High Hopes and Misgivings for 'GenLOCK' and 'The Dragon Prince'

It's time for Austin, Natalie, Patrick, and Rob to return to the secret origins of Waypoints: a chance to talk about animated TV shows. This week finds the gang catching up on The Dragon Prince at great length, and wrestling with some of their misgiving's about the morality the show is beginning to articulate, and the plot arcs that are unfolding at a breakneck pace. But first, they return to Rooster Teeth's GenLOCK, to discuss the end of its first season, and what the show has revealed itself to be about. Are they just cool robots, or something more?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/zma9zy/high-hopes-and-misgivings-for-genlock-and-the-dragon-prince

I’m really glad they revisited gen:LOCK! I really enjoyed that show a whole lot but yeah, I totally agree with all their criticism about how there was just barely any work done to flesh out or explain the world and the factions. I feel like the only reason I knew that The Union is actually evil is because there’s one episode description that says something along the lines of ‘they’re fascists and they’re invading/taking over everything!’

And I just wanna say I really love Val. They’re such a great character and as someone who is nonbinary it’s fantastic to see some actually really well done representation. I’ve rewatched the scene from episode 4 of them in the VR internet talking about it probably five or six times and I might have teared up once or twice because gosh it’s just so good.

Also I just got the part of the Dragon Prince discussion where they’re talking about whose bedroom the mirror is in and Cado’s hysterical laughter in the background is giving me life. I love Waypoint.


They do explain why the Union invaded at one point. When the Doctor and the lady general are talking she mentions that the Union found out he was building new more powerful mechs and thats why they invaded.

I want to watch GenLOCK just like I want to watch Doom Patrol but have no desire to sign up for another streaming service just for 1 series. I’d actually be more likely to sign up for VRV if their Firestick App worked at all.

My 7 year old keeps asking if the new episodes of Dragon Prince are out and that’s pretty cool.

With the Dragon Prince we have Callum who wants to be powerful and special amongst humans and we have Ez who is actually and naturally powerful and special amongst humans and I am wondering if the show is going to eventually have an antagonism between them.


Dragon Prince Season 2 spoilers:

Given that the brothers are physically split up at the end of the season, I have to imagine we will see some emotional distance and conflict develop between them. Will it get to a point like the previous King and Viren, I don’t know, but the relationship between Callum and Ezran has been a little too smooth so far.


Went back to the ether in ep 4 of gen:LOCK to see Julians sister and you can actually hear her saying his name. It’s the shot of her up close she says ‘Julian’ and then the wide shot of her looking at his back. Followed immediately by me sobbing. This is the proof I needed to not trust that shady ass rich guy.

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i really liked gen:lock especially allot of the mech/vehicle designs from both factions.

i love the union spider tanks, they really remind me of the monkey lord from Supreme Commander


I really enjoyed gen:LOCK for the character writing and performances but I definitely agree with the Waypoint crew that it was poorer for the lack of worldbuilding and faction development, particularly for the Union. Reading a bit on the wiki there is very clearly ideology and politics laid out for the factions (and the show as a whole) and it’s a bit disappointing we don’t really get that conveyed through anything besides aesthetic and allusion.

Though I think their canonically calling the Polity-Union conflict the “Global Culture War” might be both a bit on the nose and extremely :thinking:

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In Last Airbender there is an abruptness to how characters develop aspects of their character. In particular when someone develops their bending.
It is weird because the transition from seeing the thing to doing the thing is seamless for the protagonists in the show and this would be extremely notable irl. But it is never acknowledged that the protagonists never have internalise new skills on screen.
And I cannot parse what it means.

So when Callum, and to a lesser extent Ezran, develop their powers in just this way I am not sure I read that to mean they’re even more special. Because I don’t understand if I supposed to suspend disbelief.

Another thing I’ve thought about a little bit is that Aavaros (who narrates the prologue in episode 1 season 1 apparently???) has at least one arcanum he wasn’t born with as a startouch elf. He had to learn the primal arcanum somehow.
So where does the idea that arcanum cannot be learned come from? People in the world, at least Raylas master and the Dragon King were aware of Aavaros. So certainly some people in the world know arcanum can be gained and they are not spreading that around.
So like, what Callum did is special in that his success is the confluence of potential, training, and most importantly trying at all. Compared to someone like Claudia, who has training in using the primal arcanum, maybe potential to learn it, but would never try, because she knows it is impossible.
That would be a pleasing way to not meet the expectation Callum has got special potential to gain every arcanum.

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thoughts on soren and claudia? I get the ‘want to make dad happy and proud’ bit but soren, my guy, you straight up tried to murder a child and make it look like an accident his goofiness + his actions is a real tonal combo that doesn’t quite work for me

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I’ve been looking forward to hearing Rob talk about LOGH: Die Neue These for a while now. My memory of the original is pretty bad, but I was really put off by this new one from the very start with them deciding to have the first episode be all Reinhard and the second all Yang, covering the same timeframe. The original was somewhere around 100 episodes long and it felt like this one was considerably slower in a way that actually detracts from the story.

CG spaceships aren’t as bad as all CG mecha, at least.

you might want to add something to this post that isn’t hidden by the spoiler tag because right now its spoiler russian roulette.

