Drawing on the sinister force that flows from the Dark Crystal, the Ritual Master can create false apparitions. He has the ear of the Emperor and provides prophecies to the Skeksis Empire.
The Evil Skeksis, Excerpted from a Gelfling journal
Entry Date: Rosunday, 14th Moon, 96 Years A.G.C.
SkekZok was the Skeksis' Ritual Master, and counterpart to urZah the Ritual Guardian. He was in charge of leading all ceremonial occasions, and was third in line to the Skeksis' throne after the death of skekSo. He was also commander of the Crystal Bats, through which he maintained a vast surveillance network throughout Thra.
Biography[edit | edit source]
SkekZok was particularly fearful when the Crystal failed to emit its rejuvenating energies, going so far as to say they would all die if nothing was done. He attended skekTek's demonstration of the use of essence to restore youth, and was the first to notice Rian, who had witnessed the deed.
After the incriminating essence vial was stolen, skekZok supported punishments first for skekSil and then for skekTek when it became apparent that the latter would bare responsibility, and greatly appreciated skekSil's suggestion of using a Peeper beetle as a castigation. He personally escorted skekTek out and, after performing the ritual preceding the punishment itself, assured skekTek that his pain would be brief.
When Aughra arrived at the Castle of the Crystal to inspect the Crystal, skekZok lied to her, declaring that both the Crystal and Thra were thriving. At the welcome banquet for skekEkt, skekZok was among the most vocal in demanding more essence.
SkekZok was subsequently sent to assist General skekVar in choosing Vapra Gelfling to drain for essence. Meeting with All-Maudra Mayrin, they lied that the Arathim were rebelling and needed seven volunteers from each clan to combat them. While there, skekZok was unimpressed with skekVar's brutish behavior as the General ate unamoth chrysalises in front of the All-Maudra and then killed her later, prompting skekZok to appoint Seladon as the new All-Maudra to mitigate the damage.
When Rian and Lore stopped his carriage and freed the captive Gelfling, skekZok provoked Lore into attacking, causing him to lose his composure and praise skekVar for initiating a hasty retreat. Later, when skekMal was believed to be dead, skekZok expressed confusion when ordered by skekSo to organize his funeral, as there was no such ritual, there having been no deaths among the Skeksis since the passing of skekHak and skekYi 1,000 trine earlier.
When the Gelfling resistance was proclaimed, skekZok wore new armor with extra weapons and departed for Stone-in-the-Wood to support skekSo in destroying the Gelfling rebellion. Once Rian bested skekVar in single combat, skekZok hurled insults towards skekVar for refusing to carry on fighting. In the ensuing Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood, skekZok cheered for skekMal when the hunter prepared to kill Rian, but retreated to the castle once skekMal and skekLach were killed and all seven Gelfling clans along with the Arathim swarm arrived at the battlefield. Back at the castle, realizing they had lost three Skeksis in one day and that all of Thra was now against them, skekZok announced they were certainly doomed, until skekTek revealed his latest invention, the obedient soldier called the Garthim.
Post-Garthim War[edit | edit source]
After the death of skekSo, skekZok abstained from participating in the subsequent Trial by Stone which lead to the ascension of the Garthim Master skekUng and the banishment of Chamberlain skekSil. This was however a political calculation, as the Ritual Master knew he could not match the Garthim Master's brute strength or the Chamberlain's constitutional claim. Although he feigned loyalty to skekUng, he took every opportunity to passively undermine the new Emperor's authority. When skekUng's Garthim failed to capture the Gelfling Jen, skekZok took charge of the situation and summoned his Crystal Bats to seek him out. When the banished skekSil returned to the Castle of the Crystal with Kira, skekZok insisted on her immediate execution, while skekUng ordered her to be drained of essence first. SkekZok later began to plot with skekShod to overthrow skekUng, but the plan was never realized. As the third Great Conjunction, which would have granted the Skeksis eternal life, approached, the escaped Gelflings were discovered in the Crystal Chamber, wielding the shard. In the ensuing struggle, skekZok fatally wounded Kira with his ritual dagger, effectively sealing the Skeksis' fate, as the grief-stricken Jen used the shard to heal the Crystal and reverse the Great Division.
He was revived a century later alongside his seven other comrades and urRu counterparts after the Fireling Thurma took a shard from the Crystal in a misguided quest to restore her homeland's dying Mother Sun. He reclaimed his scepter from the Crystalline Eminence and summoned the Crystal Bats to attack and drive away skekSil, whom he and the others blamed for their past defeat. He briefly fought against the Crystal Guards, but was interrupted by Jen, who took control of the Garthim and had the Skeksis incarcerated. He was eventually released by the Crystalline Eminence, who was under the darkened Crystal's control. When Thurma returned with the Shard upon realizing the error of her ways, skekZok was once again merged with his urRu other after she healed the Crystal.
Personality and traits[edit | edit source]
SkekZok claimed to care little for politics outside of its ceremonial aspects, and succeeded in convincing his higher ranking comrades that he had no ambition outside of his role as high priest. Nevertheless, he fancied himself as Emperor skekSo's closest adviser, and sought to control the other Skeksis through false prophecies and apparitions, only to discover that they distrusted his divinations and practiced their own. Despite his claims to be above secular pettiness, he was overall a vain individual who lavished himself with rejuvenating creams and decked his robes with gold, believing it conferred upon him the regal power he thought was rightfully his.
Despite his arrogance, he was ultimately a cowardly individual, being terrified of Lore and the first Skeksis to suggest retreating during the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood. He was also aware that, lacking the physical strength of higher ranking comrades like skekSil and skekUng, he could not hope to beat them in a trial of strength. He thus became skilled at dissimulation, and was not above twisting rules to suit his own agenda: he would spy on his comrades' plots and withhold the information from skekSo, preferring instead to use his knowledge for his own personal gain. During the brief reign of skekUng, he skillfully managed to nurture discontent among the Skeksis without openly questioning the former Garthim Master's authority.
