You know the moment a franchise becomes too big for its britches. It?s when that particular media makes you blink at the camera, ?go huh?? and make you feel confused. Then you realize that love has its limits.
I admit I rage-quit Dragons: Race To The Edge after about two seasons. The show isn?t bad per se, and we got some great moments. Even so, it was the moment where I knew that I wouldn?t feel joy for the third movie. I decided to take refuge in the original movie and books. Also, we are going to be discussing SPOILERS.
Dragons: Race To The Edge
RTTE was a Netflix series and a sequel to the Cartoon Network show. Hiccup is now eighteen, and despondent that there are no more new dragons in the Archipelago, and his friends have moved on to find their place on Berk. He then learns an old enemy broke out of prison and seeks a mysterious MacGuffin that looks like a telescope. This telescope, which the riders call the Dragon Eye, leads them to islands they?ve never explored.
Season one is fairly solid. Hiccup spends several episodes realizing that his impulsive nature is not going to cut it when he?s leading his friends. They need to find an island to stay for the night where the residents won?t eat them or poison the dragons. Furthermore, he has to think it through when the twins are put in charge temporarily.
Dagur doesn?t appear much, but I argue that it?s a good thing. He?s the one who escaped from prison and is looking to start a new life. That means showing up Hiccup, naturally. It takes a few episodes into season two to establish him as a viable threat, and start the seeds of doubt about his war on Hiccup.
Season two then gives us new villains to go with the older ones. Some are threats, and others are downright dangerous. Hiccup loses for the first time, and he?s not sure what to do with the revelation.
This all sounds great. Why did I stop watching then? Because it became too painful as certain status quos did not change. By the time season, four rolled around, I was picky about my episodes.
Characters, Baggage, and Bias
So, my main beef is with Heather from the first series. She started as an unwilling mole to save her parents, and Hiccup told her that next time she needed help, to just ask. In the second series, she makes her reappearance by raiding Berkian ships and attacking her friends. Just as everyone calls for a truce, Heather reveals that Dagur the Deranged killed her parents and she wants revenge. The riders are against this because they need the man alive.
A few revelations come on out, and Heather decides to fake an alliance with him next season rather than commit murder. Yeah. Good intentions? I guess. Does it go wrong? Yes, it does, and Heather takes off again without any note or apology. It takes a while for her to return and try to be better.
In all honesty, Heather triggers me due to reminding me of someone who has been very selfish. We haven?t talked in years, but I?m all too familiar with encountering a person that doesn?t treat the ones who love them nicely and expects them to pick up the pieces. The healthiest solution is to cut them from your life and hope they either clean up their act or minimize the harm.
Apparently this sort of behavior is common when someone is traumatized and doesn?t know how to ask for help. Even so, Heather has a lot of opportunities to just ask. It takes her several seasons to get to that point. Then she vanishes with most of the cast because none of them appear in the sequels. I don?t like any of this.
Some villains also had their issues. Minor character Trader Johann being revealed as evil came out of left-field since he had always been an ally from the start. This was a gut-punch for those of us to saw him as a reasonable guy and Hiccup?s friend. Also, there were a lot of implications that this twist was due to him and his actor being Jewish, which no. Just don?t do this, screenwriters. It?s a great way to hurt Jewish people in the fanbase.
The big thing, however, is that we get only two black characters in the franchise and they both are villains. Krogan seems honorable at first, but then he isn?t.To add insult to injury, in the show one character executes the other.
Like, come on; we POC know exactly when you just include a minority to ensure that they are evil. Screenwriters, you have no excuse since the books featured people of color with less problematic subtext.
Let?s admit it; the big problem with this show was that it created this giant, wonderful world of dragons and people ? certain ones aside ? and then has to dismantle it to justify the sequels. Hiccup in the second movie expresses surprise that there are dragon riders outside of the Berkians, but in the series, he meets several tribes that have done just that. Not every Viking runs in the face of a beast. And the telescope eventually goes bye-bye.
To its credit, Dreamworks hasn?t made these mistakes again in their subsequent original shows for Netflix. Trollhunters and Voltron eschewed the caricatures. Actions definitely have consequences, and we see more consistent character development. The continuity is consistent, and there are fewer ?huh? moments. At least, Voltron avoided most of them until the last season.
RTTE was important by showing us a Hiccup that could handle losses and find new frontiers. It also was a disappointment that despite the higher budget, it couldn?t address the character concerns or inherent societal biases more easily. If you want to win us over, be less racist or Anti-Semitic.
I?m sticking with my movie one dragon for now. They are still soothing to see, and kinder about their circumstances.