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SkekSil[1]

SkekSil was the Skeksis' Chamberlain, and counterpart to urSol the Chanter. He was the Chief Secretary of State, and thus next in line to the Skeksis' throne after Emperor skekSo. Despite his position, he was despised by the other Skeksis for his wheedling voice and underhanded nature.

Ultimately seeking to claim the Skeksis throne, the Chamberlain was the originator of the plan to harvest Gelflings for their essence, as well as being the first to propose the creation of the Garthim, leading to the collapse of the Alliance of the Crystal, the formation of the Gelfling resistance and the outbreak of the Garthim War.

After the death of skekSo, he was banished from the Castle of the Crystal after a failed succession dispute with skekUng. He attempted to regain his position by capturing Jen and Kira, the last Gelflings, but his efforts resulted in the two healing the Crystal and merging the Skeksis and urRu into the urSkeks.

He returned a century later during the Age of Power in pursuit of Thurma and Kensho, hoping to take the crystal shard they had stolen and use it to gain power over his comrades. He was eventually killed in Mithra after the Crystal was restored once again, and lived on with his urRu counterpart in spirit form within the Prism.

Personality and traitsEdit

MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm

SkekSil's signature whimper, emitted when in deep thought or to irritate rivals
Power of the Dark Crystal 05 Sana Takeda cover textless

SkekSil the Chamberlain

SkekSil was ambitious, arrogant, deceitful and treacherous, acting like a sycophant to the Emperor and feigning friendship to the Gelflings and the other Skeksis, while in truth serving only himself in order to secure, advance or regain his position. Unlike the other Skeksis, he rarely displayed overt aggression or exuded any kind of malicious intent, instead masking his true intentions behind a simple-minded, amiable persona which manifested itself in a unique speech pattern, often omitting definite articles, subject pronouns and third person singulars, as well as sometimes referring to himself and those he was in direct conversation with in the third person.

Cunning and manipulative, skekSil used half-truths and blatant lies in order to reach his goals, winning trust or laying the blame for his actions on others.[1] His arrogance and ambition could however cause him to underestimate adversaries he deemed his intellectual inferiors, displaying a misplaced confidence in his own physical strength and accepting challenges requiring brute force from stronger opponents.[2] Although not the strongest Skeksis, he was nevertheless a skilled combatant, being able to easily overpower a whole troop of Royal Guards.[3]

He shared his race's pathological fear of dying, calling death "unnatural" and a "cruel joke" that made a mockery of the Skeksis.[4] When someone stood between him and the power he sought or took his place, SkekSil would become enraged and drop any pretense of affability, acting aggressive and rash, being willing to murder his own kind, an act even his comrades condemned.[5] By the Age of Power, after being ostracized by his comrades for a second time, skekSil ceased his characteristic scheming and became much more combative and violent in pursuance of his goals, doing battle or outright murdering anyone who prevented him from obtaining the Shard.

SkekSil was the most articulate of the Skeksis in justifying their perceived superiority over the Gelfling, characterizing them as "weak" and desiring to be dominated,[6] as well as analogizing his own kind as being to the Gelfling what the Gelfling were to crawlies.[4] He was, nevertheless, not needlessly destructive, and could display some degree of pragmatism, being initially opposed to the wholesale harvesting of Gelfling for their essence, noting that "a wise shepherd does not cull [the] entire herd".[7] Despite not having been involved in the formation of the Alliance of the Crystal, skekSil was among the last Skeksis to promote it, seeing its preservation as vital to maintaining peace and order,[4] and only pushing for war against the Gelflings once diplomatic relations with them became unsalvageable.[8]

Biography Edit

Age of Resistance Edit

SkekSil & skekTek

SkekSil convinces skekTek to drain Gelflings of their essence

After receiving no rejuvenation from the Dark Crystal, skekSil advised skekTek to use its rays to extract the essence from other lifeforms and make an elixir from it. The Castle Guard Mira was selected for the experiment and subsequently had her essence drained and consumed by skekSil and his comrades. When the Skeksis realised that Rian witnessed their deed, skekSil assured Emperor skekSo that the Gelfling would not believe him.[6] SkekSil continued to curry the Emperor's favor, advising him to frame Rian for Mira's murder, undermining skekVar's suggestions for a more aggressive approach. He later infiltrated skekTek's laboratory to steal the remaining essence, but was discovered. In the ensuing argument, Rian and Gurjin took the vial and attempted to escape. Although Rian evaded capture, skekSil managed to detain Gurjin.[1]

