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Media Essays: Rayllum: Why It Worked


Title card for The Wandering Fox's essay

I'm back, the Wandering Fox, and I’m here with another The Dragon Prince post, and a positive one as well! As you can tell, the topic is about the franchise’s most popular pairing, Rayllum. The Rayllum pairing took the cartoon world by storm with it in a world based on fantasy, the characters fleshed out and a fine example of love overcoming hate in a world ravaged by racism, bigotry and hate.


I will say first of all I hated what they did to Rayla in Through the Moon and Season 4, the way she was written was a regression of her character in being a frightened kid who decided to forget all she learnt in the last three seasons because she felt she was the only one to stop Viren even though he defeated her and her parents and the way she behaved in season 4 was appalling, more so with her saying “Aaravos can’t make you do anything” even though she saw it with her own eyes what Aaravos did to Callum. Doesn’t help she was less sympathetic in Through the Moon given Runaan. It feels like to me the writers didn’t know how to write these two as a healthy couple and had to do the cliche “Will they or won’t they?” things to try and keep people interested, yet Luz and Amity worked just fine once they began dating in The Owl House, and they had their potholes they overcame. I’ll say it again, all they had to do was have Callum train under Ibis, Rayla trains as a Dragonguard, they’re the centre of the social bigotry being thrown at elves and humans but remain committed to each other, and if you want to give them conflict, yes, Runaan can work but Rayla understands he did bad things and he tried to kill her and understands Callum’s grief with him.


But with that out of the way, what can I say about Rayllum that works?


Opposites


I like how it’s following a story of opposites attract. I like those kinds of couples, they bring the best out of each other, either one person is shy and withdrawn while the other is upbeat, cheerful and loving, or the one person is grumpy but has a good heart and you have the charming goofball.


With Callum and Rayla, it’s kinda complex once you look at both characters, for Callum grew up feeling like an outcast in his own home with only Ezran as his friend, while Claudia he was friendly with but was shy, and Soren was a bully, not helping by the death of his mum and him not fitting the standards of being Prince like horse riding, sword fighting, and if I’ll be real he seemingly has been looked down upon by everyone minus Ezran and Harrow in the castle if we’re to take the guards watching him and Soren train and Viren calling Callum a “mongrel” which, take with what you will, is a form of bigotry of which Callum being half Asian makes one wonder if he’s been racially bullied in his life. And while Callum has always felt like an outcast and always told he was not Harrow’s son, he didn’t let it get to him and became a bitter person, he was more kind, shy, yet brave and caring, dedicated to keeping Ezran safe. Callum is stronger than even he thinks, for even without his magic, his strength was always there in his heart and words. Like I said in my previous post, Callum could’ve been your typical step kid who hated his family, but he didn’t, which is what makes his relationship with Rayla fascinating to develop.


With Rayla, she grew up in the Moonshadow Silvergrove village and lived a isolated life, raised to believe humans were monsters who killed and lied, taught from a young age in the ways of being an assassin. Her mum and dad leaving while she was really young didn’t do her much favours and being raised by her uncles Runaan and Ethari, the former of whom is quite a complex guy, left Rayla quite the character who lived a life of on the tightropes of not understanding the world and trying to uphold her culture. Rayla lived a life of irony, taught humans are liars, but she didn’t know the truth of her mum and dad’s fates which led to her being ostracised for something the girl didn’t have anything to do with, leaving her to feeling ashamed, and desperate, yet even then it didn’t stop her from the good heart she had. This boils down to Rayla being quite emotionally fragile, as though she’s a tough girl and a fighter, she’s emotionally damaged from months of ostracising and being raised by a tough ass uncle who taught her to kill. Sparing Marcos and for her compassion, she was punished by Runaan to sit out on the mission, yet with being ostracised and feeling shameful, Rayla gone into the castle to earn his forgiveness, which only led her to Callum, then to Ezran, then to the egg of the Dragon Prince. Beginning to uncover the truth, Rayla put her mind over her heart. And for that Runaan tried to kill her. Tells you something where the human boys she just tried killing showed more compassion towards her than her uncle who tried killing her even after showing him the egg.

The first meeting

From would be enemies to lovers.


But here you have it. A Prince who doesn’t feel like a Prince, doesn’t fight, doesn’t ride a horse, spent his life surrounded by tragedy and bullying, but remained strong enough to keep Ezran safe and wanted to help if he could. Then you have a tough girl who lived a life taught in a complex manner of how to show love and how to take life, ostracised for something she hadn’t done and shamed for showing compassion, you have a emotionally fragile girl who wants to do right and finally found it during seasons 1, 2 and 3. A boy who doesn’t think he’s strong but he is, then a girl who is strong but has a lot of emotional trauma, what do you get once they meet? A lot of chemistry.


I know some people find the couple cliché but honestly, look at who they could’ve ended up with. If you had Callum with Claudia, you get the typical childhood friends turned lovers with the good love bringing the bad love back to the good side, if you had Soren with Rayla, you get Superman and Wonder Woman where it’s a couple who are both strong, and that’s it. I personally would rather Soren find his own girl….or guy, depending on how you think of him and Corvus. Claudia, even if Terry was not there’s I’d rather Claudia didn’t have a romantic interest given all the villainous things she’s done, being a manipulator who aligns with Viren, stabbing Ezran and Callum in the back.


