The co-creators of Netflix's animated TV show The Dragon Prince, Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, tease what fans can expect from season 2. The Dragon Prince premiered on Netflix in September 2018, introducing viewers to the world of Xadia and a conflict between humans and the magical realms of dragons and elves. The Dragon Prince season 1 followed young princes Ezran (Sasha Rojen) and Callum (Jack De Sena) as they started off on a journey with the Moonshadow elf Rayla (Paula Burrows) to return a dragon egg to its mother.
During the show's panel at New York Comic Con 2018, The Dragon Prince season 2 was announced, with Netflix having renewed the animated show for additional episodes. Then at Anime Los Angeles earlier this year, The Dragon Prince season 2 received a premiere date of Feb. 15, unveiling the official season 2 trailer just two weeks before its debut. Now, The Dragon Prince co-creators tease what lies ahead for the series' characters in season 2.
Screen Rant had the chance to interview The Dragon Prince co-creators and writers Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond ahead of season 2, diving into what fans can expect from the continuing adventures of Ezran, Callum and Rayla - who are joined by the young Dragon Prince, Azymondias (Zym for short). Ehasz and Richmond tease what's to come in terms of Callum exploring magic - particularly Dark Magic - as well as new factions of elves who will be introduced in The Dragon Prince season 2.
Screen Rant: Going into season 2, what was the biggest lesson you learned from season 1 and applied to the series going forward?
Aaron Ehasz: I think we were - I don’t know if this was a lesson from season 1 but we didn’t want to... The ending of season 2 wasn’t necessarily where we knew we would be. We always knew we were going to follow the characters to what we felt they would truly do and truly choose and so season 1 kind of sets up the world and the plan for this group, and by the end of season 2, we were like, “Are we really going to do this. Are we really going to change the plan this much?” And we were just like, “Well, this is the truth and this is what these characters would choose, this is what their hearts would tell them to do.” I know I’m being a little vague because I’m being anti-spoiler-y, but I think what we learned was to trust the characters and not force them into a plot or story that we were kind of imposing on them but to let them lead us.
Screen Rant: Awesome. So I read that the animation style in season 2 is slightly different to season 1, can you explain why you chose to tweak that and what you think the difference adds to the show?
Ehasz: The approach is still fundamentally the same, which is we’re trying to realize the same beautiful world and characters and nuance and acting and excellent action. I think we had a response to some of the frame rate choices that we made in season 1; a subset of the audience found that distracting and so we kind of grouped up and we said, “OK well can we achieve the goals we set out to for this story visually if we increase that frame rate and we try to address people in that subset?” I think ultimately we were still achieving the look and the feel that we wanted to have. We have increased the frame rate in many, many instances so that it feels smoother. I think - I hope the majority of the people who were distracted originally feel better about this. I don’t think everyone will because there’s still a style choice that is here and that is distinct and that we believe in.
Justin Richmond: Yeah
Ehasz: But I believe the adjustments will make it feel smoother and feel better for a bigger group. But also I think the team at Bardel has just gotten stronger and more confident and they’ve really hit their stride and they were doing beautiful work in season 2. So some of it isn’t even adjustments we made, it’s just the strength of the animators and the artists has grown and things are more awesome.
Screen Rant: OK so you mentioned that this was something you’d heard from the audience that you sort of applied to the animation style going forward, was there anything else that you heard from the audience that you applied to season 2?
Richmond: I think one thing is people were asking for more of everything, so hopefully we were able to fit in more fun stuff, more pieces of the world, like adding bits and characters and places that we haven’t gone before. So I think a lot of people were really excited to see more of just the world of Xadia and I think we deliver on that this season. I think we did a good job of sort of getting to go to more places and seeing more cool stuff and meeting more cool people.
Ehasz: What was your sense, is there something you heard out there that you think the audience is hoping for or waiting for?
Screen Rant: Honestly, just more of everything.
Richmond: Well I think we did that. I think we got some people to do a lot of cool stuff sort of on the travel side of the show.
Screen Rant: Going back to that a little bit, one of the things that people really responded to and loved about the first season was the cast of diverse characters, and in season 2 you introduce more characters and explore more of the world, so was there a concerted effort to keep the cast as diverse as season 1?
