Alright, I admit I was inspired by another blog post here, but I decided that the 9450 Epic Dragon Battle playset is another retelling of the battle between the Ninja and the Great Devourer. However, my view is that it's some sort of alternate scenario, where things went slightly better for the Ninja (from a certain point of view). Confused? Here's hoping this explains things a bit...
Toy vs. Cartoon
Obviously, there are a number of differences between the Epic Dragon Battle and the corresponding episodes. Among the most notable discrepancies:
- The Great Devourer is much smaller in the playset than the cartoon - in fact, the former is approximately the size of the statue in the Lost City of Ouroboros.
- Skalidor and Acidicus are present, when they were nowhere to be seen in the cartoon when the Devourer was summoned (not even on the Serpentine Train).
- Sensei Wu has been imprisoned in the playset, while he was consumed by the Devourer in the cartoon.
- Lloyd is already a teenager and in his ZX suit; in the cartoon, he won't reach this state until "Wrong Place, Wrong Time". He also demonstrates much greater control over the Ultra Dragon than he did at the beginning of the third season.
- Only Jay is present alongside Lloyd and Sensei Wu.
Obviously, most of these discrepancies can be explained as marketing constraints. Nonetheless, here's my attempt at explaining how we got to this point.
My Interpretation of Epic Dragon Battle (WARNING: LOTS OF TEXT!)
This set depicts a potential alternate outcome of "The Rise of The Great Devourer", where Pythor's sabotage of the Destiny's Bounty occurred while (instead of before) the Ninja were throwing the Fangblades into Torchfire Mountain. Due to this, Pythor only manages to claim the Hypnobrai Fangblade before being forced to retreat - without the four Fangblades at his disposal, he decides not to resurrect the Great Devourer at this time. The Ninja attempt to pursue the villain, but abandon the chase when Pythor successfully evades them, assuming that the Great Devourer can no longer be summoned.
With the threat of the Devourer seemingly removed, the Ninja turn their attentions to training Lloyd as the Green Ninja. The Ultra Dragon returns to them, having completed its metamorphosis as before, and the Ninja return to the Mountains of Impossible Height to build it a place to live and for Lloyd to practice flying.
Meanwhile, Lord Garmadon resumes his quest to claim the Golden Weapons - possibly leading the Skulkin once again - and the Serpentine search for an alternate means of awakening the Great Devourer. The events of "Child's Play" still occur, but with an arcane Underworld ritual replacing the Mega Weapon as the means of reviving the Grundle and accidentally turning the Ninja into children. After using Tomorrow's Tea to defeat the Grundle and restore the Ninja's proper ages, Lloyd finds that he has also become a teenager, greatly increasing his efficiency in training and battling the two forces of evil.
Desperate Times and Desperate Measures
After many failed schemes, an increasingly-unhinged Pythor concludes that the Serpentine themselves can act as a substitute for the Fangblades (being apparently descended from the beast); consequently, he secretly plots to sacrifice the remaining Serpentine before the Devourer's statue in Ouroboros. To keep them unaware of his new plan, Pythor tells the other snakes that the Devourer may be reborn if they can use the combined power of the Golden Weapons, leading the Serpentine to believe that they must steal the weapons from the Ninja.
Using the tunnels of their underground fortress, the Serpentine begin a series of clandestine raids on the surface, expanding their forces with new minions and vehicles. Although the Ninja thwart several of the raids, the Serpentine manage to acquire enough vehicles to carry all of their forces (albeit with difficulty), courtesy of the Fangpyres' bite. During this time, Chokun stumbles upon Pythor's true plan while burrowing aimlessly out of boredom, passing the knowledge on to his General. Before Skalidor can spread the word further, Pythor marshalls all of the Serpentine for the final stage of his apparent scheme to secure the Golden Weapons.
The entire Serpentine force launches a massive assault on Ninjago City, luring the Ninja into battle. During the fight, Skalidor attempts to tell Acidicus about Pythor's real scheme, but they end up being frozen by Zane and buried in rubble by Cole. Meanwhile, Pythor sneaks aboard the Destiny's Bounty again and captures Sensei Wu, taking him to a custom-built prison in Ouroboros. On the way, he reveals his prisoner to the Ninja, telling them to meet him at the Lost City's Slither Pit arena if they want to save their mentor. Lord Garmadon happens to be in the area and catches the tail end of Pythor's broadcast - deciding that this is the perfect chance to claim the Golden Weapons for himself, he follows the Ninja in secret.
