We have questions on The Dragon Prince season 3 and went right to the source for answers.
The Dragon Prince season 3 alighted upon Netflix last week much as a dragon-filled animated series is like to do; that is, with great imagination and a certain degree of screaming. (Don’t pretend you didn’t at least yelp when Soren did That Thing, okay? I heard you.)
As the fandom absorbs the portentous consequences of Callum, Ezran, Rayla, Soren, and Viren’s latest adventure, we turned to The Dragon Prince creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond to reflect on epic moments and find out what’s next for the gang, Xadia, and our favorite elf-catapillar overlord, Aaravos.
Spoiler alert: It might be spiders.
This interview contains major spoilers for The Dragon Prince season 3.
Justin Richmond and Aaron Ehasz discuss ‘The Dragon Prince’ season 3
Hypable: Let’s start at the end. The finale of The Dragon Prince season 3 is incredibly epic, and really raises the bar from what you’ve done before. Tell me about how you approached that final battle.
Aaron Ehasz: One of the things we experienced with the finale was that the team had really grown in their strengths and abilities, and wanted to just send things off with every amazing idea that they could come up with. There was so much passion and energy and growth that people wanted to show, [and director] Giancarlo [Volpe]’s vision for the episode was so cinematic and big, but also intimate and personal. And it got to a point where the things that the team wanted to bring out in this episode were, there was so much that we knew we couldn’t do it within the constraints of our production.
So this is a moment where our partnership with Netflix has been really strong. We told them what we were dreaming of and what the team wanted to do, and Netflix just said, yeah, do it! Whatever is the creative vision here that is going to make it what it needs to be, do it and we’ll back you up. And so we were super grateful that they took that position because it allowed so many people to bring their vision and dreams to life, and making this, I think, one of the most amazing episodes — both in terms of storytelling and cinematic quality, and technically. It’s so well done.
So now that the battle and the war is over, everything will be fine, right? Peace reigns in the kingdoms and all is well?
Ehasz: It really seems that way! The music was pretty epic and everyone was smiling and holding hands, and no one was in a secret cave having resurrected a dead Dark Mage and a weird, mysterious star-caterpillar having finally gone into its chrysalis. Who knows what strange thing to emerge?
Justin Richmond: It’ll be fine, right?
On the above-ground side of things, is all the conflict between the humans and the dragons and the elves over after the resolution of season 3?
Ehasz: No! It won’t be easy. I think these three seasons were kind of the culmination of this acute moment, right? This moment in history where the world came to the brink of war, and this important human king and the king of the dragons were killed, and they thought the egg was destroyed in this horrible moment that would have just thrust Xadia and the human kingdoms into all-out war.
And then some young people from opposite sides of the border discover the truth, that the egg has survived, and take this incredible adventure to try to bring the egg back to its mother, to maybe show that things weren’t as bad as they seemed; that maybe things could change.
I think it’s symbolic and powerful what they did, and it kind of stopped the immediate crisis. And the bond between Ezran and Zym is also symbolic and powerful. But you can only imagine that the world is filled with people who have experienced this cycle of violence and hate and prejudice for generations, and it’s not going to be that easy [to make peace].
So I think part of Ezran’s task, and a lot of their tasks moving forward will be, how do we start to heal? How do we start to change things? Or it may be that initially they think it is going to be hunky-dory, and it’s not as easy as it looks.
But no, the wounds and scars of history are still there, and not only that, but the mysterious figure who played a role in bringing out those scars — I don’t want to say he caused them, because he sort of breaks it out of people — but that mysterious figure appears to be on the cusp of re-entering history.
Speaking of that mysterious figure, I have a multiple choice question: What is in the cocoon?
A) A thousand spiders with Aaravos’ face
B) Viren’s remaining dignity
C) Aaravos’s physical form, come to dominate humanity, magic, and dragonkind forever.
Ehasz: I’m gonna say none of the… well, I’m not gonna say. We can’t say, because we want it to be mysterious right now.
Richmond: There’s a specific answer to that.
Ehasz: We know what’s in there.
So I’m just going to go with Viren’s remaining dignity and assume that’s what you’re talking about.
Richmond: [It’s] the first Burger King in Xadia!
How did you approach Ezran’s conflicts this season? He’s a character who is devoted to peace above all, and things ends up working out for him — but it struck me that everything could have gone really badly in the name of his positive ideals.
Ehasz: I have two thoughts. One is, I think at the end of episode 2 in season 3, when Ezran initially takes a stand on principle that peace is important to him, it’s Opeli who says, “Hey, that’s not going to be easy.” So part of this is, as a leader you can be compromised, right? So hopefully he’s strong enough to hold on to his principles.
I think one thing we’ll see is that he takes after his father King Harrow and his mother Queen Sarai in ways of both being empathetic, and strong and principled. I think he has a good mixture of them, and hopefully that combination will be what makes him a great king — but we’ll have to see.
One of the big developments in The Dragon Prince season 3 is Rayla and Callum getting together. What was your journey to that decision?
Ehasz: You know, it absolutely was a journey. And I think this is something, really do practice what we preach in terms of like, we lay out the world and the story, and start creating these characters, and then our writing team comes in and we talk about it, we argue about it, and we start to figure out who they are.
