Episode 2: Nothing is Simple Anymore
Well, episode two continues to impress with the visuals, but the rebirth of The Dark Crystal comes with more than just beautiful scenery (although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking for a new desktop background thanks to this series!) Episode 2, Nothing is Simple Anymore begins to build the relationships with the characters. First, it opens with Aughra asleep under her Orrery. She has been using astral projection to explore the universe and has been “away” for a generation. Now, having been roused from her sleep, she is going to get some information from the alien Skeksis. She has sensed the coming Darkening and wants to learn more about it. Meanwhile, Deet is exploring a vibrant ecosystem, lovingly interacting with all of nature. This leads her to meet a Fizgig (which fans of the original movie will be delighted by) along with less savory sorts like that giant spider. Then she meets Hup. I am pretty sure podling Hup thinks he’s Italian, and I love the character. Dressed like a tiny Michelangelo and spouting words I can’t understand, I loved the character immediately. Elsewhere, Brea goes to seek information about the symbol she saw in the first episode. She goes to see Elder Cadia (of the Sifa clan; a clan we have not yet come to understand) but he intends to erase her memory of what she has seen. Clearly, she’s onto something and some people are afraid of what she’s found!
I’ve got to interject here. (Can one interject against themselves??) When Elder Cadia was speaking, I was certain that I knew the voice. But it wasn’t until Brea turns the tables on him and he collapses with a mumbled “bugger” that I realized it was Eddie Izzard. Izzard is a weird comedian who reinvents himself ever 10 years but he’s incredibly funny. I was delighted to hear his voice. Speaking of voices, I did something I never do: I got up to walk to the fridge when SkekTek was speaking. (Usually, I pause the show, but my living room and kitchen are adjacent without walls between them, so I wouldn’t miss a thing! And I didn’t. In fact, I gained a thing… ) With my back turned, SkekTek spoke and I realized I was hearing The Joker from the Batman: Arkham games. In other words, Mark Hamill’s voice was added to this star-studded cast. This was a series of mind-blowing voice identifications for me. As Brea went to see Elder Cadia, I heard the librarian again, and I can’t say I recall the word he said, but I suddenly heard the Dream Lord from Doctor Who, or Culverton Smith from Sherlock, or my favorite role for Toby Jones, Lance Stater from Detectorists. This show was delighting me on a level I never expected! Ok, interjection over…
There are a number of noteworthy things that stood out to me. One was very simple. I recently reviewed The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Prisoner of the Judoon and complimented the creative team for having a character comment on an alien’s breath because I credit that level of world building. Too few writers and creative teams even think of it. But in this story, Deet is wearing a cloth over her eyes, which I understood immediately, having noticed her enlarged pupils in the first episode: the suns were too bright for the cave dwelling Grottan gelflings. It’s a small thing, but it means the writers care about the world they are creating. They are not overlooking the details! Another thing that impressed me was the line “Death, life, it’s the same circle”. Beyond the self-evident truth, it was another nod by the creative team. The title of episode one was End. Begin. All the Same. The order is even maintained! But it speaks of what Simba might call The Circle of Life; history repeats itself, everything is a cycle. Since that is part of the very essence of the original movie, this is even more telling. Yet one more concept that really hit me was that there is a dreamspace within us all. This is a beautiful notion about what we have inside; our hopes and dreams and the Gelfling can share that through their memories. What a magnificent race!
There’s also a bit of allegory to be found here. I noticed the natural resources aspect of the show in part one. Now, I see two more: the crystal of truth is cracked. I think that’s more prescient than we might want to admit. In an age of fake and disreputable news sources, I think the crystal of truth really is cracked. I hope we have an adventurer ready to fix it… we are badly in need of it. The other realization came as the episode ended. I had heard the name earlier, but it wasn’t until “The Gourmand” appeared in the credits. I was switching off, so the next episode would not start, but that name caught my attention and with it, an idea: the Skeksis may embody the seven deadly sins, with the Gourmand representing gluttony. I am not sure yet about the Chamberlain, the trickster who uses words as weapons. Perhaps greed? I’ll pay more attention in part 3.
