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The end of The Dragon Prince season 2 forces everyone to grow up for season 3

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We see a ton of magic — but at what cost?

Wonderstorm/Netflix

While season one of The Dragon Prince ended on a high note for the heroes, the second season scatters them. The victories this time are smaller, and the danger, however, is greater.

The main cast of characters are all young adults and teenagers, but they’ve been force to reckon with some bitter realities by the end of this season. This season in particular focused on the emotional growth of the characters, a goal for head writers Justin Richmond and Aaron Ehasz. As Callum, Ezran, Rayla, Claudia, and Soren struggle to complete their journeys, not only will there be ramifications for them going into the next season, but also for the greater world.

[Ed. Note: This article contains spoilers for season 2 of The Dragon Prince]

In the last two episodes, Callum struggles with the after effects of using dark magic for the first time and falls unconscious. While asleep, he is plagued with nightmares, but eventually talks to a dream-version (or ghost?) of his dead mother and discovers how to master the Sky Arcana. He jolts awake, realizing this knowledge carries on into the real world.

Humans need a primal stone in order to wield magic, which is why humanity uses Dark Magic. We still don’t know who or what Callum’s birth father was — could Callum’s ability to use magic be tied to his parentage? Or has he simply just accessed some latent ability?

Both answers will have weighty consequences. If Callum’s father was just a regular human, then maybe other humans can use magic. If Callum’s father was something else, Callum would be the only canonical half-magical-entity, half-human in the show (so far).

Wonderstorm/Netflix

Meanwhile, Callum’s half-brother Ezran struggles with growing up.

In the last few episodes, Ezran learns that his father, King Harrow, is dead. Callum learned this earlier in the season, but kept the information from Ezran in an effort to protect his little brother. But when their Aunt Amaya’s scout Corvus finds them, he bows to Ezran and refers to him as the “young king.” The truth falls into place.

When it comes time to move on and deliver Azymondias to Xadia, Ezran decides to return to Katolis and accept his place on the throne. The trio of heroes separates; Corvus escorts Ezran back home, where he will have to take up the throne, while Callum and Rayla journey onwards to Xadia.

After completing a precarious crossing — with baby dragon Azymondias taking his first full flight! — Callum and Radia enter Xadia, only to stumble upon one of the most formidable dragons of Xadia.

As for the bad guys...

Soren provoked an angry dragon, leaving him paralyzed. While he almost accepted his new life (and thinks of becoming a poet instead of a knight), his sister Claudia is determined to save him, no matter the cost. So she kills a sweet baby deer in order to absorb its power and cast a dark-magic healing spell on Soren.

Soren is fully healed, but the spell takes a toll on Claudia. There’s a new white streak in her hair, and she struggles to regain composure. We now know repeated use of powerful dark magic alters one’s physical appearance for the worse. But while dark magic itself has some questionable ethics — users literally steal life force from magical creatures! — Claudia’s motivations stem from a desire to help her brother and keep her family safe.

Wonderstorm/Netflix

“Claudia would do anything to try to keep a family together. She would rather die and keep it that way together than anything else,” head writer Justin Richmond tells Polygon. “I think she had some big inkling before she did this spell, that it might have the other kinds of results it did. I think that’s a choice that she wouldn’t think twice about.”

Claudia’s good intentions could foreshadow a redemption arc for her and Soren, provided they turn their backs on their father’s mission. But both seem so wrapped up in living up to their farther’s pride.

Both Claudia and Sore failed to carry out the secret missions their father delegated to them — Claudia was returning the egg, and Soren was to kill the prince. Soren fears Viren’s wrath, but Claudia assures him that it will be alright. She managed to snag the horn of a dragon, and giving her father such a powerful magical artifact will make up for their failure. But just what will Viren do with this treasure?

Viren’s own dark magic power has grown, thanks to his connection with Aavaros, the mysterious Startouch elf in the mirror. We don’t really know why Aavaros, who speaks of motivating humans by fear and encourages Viren’s dark magic practices, is trapped in the mirror, but it can’t be good. As Runaan said in season one, the magic mirror is “something worse than death.”

The rest of the Katolis government figured out Viren is up to no good, what with forging the King’s seal and calling meetings for war. Though Viren is able to channel Aavaros’ magic through the mirror, he ends up captured. Aavaros fades back into the darkened mirror, but promises Viren that he will still contact him via a creepy magic worm.

In the end, both the heroes and the villains of The Dragon Prince find themselves reevaluating what they know, which makes for an interesting starting point for season 3. For Callum and Rayla, this means entering Xadia, armed now with the ability to do magic. For Ezran, it means taking up the throne at the tender age of 10 and possibly entering the world of political intrigue. Soren and Claudia, meanwhile, will have to figure out whether they will follow their now-captured father’s footsteps or strike out on their own.

The Dragon Prince is currently streaming on Netflix.