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Howdy, I’m the new quote poster maker on this here forum

[image: two quote posters of in front of a flower. One says “Maybe we should be more skeptical of wasps in general. Austin Walker, Editor-in-Chief at Waypoint.” The other says “Wasps attack. Are wasps pollinating? I don’t think so. I’m not sure. Don’t ask me. I really don’t know the answer to this question. Someone let me know. Maybe a bug scientist. Natalie Watson, Livestream Producer at Waypoint.”]


With regards to Rob’s question of why and how anime airing around the 80s and 90s often had clearly higher production values than ones created today, there was an ANN Answerman column recently hitting on this exact topic.

Anime was one of those dumb investments in the '80s. Toy companies launched new lines of toys with break-neck speed, each one with an accompanying anime they’d sponsor – the content of the show almost didn’t matter. (“You want to make a dark, dystopian series with heavy environmentalist themes? Sure, just show our robots a lot!”) Giant feature films, like the aforementioned Honneamise, or Akira, got greenlit without any real idea how they’d make their money back. (And many of them didn’t.) Keep in mind, this was the era when almost nobody outside of Japan knew or cared about this stuff.

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I love hearing Cado in the background. He is the perfect chorus to the Waypoint show.

Edit: #notalldinasours


With Ezran already being special I’m not sure the show is going to shy away from just making people special.


A couple quick things on gen:LOCK because I am way too deep into that show anyway, behind spoilers but not actually that spoiler-y:

  1. The full name of the Union is “The Union of the Fourth Turning”. Which only got revealed in some promo material before the show launched - like the Union’s “takeover” of the Rooster Teeth twitter in January, see below:

  2. The use of “Fourth Turning” is a reference - and Gray Haddock has confirmed this in interviews - to Strauss-Howe Generational Theory (wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss–Howe_generational_theory ). He hasn’t expanded on the Union’s beliefs much, but the gist of the theory is that human generations follow cycles with prevailing views and you can best understand future events through understanding past cycles/generations (and where you are in the current cycle). The cycles follow “Highs,” “Awakenings,” “Unravelings,” and “Crises” - each of which (in that order) is a numbered “Turning,” from first through fourth.

  3. Again, summarising that theory, the Fourth Turning/Crisis part of the cycle is believed to be the time in generational cycles when old institutions and ways of life are destroyed and rebuilt, usually around perceived existential threats.

  4. Rooster Teeth has kind of generally said this is a conflict between individuality/freedom/representation and monoculture/authoritarianism.

  5. The metaphorical removal of agency/identity present in the Union’s presentation is also significant. For example, the obscuring masks/helmets of Union soldiers vs. the Polity’s open face helmets, the spider tanks lacking the obvious cockpits of the Polity’s striders, the implied oppression represented by e.g. Val/entina’s staunch hatred of the Union given her identity, etc.

With those points in mind, and the Union being explicitly “The Union of the Fourth Turning Republics”, a bit of reading between the lines can lead to a few things. First, since the Polity seems to have controlled most of the world before the war kicked off, we can probably presume that the multicultural, generally accepting and diverse cast we’ve seen is intended to be representative of the Polity’s institutions and approaches to the world. Second, with the Union explicitly identifying with “the Fourth Turning,” Crisis, and actively working to destroy the Polity and its institutions, it’s safe to say they oppose those values (or at least, have a very different take on them). Again, a couple of Val/entina lines hint that non-binary and possibly LGBT people in general are not accepted in the Union (but don’t say it explicitly).

The lack of identity being presented by Union soldiers and gear - and even, in a sense, the suggestion in the final episode that there are many more copies of Nemesis-Chase - also contributes here. One read of this is that it’s a critique of collectivism/communism or something else similar. But another, more interesting one would be that it’s a critique of assimilationist or supremacist ideologies in society. Gray Haddock has explicitly said that the show comes from his desire to:

I try to tell stories that reflects the natural diversity I see everywhere. To hold a mirror to that is becoming distasteful in aspects of western culture, and I’m not happy about that. gen:LOCK has to be a fun show to watch, if you go too soap boxy you risk not being able to connect with an audience. But I want to tell stories through example. That’s what gen:LOCK allows me to do.

Given that that’s where the creator is coming from… the Union as an authoritarian, supremacist, “Western” force that wants to strip away individuality and difference seems like the angle they’re going for?

All that said: I completely agree with the podcast’s critique that this should be in the text of the show. And I really hope it comes out in Season 2 and later seasons if we get more. But as a fan, that’s what I’ve been able to piece together about the setting.


RE: dinosaur noises.


The Dragon Prince criticism is really strong - I can’t speak as much to genLock because I only watched the first episode and did not enjoy it. I’m hopeful the season in Xadia will make more emotional sense! I appreciate that in Season 2 they stepped away from my original criticism that it was a little like watching a Hieron-inspired show where every character was also Sokka from The Last Airbender.

I think the fantasy they’ve set up is genuinely interesting. Unfortunately, I think in Callum and Viren we have two of the least interesting possible points of view into that setting. Season 3 sets up opportunity for Ezran’s solo perspective - hopefully he isn’t reduced to an Amaya style aside.