In 1982, Jim Henson introduced the world to the world of Thra in his cinematic landmark, The Dark Crystal. Thirty seven years later, Netflix brings audiences back to the land of the seven clans for its prequel, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, exploring the coming conflict between the native Gelflings and grotesque Skeksis. The Crystal of Truth, the source of life throughout Thra, has fallen under Skeksis control thanks to its life-restoring power. But no one thought about what happens when their thirst for immortality wrings the crystal dry. The Skeksis’ manipulation of the crystal and a looming force known as the Darkening forced a selection of young Gelflings into action. If Thra is to persist, the subservient creatures must rise to preserve it and the crystal. Good thing the Skeksis give them plenty of motivation to do so.
The seven Gelfling clans live fairly isolated from one another, but none as much as the Grotten. The gentle underground dwellers live outside the memory of their own kind for the most part. But that all changes when a young Grotten named Deet stumbles upon a threatening force while harvesting the cave’s glow moss. The normally blue material suddenly takes on a purple hue unbeknownst to Deet. A friendly baby nurloc glows purple with rage when she feeds it the corrupted moss, prompting its corrupted mother to attack, breaking Deet’s wing.
Deet is able to crawl away, finding herself at the foot of the Sanctuary Tree. The Tree speaks to her, warning her of the consuming power of the Darkening. The Darkening threatens the whole of Thra. To stop it, Deet must rally the Gelfling clans together to stop its spread. The Tree shows Deet a vision of the future full of rage-filled creatures and Gelfling along with a crazed Aughra, the embodiment of Thra. The Grotten ruler, Maudra Argot, takes Deet’s warning to heart. She sends Deet above ground for the first time in her life to warn the All-Maudra, ruler of all Gelfling, of the encroaching Darkening.
Speaking of the All-Maudra, her daughter, Princess Brea, is about to have all of her preconceived notions of the Skeksis cast into doubt. The impending arrival of Skeksis lords for a tithing ceremony sparks excitement in her. It’s the first time her mother, Mayrin, allows her to attend. Brea commits a faux pas before the Skeksis even arrive, nearly being crushed under their carriage in a fit of excitement. The Scroll-Keeper, skekOk, welcomes her into the carriage and the two bond over books. But the grotesque image and personality of The Collector, skekLach, begins to soul Brea’s opinion of her rulers.
The tithing ceremony erodes that affection even more. SkekOk forces a farmer’s daughter to hand over a pendant that belonged to her dead mother to make up for a failed harvest. Brea tries to intervene, but her sisters tell her to mind her place. Brea dives into research of the Skeksis laws after the ceremony. She begins to question the Skeksis lords, believing they are hiding something.If the Skeksis provide all for the Gelfling then why do they demand tithes? A scuffle with her librarian activates a magical text, producing an image of the symbol of balance throughout Thra. She rushes to tell Mayrin but relents when she sees her wearing the pendant. Brea returns to her studies, intent on uncovering more about the Skeksis, though she does take the time to return the pendant to its rightful owner.
Brea is right to question the Skeksis lords. They’ve been draining the crystal in a quest for eternity for over 1000 years, after all. But they’ve tapped the crystal dry. The Emperor, skekSo, charges the Scientist, skekTek, with finding a solution. SkekTek does so by accidentally draining a portion of his life force after experimenting on the crystal itself. The Chamberlain, skekSil, saves skekTek and the two concoct a plan to drain the essence from Gelflings via the crystal.
Elsewhere, Rian and Mira, two Gelflings of Stonewood, share romantic moments in between their duties guarding the Skeksis castle. The two dreamfast, reliving their first kiss, until they’re surprised by a stray Arathim spitter. Seeing this as a prime opportunity to prove himself to his father, Rian hunts down the spider-like creature with Mira’s help. The search leads them to the catacombs, an area of the castle off-limits to all Gelfling.
Rian follows Mira down only to find her in the clutches of skekTek. He’s demoing his new essence withdrawal system for skekSo and Mira is the guinea pig. Rian watches through tears as Mira is reduced to a milky, life-giving beverage. He bolts once the Skeksis notice him, but the lords have little reason to worry. No one will believe Rian. The Gelfling want to be ruled and will cast him out for speaking ill of their rulers.
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