5:00 pm EDT, February 18, 2019

‘The Dragon Prince’ season 2 ending is way more important than it seems

The Dragon Prince season 2 ends with a scene of sweet triumph that is much more important than it initially appears.

This article contains major spoilers for The Dragon Prince season 2.

At first glance, the penultimate scene of The Dragon Prince season 2 seems fairly simple — if touching — in its drama.

As the season finale, “Breathe,” comes to a close, Rayla, Callum, and Zym have finally reached the border between Katolis and Xadia. The group pick their way across the rocky river of lava leading to the magical kingdom, safe as long as the moon illuminates runes marking the steady stones in the path.

When the sun rises and obliterates the Moonstone runes, the trio are stuck in terrible danger. That is, until Zym (with some psychic help from Ezran) finally flaps his little wings, takes off in flight, and blocks the light of the sun. The Moonstone Path is restored, and Rayla and Callum can now cross safely into Xadia.

Pretty basic, right? Obstacle conquered, Zym can fly now, and Callum and Rayla really have walked (if not that simply) into Xadia.

But a closer look reveals a much deeper significance to the scene. This penultimate action of The Dragon Prince season 2 isn’t a standalone event; it’s actually the second half of a story that began many years (and a few episodes) before. Zym’s flight is more than a personal accomplishment. It is fundamental to the generational stories told throughout the season, and speaks directly to the concept of peaceful reconciliation that lies at the heart of The Dragon Prince.

The arc begins in episode 5, “Breaking the Seal,” when Viren recounts the continuing conflict and tragedy between Xadia and the human kingdoms. Driven by fear of a devastating famine, King Harrow, Queen Sarai, Viren, and the Queens of Duren sneak into Xadia to slay a Titan and steal its fiery heart to warm their lands. Crucial to their success is the cover of darkness, as the Dragon King Thunder patrols the Xadian skies from sunrise to sunset.

In Thunder’s nightly absence, the human kingdoms have a chance; once the sun rises and he returns, all hope is lost.

Episode 6, “Heart of a Titan,” reveals the fate of the mission. The human party succeeds in stealing the Titan’s heart, but many are wounded in the process. Their progress back to Katolis is perilously slow, and they are soon left exposed under the dawn, still in Xadia.

“As the sun rose on the horizon, I could feel it’s heat on my neck like a hot doom I knew was coming for us,” Viren recounts. “But we pushed forward, hoping to escape the inevitable consequence of our trespass… suddenly, the heat disappeared. There was a chill as a shadow covered the sun. But instead of relief, I felt a cold dread… the storm had come.”

The sun, and Thunder’s subsequent arrival, marks a fateful twist in the tale. The Queens of Duren give their lives to stall the dragon, and Viren is almost left behind. It is Sarai who returns for him, and the queen and the mage make a desperate break for the cleft in the rocks that represents their safe return back to Katolis. But Thunder unleashes one last assault, and Sarai is killed by the dragon before she can return home.

It’s a story of sacrifice and terrible loss — cyclical tragedy reinforced by more violence. But without knowing or thinking about their place in this story, Zym, Callum, and Ezran work together to redeem the very same actions that have bloodied all of their pasts.

Related: ‘The Dragon Prince’ creators tease themes to watch in season 2

Sarai was killed by Thunder as his wings blocked the sun, foretelling violence and doom. But his son Azymondias saves Sarai’s son by blocking the sun with his own wings and restoring the Moonstone Path for Callum and Rayla. With the combined help of Ezran’s psychic instruction and Callum’s boosting Aspero spell, Zym settles on a cleft in the rocks peering into Xadia and casts a shadow that portends life instead of death. The human princes’ magic, meanwhile, is peaceful, in tandem with the natural world, and a marked contrast to the violent killing of a magical creature in a hostile land.

What’s more, Thunder kills Sarai as she attempts to flee Xadia for Katolis, party to the theft of the Titan’s heart. But Zym saves Callum and Rayla as they enter Xadia from Katolis on exactly the opposite mission — returning another stolen treasure, Zym himself, in an effort to restore peace.

So far from a simple conclusion, the ending action of The Dragon Prince season 2 is actually the completion of an intensely significant element of the story. Callum, Rayla, Ezran, and Zym’s movements of reconciliation deliberately echo those same actions that created the rift in the first place. And the characters involved are those very same children who might be expected to carry on their parents’ wars — but are instead pushing for a peace that they are uniquely positioned to promote.

Of course, Sarai’s death is only one part of the long and bloody conflict between Xadia and the human kingdoms. The characters of The Dragon Prince still have the killing of Thunder and kidnapping of Zym to reckon with, to say nothing of the generations of expulsion, dark magic, and violence that exist between their peoples.

But if Zym’s flight is any indication, The Dragon Prince knows well how to approach the delicate problems of war and peace. One collaborative triumph won’t solve every issue, no matter how pure and delightful (and adorable.) But it is a beautiful example of the power of parallels — and a strong blueprint for what is hopefully to come in the Netflix animated series.

The Dragon Prince season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

What were your most powerful moments in ‘The Dragon Prince’ season 2?

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