We’re up to about three weeks since the second season of The Dragon Prince came out on Netflix, which means I don’t feel too guilty about writing a review with spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, now’s your chance to back out before I lay out everything I had thoughts on, spoilers and all.
But if you’re up for a little bit of spoilery reviewing, ONWARD.
I was so excited for the second season of The Dragon Prince after the first one had such a promising set-up. Dragons and magic and family and friendship? Count me in?
Unfortunately, I think season two was a major let-down, and whether or not I’ll watch the third season is uncertain.
For starters, the show moved even more slowly this season. They spent far too long in the same location the first season ended in, far too long stretching out the plot of whether or not Callum would come to trust Claudia and Soren when they showed up. By the time they did anything about it, I was starting to get bored.
Then, in the middle, we get a drawn-out sea journey along with a drawn-out flashback story. Granted, the flashback reveals some information that was nice to know, particularly giving us more information on King Harrow, Queen Sarai, and the relationship of Katolis to the other kingdoms, especially Duren.
But then the last chunk of the season GETS STUCK IN ONE PLACE AND TAKES FOREVER. After two whole seasons (eighteen episodes, for you folks keeping score at home), the thing the main characters set out to do at the beginning of the series ISN’T EVEN CLOSE TO DONE. They literally set foot in Xadia in the last thirty seconds of the season, and they’re not even close to bringing Zym home.
In a nutshell, the pacing was horrifically slow, and I’m super disappointed.
And as a petty sidebar? The last two words of the show are “sol regem” and the classics student in me is going ballistic about it. I get that Latin makes an easy stand-in for a fantasy language, especially when you’re making a show for kids. No worries, that’s fine! But sol regem is supposed to be a character’s title and I’m just???? You can’t stick one word in the nominative and another in the accusative, not when it’s someone’s title. If you wanted to call him the Sun King, you need sol rex, or, even better, solis rex, which would be more literally King of the Sun.
Petty sidebar over, and now I’d like to talk about the thing that disappointed me the most.
Dreamworks properties on Netflix have disappointed me before. Look at Voltron, for example (She-Ra, you’re my last hope, don’t fail me now). And now TDP has followed in those footsteps.
Once again, we are introduced to queer characters, and for a moment, I was thrilled! They kissed on screen! Two women, two literal queens kissed each other on screen and it was totally normalized! And they have a kid! They’re referred to as her mothers! Super casually!
Five minutes later, they were dead. Worse still, they were never named in the show (though the crew probably named them and has shared that info somewhere), and worse than that, once again, the crew was aware of the bury your gays trope.
Aaron Ehasz addressed it somewhat on Twitter, saying he really didn’t want to fall into the trope, and that the characters in question are based on real people he knows, but that doesn’t lessen the hurt. To be aware of a trope and go forward with what looks like that trope is incredibly harmful. Not only that, these are the first explicitly queer characters we’ve met in the show, and they’re women (I see far more queer male characters than queer female characters, and let’s not even get into how few non-binary characters we get to see), AND they’re not named.
The Queens of Duren are a plot device, and they are buried gays. They are the only representative LGBTQ+ folks have had so far, and they’ve been dismissed as quickly as they were introduced. They do not have names, only titles, and their death in the flashback is used to attempt to convince their daughter to go to war on the villain’s behalf. No amount of promises for further representation as the show goes on can change that this is all we have received in nearly twenty episodes.
If there were other queer characters introduced and named and not killed before the queens, I probably wouldn’t be upset. It isn’t bury your gays if you have other queer characters still alive, still important in the story, because then the dead gays weren’t the token gays all along. But we don’t have that. We have so little, and it lasted, yet again, all of five minutes.
I’m tired of being asked to trust that there will be representation, and the first representation I’m given breaks that trust. It’s exhausting, and doubly so coming from cishet male voices. It’s the thing that, on top of everything else that went so slowly in this season, completely soured The Dragon Prince for me. No amount of slightly smoother animation or new dragons or new potential story leads is going to make this any less disappointing, any less harmful.
I honestly can’t say much else about this season. So little happened in the grand scheme of things, so much was a let-down, and I’m still frustrated and upset that the first queer rep on screen was killed so quickly, and with full knowledge of the bury your gays trope. They can say they’re avoiding the trope all they like, because they know there will be more or something like that, but the fact remains that this is what they chose to show their audiences first, and that’s a difficult thing to get past. Maybe it’s even impossible, and I almost wouldn’t feel too bad about dropping the show at this point. Perhaps I’ll give the third season one more chance, but perhaps I’ll cut it out of my show list completely.
At this point, it’s possible to do far better, and season two of The Dragon Prince did not meet even the lowest bar.
What did you think of The Dragon Prince, if you’ve watched S2 already? Do you plan on continuing, or are you going to let it go? Either way, we should talk, I think.