Aughra didn’t die.
I mean, this should be obvious, right? We’ve all seen The Dark Crystal, and we all know that Aughra is the best part of the original film. Likewise, we know that the Hunter isn’t in the 80s film, nor is the Archer. Nor, for that matter, are Hup and Deet and Nurlocs and compelling character motivations and manta rays and Baffi. You know.
This was on my mind all throughout episodes 9 & 10 of Age of Resistance. When Aughra sacrifices herself to save the Gelflings, a huge part of me was thinking “well, we know there’s a trick here somewhere.” When Hunter comes back, I kept thinking “well, he’ll just have to die later.”
In a way, this is the problem with prequels that critics love to harp on. Why do we care about Anakin when we just know he’s gonna stop being an amazing pod racer, evolve into Darth Vader, and then ultimately sacrifice himself to stop Palpatine? What can the stakes be if we know Mike and Sulley are going to become great monsters in the future? And of course, why won’t Hollywood buy my pitch for Three (Teen) Amigos?
I’m thinking about this a lot in Episodes 9 & 10, because of Aughra, of course, but even more because of the series’s ending. It’s a weird feeling, to see the Gelflings succeed in halting the Skeksis’ progress, only to know that all of them are going to be eradicated except for Kira and that other guy, what’s his name, Jeff? It’s a weird feeling, to see that the Skeksis have no army, only for it to be made clearly evident that they’re about to construct the Garthim.
This feeling is called dramatic irony, and folks…I’m not actually convinced it’s a bad thing?
Look, I love surprises. I like being shocked by media as much as the next person. But The Dark Crystal was never going to be a series about that. Like, in these episodes, Chamberlain doesn’t free the Gruenaks. Deet and Rian find the glaive. Aughra says cute things. It’s a story about good and evil, and those kinds of stories don’t lend themselves to big twists. So really, I could’ve guessed that Aughra was going to trick the Skeksis even if I hadn’t just watched the original for like, the tenth time, a week ago. That’s what Aughra does!
Despite this, these episodes do manage to squeeze in a few good surprises. Deet’s new powers, and her reactions to them, are fascinating and leave a ton of plot hooks for next season. Likewise, there was something both surprisingly shocking and also weirdly satisfying about watching the Chamberlain stab the General and shout “YOU TOOK MY SEAT.” Still, that tracks for his character.
Sometimes, good stories are about characters doing what you expect. That’s okay! But it still doesn’t change this weird, hollow feeling about knowing that all my new friends are going to someday die and be replaced by Kira and Jeb. That’s life, though. Sometimes, the emotional connections you make to people are…weird. And maybe that’s all okay in the end. After all, eventually the Crystal will be whole. And now I care for the first time about that.
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by Evan G