I believe they have a name for this episode, but it doesn’t really matter what the official name for this episode is, because the thing this episode should have been named is HUP! because HUP! is brave, loyal, and enthusiastic. Hup is a defender of his fellow residents of Thra. Hup will jump in, against the odds, with a spoon, and fight tooth and nail against creatures large and small, groups large and small, if he believes it is right and just. Early in this episode, we meet Hup when he literally swoops in to save Deet from a deadly spitter.
One of the greatest joys of the Dark Crystal has always been walking in the forest, that lives and breathes and hunts and chirps and spins in a wondrous fantasy of nature’s alien possibilities on a distant planet. Deet walking across the forest, meeting fizzgigs, and experiencing this all for the first time is one of the great joys of the series. Just before we meet Hup, Deet is experiencing wonder simultaneous to the audience, who share her explorations at the marvels of the surface world. The deadly arathim, the spitter, breaks this reverie and acts as a wonderful reminder and foreshadowing of the actual, real dangers of nature, where big things eat little things, and the skeksis devour all things. Of course, Hup leaps in to save the day, and is instead captured by the spitter. He is still critical to Deet’s success: She uses him as a kind of wrecking ball to drive the spitter away.
In another line of plot, Brea, the daughter of the All Maudra, discovers a sigil in a magical vision while studying in the library. To learn more of this sigil, she needs to go to a clan elder from a Gelfling tribe of sea nomads. The clan elder attempts to wipe her memory, but she outwits him and wipes his mind, instead. This is a diplomatic incident. She has to both fulfill her obligation to her mother and clan somehow, and still fulfill her drive to seek the answer to the mystery by stealing a jewel from her mother’s chamber. Really, it’s a choice moment. Brea has to choose to return to her obligations and her known life per her mother’s instructions, or to choose to break with traditions and her old obligations, to pursue the quest for truth. She attempts to uphold her obligations, but she chooses to sneak out, instead, and seek her truth. She steals from her mother’s chamber, sneaks out against her mother’s orders, and then breaks back into the chamber, locating a secret room beneath the throne, itself. The quest for truth is greater than tradition, for her, as it should be for all of us in times of terrible crisis.
The skeksis live in a different realm, with bleak stone halls devoid of life, and seek more essence. They will stop at nothing to get it. Rian, the rogue witness to their assault on life, itself, must be hunted down, and the Gelfling must be tricked to prevent dreamfasting with him, where they may see what occurred to Meera. Rian realizes he is in a difficult spot, but he also knows if something happens to him, no one would have any proof of what happened to Meera. He is brave, has has loyal friends, and he has some strategy, so it seems the fate of Thra is in the hands of someone worthy of the role. One of my takeaways from this episode in terms of the crisis we face in our life: Relationships matter. Building a team is important even when nothing is happening, because when a crisis comes, those bonds can be strong enough to rise against the tide.
Though the skeksis will scheme and plot and quite nearly succeed, ultimately their cheating and conniving and backstabbing of each other (sometimes literally) will be the ultimate doom of them, eventually. Their great victories only occur when they work together. Aughra’s failure to understand the problem, of course, is because she tries to figure it out by herself. She needs to listen and be still and let the knowledge come from the communion with all beings. And, she figures it out, with a little help from an old friend. All the gathering heroes, still, remain separated in their quest for truth, but working together, will someday lead to the best of what’s possible. Someday, the Skeksis and the Mystics will work together, becoming one urSkek.
And, bring Hup along. Hup is awesome.