Holy fuzzbuckets! The latest chapter of the Tales of Arcadia saga dropped on Netflix, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Wizards is a crazy fun adventure across time that not only expands Trollhunter and wizardry lore, but it introduces us to a powerful group of sorcerers called the Arcane Order. It also pushes Douxie’s story to the forefront, focuses on the sibling rivalry between Morgana and Arthur, and brings Jim’s story full circle. Days later and I’m still shocked they managed to fit all of that into 10 episodes.
The creative folks behind Wizards (as well as Trollhunters and 3Below) truly outdid themselves. I can only imagine what they have planned for us in Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, a Netflix original film designed to be the epic and grand finale in the Tales of Arcadia franchise. How will a team of trolls, extraterrestrials, and wizards defeat the seemingly unstoppable Arcade Order? Who are these titans referenced in the title? What sacrifices will be made along the way?
Before getting lost in a hole of speculation, let’s first take a look back at these highlights from Wizards.
Claire and Shadow Magic
Is it even possible to love a character even more than I already do? Claire is amazing for so many reasons (and her undying love for Jim makes my heart melt), but can we take a moment to appreciate the sheer power this queen possesses? I love her arc in this series because she goes from feeling guilty about not being able to protect Jim to learning how to open her own portals to fearing she might become like Morgana to fully accepting her abilities and keeping them in control.
Speaking of which, some of my favorite scenes in Wizards feature Claire and Morgana. She sees the danger Morgana becomes and learns from those experiences. Not only that, but she also accepts Morgana’s growth and fights alongside her against the Arcade Order. I knew from the beginning Claire was destined for great things, so it makes me incredibly happy to see how far she’s come as a person and a practitioner of the magical arts.
Apprentice Surpasses the Master
Most of us can agree Merlin is a jerk 90 percent of the time, especially in Wizards. With Excalibur broken, he allows Claire, Douxie, Archie, and Steve to tag along in the quest to visit the Lady of the Lake. It turns out, the Lady of the Lake is a giant magical sea creature (this is so Guillermo del Toro, and I love it) Merlin imprisoned long ago. Douxie quickly understands how this is wrong and risks everything by granting her the freedom to leave.
In the process, he demonstrates how he’s worthy of a new Excalibur, something Merlin failed to do. Merlin talks about mastering life in order to become a masterful wizard, but he fails where his apprentice succeeds. Douxie’s compassionate and selfless to a fault, whereas Merlin tends to have a singular goal and he’s not sorry for whoever he hurts along the way. Needless to say, I felt incredibly proud of Douxie in that moment.
Origins of Deya the Deliverer
I love how Wizards goes back to the beginning and fleshes out the origin of the Trollhunter. This is one of those things I totally didn’t see coming and felt goosebumps crawl up skin when it happened. (I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it!)
It blows my mind to know Callista’s birth name is Deya, as in Deya the Deliverer, the first Trollhunter known for sending Gunmar and his warriors to the Darklands. It’s such a wonderful gift to the fans who’ve been there from the beginning. I also couldn’t help but tear up when she said, “I know you’re afraid, but never forget that fear is the precursor to valor. And to strive and triumph in the face of fear is what it means to be a hero!” Now we know where Blinky got the saying!
Start of a New Friendship
It’s fascinating to see AAARRRGGHH!!! and Blinky before they become the AAARRRGGHH!!! and Blinky we know in Trollhunters. It’s one thing to hear the stories from them, but it’s another to see them unfold, especially when it comes to AAARRRGGHH!!! He’s the big, adorable pacifist we all know and love, so watching him in a destructive mode felt very un-AAARRRGGHH!!!-like. That said, it’s wonderful to see him grow a connection to Blinky and watch the beginnings of that friendship blossom into how we know it today.
Morgana and Arthur
I haven’t seen every Camelot/King Arthur/Morgana/Merlin interpretation out there, but of the ones I have seen, the version developed for Wizards is the best one. I like how they’re on two different extremes, always butting heads about how to handle magic within and outside the kingdom, and how the introduction of the Arcade Order flips the script. Arthur becomes a literal monster, and Morgana seeks to bring an end to his tyranny as the Green Knight. I was completely engrossed with their story and felt sorry for Morgana in the end. The writers clearly had fun weaving the story with the Arthurian legend and presenting their own interpretation of these characters, and it shows.
Of the 3 series, Wizards definitely serves the most surprises and unexpected moments, Douxie’s magical guitar being one of them. I’d love to thank the person who came up with that brilliant touch because I laughed and cheered over that reveal. Nothing screams Douxie more than a sick-looking and magically-infused guitar. I, especially, love how Morgana and Merlin agreed with each other and said the music was both dreadful and absolutely infernal before Douxie called them out on their “medieval sensibilities.”
I don’t even know how to describe the sound I made when Krel showed up. I felt a rush of joy because at that point in the series, I was beginning to wonder when the characters of 3Below would play a part. I was not disappointed. And now that Krel’s fully caught up with this potentially world-ending situation, maybe he might bring Aja and Varvatos Vex along to join the fight in Rise of the Titans. A girl can dream! For now, I love how he got to help his friends in much the same way they helped him.
A Touching Moment Between Master and Apprentice
I audibly gasped and sat straight in my seat when evil Arthur stabbed Merlin. That entire sequence is beautifully done, though, from Douxie falling and trying to reach for his Master to Douxie holding him until he turned to dust. I also felt a swift kick to the chest when Merlin said, “The greatest thing I have ever accomplished was saving you,” and the following episode starts with the flashback of Merlin saving him from the street. It connects the 2 episodes seamlessly and in a heart-wrenching way.
Jim’s transformation back to a human is another unexpected surprise. First of all, him turning to stone almost crushed my heart, but seeing him emerge from the rubble gave me some mixed feelings. Part of me still thinks it diminishes the sacrifice he made in Trollhunters because the permanency of it felt real. I also grew to love TrollJim immensely, and I thought he captured the dual nature of being human and troll perfectly. That said, after talking it out and rethinking the other sacrifices he’s made since then, he deserves to have his humanity back.
I knew I was going to cry at the end, but I wasn’t expecting to cry over Merlin, of all people. Again, he’s a jerk, but it astounds me how they developed the father/son relationship between him and Douxie so well throughout the series. The part that really got me crying was when he placed a hand on Douxie’s cheek and told him, “My, Hisirdoux, what a life you’ve lived. What a wizard you’ve become.”
The entire scene reminds me of Harry Potter and Dumbledore at a very pristine King’s Cross Station. Douxie is in a state of limbo, unsure if he’s moving forward or not, but he still has a mission to accomplish. I also couldn’t help but laugh through my tears when Merlin gave him the punk rock hand sign. What a beautiful touch between those two characters.
That’s it! This list of highlights would have been 20 items long. That’s how much I enjoyed Wizards, but I thought it best to keep it brief.
Featured Image: DreamWorks Animation TV