I am skekTek, the Scientist! I am a master of life and death. I am a genius! I am a Lord of the Crystal! I... am... Skeksis!
SkekTek was the Skeksis' Scientist, and counterpart to urTih the Alchemist. Despite being reviled by his brethren for his physical weakness, skekTek proved fundamental to prolonging and strengthening the Skeksis Empire during the late Age of Division, having exploited the Solobes to create advanced technology, discovered the rejuvenating properties of essence and created the Garthim.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Personal relationships
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Gallery
- 6 References
- 7 External Links
Biography[edit | edit source]
Discovery of essence[edit | edit source]
SkekTek's main responsibilities lay in devising new ways to prolong the Skeksis' lives, given the task by the Emperor skekSo when their usual means of life extension with the Dark Crystal began to fail. He sought to provide the Dark Crystal with an alternative energy source, as it could no longer draw it from Thra itself. However, he nearly died when he accidentally polarized it into extracting his essence, saved by skekSil's intervention. SkekSil convinced skekTek to re-purpose his assumed failure into a means for the Skeksis to nourish themselves on extracted life energy. Revitalized, skekTek successfully used the Gelfling Mira to create a bowl full of essence, which restored the Emperor and many others before he bottled the last of it.
Blinding[edit | edit source]
Ordered to repair the machine when it overloaded from killing Mira, skekTek locked her remaining essence in a cabinet with a locksnake before leaving temporarily, only to return and find skekSil skulking within. The two smell Rian and Gurjin in the lab before skekTek gets into a violent confrontation with skekSil over him stealing the vial, which Rian exploited to steal it and escape. SkekTek reported this to the Emperor and that skekSil was to blame for stealing the vial, but skekSil twisted the story such that it seemed to be skekTek's fault that the Gelfling escaped with the vial in the first place. This resulted in skekTek being punished by having a peeper beetle gouge out his right eye, which he replaced with a bionic one which he admitted had better vision than his original. Despite his resentment of skekSil, he somewhat forgave him when skekSil gave skekTek a pair of Gruenak slaves to quickly repair the machine with.
Further research[edit | edit source]
Thanks to the Gruenaks' aid, skekTek repaired the machine while building chairs designed to restrain the Gelflings and extract their essence. While impressing the Emperor, skekTek was astonished at skekSo's insistence to extract essence from a large amount of Gelflings. Under duress, skekTek hypothesized that 50 Gelfling would be required each trine in order to maintain the Skeksis' immortality. After making upgrades to drain three Gelflings at once without damaging the Crystal, skekTek was allowed a seat at the banquet table. One night, when the Chamberlain returned from Stone-in-the-Wood, skekTek and the other Skeksis mocked skekSil's peachberry stench and forced him out of the banquet hall.
The next day, a mortally wounded skekMal the Hunter returned to the castle, with skekTek exhausting the essence stocks on skekSo's orders in a failed attempt to heal him. When Aughra allowed the Skeksis to take her essence to revive skekMal in return for the release the Gelflings they imprisoned, she attempted to reason with skekTek by reminding him of their past friendship. He reluctantly dismissed her pleas when he noticed the Emperor watching them, with skekMal seemingly dead after the process ran its course.
Creating the Garthim[edit | edit source]
When the Gelfling clans eventually united to form the Gelfling resistance, skekTek incorporated additional weapons to the Skeksis' armour and was eager to test them out in battle. However, skekSo mocked him and forced the Scientist to remain in the Castle while the other Skeksis attempted to kill the rebels, having been ordered to create an artificial army from Arathim corpses. SkekTek's attempts to reanimate the corpses with the Dark Crystal initially failed, so he decided to take advantage of the other Skeksis' absence to become intoxicated on essence and lavish himself on the throne. Playing at being Emperor and parroting many of the abuses directed at him, skekTek forced the Podlings to work faster than ever, physically abusing them when he was displeased with the food they brought. When skekMal awakened, skekTek informed the Hunter of the other Skeksis' location, only for the Hunter to call the Scientist a coward for not joining the fight. Infuriated by skekMal's insult, skekTek took out his pent up rage on the Gruenaks when they revolted, throwing one of them down the Castle shaft. SkekTek then managed to kill the other Gruenak by repeatedly cracking its skull with a piece of broken machinery. In a flash of inspiration, skekTek set to work fusing the Gruenak's strong muscle tissue with the Arathim carcass, integrating mechanical parts and Crystal energy to create the first Garthim.
Death[edit | edit source]
After the Garthim War, skekTek perfected the essence extraction using mirrors to direct the Dark Crystal's beams so that the drained victims would be reduced to mindless slaves instead of being destroyed. His other main achievement was the modification of Podling vocal chords to incorporate them into the Pod choir. Following the near extinction of the Gelflings, skekTek joined a political alliance consisting of himself, skekUng the Garthim Master and skekNa the Slave Master, one that successfully helped skekUng ascend to the Emperor's throne. Around this time, he began draining the essence of Podlings, but found it wasn't as powerful as Gelfling essence when it came to replenishment, as evidenced when skekUng drank a Podling's essence, only to discover it had temporary effects. He died when the Gelfling Kira, whom he was trying to drain of essence, summoned his laboratory animals to attack and force him down the volcanic shaft of the Castle where he was subsequently incinerated alongside his Mystic counterpart.
