Arkayna's Sacrifice

Last week's episode of Mysticons called "All Hail Necrafa" was a low blow for Princess Arkayna, the dragon mage leader of the Mysticons. The series has had an ongoing trend of episodes that end badly or unresolved, which is unusual for a princess show. This episode, in particular, ended on a huge cliffhanger with the most powerful villain in the show's universe freed from her dimensional prison. Queen Necrafa is a perfect example of how all queens seem to be evil in stories that center around princesses. There is a good queen in the show, but as is also common in princess tales, Arkayna loses her parents in the first episode and is forced to fend for herself. All is not lost, however, as they were not dead, but merely placed under a spell that turned them to stone. Arkayna wishes to use the Codex to free them from this rocky prison, but the astromancers, who are supposed to be magical allies to the Mysticons, do not want her to risk using it before destroying the magical book because it contains the power to release Queen Necrafa.

At the beginning "All Hail Necrafa," Arkayna's friends help her come up with an elaborate scheme to take the Codex back from the astromancers and free her parents before ultimately destroying it. The plan almost works. Queen Goodfey's eyes and mouth are freed from the stone prison as she looks at her daughter and tells her "You know what you must do." The bad guys chase after them from every direction to take the Codex for themselves while this is happening, and Arkayna realizes that she won't have time to free her parents before they get to it. Oddly, stopping the spell instantly returns the queen's face to stone, dashing any hope Arkayna has of talking to her mother again. She almost manages to destroy the Codex in the nick of time but is blocked by the astromancers' ship, at which point it immediately falls into the hands of the enemy. To top things off, the statues of Arkayna's parents fall deep into the ocean where they may never be found again. "We've lost everything" sobs Arkayna as she watches her parents sink into the sea.

This is some pretty heavy stuff for a Nickelodeon cartoon. It was bad enough that Arkayna lost her parents in the first episode, but now she lost them twice. Murphy's law seems to be active in full force when she decides to do the right thing and fails horribly. The show seems to enjoy torturing here, which is one of the cons of being the hero in an action story. Princesses usually experience the love of their parents during their childhood, lose that love when they become teenagers, and find it again later with a romantic partner. Heroes lose everything they love and use their anger to make themselves stronger as they seek revenge. Arkayna is both a princess and a hero, which makes her fate uncertain. She may have underlying chemistry with Malvaron, but that doesn't mean there's a happy ending in store for her anytime soon. Will she ever see her parents again, or will her stepbrother Gawayne ruin Drake City by taking over the throne?

It seems like Arkayna may have to suffer through all the tropes of being a warrior princess even though she had the upbringing of a sheltered one. I hope this massive cliffhanger leads to a big payoff because right now, everything seems pretty hopeless. Arkayna has to learn to fend for herself without relying on her parents in order to become a capable leader, but at the same time, it's cruel to rip them away from her twice. Also, no one wants to see Gawayne stay king forever. "All Hail Necrafa" seems to be teaching kids the difficult lesson that not everything works out just because you want it to. Even the heartless Dreadbane learns that lesson at the end of the episode when Queen Necrafa double crosses him after he frees her, telling him that his feelings toward her are unrequited.

It's hard to say what will happen next in a princess show that does not rely on happy endings. Nickelodeon threw Arkayna a bone this week after her big sacrifice by dubbing it "Arkayna Week." They have several Arkyna-themed videos featured on their YouTube channel and posts devoted to the red-headed princess on their Facebook page. Though she came off as somewhat bland at the beginning of the show, it's hard not to feel something for her now after everything she's had to sacrifice.


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