“The Shard is the key to ending Skeksis power and uniting the Gelfling.”
The battle lines are drawn as Deet, Rian, and the Gelflings who dare answer his call face off against their former lords, the Skeksis, with Stone-in-the-Woods as the battlefield.
With Rian’s appeal for aid delivered across Thra, his small contingent of Gelfling prepare for the inevitable conflict with the Skeksis. They don’t have to wait long as the Emperor, fresh off taking an infusion of Darkening into his staff, marches his fellow Skeksis (minus the Scientist) to Stone-in-the-Wood. Plagued with the same limitations as its predecessors, the action in “A Single Piece Was Lost” leaves much to be desired. The exciting fight between Gelfling and the imposing Skeksis force should have been the highlight but instead, it the most forgettable portion of the finale. This inability to deliver solid action has a secondary effect; smothering the stakes and making for a decided lack of tension that drags through the uninspiring battle. For long stretches, it appeared that this would be the derivative pop song instead of the symphonic capstone it should have been. Then it all changed.
Save for the Chamberlain and, at some points, the Scientist, the Skeksis horde has been wholly uninteresting with their loud, raucous behavior becoming a series detractor than the humorous and sometimes deadly threat they were supposed to be. The Hunter’s introduction offered a refreshing perspective on the Lords of the Crystal. His apparent death was a loss, both for the Skeksis narrative and the entertainment value. His surging resurrection in “A Single Piece” found the sole intimidating Skeksis barreling towards the fight, eyes intent on Rian—the quarry that got away—turns the tide of battle and gives the Skeksis a second wind. The tension and uncertainty as he holds Rian’s small head in his massive hands is real and, for a moment, it really does look as if he will kill our protagonist. But with a snap, it all disappears when, understanding his other half’s intentions (despite the distance between them), the Archer gives his life in a sacrifice that takes the Hunter off the table and provides the catalyst for Mother Aughra’s rebirth (talk about a cagey old bird!).
Even with the Hunter down, Rian’s paltry band remains grossly overmatched. The Dual Glaive is no more, shattered by the Hunter’s massive hand; Maudra Fara is dead, taking a blow to save Seladon. As the Emperor moves in with his troops to crush the resistance, like Gandolf leading the Rohirrim into Helm’s Deep from the east in The Two Towers, the other clans arrive, surrounding the Skeksis. Refusing to break, the Emperor uses the stored energy of the Darkening and releases it in a violent attack destined to wipe out the Gelfling opposition. Deet’s intervention, one that establishes the incredible power she now possesses, absorbs the Darkening blast and redirects it back at the Skeksis, obliterating one of the aliens. With the day won, the Gelfling allow their enemies to retreat, not knowing that, back at the castle, the vile and creative Scientist has created the first in a line of giant soldiers that will prolong the war for the next half century: the Garthim.
Season finales are a tricky business, particularly when they act as prequels for previous installments. Though the first half drags, the second part of “A Single Piece Was Lost” generates a level tension Age of Resistance had failed to reach. Some of the narrative suffers, constrained by the necessity of maintaining continuity with the movie, most especially the need to have the surrounded Skeksis escape the battlefield. Despite this and the near parody events of the Scientist’s creation, “A Single Piece Was Lost” is a satisfactory end to Age of Resistance. Like the season itself, it is an up-and-down affair, but more than what has come before it, delivers on both the action and emotional weight the narrative desperately needed. With several unanswered questions still remaining—the missing Crystal Shard found in the wreckage of the Glaive’s pommel, Deet’s infusion with the Darkening, Seladon becoming the All-Maudra her mother always envisioned—should the creators wish to revisit this world for a season two, there is plenty of material to mine. More importantly, “A Single Piece” transformed my own opinion regarding a second season from “thanks, but I’ll pass” to “I wouldn’t mind seeing that, after all”. And that is the best thing it could have done.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance finale – “A Single Piece Was Lost”
8.25 out of 10