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|“||SkekZok the Ritual-Master was thought to hold all control of the life of the court in his own hands. He had the ear of the emperor, whose wishes were absolute; none could hope for success except through SkekZok. The other Skeksis he sought to control through the prophecies he invented, the false apparitions he conjured. Too late he found that the Emperor raised favorites only to enjoy the pleasure of their fall, caring for them not at all; and that the other Skeksis all practiced their own secret divinations, which they trusted above his.||„|
|~ The World of the Dark Crystal|
SkekZok is the court Ritual Master for the race of Skeksis and one of the primary antagonists in the 1982 film The Dark Crystal. His Mystic counterpart is UrZah, the Ritual-Guardian.
He was portrayed by the late Jim Henson, with the late Jerry Nelson providing his voice. In the 2019 Netflix prequel series, he is voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, who also plays Pupa from Let's Be Cops, Wolf Alpha from Storks and Kamari from The Lion King.
The Ritual Master is referred to in production notes and the screen credits as the High Priest. He is the tallest of the Skeksis, with "a skull-like head and pale blue hypnotic eyes." SkekZok wears an elaborate robe adorn with various golden crescent ornamenting and covers and a large collar having similar ornaments, and a hat with a single cream feather.
SkekZok's status among the Skeksis was gained through lies and invented prophecies. Upon the death of Emperor SkekSo, the Ritual Master finds that the other Skeksis practice their own divinations which they trust above his. It is his ritual dagger that caused the short-lived death of Kira the Gelfling.
SkekZok was the Skeksis High Priest. His Mystic counterpart was the Ritual Guardian. He was the tallest Skeksis, made more imposing by his regal golden carapace and unusual-looking hat. It was the High Priest who led the Skeksis in their daily rituals of drawing power from the Dark Crystal, and he also enforced Skeksis law and served as the Emperor's advisor.
He continued in the latter capacity after the original emperor's death and following the ascension of the Garthim-Master and General SkekUng; however the General ignored his advice at every turn. When Kira was captured by the Chamberlain, the High Priest advocated in killing her, as they were sworn to kill all Gelflings on account of the Prophecy. To his consternation, the General-Emperor instead heeded the advice of the Scientist, that they should drain Kira's life essence first. However, he promised him they would kill her after.
Later, during the ceremony of the Great Conjunction, Kira (who had escaped the Scientist) and her fellow Gelfling Jen appeared. When Kira picked up the dropped shard and threw it to Jen, it was the High Priest who stabbed her in the back with a dagger, killing her. Shortly afterward, when the Skeksis and Mystics recombined, the High Priest joined with the Ritual Guardian to form the UrSkek ZokZah.
|“||Now! By the law, he must pay!||„|
|~ SkekZok declaring SkekSil's loss from Trial by Stone.|
|“||Kill her! We are sworn to kill all Gelfling!||„|
|~ SkekZok suggesting to kill Kira the Gelfling.|
|“||(SkekTek: But sire, you could drink her essence.) Because of the prophecy, we must kill the Gelfling! (SkekUng: No! First we take her essence, then kill!)||„|
|~ SkekZok suggesting his proposition again, only for SkekUng to agree to SkekTek's instead first.|
- The novelization of the film by A.C.H. Smith depicts SkekZok as being power hungry and constantly plotting to overthrow SkekUng after the latter became emperor. This is in direct contradiction to the film wherein SkekZok seems uninterested in taking the throne for himself, and allies himself with SkekUng early (despite SkekUng's refusal to heed his advice).
- In the Marvel Comics adaptation, SkekZok's hat is incorrectly drawn as being part of his head.