SkekSil then thwarted skekTek's attempt to out him out for the vial's loss by weaving a tale of half-truths so that the Scientist would be punished instead, later giving him a pair of Gruenak slaves as compensation.[1] SkekSo gradually wearied of the Chamberlain's calls for moderation in harvesting Gelfling essence, and entrusted his former position to skekVar. In response, he recruited skekMal the Hunter to retrieve Rian and regain his position.[9] After promising to return Rian to skekMal once finished with him, skekSil destroyed the evidence of Mira's draining by drinking the contents of the stolen vial. On the way back to the Castle of the Crystal, skekSil attempted to deter Rian from escaping by justifying Mira's death and explaining that Rian could doom all Gelfling, before Rian was rescued and skekSil was forced to return on foot.[4]

A Single Piece Was Lost

SkekSil during the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood

Driven out of Stone-in-the-Wood village by the Gelflings, skekSil learned from skekAyuk the Gourmand that skekVar murdered All-Maudra Mayrin and was astonished that the Skeksis were actually jubilant of no longer needing to maintain appearances as they captured the Crystal Guards and took their essence.[10] However, later providing an Arathim corpse for skekTek's use in the creation of the Garthim, skekSil conducted a scheme to win skekVar's trust as he convinced the Emperor to attack the forming rebellion, while at the same time sabotaging skekVar's essence vials.[11] Though they were forced to retreat after the battle, skekSil's denial of essence to skekVar successfully weakened him to the point of suffering a humiliating defeat by Rian. Wounded and alone in retreat, skekSil secretly killed skekVar to regain his position as skekSo's counselor.[5]

Exile and Downfall Edit

Please, come to the castle. Please. Show them you want peace. Show them Gelfling will not harm us. Please, please, please...

skekSil attempting to deceive Jen
Trial by Stone

SkekSil and skekUng engage each other in Trial by Stone.

Several trine after the Garthim War, skekSil saw skekSo's final days as an opportunity to ascend to the throne but found opposition in skekVar's replacement, skekUng the Garthim Master. To bolster his position, he formed a political alliance consisting of skekEkt the Ornamentalist and skekOk the Scroll Keeper. During the Emperor's last days of life, skekSil constantly made reference to his executive position by bringing scrolls and administrative papers to the Emperor's death bed, despite knowing that skekSo was in no position to attend to them, and even attempted to grab the Scepter of Office from the unconscious, yet still living Emperor. After skekSo's funeral, skekSil briefly participated in a path-finding ritual with skekUng and skekZok the Ritual Master (the only other real contender for the throne) in order to pick out a successor. SkekSil impatiently rushed to the throne and took the Scepter in hand, but was stopped by skekUng, who challenged him to Trial by Stone.[2]

Chamberlain-and-Jen

SkekSil tempting Jen to accompany him to the Castle

He lost the ordeal, and was subsequently stripped of his robes and banished from the Castle. However, the Crystal summoned the other Skeksis to the Crystal Chamber, where it was revealed that a Gelfling, Jen, had survived the Garthim War. Sensing an opportunity, skekSil followed the Garthim sent to capture Jen, and rescued him and Kira, another survivor, from them. He later reached the two Gelflings in the houses of the old ones, and attempted to convince them to return to the Castle to make peace with the Skeksis. The two refused, and rushed off to the Castle. SkekSil managed to reach them in the catacombs, and tried to force them to come with him. In the ensuing struggle, the Chamberlain caused a cave-in to bury Jen, after the Gelfling had wounded his hand.[2]

