The Dragon Prince Season 4 Review: The Mystery of Aaravos

The Dragon Prince Season 4
The Dragon Prince (L to R) Sasha Rojen as Ezran and Jack De Sena as Callum in The Dragon Prince. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2022

The Dragon Prince has finally returned for season 4. Set two years after season 3 ended (except for that brief epilogue), The Dragon Prince Season 4 begins the new arc for the series and rebrands itself with The Mystery of Aaravos. 

It’s been two years since the battle. In the meantime, Rayla has become obsessed with vengeance, believing that Viren didn’t really die when he fell from the cliff. Claudia has been on a quest (with Aaravos’s help) to bring Viren back from the dead, at least temporarily. (She has also gotten a boyfriend! An Earthblood Elf named Terry. Also, props for the trans representation on that front.) Callum has become High Mage in King Ezran’s court.

Most importantly, we finally get some answers about Aaravos! A Startouch Elf, he had been pulling the strings behind all major events of the past thousand years, whispering in their ear as he did with Viren. He was responsible for the disappearance of a Sunfire Elf queen who was attempting to broker peace in a dragon civil war. Her disappearance almost sparked a conflict between dragons and Elves. But it was a human girl who exposed his deception, and he was lured into his prison. (A girl who looks an awful lot like Ezran. Hmm…)

Knowing what we know now, I worry about Callum. It was not very subtle at all how Zubeia’s explanation about how Aaravos chose his victims was intercut with Callum looking at the enchanted looking glass. But I wasn’t expecting anything to happen quite so quickly. That Aaravos was able to essentially possess him from a mysterious prison in an unknown location indicates he may be more powerful than I expected. And with Callum unable to destroy the cube when he had the chance, he will likely struggle a lot as the series goes on.

I’m not sure how I feel about the time skip. I am never a fan of time skips; in my opinion, they are used to move characters to different places without showing them actually getting there. Besides, it seems very awkward. How is Callum still so unsure in his role of High Mage after two years?

This is clearly meant to be a setup season for a new arc, and it just seems clunky. This is season 4 of a 7-season story. There shouldn’t be setup anymore. I understand that we’re starting a new arc, but considering the past couple of seasons, this moved along too slowly. Why was so much time devoted to pastries, but we didn’t even get flashbacks about what happened to Rayla and Claudia in the past two years?

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Rayla coming back. She left in the graphic novel Through the Moon, and comes back in the second episode of the season. Her reasons for leaving are explained in the novel, but at no point does she ever say why she came back. Is it because she didn’t find anything and eventually gave up? Did she realize it was Callum’s birthday and she missed him? I hope at some point, we get to see what happened to her in those two years, because she’s obviously changed.

How did Callum and Rayla not have a conversation at all after she came back? It would be too rushed if they made up this season; Callum was deeply hurt and it will take a while for him to trust her. But I can’t believe they didn’t sit down and talk about it. It seemed like they were going to and then Callum was like, “If I get possessed again, you have to kill me.” Which is probably a good conversation to have, but maybe not quite the time for it. Read the room, man.

A major theme of The Dragon Prince Season 4 seemed to be understanding and empathy. Ezran brings Zubeia to Katolis to show the humans that she isn’t a creature to be feared, that she can be an ally. The Sunfire Elves and the humans living in the camp conflict over cultural differences. Amaya completely misunderstood Janai’s proposal and took the dancers for an ambush.

What a good message to focus on when the world is the way that it is at the moment. Lucia dismisses the soul candle as “superstition”. Even Amaya completely disregards how important the ritual is to the Elves. The humans are guests in Xadia and should learn to respect the Elves’ customs. I appreciate that Amaya understood that and didn’t come to Lucia’s defense, only asking for compassion in judgment. And Janai’s judgment showed mercy, and a sincere desire to improve relations between their people.

“The Drakewood” contains another message as well – the importance of nurturing a better world, even if you may not benefit from it. Janai knows that rebuilding the empire of the Sunfire Elves will not be easy, and it will take many years to achieve. Karim, on the other hand, is impatient for things to return to the way that they were. He believes that progress will destroy their civilization. And maybe it will. But maybe it will build something better.

The Dragon Prince Season 4
The Dragon Prince (L to R) Racquel Belmonte as Claudia and Jason Simpson as Viren in The Dragon Prince. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2022

But I think something The Dragon Prince Season 4 shows is that things can’t go back. You must always be going forward. Rayla returns and expects her and Callum to pick up where they left off. Claudia brings Viren back from the dead. Karim seeks to overthrow Janai to preserve the Elves’ current way of life.

I suppose Claudia’s descent into darkness was inevitable. Her ease at taking lives to perform dark magic increases every time. I don’t know that we’ll ever learn what despicable things she had to do to perform the ritual to bring back her father, but I’m very curious as to what she had to do. And I’m not particularly a fan of the fact that she dismisses Viren’s very real PTSD and blew past his desire to live out the last 30 days of his life in peace.

At times, you could tell that even Viren seemed to shy away from Claudia. In “Through the Looking Glass”, when she brought him back his staff, he hesitated. Was it related to his PTSD, or did he see something in Claudia that made him pause? But then he fully embraces the dark side at the end of the season, and my theories went poof. Of course, it wasn’t until after he touched his staff. Maybe this is proof that dark magic corrupts your soul?