In the haste of their withdrawal, the Serpentine - save Chokun - fail to register the absence of Skalidor and Acidicus. A few minutes after everyone else leaves, the Generals recover and dig their way out of the rubble, where Chokun is waiting with a spare Rattlecopter. En route to Ouroboros, Skalidor reveals Pythor's plan to Acidicus, and the trio begin plotting their own twist on the scheme.
The Devourer Cometh
At Ouroboros, Pythor gathers all of the Serpentine in the arena to await the Ninja's arrival. When Skalidor and Acidicus return, they remain on the edges of the arena, claiming that they want a good view of the Devourer's rebirth - unnoticed by anyone, Chokun burrows underground. In the afternoon, the Ninja land outside the city, it is decided that Lloyd and Nya will remain behind with the ship and the Ultra Dragon, ready to reinforce the Ninja if the plan goes awry. With that, Kai, Jay, Cole, and Zane head into the city, ready for anything.
Upon arriving in the arena, the Ninja see Sensei Wu in his cell, and Pythor reveals that the prison is rigged to flood the cell with acid at the pull of a lever. The Anacondrai demands the Golden Weapons in exchange for Sensei Wu, revealing his intent to allegedly revive the Devourer with them. The moment the Ninja step into the arena's boundaries, Pythor pulls a different lever, trapping everyone inside - including all of the Serpentine except for Acidicus, Skalidor, and Pythor himself. The Anacondrai General orders the Serpentine to disable the Ninja; with Sensei Wu's life at stake, Kai, Zane, and Cole are taken down with little struggle. Before the same fate can befall Jay, Lord Garmadon reveals himself, declaring his own intent to claim the Golden Weapons.
This distraction proves to be Pythor's fatal error - before he knows what is happening, Chokun bursts out of the ground behind him and grabs him, revealing the Snake King's real intention of sacrificing everyone in the arena to awaken the Great Devourer. As the Constrictai soldier pins Pythor down and Acidicus retrieves the Fangblade, Skalidor goes to lower the arena's walls - unfortunately, the dull-witted General accidentally pulls the wrong lever, causing the arena to begin filling with spikes. Realizing that the other Serpentine are lost, Skalidor angrily tells Chokun to throw Pythor in the arena with the others, with Acidicus stabbing their treacherous Snake King for good measure.
Before the Ninja can be impaled, Lloyd swoops in on the Ultra Dragon, lifting his friends to safety. When all movement in the arena has stopped, everyone wonders if it is over, only for the statue of the Devourer to start trembling. At the same time, the Fangblade in Acidicus' hand begins to glow, and the Venomari General realizes that Pythor was right - sacrificing the Serpentine was enough to revive the Devourer. Intent on making all of Ninjago suffer if nothing else, Acidicus commands the Great Devourer to awaken, and the Serpentine corpses in the arena merge with the statue overseeing the Slither Pit, transforming it into the Devourer itself!
Shocked at this turn of events, the Ninja resolve to fight, but Kai, Zane, and Cole are still injured from their subjugation by the Serpentine. Realizing that it's up to him and Lloyd, Jay tells the Green Ninja to take the others back to the Destiny's Bounty, only for Garmadon to offer his aid. Jay and Lloyd are understandably reluctant, but Garmadon insists that his priority is destroying the monster that corrupted him as a child. Deciding that they don't have time to argue, Lloyd leaves the injured Ninja on a nearby building, asking Nya to pick them up, and Jay allows Garmadon to wield the Sword of Fire, the Shurikens of Ice, and the Scythe of Quakes as they move to challenge the remaining snakes.
In the resulting melee, Jay and Garmadon battle Chokun, Skalidor, and Acidicus, while Lloyd attacks the Great Devourer with the Ultra Dragon. Their recent losses have left the remaining Serpentine at less than full clarity, allowing Jay to break off from the battle and rescue Sensei Wu. Infuriated, Acidicus sends the Great Devourer to attack Garmadon, but Lloyd uses the opportunity to knock the serpent down, inadvertantly crushing Acidicus, Chokun, and Skalidor beneath its massive body.
With the last Serpentine out of the way, everyone turns their attention to the Devourer, but the monster proves too strong to defeat. As a last resort, Sensei Wu tells Jay to give Lord Garmadon the Nunchucks of Lightning, as the combined power of the Golden Weapons may be enough to destroy the Devourer. Despite his misgivings, Jay complies, and Lord Garmadon combines the weapons' power with his own darkness to create a shadowy Tornado of (Un)Creation which tears the Devourer apart. In the chaos of the snake's destruction, Garmadon himself flees with the Golden Weapons, leaving Jay, Wu, and Lloyd to rendevous with their friends.
THE END (tell me what you think about it!)