Warning: This post contains major spoilers for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
The Dark Crystal movie ends on a triumphant note. Jen and Kira return the lost shard during the Great Conjunction, reuniting the Mystics and the Skeksis; the UrSkeks leave for their home world and Thra is left to reclaim its former glory. But not everything is fixed. Thanks to the cruelty of the Skeksis, only two Gelflings remain in the world. This painful fact is further underlined by the new prequel series Age of Resistance, which features seven thriving Gelfling clans and many great heroes. Even though the TV series also ends in victory, at some point soon thereafter Rian, Brea, Deet, and all the rest will be killed, as their race is all but eradicated. This inevitable tragedy doesn’t exactly fit with the hopeful spirit of The Dark Crystal franchise.
In The Dark Crystal movie, we knew the Gelflings were all but gone. That was the reality on Thra, so Jen and Kira’s victory over the Skeksis wasn’t diminished by how things were long ago. There was nothing they could have done to bring their clans and families back; all they could do was save Thra, which they did. It’s like seeing Luke Skywalker help Darth Vader defeat the Emperor. In that moment the countless deaths the Empire was responsible for previously doesn’t make Luke’s victory meaningless. You celebrate the defeat of the evil that remained.
But Age of Resistance makes us confront the past in a way not even the Star Wars prequel trilogy does. The extermination of the Gelflings exceeds even the horror of what happened to the Jedi. New Force users will always be born in the galaxy far, far away, but Jen and Kira are far more likely to be the last Gelflings ever than they are to repopulate Thra. We knew this before Age of Resistance, but experiencing the lives of the seven Gelfling clans and the bravery of its great heroes makes the sadness of their story far more real. Brea and Rian are no longer anonymous faces in the past. It won’t be as easy celebrating Jen and Kira’s victory knowing Deet’s sacrifices are likely lost to time forever. Age of Resistance has made the tragedy of the Gelfling story far more personal, and that makes their fate much harder to ignore even when they stand victorious at the end of both the show and film.
But even still, Age of Resistance might actually be the key to giving The Dark Crystal a happier ending for the Gelflings. Rather than offer the despair of the inevitable, the series might have shown us how more Gelflings will survive the Darkening in ways we’ve never known before.
The world of Thra and the spread of the Gelflings across its lands far exceeded anything even hinted at in the movie. Jen was able to traverse the lands in a matter of days, as were the slow-moving Mystics, who left their home to return to the Crystal Palace. The film made Thra seem far smaller than we now know it to be, especially since an entire clan lived underneath the ground too.
While smaller than the others, “ said to number less than three dozen,” the Grottan Gelflings not only lived farther from the Skeksis’ reach, “their life span is told to be unheard of, lasting three to four times as long as other Gelfling.” It’s not impossible that deep below the surface, hidden away along with their allies and fellow Grot cave born the Arathim, a band of ageless Gelflings were always hiding, waiting to return safely. With the Gelfling clans uniting at the end of the prequel series, they easily could have taken many others with them too. And although we still don’t know Deet’s ultimate fate (beyond a vision of her—or someone who looks like her—carrying the baby Kira), her powers to absorb the Darkening could even provide a shield to hide all of them while also protecting them from the spoiled earth of the caves.
That’s not even the only hiding place the show presented as a possibility. The Dousan clan, the Gelflings “obsessed with death,” live far away from all the others on the shifting sands of Crystal Sea. It’s remote enough the Heretic safely lived there, and even the Hunter needed help traversing it. While dangerous, it offers a place far from the Skeksis for the Gelflings to wait until the prophecy of the Chosen One can be fulfilled.
“Gelfling all dead,” said Aughra when she first met Jen, proving not even the great oracle of Thra knew everything about the fate of the race. And if two could survive the Garthim War, why not others, especially when they had lands to hide among.
Of course, this might be the faintest of light among the dark, but what is The Dark Crystal if not a story of hope? And when it comes to the fate of the Gelflings, Age of Resistance has given us a way to have more of it than ever.
Featured Image: Netflix