Dark Crystal
This prequel stays true to the original with added modern aspects. (Illustration by Mahaney, Pratt Institute)
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Dark Crystal

‘The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance’ captures the essence of the original movie while building new characters and plot.

The new Netflix TV show, “The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance,” is the prequel to the 1982 film, “The Dark Crystal.” The original film, created by Jim Henson, follows Jen, who is thought to be the last Gelfling, whose entire family was killed by the Skeksis. The Skeksis are alien creatures that have taken over the Dark Crystal and abused its powers for their own self-gain, even though it is destroying all life on their world, Thra.

Jen is raised by the urRu after his family is killed. As the master of the urRu dies, he tells Jen that he must find the shard that broke off of the crystal and restore it to save Thra. We then follow Jen as he travels across Thra to find the broken shard and restore the crystal, returns the Skeksis and urRu into their true forms and falls in love.

When the newest prequel to “The Dark Crystal” was announced, many people were skeptical about how it would be made and if the creators would stick to the same artistic style or use CGI. Despite the fans’ fears, the creators did an amazing job replicating the vibes of the original movie, keeping the same artistic style by using puppets to portray the characters, just as they did in the 1982 movie.

The new series follows multiple Gelfling as they begin to discover the destruction of their home due to the Dark Crystal’s powers, which they call “the darkening.” These evil powers spread across Thra and turn innocent creatures evil and violent.

The plot follows Rian, Brea and Deet as they work to bring back balance and fight against the darkening. The Skeksis, who were originally thought to be the keepers of the crystal to protect its power, are quickly realized to be the reason behind the crystal’s destruction. The Scientist has learned how to use the crystal to drain Gelfling essence, which, if consumed, can give the Skeksis power and immortality.

The Skeksis realize that, with this essence, they no longer have to fear death and can live forever. Their greed pushes them to begin killing Gelfling in large numbers in order to drink this essence and gain power.

However, using the crystal in this way causes it to destroy Thra rather than keep it alive and well. The Skeksis learn this and give no regard, caring only for their personal gain. Having all come from different tribes, Gelfling Rian, Brea and Deet don’t entirely understand each other but learn to work together to stop the destruction of their land and save Thra from the Skeksis.

This show, similar to the original, is not afraid to kill off characters and bring in darker aspects. The new “Dark Crystal” is a kids show that doesn’t fear darker concepts, as they drain Gelfling’s essences, kill main characters and have family stab each other in the back.

Unlike the original, there is much more representation in this series; we see strong female leads and LGBTQ+ characters. The original “Dark Crystal” had a strong female lead, too, but it hewed closely to the “damsel-in-distress saved by a knight” type of storyline. In this new series, it is only because of strong female characters that they fight their way through, and it is a woman that ultimately saves the day.

LGBTQ+ representation is seen in the series with Deet’s family. Deet tells Rian when he asks about her life in the caves that she has “two fathers and a brother.” Not only does Deet mention this openly, but, later on in the series, the family is shown together.

“The Dark Crystal” prequel doesn’t only have more representation, but it also explores political and social issues — Deet faces discrimination for being part of the Grottan Clan, a group of Gelfling that live in caves underground. Deet is repeatedly looked down upon and even attacked for being a Grottan. No one takes her seriously once they discover her heritage, except for her friend, Hup.

Hup, being a Podling, also faces discrimination because his species is usually used for slavery, and he is often mistaken as Deet’s slave instead of her friend.

It is only later in the season, after Deet and Hup prove themselves, that anyone takes them seriously, even though Deet is the only Gelfling that has an awareness of what is actually causing the darkening. Also, it is only when Rian and other Gelfling support her claims that she is given a chance to explain what she knows and have it taken into consideration.

This prequel also explores the concept of good and evil and what makes a creature good or bad. Throughout the show, creatures turn evil because of the darkening, and others turn good in order to help end the war and save the Thra. Main characters bounce from good to evil as they try to understand themselves and what evilness means to them.

Seladon’s character goes through this change of good and bad multiple times, as she is manipulated by the Skeksis to believe that her own mother and sisters are conspiring to destroy their kingdom. It is only when this manipulation comes to light that Seladon begins to see her family’s point of view.

This new series brings in elements of the original “Dark Crystal” with modern concepts, representation, social issues and the moral struggles of leadership and war. The destruction of Thra leads the Gelfling and other creatures to work together or tear each other apart.

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