Other appearances[edit | edit source]
In the continuity established by Legends of the Dark Crystal, during the early period of the Garthim War, skekTek was blackmailed by skekLach the Collector into withholding essence from Emperor skekSo. He attempted to tell skekUng of skekLach's treachery by hand gestures. SkekUng did not understand what the Scientist was trying to say and advised him to keep quiet.
Personality and traits[edit | edit source]
Preeminent minds are never properly appreciated in their time.
SkekTek was a self-proclaimed genius and master of life and death, and arguably had more of a negative impact on Thra than any other single being in the planet's history. He had a genuine gift as both a scientist and an engineer, traits stemming from his obsessive personality and utter lack of moral inhibitions.  Among his achievements was the exploitation of Solobes as living batteries to power the Skeksis' machines.
His curiosity was so overpowering that he cared nothing for the feelings or lives of other beings, and readily incorporated cybernetic enhancements on himself in order to compensate for his lack of physical prowess. By the late Age of Division, his robotic augmentations included a bionic right eye and a mechanical arm and leg, the latter which lead to him later on in life walking with a very noticeable limp sometimes only to be aided with the help of a cane. He also replaced his jugular with a series of transparent tubes, which he used to monitor his own circulation.
Aware that he was the weakest among his kind, skekTek usually humbled himself before his comrades, while secretly hoping to win their respect through his projects. In truth, however, the others feared him because they understood nothing of his work, and were disturbed by his acts of self mutilation in pursuit of knowledge.
The abuse and mockery he received from his far stronger comrades left him with a persecution complex, as well as a violent temper. Unable to express his anger to the other Skeksis, skekTek vented it on the castle's servants. The only creature skekTek showed affection to was the Sidetic, which he referred to as a friend. To his fellow Skeksis, he typically expressed his frustration by peppering his utterances with overly technical jargon, which he knew his comrades would struggle to understand.
Like most of the other Skeksis, skekTek was sadistic, finding great amusement in seeing creatures far weaker than him like the Podlings and Gelflings being tortured. Despite this, he was also capable of realism and pragmatism, as he was the only other Skeksis apart from skekAyuk to recognize that the Crystal's failure to grant him and his cohorts life was due to them overusing its energies. He also initially disagreed with skekSo's plan to consume as much essence as possible, citing the fact that it would further throw Thra out of balance and cause the Darkening to spread faster.
Personal relationships[edit | edit source]
Aughra[edit | edit source]
– It did not have to end this way between us. We were friends once.
– Another world. Another time.
Aughra and skekTek
In his urSkek incarnation, skekTek had been a close friend of Aughra, having helped build her orrery in exchange for the secrets of Thra. His later betrayal left Aughra deeply embittered, and she derisively dismissed skekTek's power of thought as an attempt to re-decipher the confused knowledge inherited from his previous life. SkekTek partially regretted ending his friendship with Aughra, as she was the only immortal who shared his interest, but begrudgingly cut ties with her to maintain skekSo's favour. Despite his decision to turn against Aughra, skekTek still addressed her as "Mother Aughra", and admitted he was not particularly proud to be the one responsible for her death.
Sidetic[edit | edit source]
Kept in a wicker cage in the Chamber of Life, the Sidetic was the only creature skekTek treated with tenderness, calling it a "true friend". He trusted the creature enough to watch over a vial of essence he had hidden away in its cage, and comforted it with soothing words after it had been nearly throttled to death by skekSo.
Other Skeksis[edit | edit source]
SkekMal[edit | edit source]
Like the rest of the Skeksis, SkekTek was intimidated and repulsed by the Hunter for his savagery and threatening presence. Despite this, he examined skekMal after the latter came back to the castle after his encounter with the Archer. SkekTek tried to heal skekMal, but was powerless as the Hunter's injuries were too great to be healed. In a desperate attempt to save skekMal, the Scientist agreed to drain Aughra of her essence despite his past friendship with her, but even that seemed to fail. However, skekTek was shocked and frightened later when skekMal woke up alive and was mocked by the Hunter for his apparent cowardice, causing the frustrated Scientist to defend himself by revealing that he was forced to stay there.
SkekSil[edit | edit source]
SkekTek always distrusted skekSil, whom he defined as a "prevaricator" and a "liar". SkekSil himself recognized the Scientist's usefulness and stoked his ego by feigning interest in his work. After being framed by skekSil for failing to capture Rian and losing his eye as punishment, and despite the Chamberlain's gift of two Gruenak slaves as a compensation, skekTek developed a strong grudge against SkekSil and took every opportunity to join his comrades in publicly humiliating the Chamberlain, urging him mockingly to cleanse himself of peachberry stench and enthusiastically leading the charge to strip him of his robes after his failed bid to inherit skekSo's throne.
