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Villain Overview
And remember: There is absolutely nothing in this world that does not bend to my will.
~ SkekSo to SkekVar
I..I..I..I.. am.. still emperor...
~ SkekSo's last words before he died.
The Skeksis joined nothing except to make new combinations of evil. SkekSo the Emperor in the first days of his glory proclaimed otherwise; he held court not only over the Skeksis but over many Gelfling that went to serve in the castle. They shone in his glory; they carved and sang and painted and danced from the pleasure of the court. On all the days of feasting the Emperor led the processions and the dances of life and pleasure; his voice heard above a multitude; and always in the tournaments he bore down all rivals. In those days the Skeksis were still radiant with energy, never still. But that radiance diminished as their true nature showed and worsened; none was more terribly changed than the Emperor. His power he kept till the end; no other Skeksis held ascendancy other than through SkekSo's favor, easily withdrawn.
~ The World of the Dark Crystal

SkekSo was the Emperor of the Skeksis, a minor antagonist in The Dark Crystal, and the main antagonist in the 2019 Netflix prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. His spiritual other half in the film is the Mystic master, UrSu. In the film, SkekSo is only seen shortly before his death.

He was performed by the late Jim Henson, with the late Jerry Nelson providing his voice. In the prequel series, he is performed by Dave Chapman, with Jason Isaacs providing his voice, the latter who also played William Tavington in The Patriot, Captain Hook in Peter PanZhao in Avatar The Last Airbender and Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series.

Personality

In the early trine of his reign, SkekSo was originally an energetic ruler who enjoyed lavish festivity and sporting events, which he invariably won (as described in "The World of the Dark Crystal"). However, as he aged, he became cruel, paranoid, aggressive and spiteful, even toward his fellow Skeksis, elevating individuals to high positions only to depose them afterwards.

In Age of Resistance, SkekSo is very cruel and sadistic, as shown when he is the only Skeksis to laugh at Mira's draining while the others watch in shock or awe. He seems to be in favor of the Hunter SkekMal, commanding SkekTek to find a way to revive him.

SkekSo feared death and wanted to achieve immortality. He cares not much for his entire race, but hates to think of the concept that if Skeksis can die, then he too can die. This is the reason why he wanted SkekMal to be saved by any means necessary. SkekSo also does not put his own health first, willingly taking the darkening and letting it mutilate his body, showing his carelessness for the sake of others, as well for his own. He was also cowardly, as he refused to fight Rian when he challenged the emperor to a duel during the second Battle of Stone-in-the-wood.

By the time of The Dark Crystal, SkekSo is still desperate to stay emperor and cling onto power, despite being on his deathbed, as he grabbed his sceptor from SkekSil and proclaimed he was still emperor before his death.

Biography

SkekSo had ruled the Skeksis since the split of the Crystal, and the division of the UrSkeks. Initially, SkekSo's reign was a benevolent one, as he shined with glory, leading feast processions and dances, and also beating all his rivals in tournaments. As the Skeksis aged and diminished, SkekSo's authority is kept through favoritism and suspicion. However when the beginning of his declining health came, SkekSo started ordering the enslavement of both Gelflings and Podlings to drain their essence so it can be drank by him.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

SkekSo and his fellow Skeksis went to replenish themselves and cheat death yet again. However, SkekVar noted that the Crystal was failing them once more, and SkekLach saying that nothing happened to day just like the day before. SkekSo, annoyed, yells for them to stop whining. However, SkekAyuk argues that the crystal is failing them. SkekSo assured his fellow Skeksis that the Scientist, SkekTek, is working on something as they speak, something SkekTek confirms. SkekSo notes that they have ruled for an age and will rule for all ages to come before sending them off.

As Skekso is walking way, SkekTek called the Emperor, who stopped and annoyed, asked what the problem was. SkekTek told SkekSo that they were not even close to making a breakthrough. Enraged, SkekSo ordered SkekTek to find a solution to the problem as the Scientist yelled he would not fail. Unknown to the two of them, SkekSil was listening and later helped SkekTek figure out that they needed to drain essense from Gelflings.

