We’re talking about the finale of Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance below—come back after you have binged the series, because you will not want spoilers beforehand.
So here we are, a pause in the action and a regrouping by both our heroes and our Big Bads to close the first season of Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. What a beautiful journey, and yet, a brutal one. The finale was defined by sacrifices for the greater good, as well as a significant victory that may sadly not last for long in terms of celebration. I’ll get into Dark Crystal movie connections and spoilers a little further down (so feel free to avoid that and those connections if you want to stay totally surprised by where the story is going). But first, let’s dive into some of the specific of this episode, and start by talking about Deet.
Gentle Deet! The vessel of the Sanctuary Tree’s power and its corruption by the Darkening, Deet absorbed everything that the Emperor had collected into this specter from the crystal into her own body. It left her a wandering radioactive death zombie, which is even sadder than hearing a Gruenak bludgeoned to death and seeing its blood splatter on the small creature watching in The Scientist’s lab. I mean, folks…!
But we need to back up a little bit. The finale was full of action; I’ve never seen so many puppets flung around before, especially poor Rian. The Skeksis were in full battle mode as well, but what was wonderful about the way the series handled this showdown was that, to start, none of the Gelfling tribes had made it yet. It was just our three heroes, a few paladins, and a couple of Stonewoods. God bless them (Thra bless them?) though, they had a plan and executed it well, including capitalizing on the flight power of the female Gelfling and smoke bomb tricks gleaned from the Grottan.
And, we saw Rian actually being able to hold onto a sword for once, plunging the Dual Glaive into the General and seemingly taking away some of his essence. Rian stopped before it destroyed him though, declaring that he is not a killer, but it was an interesting moment that served as one of the many fantasy subversions that Age of Resistance traded in throughout.The Glaive was not the be-all-end-all, and Rian was not the sole chosen warrior to wield it and destroy the Skeksis. Instead, it was just the first of a battle with many parts to it, including the rebirth of Aughra.
We knew from the start when the Skeksis tried to drain Mother Aughra that something wasn’t quite right. She is of Thra, connected more deeply to its magic than any other being, and very tightly tied in with the crystal itself. She was drained, eventually, to revive the Hunter—something that is mentioned in the Circle of the Suns (that the Archer was only alive “because of Aughra”). But her disappearance was not forever, and once the Archer sacrificed himself so that his dark half, the Hunter, would perish (“now we shall see what lies at the dream’s end”), Aughra’s essence was released and she was reborn (still as an old woman). “Does nothing stay dead anymore!?” the Ornamentalist wailed.
It was enough to throw the Skeksis off until the rest of the seven Gelfling clans arrived on the scene in tandem with Deet throwing the Darkening back at the Emperor, which ended up blowing up The Collector. Three Skeksis ultimately died: The Collector (by Deet), the General (from a combo of Rian’s wound to him plus the Chamberlain’s final blow), and The Hunter (because of the Archer’s sacrifice). It finally caused a Skeksis retreat, but even though they weren’t totally defeated, it was a lovely moment (for the most part—more of that in a moment).
The subsequent celebration by the Gelfling (and, rather hilariously, the Arathim) was sweet, full of hugging, and a much-needed release of their tensions over the Skeksis. And yet, as we saw after Aughra’s speech on “this day the many become one!” the battle is far from over. After brutalizing both of the Gruenak, The Scientist took the one he had beaten to the death (? or nearly so) and used it to fortify his Arathim, creating a new creature called a Garthim. A new age of battle is about to begin.
Warning: Movie spoilers!
There were connections throughout Age of Resistance that tie the series to the movie it’s leading towards, and yet, the knowledge of the movie itself casts a dark pall on everything. It begins, essentially, by introducing the eradication of the Gelfling, mostly thanks to the Garthim. So we know that the rebellion failed. But did all Gelfling die?
It’s an incredibly difficult thing to consider, because it basically tells us that no hero we currently know will be able to do anything significant against the remaining Skeksis from this point on. We know no more of the Skeksis die before the movie, so the best we can hope for is that the Gelfling go into hiding. Now that we’ve been introduced to more corners of the world of Thra (though the seafaring Sifan, the beyond-the-Crystal-Desert locale of the Dousan, as well as the underground caverns of the Grottan), there are some possibilities that at least some Gelfling are able to escape. Because while we do only meet two Gelfling in The Dark Crystal (the last two ever, supposedly), someone had to have given birth to them. Somewhere, not too terribly long ago, there were more.
But, on a brighter note, we did get a triumphant moment of Brea recognizing the shard that powered the Dual Glaive, the thing that really is the way the Skeksis can be defeated. It wasn’t the blade, but the magic inside. But again, we know that the shard will ultimately be lost again, and replaced in the crystal only by Jen in the future during The Dark Crystal. So even though Brea has put this connection together and she raises it up, it’s not the final scene; that scene belongs to the Skeksis and the Garthim. This isn’t the end, but just the beginning.
It leaves Age of Resistance with two possible paths: it could easily go into a second season that backs away from the action a bit and explores more of the Gelfling clans as they prepare for war (or hiding), or it could end here and just go straight into the movie’s story. But that second option leaves us in such darkness in terms of what Age of Resistance covered. Again, without more story in this series specifically, all we know is that everyone we met is dead, and that Deet may never be healed from the Darkening. I mean we need Season Two just for the love of Deet! Aughra speaks of hope, and it seems that we must have it, too.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and an obsession with podlings, you can follow her @keeneTV