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Dungeons And Dragons Wrote Out Its Best Character Too Early

Contains spoilers for "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves"

Arguably the best component of Paramount Pictures' "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" is its impressive roster of loveable fantasy miscreants. From Michelle Rodriguez's hilariously blunt and ferocious Holga the Barbarian to Hugh Grant's dastardly Forge Fitzwilliam, everyone is likable in a sort of grimy way. They aren't the best at what they do, and what they do is far from pretty, but for Mask's sake, it's hard not to love them all the same.

About halfway through the story, however, the film introduces its best character: Xenk Yandar, played by the uncontrollably dashing Regé-Jean Page. Xenk recovered a mystical helmet from a deadly conflict in the past, which the titular thieves need in order for their sorcerer, Simon (Justice Smith), to be strong enough to bypass an impenetrable, magical lock standing between them and their fortune.

Despite the prejudice of Chris Pine's Bard, Edgin, Xenk proves himself to be skilled, patient, and almost impossibly good-natured. He takes them through a dangerous underground realm, guides them to the helmet, singlehandedly takes down several armed foes in what is essentially a fantasy lightsaber duel (as well as one of, if not the best action sequence in the entire movie), and then he just... sort of leaves. His departure on the beach is so abrupt and stoic to the point of being tropey that the characters even turn it into a gag. As funny as the moment is, it doesn't make up for what is ultimately a wasted opportunity.

Xenk Yandar's exit is part of a larger problem

There are two major issues with writing Xenk Yandar out of the film just before the final battle. The first is that it is jarringly abrupt, so much so that the function of his exit is disappointingly transparent and retroactively makes the film's strongest trait —  its ensemble cast — a little weaker.

"Honor Among Thieves" has a lot going on character-wise, with its story dutifully, passably supporting its large cast. The story approaches its daunting number of subjects with an "everyone gets a moment" type of strategy. In each act, the film introduces a new member and focuses almost exclusively on them until the next character is introduced. Though it often verges episodic and makes some characters more forgettable than others, it does achieve the effect of at least giving the audience a clear, defined chance to learn about and invest in new members of the team.

At the end of Xenk's chapter of the story, however, he just walks away, which makes the whole short journey feel like wasted time. Yes, he helped them find the particular MacGuffin they were looking for and one could argue he helped push Edgin forward on his redemption arc, but neither of those beats can justify his lack of presence in the finale. Why cut him out? Were there not enough enemies for him to cut down? Is there not enough room on the boat? Why is the finale better if he's not there?

The script struggles to bring characters together

Xenk being shuffled away before the final battle is reminiscent of another ensemble film with a slightly overpacked cast. Before the last act of Marvel's "Eternals," the fan-favorite character Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is similarly sidelined. In both instances, it feels as though the film is shrugging at the audience. "We don't know what to do with this guy anymore, and frankly we're tired of thinking about it."

The final battle in "Honor Among Thieves" is perfectly fine. It's entertaining, bright, and fast-paced, and there are plenty of imaginative aspects all around, but there aren't a lot of collaborative moments amongst the assembled crew. One person does one thing, then another person does another thing, and then Edgin's daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman), comes in and saves the day.

Like the rest of the film, it chooses to focus on one character at a time, which feels like a flat resolution to a story that is ultimately supposed to be about teamwork. By writing Xenk off immediately, the film unintentionally spurs this annoying realization that any one of them could have been written off on that beach, and it really wouldn't have changed the story very much. In a weird way, "Honor Among Thieves" depicts a team that's whole is lesser than the sum of its parts.

Xenk brought out interesting sides of every character

Aside from revealing the flaws in the plot's ability to support the number of characters on screen, Xenk's absence in the film's final act robs it of fun opportunities for character interaction. Ironically, what makes Xenk the best character in the movie is what he brings out in everyone else.

The core cast of Edgin, Holga, Simon, and Doric (Sophia Lillis) is perfectly charming and lovely to watch while they beat up a bald wizard, but it can't help but feel like they are missing a glue. Xenk's calm self-surety and kindness are so different from what anyone else is doing on screen, it makes any conversation involving him immediately interesting. His straightforward communication style forces Simon to be assertive and clear, bringing out a dormant aspect of the self-doubting sorcerer eager to come out. Xenk's faith in Edgin's innate goodness and his compassionate treatment of the bard throws off Edgin's flippant demeanor. There's something equally hilarious and heartwarming about Edgin not being too phased by talking corpses or large dragons, but seeming structurally shaken by Xenk's unshakeable belief in him.

Ultimately, Xenk's exit isn't so much unforgivable as it is annoying. Maybe he wasn't as interesting to the writers while they were writing the script, and they weren't expecting an actor like Page to swoop in and steal the show. And, as was said before, his dramatic exit fits his well-meaning sanctimony perfectly. His strut down the beach is sure to elicit many a belly laugh in the theater. It's just hard to imagine that this was the apex of the character's potential, or that the end of the film is better off without him in it.