SkekSil took Kira to the throne room, and handed her over to skekTek, who intended to drain her essence for the new Emperor skekUng. SkekSil was reinstated as Chamberlain, but soon found his position once again in peril, as skekUng angrily discovered that Jen had escaped from the rubble. When the Great Conjunction that would grant the Skeksis immortality came, and the escaped Gelflings were on the verge of healing the Dark Crystal, skekSil attempted to offer the two their freedom if they handed over the shard. The offer was rejected, and the Great Division was ultimately reversed with skekSil absorbed by urSol as they reverted to SilSol.[2]

Return Edit

Shard! Shard is power! Power to punish other Skeksis! Power to rule!

skekSil[12]
SkekSil riding Garthim

SkekSil controlling the Garthim after taking the Scepter of Office

A hundred trine later, during the Age of Power, skekSil re-emerged from the Crystal with the other remaining Skeksis after Thurma shattered it. He was immediately stripped and ostracized by his comrades, who blamed him for their past defeat. He followed Thurma and Kensho, who had taken possession of a shard of the Crystal, out of the Castle, hoping to retrieve the fragment and thus overthrow his rival skekUng.[13] When the two were separated, skekSil attempted to convince Thurma to hand over the shard, but was rebuffed.[14] He continued pursuing her until they reached an area filled with blighted creatures. SkekSil urged Thurma to use her flames to cleanse the land of the infection, hoping that her efforts would weaken her.[15] After doing so, Thurma was almost killed by the Chamberlain until Kensho intervened and knocked skekSil into a river.[16]

DeathEdit

Deaths of skekSil and urSol

The deaths of skekSil and urSol

SkekSil survived and shifted his attention to Jen, who was heading towards Thurma's home of Mithra with a train of Garthim and guards.[17] He overpowered Jen's guards and stole the Scepter of Office, thus enabling him to control the Garthim.[3] Now accompanied by an army of Garthim, he continued his pursuit of Thurma and Kensho, bathing in the Pool of Tears and thus gaining protection from Mithra's heat. In his hunt for the pair, his Garthim were destroyed by floating debris whilst traversing the Great Divide.[18] The Chamberlain later confronted the pair at the shaft connecting the world of Mithra with the Crystal, where he seriously wounded Kensho after the latter had thrown the shard into the shaft. When Thurma found the shard and used it to heal the Crystal, it shattered and its pieces were shot through the crevice. Enraptured by the sound of the flying shards, skekSil peered into the shaft and was torn apart by the fragments.[19]

In the PrismEdit

You are no monster. I know of monsters. Monsters are what those who reign call those they defeated. Tell me, Kensho, are you defeated?

skekSil[20][21]
Kensho, urSol & Kensho in the Prism

SkekSil taunting Kensho in the Prism

skekSil's spirit lived on in the Prism, along with his counterpart urSol. The two were encountered by Kensho, who felt burdened by his appointment as leader of the Gelfling Nation.[20] He ridiculed Kensho for his fatalism and dismissed him as a "living wound", noting how he had never fully recovered from the injury he had inflicted on him in Mithra, further fueling his despair by reminding him of how Thurma left him to be with her own people. His efforts were thwarted by urSol, who helped Kensho rekindle his hope for the future.[21]

Other appearances Edit

Trial by Fire

SkekSil engages skekLach in Trial by Fire.

In the continuity established by Legends of the Dark Crystal, skekLach the Collector became skekSo's most favoured follower during the Garthim War, causing skekSil to become consumed by jealousy, and sought to regain the Emperor's favour by finding any information that could compromise skekLach's reputation for loyalty. His first significant discovery was that the Collector was turning the Emperor against skekVar the General, telling him that, contrary to the General's claims, the crop of Gelfling essence was diminishing.[22] He enlisted the help of Gelfling slaves and small animals to spy on the Collector, and discovered that the essence shortage was due to skekLach secretly drinking it for himself. Later, the Chamberlain found Neffi, a Gelfling female, attempting to rescue Gelfling prisoners previously captured during the Battle of Namopo Valley.

