyalty to the Skeksis has been her coping mechanism, most likely since she was a childling and the responsibilities of the All-Maudra was first impressed upon her by her mother. She’s never known if she can live up to those responsibilities or if she can ever make her mother truly proud, but the rule of the Skeksis have always been there. The one true constant in the back of her mind she could hold onto. So, when her mother, the symbol of her anxieties, appears to threaten that feeling of safety? Seladon’s mental walls shoot straight up and even her mothers’ death can’t stop the wool from being pulled over her eyes.

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What Louis Leterrier and the writers have done is create a character who is so conflicting, it leaves the audience confused as to whether she is worth feeling empathy for. Seladon’s actions are contradicting. Mother Aughra herself tries to warn Seladon of the Skeksis actions and she turns away. She claims she loved her mother with everything she had and yet burns her body anyway so that she cannot be returned to Thra, as is the natural order of things. Her ability to twist problems into her own favour, as seen with Maudra Fara’s challenge for the Living Crown, proves her intelligence, but it seems a cocktail of anger and grief is just enough to blind her from the ever-piling evidence of the Skeksis’ wrong doings. 

With Tavra locked away in the Castle of the Crystal, it leaves Brea as the last Princess standing. She and the other Gelfling are finally united with Aughra’s blessing, but it comes with a price. Losing the All-Maudra is the equivalent of the first Domino falling. Seladon claims that her rule with prevent the chaos from raining down, however it’s already been spitting, and it won’t be too long until chaos is raining down in buckets. As we saw with the Maudras, every clan is aware of what has been happening at the Castle, but no one can agree on how to handle it. It’s no coincidence Maudras Laesid and Fara support war as an option with Rian, Gurjin and Naia being at the centre of the upcoming conflict. Therefore, the rebirth of Lore was incredibly important. If Brea and the others can share the lesson she learned down in the chamber, all Gelfling can stand together and together, they might just stand a chance.

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Not that there haven’t been outstanding scenes in the previous 4 episodes, but episodes 5&6 knew how to take it up a notch.  The rescue of Rian from Chamberlain’s carriage was exemplary, with a thrilling rush of cinematography, music and puppetry coordination the likes I have never seen before. You get a glimpse of Rian’s leadership skills and a great taste of the comradery between twins Gurjin and Naia. This is scene I’m sure the average viewer will believe relied on CGI for the characters but watching the behind-the-scenes documentary will prove otherwise. 

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The Songs of Thra were also riveting. Aughra’s discovery of Thra’s Song and the Gelfling sitting around the campfire singing their goodbye to the All-Maudra illustrated the significance of songs and music as a method of uniting Thra as one. The songs being in a different language deepens Thra’s culture even further, overtaking any prejudice as all Gelfling know these songs. The music is mystical and beautiful, sometimes daunting if need be. If we are provided with a second season, I hope to see music become a primary source of solidarity and hope as times get even darker. 

Next week, we’ll be digging even further into the history and lore of Thra as everyone learns of their places and tasks for the upcoming conflict.