Enamored with pomp and ceremony, he saw any event favorable to the Skeksis as an opportunity to invent a new ritual. He was equally enthusiastic in dispensing punishments, boasting that he had a knife reserved for the sole purpose of skinning skekTek alive and taunted him when he was subjected to the Peeper beetle. Like skekOk, he behaved much more diplomatically than other Skeksis like skekVar or skekLach when in the presence of Gelfling allies, disapproving of his less cultured comrade's disregard for etiquette. He nevertheless had a rather sharp tongue, and was prone to making sarcastic comments to comrades who failed in their missions or deviated from established plans. After tasting Gelfling essence, he became much less guarded when a new batch was imminent, uncharacteristically licking his lips in full view of his unsuspecting victims.
SkekZok was the most zealous of the Skeksis, viewing their laws and rules as absolute and immutable, declaring any deviation to be blasphemy. His religious beliefs hinged largely on the dogma of Skeksis immortality, to the point where he had never seen the need to invent a funerary ritual, and was quick to denounce anyone who spoke openly about the possibility of a Skeksis dying as a blasphemer. After the death of skekSo, skekZok's faith was shaken, and he thus became less jovial and more single minded in his quest to exterminate the Gelfling, demanding their immediate destruction rather than harvesting them for their essence, and even set aside his spiritual convictions in order to claim the Skeksis' throne.
Personal relationships[edit | edit source]
SkekShod[edit | edit source]
While initially the two were divided in supporting skekSo as Emperor, skekShod had become a firm ally of skekZok by the late Age of Division, supporting skekZok's bid for the throne, then plotting with him to depose skekUng.
SkekSo[edit | edit source]
SkekZok was on good terms with skekSo, though he mistakenly believed that the Emperor favored his advice above that of all others. He was among the first Skeksis to fully support skekSo's ascension as Emperor, and would warn him of potential rivals.
SkekTek[edit | edit source]
SkekZok seemed to genuinely detest the Scientist, calling him a "self mutilating crank" and a "mere Pod processor". 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.
SkekUng[edit | edit source]
While respecting skekUng's prowess in battle, he held little regard for him as Emperor, being disgusted at his lack of etiquette, table manners and sense of urgency in immediately killing off the Gelfling. Realizing that he was no match for him physically, skekZok expressed his insubordination by discretely undermining skekUng's authority, taking charge whenever the new Emperor lost his temper and sowing discontent among the other Skeksis.
SkekVar[edit | edit source]
SkekZok's relationship with skekVar was complex from the beginning. He warned skekSo of the then Ambassador's popularity among the others, and had trouble adjusting to skekVar being his superior, questioning his decisions only to relent when threatened. By the late Age of Division, the two had found common ground in their desire for an unlimited harvest of Gelfling and their mutual inability to distinguish individual Gelfling from each other. He was, however, irritated by skekVar's impulsiveness and lack of decorum.
SkekAyuk[edit | edit source]
Like most of the other Skeksis SkekZok did not think highly of SkekAyuk, thinking of him as too slothful and submissive to be a political threat. He was also disgusted with SkekAyuk's gluttony and glared at him when the Gourmand weakly suggested to not use all of the essence available to heal SkekMal, causing him to shut-up.
Despite this the two were political allies as SkekAyuk supported SkekZok in his bid to become emperor after SkekSo's death, though he easily submitted to SkekUng after the General became the new emperor and did not take part in SkekZok and SkekShod's scheme to depose SkekUng.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
The character's pre-production notes described him as being influenced by Rasputin, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Bishop Sheen and Eric von Stroheim, and of having robes and relics evocative of those seen in the Soviet film Ivan the Terrible and the Russian opera Boris Godunov. Froud incorporated a helm with a broken circle on the character, to emphasize the ritual master's fractured view of the world. His robes were made with gold thread and were inspired by ecclesiastical capes.
The Ritual Master puppet in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was the largest of the Skeksis puppets, with Victor Yerrid needing an interior support pole to maintain control over the character's head movements.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- The Dark Crystal Author Quest: The Gelfling Gathering, The Jim Henson Company (2013)
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
- 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 and Undone". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The First Thing I Remember Is Fire". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "She Knows All the Secrets". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- / Age of Resistance – "By Gelfling Hand...". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #3, Archaia, USA, May 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #8, Archaia, USA, October 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #12, Archaia, USA, March 2018
- Age of Resistance – Lee, J.M.., Heroes of the Resistance, Penguin Young Readers Licences, November 12, 2019, p.60, ISBN 978-0.593-09539-3.
- The Dark Crystal – Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J.., The World of the Dark Crystal, Pavilion Books, September 12, 1982, ISBN 1-86205-624-2.
- Age of Resistance – "Prophets Don't Know Everything". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- B. Froud, M. Dow Smith, A. Sheikman & L. John (2015). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. III. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-60886-435-5.
- Age of Resistance – "Time to Make...My Move". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Invader Zim (2010-06-08). "The Skeksis (one post from a messageboard thread)". Planet Irk. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
- The Dark Crystal – Gaines, C.., The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, September 19, 2017, p.123, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
- C. Finch, The Making of the Dark Crystal: Creating a Unique Film, Henry Holt & Co, 1983, pp. 46-47, ISBN 0-03-063332-X.
- Age of Resistance – Wallace, D.., Inside the Epic Return to Thra, Titan Books, November 5, 2019, p.98, ISBN 978-1-78909-387-2.