December of 2017 marked the 35th anniversary of this movie. My sister and I decided to share her first movie with another generation, and we got to take my nephew to a theatrical re-release (and had the theater to ourselves!) There was a line that sparked an immense amount of laughter from us. Jen, the lead character, faces a daunting journey. He stares out over the landscape. “I’m not ready to go alone,” he says, sadly. A moment passes. “Alright, alone then!” It was such a sudden change, my sister and I laughed like children. Lo and behold, we have a reversal during this story. Rian is about to embark on a dangerous mission when his friend Gurjin offers to accompany him. At first he is reluctant to put his friend in danger, but concedes with, “Alright, together then!” I got chills. Much like this adventure I decided to embark on, to watch The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, I too have a companion: my sister. Alright, together then! ML
The view from my rainbow connection
I giggled at the start of Episode 2 because we meet a Podling. This Podling turns out to be the grandson of the Podling who Aughra lifetimes ago fell “asleep” employing. Just a side note: he may be one of my favorites simply because of his adorable way of combing his hair. This fellow is overjoyed when Aughra “wakes” from exploring the stars. He clearly was a good servant and took care of her orrery and her things all these generations. She wakes up just as chipper as ever. I know how she feels after a great sleep!
So I really thought for a moment I was watching Bird Box when I next see Deet. She runs through the forest, trying to get to Ha’ ar. She has a sash protecting her eyes from the sunlight. No eye mask could stop the destined meeting of her pal Hup. This guy is adorable and uses a spoon as a sword. Noble and adorable all wrapped up into one Podling. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the most worthy beings are the most humble?
Let’s skip on down the lane to that skunk Chamberlain. He gets all of the Skeksis to agree that they should frame Rian for Mira’s death at the hands of the Skeksis. He plants seeds of distrust by basically being a phoney gossip and all the Gelfling fall for it. Why wouldn’t they? This is who they believe in. They have no real reason yet to distrust the Skeksis so when they hear one of their own commited a crime, they think it must be true. Sorta reminds me of how so many people jump on the bandwagon when any issue arises with with the police. Rather than wait for all of the evidence, they jump to the conclusion that the police were the bad guys, police brutality, and the like. How about waiting for all the facts and evidence. Like many politicians, the Skeksis use gossip to keep the truth from their people.
Poor Rian has a long road ahead of him. His best friend Drenchen thankfully doesn’t believe the lies that are being told about Rian. That is a good friend. They dreamfast and Drenchen now knows exactly what had happened to Mira and vows she deserves justice.
Next we see my girl Deet. She introduces herself to a Spitter (spider) and does not get the welcome she was hoping for. Thank goodness for Hup because he helps rescue Deet from that rancid thing. Deet has her work cut out for her though because she has to go visit Elder Cadir, the soothsayer from the Sifa clan. Elder Cadir has a helper who works for him and likely knows more than he does, her name is Onica. Here we learn that a dreamspace which is what allows the Gelfling to dreamfast is what binds all beings to each other and their home, Thra. Deet being a wise gal, realizes after drawing the symbol she had a vision of for Elder Cadir, that he may not be trustworthy. She pulls the old switch-a-roo and erases his memory rather than drink the potion that would have erased her memory of the symbol. Onica recognizes the symbol Deet shows Elder Cadir as a new beginning rather than simply an ending as Cadir says it is. Death and Life are intertwined. This is yet another time that reincarnation seems to be a belief in this series.
I was so happy to find out that it was Brea who stole back her mother’s “newly gotten” pendant. While I would have liked to think her mother had a change of heart, the fact that Brea, a princess, could not only recognize fairness for her clans people but also act upon it. Brea’s stink-head sister, Seladon, suggests Brea work for The Order of Lesser Services and their mother agrees. I feel like at this point in the story, Seladon is very much like Chamberlain. She is in her mothers ear the same way Chamberlain is in the Emperor’s ear. The puppeteers. Speaking of Chamberlain, he is a master at making those around him believe his lies but some do see through it but cannot seem to stand their ground long enough or tough enough around the Emperor. I get the feeling that will change over time.
Rian is now being searched for by all Gelfling because they all believe he killed Mira. The icing on that horrid cake is that now even his own father is hunting him. His father is foolishly under the pretense that the Skeksis will “heal” Rian who he believes now is “infected” by something and going mad.
Thank the good Lord Augrah is awake and about because she is about to release the whoop-ass on those nasty Skeksis. She is off to find them and ask them why she feels Thra crying out. She left them in charge of the Crystal but in her stargazing absence they clearly corrupted it. She feels it. Like a good mother would know her child is in trouble or a twin can feel when their twin needs them. Episode 3 is sure to unleash some more whoop-ass…. DG