A sure sign that the How to Train Your Dragon series has entered the mainstream consciousness is when it starts to allude to well known movies in pop culture. In this case, the premiere episode of Dragons: Defenders of Berk, refers to the Dragon Training Academy as a secret Flight than Fight Club. That’s because, in the wake of the previous season’s finale where Alvin and the Outcasts finally learn the secret of how to train the dragons they captured, Hiccup’s team has been banned from patrolling the isle of Berk.
Stoick, Hiccup’s father, is afraid that the youths are in over their heads with what’s coming.
The citizens of Berk will face invasion by Alvin’s tribe. It is coming. Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Tuff and Ruff think they can handle it, but Stoick does not. He thinks they do not have the skills as fully trained warriors. They have to know how to fight.
Fortunately, none of the violence that Fight Club is known for is likely going to be featured. The running joke may get used for another episode or two, but the crew will have to learn how to be innovative. Killing, its not in their nature. Maybe it is for Astrid, but it is definitely not for the rest of the crew. As the first movie showed, Hiccup could not bring himself to kill Toothless; he saved the dragon and thus began their bond of mutual respect. Astrid even becomes attracted to Hiccup because of it.
Hiccup’s ability to invent new incapacitating tools will no doubt be a centerpiece for the second season. Viewers get to see what he has done with his shield but what will come next? As a teaser trailer for the How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie, shows this boy will learn how to fly. His inventions and resourcefulness may well save Berk from what’s coming later in the season.
All that needs to happen next is for Gobber to learn from Hiccup. Defenders of Berk is showing how the apprentice has become the master, and Gobber the blacksmith, must keep up if he’s going to be valuable.
But as for what Alvin and Mildew are going to be up to, this subplot will be the one to pay attention to. Interestingly, Mildew looks a lot more like the version of Alvin in the early books, before he started to lose body parts. Perhaps the producers intended to split the character up so Hiccup has more then one arch enemy. Although the books featured two different arch-nemesis to Hiccup, this animated series only has one.
The big question for this series is in what is Alvin’s aim? In past episodes, this angry Viking revealed that he was banished by the citizens of Berk. To learn why would be helpful, and maybe further details of this character’s past will get revealed. Perhaps after he has conquered Berk, he will want to rule the world. But he can’t until he learns everything that Hiccup knows about training dragons so they can be used to help him conquer the globe.
At least for this series, the whole concept of “training” is taken to a whole new level. Unlike other animated franchises which plays around with a basic concept of gotta catch / train them all, at least the storytelling has grown to give its viewers some family friendly appeal. Advice on how to develop trusting friendships or even dealing with difficult people (namely Snotlout) is a rare commodity these days and to see How to Train Your Dragon teaches it, it is beautiful to watch. How Defenders of Berk will continue will be interesting since the team will have to learn more about how to function as a unit.