(The Vintage Tempest)
The third chapter to the Tales of Arcadia saga is finally here! Sadly, Wizards is the shortest of the three series. We see our heroes from Trollhunters return and shifts the focus to Douxie (voiced by Colin o’Donoghue). He has big shoes to fill as a wizard-in-training. Merlin is his teacher. The Arcane Order is the big bad in this world, and not everyone can deal with these elemental masters! But they are more than just that. They watched over magic since the stars were young, and one of the members said, “Since man destroyed their palace.”
The first episode functions more like a catch-up reel, following after the events of 3Below. The next episode reveals the Arthurian connection and establishes the true villains–Nari of the eternal forest, Skrael of the North Wind and Bellroc, Keeper of the Flame–serving a different purpose. They are guardians who (like in Avatar: Last Airbender) work together to keep a balance between the elements. Strangely missing is air. In this world’s case, they talk about the imbalance between the world of magic and the rise of mankind. The mortals of Earth are fearful of the supernatural and seek to suppress it.
This subtext is important, because like other movies and television series made before it, the coming of man means that the Renaissance is dead. King Arthur doesn’t understand this faerie world (“Witch Hunt”) and prefers they remain six feet under. The trolls aren’t united yet, and Merlin has an agenda we’re still not entirely sure about. He aids the humans so that the fantastic are kept at bay (“Lady of the Lake”) and the monsters by giving them a hero with the Amulet of Daylight. Thankfully, true to this world’s interpretation of the Arthurian ideal, all tribes will eventually become united to deal with a greater conflict. I really enjoyed this spin on how to bring this literary mythology to Arcadia.
The Morgan(a) le Fay we meet in this series is not the same malicious one we met in Trollhunters. I sympathize with her and want peace between all nations too. Her affinity to magic was because she too became an apprentice to Merlin. Her connection with the faerie-land is not because she is a half-sister to Arthur. Though this series states she is directly related (“History in the Making”), just whether or not this is a half-truth depends on if we can get a series two or del Toro saying we have to make Wizards: Side Stories after the film. It’s going to wrap the entire saga up and I’m sad this series has a finale.
The sides drawn are not necessarily about the forces of good and evil at odds. Merlin’s demonic origins (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth) shows how one does not have to belong to a stereotype. While this animation doesn’t draw from literature, the characters the writer’s room chose have fixed roles. When Arthur recognizes his war against the trolls and all of faerie-kind is wrong, his redemption arc is much different from how literary masters have fashioned this character!
To see Tales of Arcadia come full circle is a nice touch. We get to the beginnings of the Trollhunter mythos and see history in the making (“Killahead, Part One and Two”). Although the King Arthur we see presented here differs greatly from other takes, I enjoyed how the lore is reinterpreted. The antithesis of what he embodies is in The Green Knight, and just what Guillermo del Toro sketched out for this series arc has me giddy in delight.
The only shame is in how the Steve Palchuk-Lancelot subplot got cut short. Though he primarily exists as comedic relief, to see him earn Knighthood is a nice touch. We first met him as a bully and later learned his actions result from his home life. Taking out his frustrations on others was his only game. By 3Below, he finally earned his keep and as for what he’ll do next, that’s up to more stories to reveal.
Sadly, this show is not continuing when an even greater world is revealed as the series comes to a close in “Wizard Underground.” Much like in the Harry Potter, magic-users are everywhere and their purpose in this del Toro verse is only scratching the surface of how Tales of Arcadia can be extended. It has the potential to be as expansive as Star Wars.
Claire is a sorceress, and she has a place to further develop her powers. Just whether or not Douxie helped in establishing this network, which operates as Hex Tech, a repair shop, I feel this cornerstone episode defines what Wizards is about.
It’d be terrific to offer one-offs or even mini series looking at the other supporting characters. Perhaps we can learn more about why the dragon Archie left home. Even better, we may need a story showing what Queen Aja is doing whilst all the Wizards craziness is happening may be needed. When considering Simon & Schuster published books further the adventures that took place between episodes, I suspect a tale or two will get released during Autumn before we see that finale that brings a close to this franchise.