REVIEW: ‘The Dragon Prince’ Season 2 is Strong in Character but Lacking in Quest

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Some mild spoilers and plot details for Season 2 below the picture.

Dragon Prince Season 2

If I had to sum up The Dragon Prince Season 2 in one word, it would be “reflection.” At the end of season 1, I expected the show to take our characters into a wider adventure. Instead, Book 2 had Callum, Claudia, Rayla, and Ezran take personal and introspective journeys.

The story this season gave much more to the first two characters than the others. In the first few episodes I realized that each season would have a special emphasis on one of the main cast. Season 1, “Moon,” had a special emphasis on Rayla’s story and seasonal arc, whereas for Season 2, “Sky,” the focus was mainly on Callum.

This works to both the series’ advantages and disadvantages. With a main character by character focus each season, we get character-driven stories that tie into the titular season theme (“Moon” for Rayla and “Sky” for Callum). Rayla’s journey in Season 1 was about struggling to open herself up to her new friends, with the metaphor of the half-moon showing only part of its true self. Thankfully, this journey continues to great effect in Book 2.

Callum’s journey is about understanding his connection to the wider world he’s entering, and how to harness its magic to help his friends and do good for the world. While Ezran’s development is more towards the end of the season, he still has a good arc of maturing to the world’s pressures, and becoming a better future ruler for it.

Dragon Prince Season 2

However, these journeys are far more reflective than actively incorporated into the larger plot I looked forward to at the end of Book 1. It felt as though the show left the larger story of the group’s quest to return the titular Dragon Prince and stop the impending conflict. In many ways, Book 2 felt like a season 1 part 2. While some might appreciate the direct continuation (it chronologically took place a week after the Book 1) I found it frustrating that the only direct momentum on the main plot took place in the last few episodes.

I’ve written before on how I think more shows should take advantage of filler episodes for deep character explorations. The explorations in the Dragon Prince season 2 are, on the whole, fantastic. Callum’s journey in particular got me to appreciate him more as a character. But again, it felt as though his journey was one we should have had in Book 1. This applies to most of the other characters this season, barring Viren and Claudia, who both had excellent character explorations and progressions that furthered the plot.

The show had left us on a great cliffhanger in its first season. It felt like there was a promise our main cast of characters would meet new people, fight new battles, and learn more about the world of Xadia and the human kingdoms. To be fair, we do get this exploration in two flashback episodes, which also provided more context for the complex geopolitical situation our main heroes would engage with. But again, it felt as though we could have had this in Book 1.

Claudia has far more development this season than the last, making her a highlight. Through getting insight into her family situation and her exact motivations for her intense loyalty her family, she becomes a standout character. She genuinely thinks she’s in the pursuit of good, but her actions and methods are still in the wrong. This makes her arguably one of the most interesting characters to watch.

The narrative sets her arc against Callum, for whom we also gain insight into his motivations and methods. He is tempted to adopt her dark magic methods, and he also has a journey of self-discovery about why he fights for what he believes in. They both have noble intentions, but one continues to make the wrong choices without sufficient reflection, while the other fully addresses their internal issues. It’s great to see this sort of deep reflection that you don’t often get with other fantasy shows. When it chooses to hone in and focus on specific characters, and dedicate itself to that through the season, The Dragon Prince truly shines. 

While I was frustrated by the lack of expansion on the main plot, I did find the reflection on the roots of the main conflict, primarily in the flashback heavy episodes, quite informative. We finally get to meet Queen Sarai, Ezran and Callum’s mother. She’s a great character who unabashedly speaks her mind and is clearly a great leader alongside Harrow. But this makes it all the more frustrating that the writers still had her fall into the dead mother trope from the start of the series.

The show also introduces us, in the past, to the mothers for the new modern character Queen Aanya. It was great to see an interracial lesbian couple and see them kiss on screen, but it was also very frustrating to see them killed off in the past.  The show committed a “bury your gays” trope. At the end of the flashback arc, we have, quite, unfortunately, dead mothers all around, which includes a woman of color.

The ones with the interesting plots in the past were certainly King Harrow and Viren. We got to see Harrow struggle and stumble with his introduction to Kingship. We got to see Viren at the start of his evil path. With Harrow, in particular, we get to see how his naïveté as a ruler, unfortunately, furthered the conflict with Xadia that we see today.

Viren in the present continues his nefarious plans and attempts to get the other human kingdoms on his side. His nefarious scheming scenes carry a lot of weight and hold promise to uncover new mysteries. In the present, we also meet the young Queen Aanya. Although thrust into Queenship at a young age, she is a careful, deliberate, wise, and perceptive ruler who can stand up to Viren and his manipulations. She is sure to become a fan favorite. I hope we get to see her take more of a leading role in the upcoming seasons.

When The Dragon Prince focuses on its character-driven journeys, it shines most. However, it needs to find a better way of balancing this with the main plot, which the first season heavily emphasized as important. The animation is also markedly better and smoother than in the first season, without the stilted scenes that had bothered me before.

On the whole, while I still enjoyed this season, it felt as though it didn’t tell a sufficiently substantive story to set itself apart from the first season. I’m still interested in seeing where the characters go next, but unfortunately, I feel somewhat less invested in the overarching story than I did the first season.

You can watch The Dragon Prince Season 2 streaming exclusively on Netflix.

The Dragon Prince Season 2

TL;DR

On the whole, while I still enjoyed this season, it felt as though it didn’t tell a sufficiently substantive story to set itself apart from the first season. I’m still interested in seeing where the characters go next, but unfortunately, I feel somewhat less invested in the overarching story than I did the first season.