The Development Felt Natural


I don’t believe the crew in saying they began bringing Rayla and Callum together romantically during season two, not do I believe a few fans saying the relationship was rushed. I feel it was there in season one. Obviously the romantic bit ironically came on a boat, though before I do, first let’s look at how things developed.

Callum and Rayla on the boat.

They began to tease them as they were on a boat.


After escaping Claudia and with him defeating her smoke wolves, Callum does call out Rayla after she asks for the trust of the princes, it’s only natural given she tried to kill him and Ezran just then, this level of distrust being grounded in fear of the unknown for this is his first interaction with a elf. And with fear, you tend to do things you don’t mean to do, with him assuming Rayla’s moonberry juice is blood, no thanks to Kim’dael’s legacy likely, then there’s him calling her a bloodthirsty monster just to scare Amaya into letting him and Ezran go with Rayla, who was deeply hurt by his comments, even if he only did it to make Amaya let them go. As a result of this and Rayla commenting he’s almost killed her, he makes up for it by talking to her on the boat. Callum’s fascination with magic and Xadia does ease Rayla with him and she begins to understand he’s a friendly guy, with her settling into being more comfortable at his side. With him also coming to understand her fear of water and being so sympathetic towards her over it and her mum and dad, Callum began to end up being a lot more closer to Rayla. They obviously had their struggle in the following episode, with Rayla’s encounter with Corvus making Rayla behave all secretive and Callum being suspicious of her, though after Ezran almost drowns under the lake, he and her put their differences aside for good, and there’s little moments here and there that brings them closer, like Rayla interested in the art drawing of Sarai, or how Callum told Rayla to try and use the Sunfire dagger to free herself from her binding, it’s those little bits which began to bring them closer.

Callum and Rayla argument

Fear and distrust almost led to their deaths at first.


Season 2 ended up doing more with Callum and Rayla coming to trust each other more as Callum was reunited with Soren and Claudia, and learnt of the death of his father. Rayla obviously was doubtful of them both and tried convincing Callum to trust her and once it came to the moment of wanting to tell him the truth, Claudia told him. At first Callum was angry but after struggling to tell Ezran, he understood why she didn’t tell him, and then his trust for her deepened after she revealed sh


e was telling the truth of Claudia and Soren. In his moments of weakness without his magic, betrayed by his former friends, Callum had Rayla to pick him up, her doing it again after he almost died in trying to bring his magic back. Of course, it begins to go into flirtations with Rayla doing her Sailor Moon dance, and him being impressed, their banter becoming a lot more cheeky.

Callum and Rayla together.

Their trust only became stronger in season two.

Rayllum flirty banter

And cheekier in Season 3….bumpy ride, right?


Both going through Xadia and Callum being so in awe in brought them both closer like the Adoraburs, the dancing plants, the dance which Rayla told a lie to him about. Only one person can open the Silvergrove through dancing. And why did she do it with him? She wanted to dance with him. This is a girl who’s tough, brave, is a bit snide, but she wanted to dance with the human who has done nothing but be kind to her.


But obviously there’s also the strengths both go to in protecting each other, whether it’s Callum defending Rayla with Dark Magic, Rayla standing up for him against Sol Regem, how he called out the Silvergrove for treating her, nor how, like what she did for him, he helped her back up in a dark moment for Rayla after her banishment from the Silvergrove.


Once you think of how horrible the Silvergrove treated her, then compare it with Callum who made up for hurting her, Rayla found her true home with him and with the friends she made during her adventure. Heck, the moment he is harsh with her following her thoughts of staying to defend the Spire on her own is not out of disgust bit of love, he is trying to tell her she shouldn’t give up her life for something her mum and dad did. He gives her closure with him finding out how her parents really met their fates. Once you love someone that much, you gotta give it to him, what girl would have to do to want a guy like Callum?


There’s also the fact that Callum, despite knowing he could die as well, jumped off the spire to save her and did something amazing in him magically growing wings to save her, is one loveable thing.


A Healthy Relationship Between A Boy And Girl Can Work


I love the couple as well because in media, you often have a dumb Will they or won’t they between the main boy and girl, you give them other love interests, then have them together in the end, or you have one cheat on the other, it was so refreshing to have a boy and a girl in a healthy relationship where we didn’t get that. Obviously the writers messed up with it in Through the Moon and season 4, but still, with how they were going, you have to admire them. It’s not only that but you look at how such a world they live in. Both come from different worlds in Xadia, and despite the hate on both sides, they found love in each other.

A kiss.


Callum became more outspoken, stronger and courageous once he met Rayla. And Rayla became less guarded, more outgoing, and open. These guys did so much for each other. I hope they get back together.

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3 Comments


mrdarkcatify
mrdarkcatify
Jul 07, 2023

Yeah, I love this couple so much there's no wonder they too becoming one of my fave animated couples of all time.


The way they started it as emeries to lovers is pure genius! There's thin line between having couple with healthy relationship which are well done and other couples with badly done relationship.


This couple is great examples!


Shame how season 4 treated her..


Well done on the Essay of these loveable love birds!

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Erin Delgado
Erin Delgado
Jun 23, 2023

Wow, this is a great essay you made Reece and I agree with everything you said, as why Callum x Rayla worked in the first three seasons as their development and relationship worked. :)

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You basically said why this couple worked, at least for the first three season. You said it best.

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