|“||Although he considers himself a "sportsman," SkekMal is nothing more than a brutal hunter. The wildest of the Skeksis, he frightens even his own kind. He uses all manner of traps and bears a scar across his face. Lightning fast, he can actually dodge arrows and disappear into the trees in front of him. And whatever he catches… he generally eats. Although most Gelfling clans do not know SkekMal, they know the legend of "the Hunter" and they know that no one has ever escaped alive. SkekMal uses a 'spirit-like' mask to conceal his true identity.||„|
|~ "The Gelfling Gathering"|
|“||Poor SkekSil. Still consumed by petty squabbles. When will you learn? Only the hunt matters.||„|
|~ SkekMal to the Chamberlain.|
SkekMal is the Skeksis Hunter, an antagonist introduced in the 2016 novel Shadows of the Dark Crystal by J. M. Lee, and a major antagonist in the 2019 Netflix prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. His counterpart among the Mystics is UrVa the Archer. He is Rian and Kylan's arch-nemesis.
He is peformed by Kevin Clash and Nick Kellington (body suit performer), with Ralph Ineson providing his voice; Ineson also portrayed Dagmer from Game of Thrones, Connor Perkins from The Hurricane Heist, and Chris Finch from the UK version of The Office.
SkekMal wears a skull mask to conceal what is said to be a scar across his face. In the prequel series, unlike the other Skeksis who wore heavy robes, he is shown to don tattered red and dark navy light clothing with bone parts worn as armor on the chest, knees, and back.
SkekMal is shown to be a self-serving, relentless, independant, and sadistic rogue who thrives for the hunt, taking pride in being the strongest, fastest, and most athletic of the Skeksis.
In the prequel series, SkekMal’s brutal enough that most of his own species are terrorized by even the idea of him, let alone summoning the Hunter. He doesn’t appear to consider himself bound by Skeksis law, as SkekMal can freely threatening them if they get in his way of acquiring his targets. He resents the other Skeksis for their indulgent luxurious-like lifestyle, considering them petty, weak, and growing weaker.
It is heavily implied that he refused to pursue any creature he considers too ‘weak’ and it's considered an insult to him, as when SkekSil requests the Hunter to capture a Gelfling, the latter felt disgusted by it.
Despite all that, the Emperor SkekSo seems to hold him in high esteem, keeping a horn dedicated to calling him back from his endless hunt, something that the Chamberlain would later use to summon SkekMal.
Abilities and Powers
- Hunting Skills: True to his occupation, SkekMal was a very skilled and competent hunter, being able to hunt many creatures of Thra and to track Rian down just with just the scent of a scrap of Rian's shirt, later finding him again with Brea and Deet at the Circle of the Suns in a span of hundreds of miles.
- Blade Proficiency: SkekMal was a very formidable fighter, being highly skilled with swords and using his four arms to his advantage by having all of them wielding swords. This skill allowed him to easily overpower Gelfling warriors such as Rian, Ordon, or briefly even the two mentioned Gelfling combined.
- Enhanced Endurance: SkekMal was able to effortlessly go on long distances and to still be fit to hunt and fight without needing rest; he also had tremendous tolerance for pain as he was able to escape from Gobbles without showing any sign of being injured and to carry Brea from the Circle of the Suns to the Castle despite having been wounded by three of the Archer's arrows before finally collapsing.
- Speed and Agility: SkekMal is mentioned to be incredibly fast, being able to easily dodge arrows and, coupled with enough stamina, being able to catch up to his prey with ease.
The Hunter for the Skeksis, SkekMal is actually a brutal and sadistic killer who is feared by many, even by the other Skeksis mainly because of his nature. He captured his prey through all manner of traps, most of them presumably killing them. Because SkekMal would consume any prey, regardless of whatever species (including Gelflings), little is known of who he is to the knowledge of both Gelflings and Podlings.
Following the Great Division, SkekMal at some point left the Castle of the Crystal to established his main hunting grounds in the Endless Forest. It is heavily implied that the Hunter would once occasionally do hunting in the Crystal Desert with help from the Dousan Gelfling Rek'yr, who soon vowed to never accompany him again. According to Shadows of the Dark Crystal, SkekMal was the one responsible for murdering the parents of a Spriton Gelfling named Kylan, rendering the latter to an orphan.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
SkekMal is summoned by the Chamberlain SkekSil to the Castle. He requested to SkekSil of his new “prey”, and the latter tasks him to capture the Gelfling Rian (one of the three main protagonists); the Hunter is initally disgusted and felt insulted by it but agrees to pursue Rian when SkekSil gave him a scrap of Rian's clothing before he takes his leave.
He later finds Rian and Ordon, the Gelfling’s father, through their footprints and proceeds to chase the pair down, pursuing Rian to be cornered behind a pit of gobbles. A duel ensues soon after, with SkekMal attempting to push the Gelfling into the pit, not long before Ordon strikes from above and damaging SkekMal’s mask. The Skeksis, using his second pair of arms with knives, continues the fight. However, Rian and Ordon managed to fend off the Hunter.
