In 1982, The Dark Crystal introduced the world to Thra, a strange and magical land filled with unusual creatures including the cruel Skeksis and the Gelflings, a race of elf-like humanoids who were all but wiped out save two young heroes named Jen and Kira.
Now, nearly 40 years after Jen and Kira defeated the Skeksis and healed the titular crystal, we’re returning to Thra in the form of Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel series that shows off the massive Gelfling civilisation that was only glimpsed in ruins during the original movie.
“The prequel is a world that’s very rich and vast,” executive producer Lisa Henson (daughter of the first film’s co-director Jim Henson) told RadioTimes.com. “It felt like a bigger world.
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“And our jumping-off point for the prequel world is the scene in the original Dark Crystal film where Jen and Kira are in the forest, and they discover these ruins. And they realise they know nothing about where they came from, and they realise this was their civilisation.”
Accordingly, in the new series we meet the Gelflings at the pinnacle of their power, as they first begin to distrust their Skeksis overlords.
However, the series doesn’t make entirely clear exactly how long before the events of the film the new series takes place, or exactly where the new episodes fit into Thra’s general timeline. Yes, it’s before the Gelfling genocide by the Skeksis – but is it one year before, or 50, or a thousand?
In the drama it’s unclear (it also largely seems to ignore previous spin-off books and media, so we’re not including them here), and according to Henson that was the intention.
“We’re keeping it a little vague how far in advance of the film it is,” Henson said.
“The Skeksis are almost immortal and Aughra is immortal, and the Gelfling have short lives like humans do and so we don’t know where on the timeline this is exactly.”
However, fellow executive producer Halle Stanford did hint that there could be more of a gap between the series and the film than fans are expecting. “If you remember the opening shot of the movie, the world is quite darkened and when we see our Thra and the castle here, it’s green and lush… that’s all I’ll say.”
Without giving away too many spoilers, we can confirm that the final episode of Age of Resistance does *not* line up exactly with the film, with many plot threads still dangling and the state of Thra still vastly different than what we were introduced to in 1982.
Certain parts of the ending definitely also suggest new storylines to be resolved in a potential second season, which could mean it’s at least a few years before the events of the Dark Crystal movie – though other clues suggest that it might not be long before the Skeksis’ rule is supreme once more.
The Gelfling Jen holding the crystal shard in the animatronic fantasy film ‘The Dark Crystal’, 1982. (Photo by Murray Close/Getty Images)
Perhaps crucially, during a scene where Age of Resistance hero Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) sees a vision of her immediate future, she also sees some scenes related to the film – specifically Kira’s mother trying to hide her baby daughter from the beetle-like Garthim soldiers sent by the Skeksis, and lead character Jen healing the Dark Crystal in one of the last scenes of the film.
If these visions are placed so closely alongside Deet’s immediate future, they can’t be too far beyond them – right?
Well, frankly we can’t be sure until a second season of Age of Resistance is released – if indeed that does happen – so for now, we’re in the dark and far from crystal clear.
All we can say for sure is that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance portrays the bright world before the Skeksis fully took over – and it could be a long while before that light fades entirely.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is streaming on Netflix now