When he extracted essence from Mira, SkekSo was the only one who laughed through the whole process. Suddenly, they were aware of Rian's presence when one of his tears landed on one of the Skeksis. SkekSo figured he watched Mira being drained of her essence. SkekSo ordered his capture but Rian managed to escape from the catacombs. SkekSo worried Rian would tell the other Gelflings but SkekSil reassured the Emperor that the Gelflings will not believe him.

During this time, SkekSo was channeling the Darkening in a staff that contained a crystal connected to the Crystal of Truth.

Later tired of getting no results when Rian was not captured, SkekSo replaced SkekSil with SkekVar as his council whil deciding to label Rian a diseased fugitive. After the All-Maudra's death when she learned the truth, SkekSo saw SkekVar's murder of Mayrin as a reason not to continue relations with the Gelfling and attempted to enter an alliance with the Arathim and knowingly sent them back to Grot, fully aware that the Darkening would kill them. When they failed and learned they were outnumbered due to the Battle at Stone-in-the-Wood, SkekSo commissioned SkekTek to create the Garthim, a group of obedient warriors.

When SkekSo learned of the prophecy that foretold that a Gelfling would end the Skeksis' rule, he then ordered their complete extermination.

The Dark Crystal

After the Garthim Wars, his condition nevertheless continued deteriorating, with SkekSo's sight soon weakened and his body rotting with ulcers. He then eventually died before he would be given a further 999 and one trine of life to live from the Ceremony of the Sun.

Though not shown, in a deleted scene, the Emperor's remains were gathered and then placed into an ornate casket. The three highest-ranking Skeksis (SkekZok, SkekSil, and SkekUng) carried the casket to the mausoleum, with the others following in single file. The casket is then set on top of a small pedestal before SkekZok removed a ring from the contents. The remains are eventually cremated by the Skeksis throwing burning rocks.

Afterwards, SkekSo is then ultimately be succeeded by SkekUng the Garthim Master as the new Emperor of the Skeksis.

Quotes

Tonight, we celebrate! Let us feast! Music! Revelry! For this day, the Skeksis conquered death!
~ SkekSo declaring the Skeksis's victory of finding a way to live longer from the drained essence.
(SkekVar: Disgusting. I don't understand why you brought me down here) Patience, General. Summon the Ascendency. (SkekVar: But they are a sworn enemy.) Not for long. […] (Ascendency: The Ascendancy hears your call! We are all Arathim as one.) Greetings, Ascendancy. (Asendency: Emperor.) (Male Arathim: Not welcome!) But I have come to offer you a way out of the wilds and back into our good graces, in spite of your ill-fated rebellion. (Ascendency: We are listening.) The Gelfling have turned... hmm, unruly. You will crush them, gather them, bring them to me. (Ascendency: Why should we do as you ask?) Become a fist for the Skeksis, and I shall return your ancestral home: the Caves of Grot. (Ascendency: Of Grot! The Arathim Ascendancy accepts your offer, but the Gelfling will simply walk themselves into your grasp.) (SkekVar: How is this possible? ) (Ascendency: Bring us a Gelfling. A strong one. Then you will understand?) We have an army.
~ SkekSo requesting and then winning the allegiance of the Ascendency.
Behold the power of the Darkening!
~ SkekSo upon releasing said Darkening onto the Gelfling.

Trivia

  • For the final deterioration of SkekSo, a puppet was made of a wax with high melting points so that it would crumble and melt away at different rates. Skeksis decompose so quickly because they have no soul to slow the process.
  • Although no performer was given a puppeteering credit for the Emperor in the film's ending credits, it can be inferred (based on information given in "The Making of the Dark Crystal") that Jim Henson performed SkekSo.

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SkekSès (SkekSo, SkekZok, SkekUng, SkekSil, SkekTek, SkekAyuk, SkekNa, SkekShod, SkekOk, SkekEkt, SkekMal, SkekVar, & SkekLach) | Tolyn | Gruenaks | Darkened Creatures | Jareth | Goblin Army

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