After a three-year hiatus, The Dragon Prince has returned – and this time, things aren’t exactly the same. Now dubbed The Dragon Prince: Mystery of Aaravos, the fantastically animated series from creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond is shifting gears to a fresh story arc. Once about the journey of an unlikely trio through magical, foreign lands, the latest season features its protagonists settled into new roles after completing their former goal. Alas, peace can never remain for long, as a dormant threat hinted at in previous seasons finally makes itself known to the entirety of Xadia. Now, the realm’s greatest, and youngest, heroes must reembark on another adventure to stop the evil of Aaravos in a complicated social climate they’re still trying to mold.
The Dragon Prince has always quietly been a wonderful educational tool for children, and young adults, who may have only tuned in for the dragons and magic. The series has a marked history of using its fantasy world to parallel the political strife of Earth’s own, and the Mystery of Aaravos is decidedly no different. For all the story elements that have changed in the show’s time away from air, its commitment to commenting on the ethics of governing and world war is admirably still intact. For any parent reading this, whose kids have not yet picked up The Dragon Prince – this is a gem of a project flying just under the pop culture radar. Its first three seasons are often thrilling, with genuine moments of suspense and certifiably cool action sequences, and its chock-full of characters both adorable and valiant. Its messages, a mix of subtle and on-the-nose, are also the exact kind that the youth of today should be hearing. Love and humanity are more important than anything else, and The Dragon Prince believes this wholeheartedly.
That is what stays the same in Mystery of Aaravos, the show’s upcoming fourth season, which doubles down on its wholesomeness from the very beginning. What’s changed is the primary goal of the series’ main characters, who have successfully brought back the dragons and begun the process of uniting the realm. Now skilled in their respective crafts, the young heroes must figure out how to tackle an insurgence of dark magic with the help of other magic users, instead of on their own. It’s actually quite refreshing to see the fruits of previous season’s labors paying off, and brings a warm sense of progress to The Dragon Prince as a whole. The latest episodes do an excellent job of bringing their characters to exciting new places, developmentally speaking, without forcefully betraying anything established in prior installments. Natural development is a wildly underrated aspect of storytelling, and it’s nice to see The Dragon Prince handle it so well here.
With its new conflict also comes a new sense of drama, and the ending to the first quarter of the season indicates the series might be headed toward darker alleys than it’s ever explored before. This is something seen in Ehasz projects in the past, as Avatar: The Last Airbender also matured with its audience. Of course, as previously stated, the lightheartedness of The Dragon Prince is still there in the latest season, it’s just packaged with moments that were surprisingly brooding. It would seem that mental health will play a larger role in Mystery of Aaravos, with multiple characters not finished reeling over the events of years past. In only the first few episodes, this topic is addressed with the same reassuring grace that continues to make The Dragon Prince a must-watch for little ones.
Ultimately, the latest season of The Dragon Prince offers a delightful mix of old and new. It’s exactly what longtime viewers hoped they’d find upon their return, with enough differences to justify a four-season renewal. Although only four episodes were made available for review, the velocity of the season makes it easy to be confident in its continued high-quality. Fans should be excited to dive back into Xadia, because so far, it’s been worth every minute.