While out doing training exercises, Fishlegs saves Ruffnut and Tuffnut after a mishap by using some gestures to silently signal his dragon to take certain actions. Impressed by this, Hiccup decides to have all of the Riders of Berk implement these signals, but while attempting to do so, Ruffnut and Tuffnut have a falling out and both storm off, refusing to work with one another. Hiccup heads home, having nothing else to do, only to learn from his father that the leader of the berserkers is going to arrive on Berk to renew a longstanding peace treaty. He asks Hiccup to hide the dragons, if only to avoid any misunderstandings. He and his friends head off to do just that, but without Ruffnut and Tuffnut, their dragon gets loose and doesn’t leave the island with the others. When Hiccup goes back to tell his father, they learn that the expected leader of the outcasts has retired, and in his place is Dagur the Deranged – a mostly insane and bloodthirsty adolescent. Stoick tells Hiccup to get rid of the dragon while he stalls Dagur with formal procedures, but without Ruffnut and Tuffnut’s help, he ultimately fails and Dagur spots the dragon and prepares to kill it. During this time, Hiccup finally convinces Ruffnut and Tuffnut to make amends, as their feud could cost them their dragon’s life. Back near Berk, Dagur has caught the dragon ad is prepared to strike, but Stoick, using the last formality at his disposal, tells Dagur that he must kill the dragon in the arena. There, Hiccup and his friends have the dragons pretend to attack the arena, using their newly implanted silent signals to have them attack the berserkers without hurting them, and they eventually scare Dagur enough that he runs away – albeit without signing the peace treaty, as he only had time to agree to it vocally. The Riders of Berk are then left to, once again, repair the damage.
It could be argued that the most underused characters to this point in the series have been the twins, Ruffnut and Tuffnut. This episode sought to rectify that, but it failed spectacularly. The twins were barely in it, and even when they were, it was hardly balanced because Ruffnut barely got to say anything at all. It also laid the groundwork for something that I thought was interesting, with Tuffnut talking about how his home had too many unhappy memories, but nothing came from it and it was never addressed again. I’m not saying they needed some sappy backstory about deceased parents or something, but they could have done more with this. Maybe they’ll get another episode down the road and that can be addressed. I also didn’t like how contrived the whole “silent signals” thing was, as they pushed very hard to force that into the main plot of the episode.
Fortunately, this episode had a saving grace in Dagur the Deranged. The upstart leader of the berserkers, despite still being young, is genuinely bloodthirsty and arguably a more interesting villain than Alvin the Treacherous. It would have been better if he didn’t so easily fall for their ruse; the “hiding in plain sight” shtick with the dragon was old hat, while the scene in the arena was just as bad. Perhaps if Hiccup’s acting had been more convincing the scene would be more convincing, but as it stands it felt as if the show was insulting the character’s intelligence. Dagur is supposed to be deranged, not stupid, and I’m hoping that they’ll let him figure things out sooner rather than later so that he can be a player in the plot. If that happens, Berk will find itself caught between two armies. Good thing they have dragons.