He allowed her and the others to leave the Castle, telling them to remember that it was "skekLach" who freed them. During the Battle of Bah-Lem Valley shortly after, one of the escaped Gelflings was captured and, when asked who released him, identified skekLach as his rescuer. SkekSil took the opportunity to openly accuse the Collector of treason, and challenged him to Trial by Fire, demanding that the Collector admit his guilt should he lose. However, the Chamberlain lost the ordeal, as skekLach had been strengthened by his consumption of essence. Unable to accept his defeat, skekSil continued to press his accusations, until silenced by the Emperor, who ordered him to enjoy the victory celebrations, or face the consequences.[23]

Personal relationshipsEdit

SkekSo Edit

You talk too much. Talk, talk, talk! We rot while you chatter!

skekSo[7]
SkekSil & skekSo

SkekSil being berated by skekSo

SkekSil claimed to live solely to serve skekSo[8] when, in truth, his servility was purely selfish, as he admitted to craving power,[4] and would later mockingly smile at the Emperor on his deathbed.[24] He was alone among the Skeksis in being able to calm the Emperor during his exhausting outbursts, offering comfort or suggesting amusements to distract him.[1] However, after Rian's escape, skekSil was taken aback by skekSo's impatience with his plan to discredit the fugitive's story, being reduced to begging for forgiveness and completely losing his composure when demoted.[7]

SkekTek Edit

SkekSil recognized the value of skekTek's projects, and typically left him alone unless requiring his services,[25] stoking his ego by feigning interest in his work.[6] The scientist himself always distrusted skekSil, whom he defined as a "prevaricator" and a "liar".[1] After the Chamberlain framed the Scientist for failing to capture Rian and losing his eye as punishment, skekTek took every opportunity to join his comrades in publicly humiliating the skekSil, urging him mockingly to cleanse himself of peach berry stench[10] and enthusiastically leading the charge to strip him of his robes after his failed bid to inherit skekSo's throne.[24]Nevertheless SkekSil still tried to ease their relation by giving SkeTek two Gruenak slaves as a compensation for the loss of his eye, asking SkekTek if they were friends after that, though this was also part of his plans as the Gruenak were secretly working for him in exchange of a promise of freedom.

SkekUng Edit

You whimpering worm!

skekUng[24]
After skekSo's death, skekUng became skekSil's bitterest rival, as he was of high enough rank to legitimately challenge his claim to the throne. He would take advantage of the Garthim-Master's short temper by humming loudly to himself, a sound he knew irritated him.[24] However, he severely underestimated his rival, to the point of choosing a Trial by Stone to settle the succession dispute, an ordeal requiring physical strength rather than intelligence.[2] Nevertheless, he had enough sense to show obeisance to skekUng after he had ascended the throne, bowing to him and referring to him by his royal title.[24]

SkekVar Edit

You only dare flap your beak because you sit at the Emperor's side. Let us see if your talons are half as fearsome as your tongue!

skekVar[7]
The Chamberlain openly despised the General, considering him a reckless, thick-headed warmonger whose thirst for battle put the stability afforded by the Alliance of the Crystal at risk. The pair were further at odds when it came to processing Gelfling essence, with skekSil advocating a sustainable harvest, as opposed to draining all Gelfling immediately. As such, skekSil enjoyed baiting the General at every opportunity, questioning his courage[7] and undermining him in front of the Emperor.[1] After the General had taken his place as the Emperor's closest adviser, skekSil swore revenge, using his superior intelligence to deprive skekVar of essence[11] and manipulate him into trusting him,[8] eventually murdering him in secret.[5]

SkekZok Edit

SkekSil was wary of skekZok's constitutional claim to the throne after skekSo's death, but did not fear him, erroneously believing that the Ritual-Master lacked ambition and was content in his role as high priest.[2] He cared little for skekZok's obsession with protocol, and insulted him to his face when the Ritual-Master attempted to stop him from seizing the Scepter of Office without the proper ceremonies being observed.[24]

SkekAyuk Edit

Like the rest of the Skeksis, skekSil thought little of skekAyuk, viewing him as too cowardly and slothful to be a potential threat.[2] He was also disgusted by skekAyuk's lack of manners, such as urinating in public,[10] and his pragmatism often clashed with the Gourmand's gluttony and lack of restraint, such as when skekAyuk supported the idea of draining all Gelfling of their essence and viewed the Chamberlain's moderation as meekness.[7]