I also really dislike how Viren was so blasé about Terry’s reaction to killing Ibis. Viren may be used to doing what’s necessary, but Terry is obviously a kind soul. He seems very goofy and gentle. People on this show really need to let other people have emotions, even if they disagree with them. I wish we knew how Claudia and Terry fell in love, because with all we know about Elves, I can’t believe that he is just totally cool with her dark magic.

And after the conversation he had with Viren about having feelings, it makes me wonder if there is a line that he won’t cross, even for Claudia. He already seems to be headed there, the way he reacted to her tricking Rayla in “Escape from Umber Tor”. But at the same time, Claudia went back and gave Rayla the coins after Terry called it cruel.

Soren, meanwhile, has shown a lot of growth. There were multiple moments throughout the season where he showed some real wisdom. He realizes that Claudia is the one trying to free Aaravos using logic (and also recognizing her bracelet but mostly logic). He is also able to discern that Scarmaker aka Squeaky is afraid of his armor and befriends her.

I cannot fault him for trying to save Claudia. That’s his sister. He thought she was dead. He desperately wants her to realize that she is on the wrong side. But Claudia has fallen under the will of a despot. I believe it is still possible to save her, but it’s like breaking free of cult control. She needs to have her “come to Jesus” moment, so to speak. (I suspect Terry may be that moment. But I also suspect that at some point she will snap and go full evil.)

By the way, Soren finds out his father is alive after two years, and they don’t even have a conversation? The next time we see him, he’s joking about liking salad and how much his feet smell. After he tried to reason with Claudia, there should have been a conversation with him and Viren, at least. That was one of many instances of important conversations just not happening.

Claudia’s explanation of how humans were treated before Aaravos stepped in rings false. Even if we didn’t know that Aaravos uses mages to achieve whatever goals he has, it was a human that stopped him. If he were truly the only being doing anything to help humans, surely they wouldn’t have turned against him. But she is convinced of this truth.

She seems to still have what she considers to be good intentions – she is fighting for humanity, after all. But Claudia, unlike Soren, has never talked to a dragon. The only Elf she’s apparently really interacted with is Terry. (But then, even Terry disproves her point.) Of course, Rex Igneous claims that Avizandum enjoyed stepping on humans like they were insects. But then, humans did things like sneak into Xadia to kidnap things for dark magic rituals.

The Dragon Prince Season 4
The Dragon Prince. Ben Cotton as Rex Igneous in The Dragon Prince. Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2022

I love everything about their journey to Umber Tor. I love the Princess Bride reference. The three zones along the Path of Despair allowed for some seriously creative challenges. And Rex Igneous is a fantastic character. I was so excited to go to Xadia in season 3, so I am a big fan of the exploration of other realms.

However, the Earthblood Elf realm felt so… empty. Other than the group that captured Soren, there were no others in the area? They didn’t even notice that Soren ran off with their dragon. I was really hoping to see more of their civilization. We didn’t even get to see a settlement, even though N’Than and the others must have come from somewhere. I’m very curious about how the Earthblood Elves treat dragons, considering they seem to enslave them. Is it at all related to how Rex hasn’t been seen in a century?

There were some really great cinematography moments in this season. I particularly liked the scene in “Breathtaking” where Ezran’s speech about anger and violence was overlaid with Claudia fighting Ibis (RIP Ibis, you were a good dude), making it seem as though Ezran was there in the spire. I also absolutely loved the artwork in the animation of Zubeia’s tale about Aaravos. Using a different style, when all other flashbacks have been the same style, helped to highlight how much of a legend this story was.

I know that The Dragon Prince is a show meant for kids, but I really wish they would tone down the fart jokes. The characters have aged, and I was hoping that the humor would as well. I am totally on board with Soren’s dad jokes, though. It’s hilarious that Zubeia found him funny; her deadpan, “I know, it’s very funny,” was fantastic. The comedy stylings of the Umber Tor gate guardians was also a delight. Zym comforting Ezran in “Beneath the Surface” was hysterical.

On the other hand, sometimes it feels like there is too much humor. Again, I know that this is meant for children, but sometimes things have to be serious. Occasionally it feels like there are no stakes. As much as I like the creativity of the challenges along the Path of Despair, in the end, they easily got past them. There was very little tension, except for that brief moment when everyone thought Zym was lost.

I caught a couple of Avatar: The Last Airbender Easter eggs this time! (I usually miss those. I’m still so embarrassed that I didn’t catch the boomerang reference in season 3 until I saw it online.) Soren names their group the “Dragaang” (according to the subtitles). And Soren’s new dragon friend responds to “yip yip” as a command to fly.

The Dragon Prince Season 4 felt very hit or miss. There were some moments that I loved, and some moments that I didn’t. Overall, I enjoyed it, but honestly, if this were season 1 and not season 4, I might not be interested enough to continue. However, I’m pretty invested in these characters, and I’m eager to see how it goes.

Hopefully, now that we’ve gotten all this exposition out of the way, season 5 won’t feel quite as slow, and we can dive further into some of these stories. Is Karim somehow also being influenced by Aaravos, or does he only manipulate one person at a time? Will they finally be able to get Runaan (and Rayla’s parents) out of their coin prisons? What does our group do now that Claudia and Viren have the map, and they don’t?

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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