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The highly-anticipated Trollhunters Part 2 made its debut on Netflix today. Picking up where Part 1 left off, we follow Jim’s journey through the Darklands as his friends race against the odds to save him. I had the pleasure of getting an advance look at this season in conjunction with my trip to the DreamWorks Animation Campus last week, and was able to speak with executive producers Marc Guggenheim, Chad Hammes and Rodrigo Blaas about what fans can expect to see.
One of the things I found most compelling about Part 2 was watching the continued evolution of Claire’s character. I asked the executive producers to expound on the process of developing her storyline and what might be in store for her.
“The Shadowstaff is a very powerful weapon – it’s very powerful, but there’s also a dark side to that. Claire’s gonna have to wrestle with that,” Blaas told me. “And we really wanted to see that growth. We always saw this season as the season of Claire. The underlying narrative thrust of this was just seeing how it would culminate. By the end of this season, you’re gonna understand that and how that especially sets off what is to come. This is part of what we always strive [for] with our heroes, is not to give them easy way out.”
“And I think it’s worth saying how it gets set up,” added Hammes. “Jim’s given the Amulet, he finds the armor; Toby’s given his weapon, essentially. Claire finds the Shadowstaff independently and declares, ‘That’s mine. This is my tool, I keep this and I’m gonna learn how to harness the power of it.’ Which is a very strong position to take – she’s been kind of along for the ride and I think when she gets to that point, it’s a very strong moment for her.”
Guggenheim agreed with this, adding, “I think there’s a very good argument here – and I think you’ll see this a lot in season 2 – that between Jim’s Daylight and Toby’s hammer and Claire’s staff, Claire’s arguably the most powerful of the three. But, with that power comes a great cost. Jim can use his sword without facing any negative consequences. Toby, same thing with his hammer but Claire, because it is powered by emotion, it takes a toll on her. Without spoiling too much, particularly the very end of the season, you’ll see that there’s consequences that will set us up for the future stories post season 2 that we’re telling. Rodrigo’s right, it really is the season of Claire. And it’s great to watch the evolution of her character, having to to deal with these primordial forces and all the responsibilities that entails. Also, by the way, I’m tickled by the relationship that she’s developed with NotEnrique. That’s really a story in my mind about a sister and her adopted brother. And I think that it’s a cool story to tell. My wife comes from a blended family and this story’s just always really spoken to me.”
The first season of Trollhunters included an unprecedented 26 episodes, which is a daunting project to take on. I asked the trio about the production process on something of this magnitude, to which Guggenheim jokingly replied, “You ever seen a grown man cry?”
“My understanding is that delivering 26 half hours of content all at one time has been the largest delivery in TV history. That’s what I’ve been told,” noted Hammes. “So it was an accomplishment for everybody on the team. And yes, it takes a tremendous amount of work – it takes people not only all over the studio, but people all over the world, and everybody has to be coordinated and in sync. It’s a massive undertaking. It took years of experience between [us] and our team in putting it all together to make a show that is so complex – it has so much care in terms of writing and the narrative – and able to deliver such a large volume. Thankfully we don’t have that same delivery this year,” he laughed. However, that doesn’t mean that season 2 has been easy by any stretch of the imagination. Hammes explained that, despite Part 2 having 13 episodes versus 26, working on both seasons back to back brought its own unique challenges. “We were [still] standing last year making the delivery but I think what we underestimated was getting to this Christmas and finishing the show – I think that’s even been more taxing. You wouldn’t wanna see the production floor right now, people on their hands and knees, half asleep.”
Guggenheim also noted the additional challenge of working on other projects within the Tales of Arcadia trilogy simultaneously. “Also, we’ve been hard at work on 3 Below, so there’s been no rest for the weary and we just keep going and going and going.”
“It takes a team that is playing at their A game at every step of the process,” agreed Blaas, who also voices Gnome Chompsky in addition to his other work as executive producer. “There is nobody that is dropping the ball. Because it’s Guillermo del Toro’s vision, we all respect how much quality and love and heart he puts in all his projects. We really wanted to make sure that this was a show that could stand the test of time.”
Despite this intense workload, the reception from fans is what keeps everyone going. “Just watching the reaction of the audience fuels the team to give that extra mile. That is an integral part of the process for sure,” Blaas concluded. And with the hard work and care that has been put into telling the story of season 2, the reaction from eager fans will surely bolster Blaas, Guggenheim and Hammes as they continue to develop the Trollhunters universe.
Trollhunters Part 2 is streaming on Netflix now. And when you’re done binge-watching, be sure to check out our DIY Amulet of Daylight craft tutorial and make your own Amulet to fight darkness – or just use as a Christmas ornament!