SkekSo[edit | edit source]
SkekTek respected skekSo, though the relationship was mostly one sided: while the Emperor was confident in skekTek's abilities to solve the Skeksis' problems, he still held little regard for the Scientist, mocking him for his loneliness, physical weakness and odd speech patterns. SkekTek was, nevertheless, one of the few Skeksis bold enough to reveal uncomfortable truths to the Emperor, such as the limitations of essence's life-giving properties and the catastrophic consequences overconsumption of essence would have on Thra. When alone, skekTek would go on tirades over the Emperor's disrespect and ingratitude, but never expressed his true feelings publicly. Nevertheless, he continued to try getting SkekSo's favor, even sacrificing his friendship with Aughra to remain on his good side.
SkekUng[edit | edit source]
SkekTek found common ground with skekUng in his dislike of both skekSil and skekZok, and loyally supported the Garthim-Master in his ambition to succeed SkekSo, and later during his reign as Emperor. Once he became Emperor, however, skekUng quickly lost his previous civility and accused the Scientist of being a fraud when the Podling essence skekTek had prepared for him failed to restore his youth. Resenting this insult, skekTek encouraged skekUng to allow him to drain Kira of her essence rather than kill her at once, secretly intending to withhold some of the elixir for himself, knowing that the new emperor was ignorant of the exact quantity of essence a Gelfling held.
SkekVar[edit | edit source]
You can swindle the Emperor and the others, but not me! I see through you.
Feeling intimidated by how much stronger skekVar was in comparison to himself, skekTek acted politely to the General, though this proved fruitless, as skekVar persisted in bullying the Scientist, derisively calling him a "weakling". While under the intoxicating effects of essence, skekTek was much less tolerant of skekVar's boorishness, defending himself when accused of swindling the General and using his essence-induced strength to intimidate his former tormentor by breaking his wrist. The only time the two got along was when they were given the opportunity to torture prisoners where skekTek would eagerly command skekVar to repeatedly zap the captive Gelfling with a cattle prod.
SkekZok[edit | edit source]
SkekTek was a perpetual victim of skekZok's disdain and abuse, with the latter dismissing him as a "mere Pod processor" and "self mutilating crank". The Ritual Master bragged about possessing a knife he saved for the sole purpose of skinning skekTek alive, and took a perverse joy out of mocking the Scientist during his blinding ritual. After skekUng became emperor, skekTek took his revenge by undermining the Ritual Master's authority, encouraging the new ruler to ignore skekZok's demands to have Kira immediately put to death.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
The character's pre-production notes described him as being an intellectual "Keith Moon pervert", with robes based on a wheel chair and an Italian futurist sculpture. Steve Whitmire, who originally performed and voiced the character, said in an interview that the Scientist's voice was based on that of Peter Lorre, and that his death cries were painful to emit, but that Henson insisted that he do repeated takes of them, an act Whitmire attributed to the director's sadistic "Ernie" side.
For the character's reintroduction in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Javier Grillo-Marxuach envisioned him as embodying the adage "Just because we can doesn't mean we should", labeling him a "creator with no conscience". Will Matthews elaborated that the Scientist is a unique character with no use for the magic which characterizes the world of Thra. Performer Olly Taylor sought to give the Scientist's walk a "sense of frantic motion". Mark Hamill, the voice of skekTek, praised Olly Taylor's performance and wished it hadn't been overdubbed. Once he had finished the dialogue, he did take after take of snarls, growls and grunts which left him exhausted.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "End. Begin. All the Same.". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "Nothing Is Simple Anymore". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "What Was Sundered & Undone". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The First Thing I Remember Is Fire". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "By Gelfling Hand...". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "Prophets Don't Know Everything". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
- 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.
- Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
- Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
- Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 42, ISBN 1683838211
- Lee, J. M. (2019), Heroes of the Resistance, Penguin Young Readers Licences, pp. 58-59, ISBN 978-0.593-09539-3
- Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 114, ISBN 1683838211
- Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- C. Finch, The Making of the Dark Crystal: Creating a Unique Film, Henry Holt & Co, 1983, pp. 44-45, ISBN 0-03-063332-X.
- Invader Zim (2010-06-08). "The Skeksis (one post from a messageboard thread)". Planet Irk. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- Report: Steve Whitmire Talks Muppets at Philly Comic Con, Toughpigs.com, May 7 2018
- Wallace, D. (2019), The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - Inside the Epic Return to Thra, Titan Books, pp. 86-87, ISBN 978-1-78909-387-2.
- Variety (July 19 2019), 'The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance' Comic-Con Hall H - Full Panel, Youtube (Accessed May 5 2020)