After two seasons of immersing audiences in the fantasy world of The Dragon Prince, the animated Netflix series goes full tilt on the action, emotion and incredibly magical environments in the third season of the popular original show. In doing so, creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond have crafted the darkest, most epic -- and epically heartbreaking -- season of the series to date, as the continent of Xadia plunges into total war with an intensity not normally seen in most contemporary family-friendly programming, all while largely maintaining its all-ages appeal.
Picking up where this past February's second season left off, Season 3 has Callum and Rayla escort the baby dragon Zym to the fantastical realm of Xadia, encountering all manner of mythical obstacles and colorful characters along the way. Meanwhile, Ezran ventures back home to reclaim the throne of Katolis in the wake of his father's death and the villainous descent of Viren. Here, the old adage heavy is the head that wears the crown comes to the fore as age-old tensions between the various kingdoms rise and a familiar threat schemes and manipulates from the shadows.
Following a brief prologue into the fantasy world's history, Season 3 opens as if no time has passed at all. The fun-filled interplay between the various fan-favorite characters is still there, as is the series' signature, sharp wit. But the variety of settings and environments has visibly increased this time around in comparison to seasons past. The show forges a bold, new path into worlds that had only been hinted at previously; the showrunners had promised Xadia for the past two seasons and now they have brought the audience into the lush world in full.
Increasing with the number and variety of settings is the sheer intensity -- both emotionally and in terms of sheer scope -- of the entire series. Backstories are explored, relationships are deepened and tested and the forces of evil appear more powerful than ever. There is a sense of consequence and the very real possibility of defeat that wasn't really present in the series before. As the stakes continue to mount, every victory is hard-earned and never particularly guaranteed.
All this is to say that, while The Dragon Prince still feels as familiar as ever, the entire tone and sense of scale has dramatically increased in the series' third outing; the creators have upped their game along with the stakes across the board and the escalation is very apparent, very quickly. The voice acting remains as strong as ever but the characters themselves are given much more to do, with heightened nuance and unpredictability; they're no longer simple fantasy archetypes that one would normally expect with the genre. That makes the victories all the greater and the defeats -- and there are definitely defeats -- all the more heart-wrenching.
The Dragon Prince explodes to new heights right out the gate, subverting viewer expectation of where exactly the story may be going next. The show's heart is still there but the creative team is willing to dial up the emotion beating within it, increasing vulnerability and loss, and testing the main cast of characters as they grow closer together. With even more epic set pieces and a grandiose scale, Season 3 completely outdoes the two that preceded it.
Featuring the voices of Jack DeSena as Callum, Sasha Rojen as Ezran, Paula Burrows as Rayla, Jesse Inocalla as Soren, Racquel Belmonte as Claudia, Luc Roderique as King Harrow of Katolis and Jason Simpson as Viren, The Dragon Prince Seasons 1 and 2 are available now on Netflix. Season 3 arrives Nov. 22.