[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Wizards.]
With Wizards, DreamWorks’ latest animated series on Netflix now, Guillermo del Toro & Co.’s Tales of Arcadia comes to a close … sort of. As our own Drew Taylor talked about in his review and as the Saturday Mourning Cartoons team discussed, the relatively short 10-episode run of storytelling in Wizards leaves a few loose ends to tie up.
Enter: Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, a new (and the first) movie in the Tales of Arcadia franchise that will conclude the story once and for all (?) when it arrives on Netflix in 2021. But how did Wizards bridge the gap between existing Tales and the eventual Rise?
Before we get to the end of Wizards, it’s important to revisit its beginning; spoilers ahead. Fans of Trollhunters were actually introduced to Merlin, or at least the existence of the famed fictional wizard and of magic in this world, very early on in the storytelling. The amulet that grants a Trollhunter their powers was created by Merlin after all. That’s a bit of a throwaway mention way back in the early days of Trollhunters, but what Wizards does so well is that it stretches the timeline of the Tales of Arcadia to reveal what’s been going on outside the not-so-sleepy suburb for the better part of a millennium.
Well before Jim Lake Jr. became the title Trollhunter, Merlin was hard at work on the amulet (with a helping hand from Morgana …) that was designed to help maintain the delicate balance between humans and trolls. That balance was thrown into chaos thanks to King Arthur’s war against the troll forces under Gunmar’s command, as well as a royal spat of sorts that sees Morgana squaring off against her regal brother himself. But while all this was transpiring, Merlin’s assistant Hisirdoux (a.k.a. Douxie) was toiling away as an underappreciated and undervalued apprentice; he’s basically been sweeping floors and stocking shelves for the better part of 900 years when we meet him. Wizards is Douxie’s story more than anyone else’s. Here’s how it plays out:
When an ancient enemy — The Green Knight and the Arcane Order — attacks Merlin and Douxie in their floating futuristic version of Castle Camelot, the title wizards seek out the Champions / Guardians of Arcadia — Claire, Jim, Toby, AAARRRGGHH!!!, Blinky and even Steve Palchuk — to help out. That call-to-arms doesn’t exactly go as planned. Claire, Jim, Douxie and his Familiar, Archie, end up thrown into the distant past where they get mired in the conflict between Arthur and the trolls. That plot plays out with big payoffs for Trollhunters fans. It connects to and fills in a lot of that series’ lore and mythology that had only been teased or mentioned in previous episodes, all mainly focused around the Battle of Killahead Bridge and the legendary Deya the Deliverer. But it’s back in the 21st century when Wizards comes into its own.
All of the many heroes and villains of Tales of Arcadia assemble in the final few episodes of Wizards. The baddies — The Green Knight, revealing himself to be a corrupted King Arthur in disguise, and Bellroc and Skrael, leaders of the Arcane Order — are after Merlin’s Genesis Seals and their former ally, the nature elemental Nari. Why? They want to open the seals and allow raw magic to overwhelm and destroy the world, believing humanity is beyond “correction”, which is pretty standard villainous fare.
But what are the seals and what do they do? As Douxie explained, “Primal seals that contain the very essence of magic.” Merlin elaborated, saying, “If the seals are broken, then raw, uncontrolled magic shall rise upon the world, wiping it like a flood.” (Rise of the Titans, anyone?) Nari, seeing their chaotic and disastrous plan for what it is, changes sides and allies with Merlin & Co. And she’s not the only one to change allegiances. Long an antagonist of our heroes, Morgana, the Mother of Monsters, now fights alongside the defenders of order as well, squaring off against her brother Arthur one final time. Both of the legendary figures had been corrupted and used by the Arcane Order — who resurrected her physical form from Merlin’s Amulet, made from her severed arm — so it’s fitting that they conclude their long history of battles together, crushed beneath the fallen debris of Camelot.
But not everyone is flocking to the heroes’ side. Jim, the Trollhunter, is part troll at this point and in danger of going full-troll thanks to an impaled onyx shard, courtesy of a battle with the Green Knight, creeping closer to his heart. While Merlin had temporarily saved Jim’s life by placing him in stasis, the only cure to the injury was to defeat and kill the one who had dealt it. The problem is that, while Jim’s trip to the distant past slowed the effects of the shard, returning to the present allowed it to progress. Jim took it upon himself to force his final transformation and go full-troll in order to help save his friends. That worked for a little while, until the Arcane Order was able to brainwash him and lock his soul in the shadow realm. Our legendary Trollhunter became possibly the greatest threat to the gathered heroes of Arcadia for the few final episodes. So it’s thanks to Douxie that anyone survived at all.
