Aughra, Thra’s watcher, served as the protector of the very heart of the planet, the Crystal of Truth. Though she observed all living beings, she grew most fond of the Gelflings. They consisted of seven different clans including the Vapra, who ruled them all, the Stonewood, who were the fiercest warriors and the Grottan, who dwelled underground. One day a group of visitors from another world, known as the Skeksis, befriended Aughra and informed her of the universe beyond Thra. This sparked her curiosity and she left to discover the mysteries of the cosmos. While gone, she entrusted her new colleagues with the Crystal.
[*Spoilers For 1.1 Ahead!]
Inside the Castle of the Crystal
It has been years since Aughra left and the Skeksis have called themselves the Lords of Thra in her absence. As they rule over the planet, they have been secretly siphoning energy from the Crystal in order to cheat death and prolong their own lives. However, overuse has corrupted the Crystal and it can no longer grant the reptilian bird like leaders their immortality.
One of their members, The Scientist, has been tasked with finding a new solution to everlasting life. He notices the Crystal is not providing the same amount of energy and decides to electrocute it hoping it will supply more power. His experiment goes awry and the Crystal begins absorbing his essence. Luckily, another Skeksis, The Chamberlain, arrives to shut down the machine. The two begin scheming ways to exploit this new finding.
Meanwhile, Rian, a Gelfling guard from the Stonewood Clan, is teasing a pair of Podling servers as they deliver the Skeksis meal for the day. He is soon joined by Mira, another guard and his girlfriend, and the two steal some food for themselves. As they enjoy their snack, they notice an enemy Arathim soldier sneak into the castle and go to investigate.
The pair enlist the help of Rian’s friend, Gurgin to track the arachnid like Spitter and follow it down into the forbidden catacombs. They are forced to split up to cover more ground and Mira is then captured by the Scientist. He recreates his previous experiment in front of the council of Skeksis but uses the female Gelfling as the test subject.
Her essence is gathered by The Scientist’s machine until she disintegrates into thin air. The gathered Skeksis feed on her essence in a frenzy and feel the rejuvenating effect it has. Unfortunately, Rian has stumbled upon his leaders’ dark secret and watched his love die. He is soon discovered and runs away to avoid capture.
From the Center of the Gelfling Capital
Elsewhere, in the city of Ha’rar, Vapra Princess, Brea reads books about the history of Thra and Mother Aughra. She soon leaves the library to anxiously catch a glimpse of the arriving Skeksis, who are there for a tithing ceremony. In her excitement, she trips into the road and is almost run over by the visitors’ carriage. The two Skeksis, the Collector and the Scroll-Keeper, realize her royal background and offer her a ride to her mother, The All-Maudra.
During the tithing ceremony, one particular Gelfling family offer a lackluster tribute. A blight has overtaken their land and they are unable to grow any crops. The wife is then shamed and bullied into giving up a family necklace as payment.
Brea is disturbed by the ceremony and feels powerless knowing her family has the wealth to help but choose not to. She returns to the library to research the tithe and when she begins asking the librarian the wrong questions, an earthquake suddenly hits and magic in a book reveal to her a mysterious symbol. When she goes to tell her mother about her vision, she notices the All-Maudra wearing the necklace from before. Later in the evening, she steals the necklace and returns it to the farmer’s wife.
Within the Depths of Thra
Finally, we visit the subterranean lands of the Grottan where we meet small town girl, Deet. She’s a simple Gelfling who gathers moss to feed livestock of nurlocs. She inadvertently feeds a baby nurloc contaminated moss and she is bitten. Fearing its child is in danger, the adult nurloc attacks as well but she escapes.
After her getaway, Deet finds herself in front of the Sanctuary Tree. The tree is able to communicate with her and warns her of The Darkening, a corrupting event that could destroy all of Thra. She then dreamfasts with the Sanctuary Tree and witnesses the negative effects of The Darkening.
The experience is so overwhelming, she faints. When she comes to, the village elder tells her she must relay the warning to the All-Maudra in Ha’rar. After gearing up, she takes her first steps out into the surface world and begins her quest.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance builds upon the world first created in the film over 25 years ago. The settings and lore are so imaginative and executed well. You can’t help but admire the craftmanship into each set as the viewer is transported to the different and unique locales of Thra. Every detail is well thought out and you can be left wanting to learn more about each creature introduced like the armaligs, giant sized roly polies that serve as carriage wheels.
Despite all that’s new, there are still call backs to the original movie to provide a level of comfort and nostalgia. The use of dreamfasting is an efficient and effective tool to build Rian and Mira’s puppy love relationship making the latter’s end more impactful. Also, because the show is a prequel, we learn the origin and motivation behind The Scientist’s life sucking device. Furthermore, there is a deeper dive into The Chamberlain’s devious and ambitious nature as he manipulates and maneuvers his way into influential positions amongst the Skeksis.
Episode 1 is a great introduction and following the three leads in separate locations help builds the feeling of an epic fantasy adventure. Though the ending may already be known, the path there looks to be a captivating journey.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance can currently be viewed on Netflix.