Behind the scenes Edit

The Dark Crystal Edit

The World of the Dark Crystal (PBS) - Lyle Conway & skekSil

Lyle Conway with skekSil's animatronic head

The character was a creation of Frank Oz, who introduced him as "Mal" in his 1978 outline, which expanded on the villains of Jim Henson's draft story The Crystal. Mal was described as resenting the rise of Mongra (the precursor to skekUng) as emperor, and set off to search for an enchanted key which would give him the right to claim the throne. As in the final cut, Mal would engage in a trial of strength with his rival, only to lose and be stripped.[26] In David Odell's later modification, he was assigned the role of chamberlain.[27]

SkekSil's pre-production notes described him as representing the sin of envy, and as resembling a combination of Miss Havisham and King Lear. His robes were to be evocative of a stuffed, upholstered chair with hand-carved animal parts like lion and griffin paws.[28] His scepter was based on a mandala.[29]

Being the original film's primary antagonist, the Chamberlain puppet was technically the most complex Skeksis, having 21 electronic components and requiring four people to operate, in contrast to the other Skeksis which needed only two. At the time, it was considered the most advanced puppet in cinematic history, with its eyes, brows, beak and hands articulated by pneumatic devices.[30] Frank Oz, who performed the Chamberlain, declared in an interview that he had a soft spot for the character, describing him as a villain who would murder his own mother with a smile, a facial expression he insisted be incorporated on the character's design.[31]

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Edit

Warrick Brownlow-Pike SkekSil

Warrick Brownlow-Pike between takes

As with his debut decades earlier, skekSil's puppet in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was the most mechanically elaborate of the Skeksis, with lead animatronics controller John Criswell incorporating numerous electronic components to the character's head. For full-body shots, the head was placed on a mechanical neck, thus reducing the need for numerous puppeteers and allowing the facial expressions to be operated off-camera.[32]

The Chamberlain's robes were recreated after a careful examination of reference documents and the original skekSil puppet displayed at the LA Creature Shop, with Toby Froud identifying over thirty different materials necessary to accurately recreate the costume. Warrick Brownlow-Pike, who puppeteered the character, sought to incorporate snaky, chicken-like movements in his performance, with a particular emphasis on how the character tilted his head.[32]

Gallery Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "Nothing Is Simple Anymore". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
  3. 3.0 3.1 Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #8, Archaia, USA, October 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "She Knows All the Secrets". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "End. Begin. All the Same.". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "The First Thing I Remember Is Fire". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  9. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "What Was Sundered and Undone". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "By Gelfling Hand...". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  11. 11.0 11.1 Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "Prophets Don't Know Everything". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  12. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #11, Archaia, USA, February 2018
  13. Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #3, Archaia, USA, May 2017
  14. Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #4, Archaia, USA, June 2017
  15. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #5, Archaia, USA, July 2017
  16. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #6, Archaia, USA, August 2017
  17. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #7, Archaia, USA, September 2017
  18. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #10, Archaia, USA, January 2018
  19. Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #12, Archaia, USA, March 2018
  20. 20.0 20.1 Smith, A., Beneath the Dark Crystal, #6, Archaia, USA, January 2019
  21. 21.0 21.1 Smith, A., Beneath the Dark Crystal, #7, Archaia, USA, February 2019
  22. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
  23. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
  25. Lee, J. M. (2019), Heroes of the Resistance, Penguin Young Readers Licences, pp. 58-59, ISBN 978-0.593-09539-3
  26. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 35, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  27. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 47, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  28. "Skeksis notes", Habidabad.com, archived on Wayback Machine, accessed 23 January, 2020
  29. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 123, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  30. C. Finch, The Making of the Dark Crystal: Creating a Unique Film, Henry Holt & Co, 1983, pp. 44-45, ISBN 0-03-063332-X.
  31. D. Snow, "The world beyond the Muppets". You: The Mail on Sunday Magazine. 28 novembre 1982:10-14.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Wallace, D. (2019), The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - Inside the Epic Return to Thra, Titan Books, p. 85, ISBN 978-1-78909-387-2.

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