Dragons: Riders of Berk – “Thawfest” Recap
Berk is holding its annual Thawfest Games, where its younger residents compete against each other in order to see who the best among them is. Hiccup is unhappy at this prospect because he has always lost to Snoutlout – whose family has always dominated the games – but he believes he may have a chance this year. For the first time ever, dragon games have been created, and nobody is better with dragons than him. When Hiccup, confident about this fact, begins to return fire at Snoutlout’s insults, he earns Astrid’s ire for acting boastful. Once the games start, Snoutlout easily wins the physical challenges while Hiccup easily wins the dragon challenges, which prompts Hiccup to tease Snotlout as he crumbles under the pressure. His father expects him to win, after all, and he will be a disgrace to his clan should he lose. Picking up on that, Hiccup decides to throw the final challenge in order to let Snotlout win, and he does just that, although Snotlout immediately regains his bravado and continues to pick on Hiccup just as he always had. Astrid arrives and punches Hiccup in the arm, saying she knows what he did, and kisses him in celebration. He may not have won, but he did the right thing, as being a good friend is better than winning.
Something seemed off about this episode from the very start, and as it progressed, more and more things kept seeming off. For starters, since when it Snoutlout a better viking than Astrid? It’s been quite established now that she is the best of the viking teens, yet in the competition, she stunk up the joint and was beat by Hiccup on more than one occasion. Secondly, on the subject of the competition, surely more people would be competing than just the Riders of Berk. I know Berk is a small town, but this series makes it seem like it barely has a population – would it really have hurt them to come up with some generic characters to stand around in the arena and at least pretend to be participating?
Yet there is more. Throughout the episode, Snotlout treats Hiccup like garbage and constantly gloats his victories. When Hiccup starts to win due to his own merits, and returns the favor, Astrid starts to get snarky with him. Why? Why would Astrid have a problem with him giving Snotlout a taste of his own medicine? It’s made worse when, at the end of the episode, Hiccup intentionally loses because he felt bad, which prompts Snotlout to immediately return to his old ways. What sort of message is that to send to kids? And Astrid’s kiss at the end doesn’t make any sense either considering how the series has completely danced around their relationship and pretended that it didn’t exist. If she has no problem kissing him in this episode, why was she so damn skittish about hugging him in an earlier episode? Are they even trying to be consistent?
This show could be very good if they put more effort into it, but as it stands, I’m getting very close to just giving up on it. This episode was a colossal waste of time and I would recommend that you avoid it unless you’re an Astrid/Hiccup shipper and want to see them advance their relationship to the point where it had been in the movie, although I am sure they will be back to avoiding one another in the next episode.