And we try to make it discovering them, because I think that if you kind of allow all these different perspectives to weigh in on who the characters are and what they might do, the character almost starts to take a life of their own, right?
So in the case of Rayla and Callum, we definitely, I think we started off, if you had asked us on day one, or even at the end of season 1 — oh, is this going to be a relationship? We would have said, “No, no, no. Probably not.” Because that was never the plan.
However! Somewhere in the middle of season 2, the experiences they were having together, you could see it bonding them. And I will tell you, there was s storyboard that came back for episode 4, and it’s after they’ve pulled [Captain] Villads’ ship over to the island in the storm, and Callum and Rayla are sitting on the edge of the boat, and there’s flash of lightning. And in that storyboard, in that flash, there was something about the way Rayla’s looking at him where we all went, “Ohhhhhh!” Everyone in the room saw it. It could be that it’s just some masterful storyboard artist who’s like, you know what? They’re together!
Richmond: ‘I’m doing it!’
Ehasz: …And just demands us to see it in out minds. But that was the first time we were like, wait a minute, something might be happening here. And then we just followed it as naturally as it could and this is where it went, right? Two people who really were friends and just on a common adventure, saw something beautiful in each other and came together. I think that’s how I would describe what happened.
Soren had a huge evolution in season 3. Did you expect his storyline to play out in this kind of redemption, or did it surprise you?
Richmond: It’s a little of both. In season 1, there’s that moment where [Soren] protects Callum from the Moonshadow assassins and they shoot arrows at him. It’s really quick, but Callum actually gets pushed out of the way and Soren takes an arrow in the shoulder for him. So I think there are hints that that is there, underneath the goofy stuff.
But I think as we got to season 3, it became more apparent as we sort of followed the character that Soren was going to have a real break with Viren and become his own person a little bit, and step out from that shadow and really make his own decisions. So it was a little bit, did we know in season 1 exactly what was going to happen? No, but I think all the underlying pieces of his character were there, and we followed them.
And going forward, what will Soren’s mindset be? Obviously he didn’t actually kill his father, but he did make that choice. How will that influence his character?
Richmond: Yeah, I think Soren’s got a complicated future ahead of him. He’s fully seperated from both his father and his sister, which were his only support systems that he’s known for his whole life. He’s been disconnected from his mom for years. And so he’s in a very interesting spot, going forward for the franchise. I think he’s got a whole bunch more to learn and a bunch of places to go. It’s going to be really cool.
Viren had a pretty crazy season. He basically sold his soul to a bug and would have lost his life in the bargain if it weren’t for Claudia. So what’s his next move? Will he have some sense knocked into him after all this?
Ehasz: I can’t tell if this is a spoiler. I will say that one of the things that [Jason Simpson] the brilliant actor who plays Viren experienced during season 3 was like, hey, he was so complex and layered. You could always believe there was a reason [for what he did], and then in season 3 he kind of became a villain. And I think he still played it with such depth and dimension and dignity, even though he was a villain.
But I will say that I think that Jason is more excited about the journey we have discussed with him for Viren in season 4 and season 5, and some of the complexities that are going to be revealed and introduced at that time. So my answer will be: Jason, who is amazing, is excited for what’s to come for his character.
As for Claudia, she really seems to have committed to this dark path now. Is there any hope for her in the future?
Richmond: Yes! There’s totally hope.
Ehasz: But it might get worse before it gets better.
Richmond: That’s very true.
Ehasz: Like a lot worse.
Richmond: A LOT worse.
Ehasz: Claudia is, ahh…
Richmond: She’s super complicated. She’s a fascinating character. There’s a long way to go with Claudia, she’s super exciting.
Ehasz: But she’s not about power! She’s about love. I mean, that’s one thing that’s interesting about her. She’s on a very dark path, but her core motivation is love, and I think that’s going to be very interesting.
In general, we meet a lot of cool new characters this season. Which was your favorite to discover?
Ehasz: The interpreter! Their name is Kazi [but that will be revealed in a book that’s coming out next spring]. It’s a character who did take some evolution from script to screen, and there were a lot of contributions from the writing team and from the design team as the character grew. But I think that character is incredibly charming and funny, and interesting. I’m sure we will see more of them in season 4!
Richmond: There’s a little bit of C-3P0 in there! They’re one of the fun moments of that season where I don’t think any of us saw [their impact] coming, and then that character shows up and you’re like, “Oh! This is awesome!” This idea that [Amaya] doesn’t have Gren, so this other person steps in and they’re super fun. So that was awesome.
And obviously, with season 3 out, fans want to know about the status of The Dragon Prince season 4. What can you tell us?
Richmond: We’re super excited to have this season coming out and have people see it. And we’re already writing and outlining, and all the things [we need to] work on season 4, and we’re just waiting–
Ehasz: For the go.
Richmond: For the go.
Ehasz: We’re not designing or doing art yet, but we have been writing outlines and scripts, and planning and getting ready.
Finally, the boomerang joke. How did that happen? I must know.
Richmond: [laughs] Nice! Yes.
Ehasz: We couldn’t resist! I don’t know what to say, we just couldn’t resist.
Richmond: When the design came back for [Nix’s] weapon, we didn’t actually know it was going to be a boomerang. And then designs came back for the weapon, and it was like, “Oh! It’s a boomerang!” And then it became, okay. Well, here we go now.
The Dragon Prince season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.