But it wasn’t easy. When one of Douxie’s plans to rescue Jim while protecting Nari goes awry, it’s Merlin who pays the ultimate price. The greatest wizard of all time meets his end at the hands of the Green Knight, his former protege and liege. In a heartwarming scene, Merlin uses his last words to tell Douxie how proud of him he is, calling him his son and his greatest achievement. And with that too-quick farewell, Douxie is left to literally pick up the pieces, including Merlin’s staff and grimoire. What’s Douxie to do now?
Well, Douxie finally gets a chance to do things his way, which includes recruiting a team of hedge wizards at an electronics repair shop, visiting Charlemagne the Devourer (a friendly if imposing dragon played by Brian Blessed, who happens to be Archie’s father), and enlisting the help of extraterrestrial Krel to boost a piece of the Heart of Avalon, all with one specific plan in mind: To protect Nari and defeat the Arcane Order once and for all … or at least for now. To do this, Douxie had to destroy Merlin’s staff (on the late wizard’s own final orders, written in the grimoire in draconic) and forge his own (a sweet guitar with glowing blue magical energy), construct a bootleg techno-magical device that powers a time loop, and prepare to make one final sacrifice.
With the rest of the heroes (including Nari) defeated and imprisoned by the Arcane Order, Douxie baits Bellroc and Skrael to come after him and retrieve the seals. His grand plan includes … a game of Shells, or Three-Card Monte, under which the Genesis Seals are hidden as a prize. What the two arcane wizards win instead is a trip through time, courtesy of the time-loop-generating miniature Heart of Avalon. It sends the duo through the history of Tales of Arcadia‘s iconic moments, which longtime viewers should recognize and get a laugh out of, all while they clutch the Genesis Seals.
Douxie uses the opportunity to bust his friends out of prison and allow them to escape back to solid ground on Merlin’s flying vessel. But Douxie stays behind to duel Bellroc and Skrael, temporarily trapping them with him in an infinite corridor after they break out of the time loop. So while the Trollhunters are busy fending off an enraged Jim in full-troll mode, and while Morgana is about to bring Camelot crashing down onto herself and Arthur the Green Knight, Douxie fires off one final blast of powerful magic that destroys the Arcane Order’s flying castle and sends him, Bellroc, and Skrael crashing to the ground.
But all’s well that ends well in Wizards. Douxie, in some sort of twilight between life and death, gets to have one final conversation with Merlin and Morgana as they head off to parts unknown. It’s not time for Douxie to join them yet; it’s time for him to embrace his role as Master Wizard and protect Earth for as long as he can. And back on that Earth, Jim’s soul has been restored thanks to the combined efforts of Claire’s dedication and Morgana’s defeat of Arthur. The problem is that troll Jim turns to stone … at least until Claire’s tears heal him, breaking the rocky skin and revealing Jim — whole and human — within. But he’s no longer a Trollhunter since the amulet has been destroyed … what’s to become of him?
When Douxie is reunited with the rest of our heroes, they happen upon Arthur’s legendary sword, Excalibur, embedded within the stone nearby. Toby has a go at it but it doesn’t budge. Jim gives a half-hearted attempt but stops when he doubts himself without the power of the amulet (though he does have one last lingering look at it … but I kinda hope Steve gives it a try instead.) Douxie tells them all not to trust in magical amulets and swords, but rather in each other, who will work together to protect the world.
And that’s what they’ll have to do in the Trollhunters movie, because that’s pretty much where Wizards leaves things. A temporary defeat of the Arcane Order, saying goodbye to former mentors, and taking the place of those mentors themselves. After promising to reunite with the Champions of Arcadia soon, Douxie, Archie, and Nari opt to hide in plain sight, traveling to a far-off urban metropolis to stay off the Arcane Order’s radar … even as Bellroc looks on from a skyscraper high above…
We don’t have much more from Wizards to go on to figure out what the movie Rise of the Titans is about. So who could the title Titans be? Well, we may have seen a few of them already, or at least a hint as to just how massive said Titans may be:
There’s Gatto the giant mountain troll who lives inside of a volcano in the Ojos del Salado with other volcanic trolls. There are other known enormous mountain trolls: Craggen, Boulderjaw, Slopebrow and Icebeard. “Craggen and his Brothers Three” may be the Titans, or they may simply be a subset of all available Titans. It would make more sense if the movie feature a broad spectrum of Titans from all the troll communities (if they’re trollkind at all), including river trolls, swamp trolls, and the deep-dwelling cavern trolls, the Kruberas.
Or perhaps the Titans will be something we didn’t expect. Massive elemental creatures, embodiments of Greek mythology, or maybe even metaphorical titles bestowed upon the protectors of Arcadia, whoever they might be and wherever they might be from. And perhaps we’ll finally learn the actual fate of Jim Lake Sr. Stay tuned!
Here it is: EVERYBODY – And I mean, everybody, comes back 2021 for a big, bold, spectacular feature film that ties every part of the myths! Final Arcadia element! First quarter 2021!!! https://t.co/jRryrQCYXP
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) August 7, 2020