Ehasz: It’s something that our team is always mindful of creatively, it really is one of the fundamental goals of this story and this world is to portray a fantasy world that feels more diverse and representative than fantasy worlds and stories we’ve seen in the past. So we’re always mindful of it, hopefully we’re achieving that creative goal and more people are seeing themselves reflected, more people feeling they are connecting to stories and characters who identify differently than they felt in past shows. But that’s something, too, that we’re hoping for many seasons of storytelling here, and that’s an opportunity for us and that’s something we don’t take for granted to try to push some of those boundaries and do that. We’re hoping to have a continuing opportunity to expand on that front.
Screen Rant: So getting to specific story points, at the end of season 1, Callum smashed the Primal Stone, leaving him without a way to do magic. We see him using Dark Magic in the season 2 trailer, so can you talk a little bit about his path in season 2?
Ehasz: Could be a flashback. Could be a dream. Just cause it’s in the trailer doesn’t mean…
Richmond: No his path, I think, is interesting. He’s a person who sort of finally figured out like, “Oh this is something that I’m awesome at, something that I really want to do.” And then all of a sudden that was taken away - well, not taken away, he made the choice to give that up in a greater sacrifice. So now that’s a hard thing to deal with. So he’s standing there going, “Well, what do I do? Maybe Dark Magic is my path. That’s how humans do magic, maybe that’s the way I should be doing magic.” Or: “Is there another choice for me, or what am I doing?” I think he’s sort of lost and a little sad at the beginning of season 2 and I think he’s trying to figure out what he’s doing and there’s a journey for him throughout that whole season of how he adapts and what he’s going to do and the choices he makes.
Screen Rant: In season 1, Callum was our entry point into magic, I feel like the viewers really learned about magic through his eyes and learned about Dark Magic through his relationship with Claudia, so how much deeper does season 2 get into exploring the actual mythos of magic in your world?
Richmond: That’s a tricky question, I don’t want to spoil anything. I think we think of magic as being… There’s something sort of - this is a stupid thing to say, but something super mystical about magic, right? And so what we don’t want to do is make it like, “Oh here’s exactly the steps you take to do magic.” Like it should feel like very special and unique and you’re tapping into something to do it and there’s a couple different paths to magic in our world. And obviously there’s some shortcuts that people can use, but we want it to feel like something that is in some ways unknowable, but something that can be figured out. So hopefully it feels like that. That’s a crappy answer, I’m sorry, but it should feel really special and not be totally explained because at the end of the day it’s magic, y’know?
Ehasz: I would also add, if I may, I think Claudia has a chance to make a case for Dark Magic. And I hope there’s something - as much as I know there’s something distasteful about it, there’s something concerning about it, I hope there’s something compelling about that case because I hope what she does is convey a sense that there’s some empowerment in using Dark Magic, there’s something about it that unlocks human potential that makes it very compelling as a choice that someone might make. We want to leave it to Callum and to the community and the audience that can determine for themselves if that’s a good choice or a bad choice, but hopefully it’s at least compelling to think about maybe there are situations where you do use it, where it seems wrong but maybe the outcome is so important that you do it because you have to, that you sacrifice your own sense of what you think is good and bad because you know you have to do something - you have to act. And that’s, I think, where some people who have used Dark Magic, that’s why they’ve chosen it.
Richmond: We have a very defined sense, like internally to us, to our writing team, I think we understand very specifically how the magic should work and it should be executed upon. But in terms of how it actually functions, I think we want that to still feel special. Callum is on the journey of trying to figure out, “Well OK, I don’t have a primal stone anymore, I don’t have my shortcut battery, can I still do magic? Is there something inside me that will allow me to do that? Or am I just like every other human?” [Callum] does have a choice to do magic, he can do Dark Magic, and that’s an interesting struggle I think. So yeah that’s how we see it: Yes there’s a path to do magic. For humans, it is X and for elves, it seems to be Y, but is there any kind of crossover point? And I think that’s an interesting story.
Screen Rant: Yeah, the dynamic between doing Dark Magic or not sounds really interesting. And speaking of the elves, we’re being introduced to a couple of new elves this season, the Sunfire elves and Aaravos, can you tease a little bit about them and what they bring to the season?
