Episode 4: The First Thing I Remember is Fire
It is an interesting title since the words The Dark Crystal are on fire at the start of the episode. I’d be inclined to say that the first thing I remember about this episode is fire, too!
So far, there’s a theme I’m very fond of running through the core of this series: friendship. While friend Hup is locked up, a glowing creature flies in and scares the guards. That creature might push the limits of a young child who is watching because it really is quite scary, but it’s revealed to be Deet and she’s risking all to save her little friend.
Elsewhere, Brea has gone exploring and is working on a puzzle that would delight video game fans for hours. “Thra’s true balance is found, when natural order is sound.” I’ve played games where one has to figure out the order of buttons, or other similar structures but Brea realizes something that I’ve never discovered in a game: there may not be an answer. Or to coin a phrase, the answer may be blowing in the wind. When she realizes there is no right order, the room starts vibrating until a stone creature forms. Brea has summoned her first golem. I love the way the creature speaks, using a stone needle on rotating, etched stone cylinders, like a record player made of rock to create sound. It’s a work of genius! I also have to credit the writing here because this is the sort of show that probably will appeal to a wide audience. While it is definitely aimed at an adult mind, contrary to what one might expect because of the use of puppets, I think children will want to see it (unless you’re my kids, who find it disturbing). So when Brea says a line like “Every problem has a solution,” I applaud the writers. They understand that a little reminder could come in handy now and then and inspiration comes in many forms.
So does deceit. Chamberlain is usurped by the violent General and it’s hard not to be happy about that. The problem is one of “the lesser of two evils”, and I don’t know which is “lesser”. On the one hand, the General is blatant. Everything he does is ruthless, mean, and in your face. This may be the easier form to deal with. Chamberlain, by contrast, is conniving; a snake in the grass. He’s everyone’s friend but turns people to his way of thinking through his words. This is probably the more dangerous adversary, even if the other is more frightening.
Meanwhile, Aughra has turned to the Sanctuary tree for guidance. This harkens back to the Sanctuary Tree of Deet’s people while again forming an allegory about mother earth and taking care of our planet. While the allegory is not in your face, just a little mental fortitude and one realizes there is an allegory for people who care to listen. Through Aughra, we learn that “the archer returns”. I always have a hard time with “the return” of people you’ve never met before. I was delighted that the Archer was a Mystic, because I was wondering if they would show up in this series. I also love his gentle accusation of Aughra for abandoning her world to explore space. Aughra says space goes “on and on” just like she and Archer. In some ways, this contradicts the idea of cycles, which has been a motif so far, but then, going on and on may be part of that cycle. But to say “the archer returns” is unfair; he’s not been introduced yet. By contrast, his dark counterpart, the Hunter, is summoned from whatever outer reaches within which he resides. That’s a more frightening prospect to my mind! And with him comes the shadow of the genocide that we know is coming in the future. Whether we see it played out during this series remains to be seen.
Lastly, there’s Rian and his father. The heartwarming nature of the father rescuing the son just hits home with such force. I love the imagery; I hate that Ordon (Rian’s father) has to sacrifice himself, but worse still, that the effort was in vain. The hunter will not be defeated so easily.
This episode offers us something else that I love; the notion that we are one. It’s an oft forgotten fact that human beings and Gelfling seem to have a propensity to forget. And while it is spoken here in very simple terms, I am reminded of another old friend who said much the same thing with such eloquence that I feel I should share it now. This is from what I still consider the best written Science Fiction series of all time, Babylon 5. It is spoken by G’kar (played to perfection by the late, great Andreas Katsulas):
The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice.
The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari.
It speaks in the language of hope.
It speaks in the language of trust.
It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion.
It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.
But always it is the same voice.
It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us,
And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born.
It is the small, still voice that says
We are one
No matter the blood
No matter the skin
No matter the world
No matter the star:
We are one
No matter the pain
No matter the darkness
No matter the loss
No matter the fear
We are one
Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize the singular truth and this singular rule:
That we must be kind to one another
Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us.
We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future.
We are one.
We are one.
Maybe the Gelfling need a lesson from my favorite Narn, but I suspect that in time, they will learn that their 7 clans are one. It might just take a bit for them to get there. ML
The view from my rainbow connection
We open to find Maudra Fara’s Gelflings trying to silence Hup’s singing from his jail cell. I have noticed several times now that music or song is referenced in this series. Good ol’ Deet flys in and rescues him.
