Dragons: Riders of Berk – “Breakneck Bog” Recap
At sea, Gobber, Hiccup and Stoick are looking for Trader Johann, as he has something for Stoick but is several days left. After their search ends in failure, Hiccup decides to go looking for him on his own, as the delivery seems t mean a great deal to his father. However, as he is about to head out, the Riders of Berk spot him and eventually get permission to tag along. They fly off and eventually find Trader Johann adrift in the middle of nowhere, picking him up and taking him to a nearby rock. He explains that his ship was consumed by something near Breakneck Bog, that took the form of a fog monster. When asked about the delivery, he tells Hiccup that the item in question wasn’t meant for Stoick, but for him, as the item belonged to his mother and that Stoick wanted to give it to Hiccup as a surprise. Deciding that he can’t let this item be lost to a shipwreck, he sets off for Breakneck Bog with Astrid and Fishlegs, telling the others to take Trader Johann back to Berk. At Breakneck Bog, they find Trader Johann’s ship stuck up in a tree and go up there, only for a number of creepy things to happen. These creepy things, however, are merely the other Riders of Berk playing tricks on them, as they ignored their orders and left Trader Johann stuck on that rock. Hiccup finds the chest he was looking or, but as they begin to depart, the fog monster described earlier turns out to be real and attacks them. They use their dragons in an effort to get away, but are quickly surrounded, so the dragons all use their wings to blow the fog away, revealing a bunch of tiny dragons underneath. They are Smothering Smokebreaths, and have been collecting metallic things and forging them to a constantly-growing pile of junk in their caves. After a strategic retreat, they use some metal to lure out the dragons while Hiccup goes into the cave to get the chest, and while they almost get caught, the Riders of Berk make it out of the cave and off of the island in one piece. Back at Berk, Trader Johann is none-too-happy about having been stranded, but is still grateful for being rescued. Hiccup and his father, however, have more important matters to deal with. The chest is opened and Hiccup finds a toy dragon – one that his mother made for him when he was a baby. Stoick tells him that he was so afraid of dragons as a baby that he threw it into the sea, and it was only by chance that it was fished up. Hiccup thanks him, as he was young when his mother died and was worried that he would one day forget her. While he may have been afraid of the toy once, he now loves it and loves dragons as well, and Stoick believes his mother would be very happy to know that.
While this show has attempted to grapple with more mature themes in the past, I believe this was the first episode to do it successfully. It was nice to see Hiccup acknowledge his departed mother, and while its impact was dampened by the writers’ skittishness to actually talk about it, they managed to infer to it in a way that still carried emotional weight. The scene where Astrid managed to reason with the other Riders of Berk was particularly powerful, as they all stopped in their tracks and agreed to help after considering just how much finding the chest meant to Hiccup. In the future I’d like to learn more about his mother and how she died, but I suspect that I’ll find my answers more in the movies than in any episode of the show.
This episode had plenty of other things going for it as well. It was an adventure episode that took place outside of Berk. I’ve said the show needed more episodes like that and I’m hoping that season two will deliver more. The episode also wasn’t short on comedy. I was greatly amused by the scene where Astrid angrily beat up on Tuffnut, causing Ruffnut to start beating up her brother as well just for the fun of it. I like those two and was disappointed when they barely showed up in “Twinsanity”, an episode named for them, but maybe they’ll get another episode next season. As for this season, we only have three episodes left and the show hasn’t really built up to anything. Hopefully, whatever plot they have planned for the finale is spread out well over these final few episodes.