Richmond: I mean, hopefully excitement. The Sunfire elves that you see are super awesome and cool and have new abilities and stuff like that, and have a whole different set than the Moonshadow elves and they’re super, super cool.
Ehasz: Yeah, Sunfire elves, we’re just starting to meet them and we kind of heard about their remarkable ability to make weapons and armor and in particular Sunforged blades, which are so cool. But we also see an ability that some Sunfire elves have and we haven’t talked about this, but you’ll see a character demonstrate something called “Heat-Being” mode. Some Sunfire elves have the ability to kind of channel the fiery, fury side of sun energy into like this berserker mode that’s just stronger, faster... It’s a berserker mode. What we don’t see yet is that there’s another kind of ability that very few Sunfire elves can do, which we call “Light-Being” mode and “Light-Being” mode is more a healing and growing side of Sun Magic. So it’s kind of the other side of the fiery destructive side is the healing, light side. We just love starting to explore that culture and those elves and their abilities. This is just an introduction, but we love them - there’s more to come.
Richmond: There’s a lot of cool stuff.
Screen Rant: Speaking of what maybe wasn't included in this season, was there something specifically that you can tease that got cut at one point along the way?
Ehasz: Yes. What you’re asking is there something that got cut at one point along the way?
Screen Rant: Yes. And will we see it later?
Ehasz: So will we see it later is a fingers crossed, I believe so. We certainly have a lot of story in mind and we think that there’s a community and audience who wants it and so, if all goes as we would love it to go, then absolutely. I will say that the ending of some of the arc that General Amaya is on... We initially had the really big culmination scene planned for this season and we had to pull it. And so that’s something that will, in the best case, that’s a story that will kick off the next season. That’s one thing I have a little regret, cause it’s - I mean, I think she has a great story and I love everything she does, but the decision to hold that until a next season kind of hurt. But you asked, so there it is.
Richmond: Everybody watch it, so we can do more.
Screen Rant: Believe me, I’m trying to get people to watch it. Can I just jump back for a minute to the Star elves, can you talk a little bit about them?
Richmond: We can tell you their name, so they’re Startouch elves, is the type of elf they are and kind of no. [Laughs] They’re super, duper rare, they’re very mystical and we have a lot of plans for them, but that’s kind of all I want to give you.
Ehasz: They’re mystical, mysterious - the mystical, mysterious Mr. Aaravos. [Laughs]
Richmond: That’s the spinoff. [Laughs]
Ehasz: Yeah, they are more - I mean, they’re Star Elves and they’re more associated with the heavens and they’re not immortal, but they have more of a time scale that is more like the stars than other elves, so they’re a little bit removed and big picture, but Star Elves have a, I mean, they’re part of mystery and myth and we’re going to meet one this season. I love the actor who plays him is Erik Todd Dellums, who I worked with on Avatar [the Last Airbender] who has an amazing voice and he’s perfect to embody a character like this and we’re excited about this character. We hope the audience is intrigued and ready for more.
Screen Rant: From what I’ve seen, they really are. So I did want to ask, what are you guys most excited for fans to see in season 2?
Richmond: There is a character that I think is very funny that shows up early in season 2 that I can’t wait for people to meet. I can’t remember if he’s in the trailer or not, which is why I’m…
Ehasz: He is not in the trailer.
Richmond: He’s not in the trailer. So there’s another funny character that shows up early in season 2 that I love and I think is super, super fun and I can’t wait for people to see it.
Ehasz: I’m excited for, we do some exploration of history and we learn some things about some characters who are not around anymore that I love and think are really interesting and I’m excited for people to see a little bit of that, a little bit of Harrow’s past and his past with Queen Sarai and stuff like that.
Screen Rant: OK and if you could describe season 2 in one word, what would it be?
Ehasz: Alright we have three words: Epic Sadness Show.
Screen Rant: The fans are going to love that.
Richmond: How about four words: The Fun Epic Sadness Show.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Dragon Prince season 2 premieres Friday, February 15 on Netflix in its entirety; season 1 is currently available to stream.