“The key you seek is the solution to all of our travails.”

 The curious quartet of Rian, Brea, Deet, and Hup(!) reach the Circle of the Suns and find a shocking secret awaiting them while the Skeksis make an unholy alliance that all but eliminates the Gelfling resistance.

Thanks to an assist from Rek’yr, the protagonists of The Dark Crystal reach their appointed goal—though not without injury in the form of some air sickness humor (poor Hup). As they make their way up the mountain and into the cave proper, their first surprise lies in the guise of the Heretic, a Skeksis cast out by his own kind. With him is urGoh the Wanderer, a Mystic whose speech patterns would make Flash the sloth (for you Zootopia fans) proud. These two are far and away the standouts in “Time to Make…My Move”. Their back and forth snips and patent annoyance has all the makings of an old married couple whose patience with each other has frayed into oblivion. When they explain the truth about the Skeksis and Thra, their frustrated yet in sync bond makes all the more sense.

The Heretic and Wanderer were great together, delivering both needed humor and a necessary expansion of the narrative.

Using puppetry, the Wanderer’s operatic baritone, and some random props , they tell the group about the Skeksis’s arrival from another world. If that wasn’t enough to drop jaws, the second half of the reveal is even more mind-blowing. After tricking the Aughra into handing over the Crystal, the Skeksis’ subsequent experiments with it split them into two halves: the Skeksis and the Mystics. Like the Heretic and Wanderer, each Skeksis has an opposing Mystic, one who shares in its pain. This last part is confirmed when the Hunter arrives and, as he flees with Brea as his captive, the Archer puts several arrows into his counterpart, feeling the pain of each blow. It’s a gnarly revelation that helps to resettle the messy narrative of the previously dull “By Gelfing Hand…” In addition to this knowledge, the Heretic mentions the Dual Glaive, a sword that, when held by a Gelfling, will unite the Seven clans of Thra and lead to the Skeksis’ final defeat. The only problem is that it lies in the Caves of Grot and, thanks to the Emperor’s wheeling and dealing, that may now be the most dangerous place on Thra.

Confiding in his General, the Emperor admits to the growing effects of the Darkening, not just on him but on Thra itself. He proposes a truce with the Ascendancy, the hive mind of the Arathim, the massive spidery life forms of Thra. Through the Ascendancy’s baby drones, they enslave Maura Fara and the entire Stonemoss class, dealing a massive blow to the Gelfling resistance. These Gelfling showcase the mindless behaviors of Borg drones, a single cog in the greater whole. But more importantly, the Emperor has gifted the Caves of Grot to his new allies, as they are the creatures’ ancestral home. Unbeknownst to the Arathim, the Caves are where the greater effects of the Darkening have taken hold (remember Deet’s encounter back in the series premiere). Infested with Darkening-effected life in addition to the Arathim, Rian’s quest for the Glaive just went from a normal difficult to Deathmarch. And time is not on their side.

With its particularly strong narrative arc and the introduction of two supremely entertaining characters whose purpose elevated the necessary historical exposition, “Time to Make…My Move” was a much needed balm after the extreme disappointment from its immediate predecessor. Not only is the information given a relevant addition to the overall story, but with the removal of a powerful ally in Maudra Fara from the board, the odds for our protagonists are as low as they’ve ever been. “Time to Make…My Move” was a reinvigorating installment for the series, the restoration of momentum exactly what it needed as the final third of the series lies before us. Let’s hope the storytelling remains as crisp and refreshing as this lucky number seven.

The Dark Crystal – “Time to Make…My Move”

8.5 out of 10