High Hopes and Misgivings for 'GenLOCK' and 'The Dragon Prince'


My running Dragon Prince theory is that all people are capable of ‘learning’ an arcanum like Callum has. Maybe the knowledge has been wiped out because of whatever Aaravos did to be imprisoned since he was a master of all arcanums. I’m thinking that in order to prevent another person from gaining that kind of power they took that knowledge from the world. Possibly using the same method they used to remove mentions of Aaravos from books. In which case Callum would be special in as much as he rediscovered that without help but not as special as the one human capable of non-dark magic.


After the talk about Callum’s character arc I was reminded of Yarvi, the protagonist of Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy and a character drawn from very much the same fantasy archetype as Callum (at least at story’s outset). What made Yarvi interesting was that he never acquired the sort of of exceptional skills that Callum does and must instead engage in the realpolitick of his world to survive and achieve his goals. They’re by no means the same character, but I thought it was an interesting glimpse at how modern writers handle old archetypes.

One of the other questions brought up on the pod - the question of writing to a format - also made me wonder: would Callum’s arc feel more earned if the series was on a weekly release schedule? Would two months of wait change how invested viewers were in his depowered status?


Totally agree with the team’s criticism of Dragon Prince S2, especially how Callum hasn’t earned his gift. Everyone has had to make sacrifices around him - even Ezran, the youngest of the pack - while Callum is getting everything handed to him. As a show that cares about inclusivity and showing marginalized people, it is oddly also portraying an analog to white privilege with Callum’s successes.


They alluded to it in the podcast already, but that was definitely a strength of A:TLA where Aang had to overcome an inherent character flaw in order to master the three other elements, bringing both his personal character arc and the greater culture around each element style into a cohesive focus.

It also helps that he was already written specifically as a Chosen One, and has a clear character struggle between wanting to live his life, but also having an unfair responsibility thrust onto him at a young age.

Callum doesn’t achieve some kind of narrative arc goal to achieve his power, there’s very little development around the wider culture surrounding each of these types of magic (allowing the audience to get a grasp on what it takes to learn/use those powers), and nothing established in the story thus far to justify why he specifically is granted a power no one else in the world has (allegedly) ever had.

This all might be due to the limitations of the Netflix short season TV format, sure, but I’d sooner pin the show’s faults on failing to have the character’s struggles and arcs be representative of the world they live in.


This was interesting to listen to.

I actually really liked the 3 episode flashback in The Dragon Prince. After I watched this season I was gushing about how cool it was to have so many perspective switches going on all the time.

I also liked Callum’s arc pretty well, but I binged the whole season and was coming at it from the perspective of “This is a children’s power fantasy and we are supposed to feel like more time is passing than actually is.”

My hope is that the thing they’re going for is that Callum isn’t unique in being able to do magic, it’s just a thing that’s been lost to humans.


I mean I’d be shocked if we reached 32 episodes total of the dragon prince. Netflix isn’t exactly know for long series.


I found it very odd that in their extended discussion of Viren’s flashback to the various queens dying, Austin and Natalie’s criticism just took for granted that Viren, the main antagonist who has lied to literally everyone and was in the process of trying to manipulate other rulers to do what he wanted… was just being honest?

(I guess I have to note that they both say they agree with Rob when he later says Viren is lying, but they never mention the possibility that he’s lying as they’re taking issue with the things he does in the flashbacks)


I think the implication was that Viren’s version of events is close to his personal truth, even if he was lying.


On Gen:LOCK, something that was bothering me was the othering of the Union. The Polity appears to be a relatively socially progressive amalgamation of “The West,” which makes me concerned about who exactly the writers believe the Union will have come from. From the different characters it kinda sounds like the Union is some sort of Chinese analogue, which is a bit unimaginative to say the least. That being said, the writers have left it vague so far which gives me hope that it’ll be something more interesting.

Also, in the future Russia is cool with genderfluidity? I’m down with that!


Val/entina’s pretty explicitly Ukrainian, and it’s implied Russia’s incursions into Ukraine have continued through the century, and that Russia is part of the Union. Hence Val/entina becoming part of the resistance to the Union even before the Polity pulled her in.


Re: The Dragon Prince
Does anyone else find it interesting on a meta layer that Callum is voiced by Jack De Sena, the same voice actor for Sokka in The Last Airbender? I feel like that is deliberate, given Sokka’s arc in that show - he spends most of the first two seasons being the joke guy, before evolving into the idea guy, then finally in S03E04 learning to be a sword fighter.

I’m also willing to bet the show will eventually flip the idea of humans not being able to do magic. There will probably be some “humans and elves are descendant from the same ancient people” thing and the idea that humans can’t do magic will be flipped in the coming seasons, showing that Callum is actually just, as the crew said, not actually that good at doing magic.

Just on the crews discussion of Val/entina’s hypocritical view on Cammie’s self modding - that made sense to me in that Val/entina’s fluidity is all about their external body, whereas they are always the same person at their core - vs Cammie, who was modifying her base nature of who she is. Is that wrong of me to take from that?


I just finished watching gen:LOCK and am finally digging back into the first half of this pod after reading it.

Firstly, I’d say that @grimview’s post above is fascinating and worth digging into if you skipped it over.

I’d like to build on it in a particular line in Episode 7, where it notes that Yasamin was implicated in the ‘reporting’ of her parents as ‘intellectuals’. This to me feels like a fairly overt reference to authortarian governments; it brings to mind the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union to me. It’s also worth noting that Yasamin is Iranian, which is a country with it’s own history in this regard.

This is more observational than anything else; I don’t really have any firm pushes at the moment.



And absolutely, yeah, regarding that Yaz line. The show seems to be offering a much stronger critique of monocultural absorption and authoritarianism than collectivism, to me - but I also have the context of watching a lot of other Rooster Teeth content. While the company has its issues, and isn’t exactly going to run around waving the flag of socialism or something, they’re generally quite progressive (at least as media companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars go).

But they could definitely do a better job of explaining the actual ideologies, rather than just the personalities, they’re portraying in future seasons. I really hope we get those seasons.


I feel that ultimately a lot of it is based on more of a think piece like Straus-Howe is. Unfortunately it falls in the same note where it has little world building and is not verifiable (You really have to look at it from the authors viewpoint too much for the theory itself). Excluding outside sources or additional features from creators.


For now, yeah. But I mean… there are real-world ideologies that lack evidence for their veracity, yet they still get massive uptake.

In a depressing sort of way, “what if this fictional faction took up this theory with little proof to support it?” is just a reflection of “trickle down economics.”

They really do need to do a better job explaining where the factions in the show are coming from, though.