SkekMal, seconds before landing on the gobbles, drags the latter with him and they both were overwhelmed by the creatures, consumed by them. He was assumed dead by Rian, Deet, and Hup; however, it’s not long after did he quickly got out, while taking Rian and immediately running away. He later takes Rian to a secluded area of the woods, preparing to kill him and make the Gelfling’s skull as a trophy before SkekSil prevented him from doing so. The Chamberlain insisted that Rian be taken to SkekSo the Emperor alive because the former desires a seat near the Emperor; SkekMal scoffs in response at SkekSil “hunting” after a chair, though the latter is quick to correct that he hunts after power. The Hunter eventually handed Rian over to the Chamberlain, but only if the Gelfling is brought back to him, to which SkekSil agrees.
Following Rian's escape from the Chamberlain and then venture to the Circle of the Suns in the Crystal Sea, the Gelfling and his group were spotted by SkekMal in the desert, who later followed in their direction. By forcing one of the Dousan Gelfling who helped the group find their location, the Hunter reaches to the Circle and unleashed an attack while attempting to retrieve Rian. It is not until at the exact moment his Mystic counterpart UrVa intervenes by shooting two arrows at SkekMal, injuring him and also harming UrVa due to their connection. Despite the wounds he received, SkekMal managed to capture Brea before fleeing back to the Castle of the Crystal and placing her in a cage.
He later runs in carrying the cage to the throne room and, releasing the chain connected to the cage, soon faints because of his injuries much to the other Skeksis' shock. Desperate, they had SkekTek the Scientist try to bring SkekMal back alive with the only way being Gelfling essence. The Hunter was restored to life when Aughra instead offered her essence, and soon regained consciousness to attempting to murder Rian for the last time before an awakened UrVa commits suicide from afar, preventing SkekMal from finishing the kill and also ending his life for good with the revival of Aughra.
SkekMal: What is my prey?
SkekSil: A Stonewood warrior.
Skekmal: You insult me!
|~ The Hunter upon meeting the Chamberlain SkekSil, and being told of who to capture.|
|“||SkekSil: This scrap of Rian's clothing. Good?
SkekMal: [sniffing the cloth before pausing] I will take his lying tongue!
|~ SkekMal to the Chamberlain before leaving to hunt down the Gelfling Rian.|
|“||I've come for my prize: your lying tongue!||„|
|~ SkekMal before fighting Rian.|
|“||You have heart. I'll take that too.||„|
|“||All the hunters, warriors, now their strength is my own.||„|
|~ SkekMal to Rian.|
|“||(Rek'yr: Greetings, Hunter) Rek'yr. (Rek'yr: You should not have come here, SkekMal. I will not guide you on another hunt. You, are a butcher.) The Gelfling you transported, where are they? Talk. (Rek'yr: That I will not do.) Then I will have to start cutting pieces off you until you talk. (Rek'yr: Go ahead. Do you want my hands? They are not mine. They are a gift from Thra. Same as my feet, my head, my life.) [...] And his life? [grabs a Dousan and throws him off the cliffside) (Rek'yr: If this is to be the day of our return to Thra, then we welcome it gladly.) Rah, tell me where they are! (Female Dousan: The Circle of the Suns!) (Rek'yr: Silence!) [hits Rek'yr on the head] You will take me there in your flying beast! (Female Dousan: Yes. Yes, my lord.)||„|
|~ SkekMal confronting Rek'yr and the other Dousan accompanying the latter to find the track of his prey.|
|“||UrVa: You and I are one. You cannot defeat me without defeating yourself. What I feel, you feel.
SkekMal: Perhaps, but I will not leave empty-handed! […] Farewell, Archer. (UrVa: SkekMal!!) [snatches up Brea]
|~ SkekMal dismissing his connection to UrVa before leaving the Circle of the Suns while kidnapping Brea and taking her with him.|
|“||SkekMal is always the most beautiful of you shriveled lot.||„|
|~ Aughra about SkekMal while the latter is comatose.|
|“||I have conquered death. I returned more powerful then ever! More powerful than Thra itself! Nothing can stop the hunt!||„|
|~ SkekMal's villainous breakdown.|
|“||[Noticing the shaking and pain in himself] Archer! [Groaning, grunting] What have...you...done?!||„|
|~ SkekMal's last words after realizing UrVa is ending his life before the former's death.|
- Kylan's parents
- Ordon (dragged along into carnivorous plants to kill him)
- Unnamed Dousan Gelfling (hurled off of a cliff side)
- Out of all the Skeksis, SkekMal is shown to be the only one to keep his second pair of arms in full use.
- The "Mal" part of his name was originally the name for SkekSil during production of The Dark Crystal.
- The Hunter was first originally conceived by Halle Stanford during the pre-production of the ultimately scrapped animated series Great Conjunction in 2012, and was envisioned as a "scarier Skeksis than even the Emperor".
- In production, body suit performer Nick Kellington provided most of the movement for SkekMal.
- However in fight scenes, stuntman Ian Kay took over the role in a suit sporting a head lacking animatronic components, thus reducing the puppet's weight.