‘The Dragon Prince’ season 3 is like graduation day with magic and violence

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The Dragon Prince season 3 lands on Netflix next week. Here’s what to expect in the new season!

It’s time for The Dragon Prince season 3, fellow humans.

*cracks knuckles*

*rolls neck*

Netflix and Wonderstorm’s animated fantasy returns on Nov. 22, picking up the stories of Callum and Rayla, Soren and Claudia, young King Ezran, Viren and Aaravos, and one fiendishly, cute baby dragon. As in the previous two seasons of The Dragon Prince, here be mages and elves, mysteries and miracles, politics and battle, and the occasional poop joke.

Having amassed a passionate fanbase, The Dragon Prince season 3 is a highly-anticipated new entry into this saga. But how does this new adventure hold up to what came before?

‘The Dragon Prince’ season 3 review

The Dragon Prince season 3 reaches for and often achieves great heights; there are moments of galling choice, exhilarating redemption, and moving emotionality that more than equal the prior two seasons.

But the nine new episodes are missing the seamless acceleration of drama, humor, and heart that characterized the second season in particular. It’s not an issue of major missteps, but more the feeling of misdirected energy and attention cast slightly too wide, causing a bit of a slump in the middle arc of the adventure.

the dragon prince season 3 review

By the season’s end however, fans are unlikely to be preoccupied by these slower moments along the way. The Dragon Prince season 3 finale so emphatically raises the bar — on the series’ capacity for epic conflict, resonant action, and exhilarating conclusions — that it feels like a distinct graduation from the show we’ve known so far.

That seems intentional, or at least extremely fitting. The Dragon Prince season 3 is, in some ways, a resolution to the three-season arc that began with murdered kings and reborn princes.

As series creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond have said, this conclusion is far from an ending to the broader story. But it does represent a significant shift in expectations for the conflicts, countries, and concepts that populate the world of The Dragon Prince.

The same can be said of the characters. When we last left the human kingdom of Katolis and the magical land of Xadia, chaos was the essential enemy; everyone’s path was cracked and uncertain, waiting for change in the status quo to move on.

Callum and Rayla crossed the border into Xadia with the dragonlet Zym, only to have their path barred by the terrifying Sol Regem. Ezran returned home to take his place on the throne just vacated by Viren, who was imprisoned for treason — though with the caterpillary form of Aaravos for company. Viren’s children, Claudia and Soren, limped home, having failed in their respective missions, with Claudia venturing further into the realm of Dark Magic to restore her brother to health.

Now in The Dragon Prince season 3, all of these characters are driven to seek the certainty, the solid ground, that they have been missing.

Ezran grapples with the breathtaking burdens of kingship, his peaceful nature warring with the violence around him. In Xadia, Callum and Rayla face unexpected emotional and physical trials that profoundly impact their growing bond. At the same time, Soren and Claudia each struggle to decide who deserves their loyalties as family and subjects.

As for Viren… well, Viren takes the idea of “graduation” perhaps a little too literally in The Dragon Prince season 3. The deposed High Mage was never one to meekly accept defeat, and neither is his creepy-crawly elven familiar. In season 3, the already throughly weird connection between ol’ Sparkles and Viren boils over like a plague, as infectious and dangerous — and with equally significant consequences — as any disease.

If stability is what the children of Katolis and Xadia seek, Aaravos and Viren have the opposite goal. They’re not looking to find solid ground; they’re trying to level up.

Spoiler though, Zym and Bait remain adorable.

Intriguing new characters also flicker in and out of The Dragon Prince season 3, mostly of the elven brand. The Sunfire elf Janai gains considerable depth as the political demands of her position become known, and figures critical to Rayla’s story finally emerge from the shadows of her past.

the dragon prince season 3 sol regem

Allies, enemies, and those who occupy the murky in-between take form and melt away, sometimes overstaying their welcome, but more often representing the kind of world-building that will drive fans of The Dragon Prince lore to delighted distraction.

(There are also, and this cannot be overstated, so many dragons.)

Speaking of lore, The Dragon Prince season 3 continues to fill in the darker details of the recent past. Fans will have to wait for the truly deep-dive into Aaravos’ secrets, but the full picture of the original sin between Xadia and Katolis emerges grimly into view, culminating in one of the most wrenching visual moments of the series so far.

Related: The Dragon Prince season 3 images debut new characters and Soren’s beard

This might be a good place to mention that the season’s final act is considerably more violent than anything we’ve seen before on The Dragon Prince. The bloody action feels suitably earned for everyone involved, but younger members of the audience might need a hand to hold at particular moments.

the dragon prince season 3 review

Older members of the audience will probably be all, “Duuude! They did that!”

All in all, The Dragon Prince season 3 is an entirely solid successor to the exceptional second season. It is not as smooth or confident — there are bumps along the way, a missed beat or two in the emotional arcs of a few characters. But at points, especially as the story accelerates toward graduation, the new season hits even higher notes of triumph and tragedy.

Between the imagery and the implications of the final movements, there’s no question that The Dragon Prince is graduating into a new and exciting stage of development. The details, of course, remain ambiguous…

…but let’s just say that more than just the series will be spreading its wings when the story continues.

The Dragon Prince season 3 begins streaming on Netflix on Nov. 22.

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