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Dragons: Riders of Berk – “Animal House” Recap

by on September 7, 2012

In their mission to domesticate the dragons and incorporate them into regular society, Hiccup and his friends have made tremendous progress. However, nobody bothered to get the farm animals’ opinions on the matter, as no matter how friendly the dragons appear to humans, the animals are terribly afraid of them. So afraid that during their morning routine, Bucket and Mulch discover that they are no longer able to produce eggs and milk. Elsewhere, Astrid and Hiccup are playing with their dragons on a mountain, only for a series of events to result in an avalanche that buries them alive. Much to their surprise, the dragons formed a shield to protect them from the snow. They return to Berk in order to tell their tale, only for Bucket’s bucket, which he wears on his head due to an injury, to tighten up on him and indicate that a terrible storm is coming. With the farm animals not producing, Stoick realizes that the vikings are ill-equipped to survive the storm, so he assigns Hiccup and his friends at the Dragon Training Academy to solve the differences between the animals and the dragons and to make them comfortable with one another. Unfortunately none of his plans work, and when the storm hits the animals run off into the blizzard. Hiccup and his friends rally their dragons and set out after them, causing Gobber and Stoick to chase after them. Soon, all of the animals, dragons and humans all find themselves together, but are lost in the storm and starting to freeze. Remembering what happened earlier, Toothless encourages the dragons to form a shield around the humans, and with some encouragement, the farm animals see the dragons’ protective instincts and make their way into the shield as well. All return to Berk happy, having survived the storm, and the farm animals begin producing their yields again.

I have said that this is arguably the best of the three currently running DreamWorks cartoons, and I stand by that, but I’m worried that nobody is going to stick around to see the show reach its full potential because it keeps dealing with mundane plots. I liked how these were done in the first and second episodes, but the charm just isn’t there after three episodes. Yes, this is something that would realistically happen if dragons were suddenly semi-domesticated, but did the show really need to devote one of its limited number of episodes to it? I don’t think so. If they never addressed the issue of the farm animals at all, I’m not convinced that anybody would have noticed. That said, I did enjoy this episode. Bucket has proved himself to be a very amusing character over these three episodes, even though his ailment is no laughing matter – it’s wounds from a dragon that causes his memory loss – but I really like what they’ve done with him.

The only thing that I don’t get is the state of Astrid and Hiccup’s relationship. They kissed in the movie. The fact that they like one another was well established. But twice in this episode – once when they were by themselves and once when they were in front of their friends – they freaked out and became skiddish about hugging one another and relying on each other for warmth. That doesn’t make sense to me. So far, the show seems to pick some things from the movie to remember, but picks some things to forget. When they said that the show was going to be canon, I assumed that it would be as faithful as possible to the entire movie, but I digress. Hopefully they’ll shake off their nerves and go steady properly before much longer. This episode also had some good scenes with the dragons, with Toothless regaining a bit of his adorable nature that was seemingly absent from the first two episodes. Most people watching the show want to see Toothless, so hopefully we’ll get a whole lot more of him in the coming weeks. I just hope future episodes have some more interesting conflicts.

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