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Dragons: Riders of Berk – “How To Pick Your Dragon” Recap

As Chieftain, Stoick has a lot of responsibilities on Berk. However, he isn’t always able to perform his duties in a timely manner because he is stuck in the old way of doing things. Hiccup wishes to change this, and with some help from Gobber, who reminds Stoick about Alvin’s recent attack, Stoick decides that he wishes to learn how to fly dragons. Hiccup modifies the mechanical controls that he built for Toothless in order to let his father fly him, but after a bad outing, Stoick changes his mind and decides that he wishes to stop. Refusing to let his father give up, Hiccup takes him out on a ride to show him how much a dragon could help him do his job, and then, showed him just how magnificent Berk looks from the air. At the end of the ride, Stoick is a changed man. The next day, Hiccup wakes up to find Stoick flying Toothless without his permission, and doing a very poor job at it to Toothless’ chagrin. After getting some advice from Astrid, he decides to tell his father that he can’t keep riding his dragon, to which Stoick replies that he’ll need to get a dragon of his own. They go to Berk’s Dragon Training Academy, where Stoick takes a look at all of the dragon types at Berk, but he’s unhappy with all of them. Their observations are cut short when they’re told that a rogue dragon, who had attacked ships earlier in the episode, was terrorizing another ship. They fly off on Toothless and arrive at the ship, where Stoick makes short work of the dragon, a Thunderdrum, and declares that he wants it to be his dragon. They take it back to Berk for training, but despite Hiccup’s best efforts, his father refuses to follow his advice and the dragon ultimately escapes. The Riders of Berk assemble to find the dragon, and after a brief search, Stoick finds the Thunderdrum in a cave where it is protecting another Thunderdrum. Stoick orders Hiccup to fetch the others so that they can bring the injured dragon to Gobber, who has become the closest thing Berk has to a veterinarian, while he stays with the dragons. After Stoick tries to bond with the beast a pack of boars arrives in hopes of killing and eating the injured dragon, something which Stoick refuses to allow. As he fights them off alongside the Thunderdrum that he wanted, Stoick takes Hiccup’s advice and calmly touches the dragon. Between this and his heroics in defending the dragon’s friend, Stoick forms a bond of trust that allows him to safely remove the dragon’s shackles. The Thunderdrum allows Stoick to ride him and the two proceed to chase off the remaining boars, allowing the Riders of Berk to carry the injured dragon to safety. They drop the dragon off at Gobber’s, telling him to take care of it, and then Hiccup and his father fly off into the sky together.

In my previous recap, I expressed hope that the series had finally turned a corner; that it had finally stopped tripping over itself with its frequent introductory episodes that dealt with mundane tasks and generated unneeded drama. Well, by all accounts, it would seem that it has turned that corner. This was a great episode and it was a lot of fun to watch, and while we’ll still have to wait until the next episode in order to see a grander adventure beyond the confines of Berk, this episode made use of continuity very well and now Stoick has his own dragon. The Thunderdrum seems like a very interesting dragon and I’m looking forward to seeing more residents of Berk get their own dragons, especially Gobber, but I still feel that this series should try to avoid being a “dragon-of-the-week” type of show.  There needs to be a healthy mixture of episode types, but based on what we know, it’s still too early to determine what the average episode is going to be like.

Something in particular that I noticed about this episode was the soundtrack. DreamWorks usually does a great job with their movies, but the power of the musical scores in their movies seldom translates over into their shows. When Kung Fu Panda: Legends Of Awesomeness was announced, I thought that many of the movie’s great scores would be tweaked and used for the show, but when watching the show, I barely seem to notice the soundtrack. But Riders Of Berk does a much better job at using its soundtrack to emphasize moments, even if those moments are rehashing things that happened in the movie. Hiccup taking his father into the clouds, like he did with Astrid in the movie, may not have looked as impressive as its theatrical counterpart, but the beautiful backgrounds and the music made the scene seem so much more impressive than it actually was. It’s a small thing, but small things like that can be very important.

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