Dragons: Riders of Berk - "Viking For Hire" Recap
An era of peace is what all warriors strive for, but what is there for a warrior to do when the time for war passes? This is a dilemma that faces Gobber, Berk’s warrior-smith who had worked day and night for years in order to keep the war effort going, supplying countless weapons in hopes of defeating the dragons. When his attempt to sell his weapons as household accessories fails, Mildew rubs it in Hiccup’s face, blaming him and his love of dragons for ruining the livelihood of one of Berk’s most notable citizens. Hiccup, remembering all that Gobber had done for him over the years, convinces Stoick that he should take Gobber on as his right hand man. But when Gobber fails in his assigned tasks due to his lack of etiquette, Hiccup gives him a job at the Dragon Training Academy where he can put his years of experience to good use. This, too, fails because his years of experience all involve violence and intimidation, which scares the dragons away. Hoping to give him one more chance, Hiccup assigns Gobber to create saddles for all of the dragons, but Gobber ignores his schematics and instead creates weaponized saddles, something which Hiccup disapproves of. With that being the last straw, Hiccup fires Gobber and sends him spiraling into depression. But when Snotlout’s dragon, Hookfang, begins to threaten the town due to an apparent illness it had over the last few days, Stoick calls upon Gobber to slay the beast. As he approached the dragon, however, he realized that it was only acting out because its tooth was damaged, so he pulls it out and the dragon returns to normal. Gobber finally realizes that he has a new place in society, serving as Berk’s resident dragon dentist.
This episode doesn’t look too good on paper – the toothache angle is cliché, and having him become a dragon dentist just seems silly. However, the episode was executed remarkably well; I didn’t see the solution to the problem coming until near the very end, and it worked well for the sake of the plot. As with the last episode, “Viking For Hire” focused on something that would realistically happen given the circumstances. Gobber made so many weapons in the movie, weapons that just aren’t needed now that the war with the dragons is over. Of course, I don’t think Gobber would have been completely done with smithing, as there would always be a need for some weapons, but this change of his profession should allow him to show up often in future episodes. I see that as a good thing; he was one of the more likable characters in the movie and he has a lot that he can contribute.
Because of Gobber I thought that this episode was also funnier than the first, with the most memorable scenes coming from when he attempted to serve as Stoick’s second in command. His decision to force a baby girl to be named Magnus due to her ugliness was a good example of that. I also liked how we got to see more of how emotional Snotlout can be. I know he’s the standard tough-guy; his actions throughout these first two episodes and the movie were for the sake of making himself look cooler than he actually is, especially to impress Astrid, but seeing him in tears when he thought that Gobber was about to kill his dragon was touching. His embrace of Hookfang after he returned to normal was also nice, even if he tried to brush it off in shame. I recall concerns early on in the show’s production that the show would force him into more of a bully role, but as long as he stays an arrogant hothead, I think he’ll be a good character for the show. All in all, this was a good episode and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, but we’ll have to wait until the premiere on September 4th for that.