This episode is jumping right in. Here is Brea reading an inscription in that tree cave…”Thra’s true balance will be found when natural order is sound.” She looks around this cave to find the symbols of all 7 clans and tries to put them in order. This may take a while.
Skeksis are acting like the pigs they are and even though they have a feast in front of them, they complain they want more essence to drink. They feel moderation is for the weak. They want to drain all Gelfling of their essence to “cheat” death. Chamberlain finally shows a little restraint when he explains a wise farmer doesn’t heard all crops. They see him as weak for saying this. Even Skektek, who is locked away in his laboratory, knows that the more essence they drain the faster the darkening will come and the weaker the crystal will get but no one is smart enough to listen. Chamberlain being seen as weak is now replaced as right hand man to the Emperor by the General. The General is like an old fashioned war monger. He thinks brute strength and lopsided laws will keep the Skeksis in charge. Chamberlain after getting his hand crushed by his Emperor runs his snake like self to the top of the castle and uses a horn to summon “The Hunter” SkekMal. All the Skeksis seem alarmed that the horn has sung out. This is likely to backfire.
Back to the forest where Hup yet again saves Deet from certain peril. There are these blueberry looking things that have mouths to eat anything that falls on or in its “patch” called Gobbles. Great name for them. They want to gobble up anything for food! Sounds like me all summer.
Mother Aughra is also in the forest now and begins following arrows that are being semi catapulted at her. She seems to know these arrows are coming from a friend and follows along even while complaining about all the hiking she is doing. Gosh, I do love seeing that Sanctuary Tree (pink tree). Aughra was right to follow those arrows because now she is under that beautiful tree with her friend Urva, the archer, a mystic. She asks why she can no longer hear the song of Thra and he explains it is because she turned away from Thra when she turned to the stars. I felt like singing that song, Que Sera. She looked so long at the stars for answers of the universe and of the future….”whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see.”
Oh why are we back in this awful castle? Now I have to see Gurjin being “interrogated” by the General. This is basically the General being a real turd and draining some of Gurjin’s essence to get him to talk. Good thing Gurjin is no weakling. This stops when the Emperor comes in and tells the General to travel to Ha’ ra.
Brea is still trying to decipher that riddle about the 7 clans ranking. By the grace of God she realizes there is no rank among them, none are above the other. She unknowingly puts the stone she was holding as a game piece for ranking down right in the middle of the room and then everything lights up and a creature named Lore, made of all stone, comes to life before her. Lore explains by playing his arm like a record player, since he clearly can’t talk with his stone mouth, that he will guide her and protect her. He will help remove the Gelfling from under Skeksis power. He tells her he is now “imprinted” on her. This is how I feel as a parent. My children are imprinted on me, and me on them. Protection and guidance are two gifts a parent should give their child among others. Can I just say, Lore’s “voice” reminds me of Yoda from Star Wars.
Speaking of Star Wars, we next are in a cantina like the one in Star Wars. This cantina is for Podlings. They are drinking and partying. Looks like a good time. Here Gurjin’s sister Naia, Kylan (another Gelfling) and Brea’s sister Tavra all show up hunting Rian who is here at the Podling pub. Kylan agrees to dreamfast with Rian and the rest of the Gelfling do too. Finally! Now they all know the truth. Wait, who is this? Ordin, Rian’s father sneaks in and while the rest dreamfast, he joins in without them knowing and finally sees the truth for himself. He apologizes to his son and they hug. Well that was easy. Vapra and Drenchen now vow to fight side by side. This meeting of the minds ends with a dream etching on the table they dreamfasted around. Rian and Ordin leave the cantina and are immediately followed by the Hunter Skeksis. After all, it only took Chamberlain using his mind to get the Hunter to do his bidding. Why is the Hunter Skeksis so agile compared to the rest of them? He is hip hopping all around, through tree and all. The other Skeksis are literally falling apart and oozing from every limb. Rian and Ordin fight The Hunter as best as they can while Deet tries to hatch a plan from the outskirts. Guess where this fight occurs. Yep! Almost directly over the Gobblers. Ordin sacrifices himself for his son and dives on The Hunter so they are both eaten alive. He tells his son to be brave before being eaten before his very eyes. Terrific.
Wait- what’s this? The Gobblers seem to be having indigestion. Oh no, that’s just The Hunter forcing them to regurgitate him into the air while grabbing Rian on his great leap into the air. Deet and Hup watch in shock as they see this. They are sure to come to Rian’s rescue. Right?? DG