‘Orion and the Dark,’ a Dreamworks animated film, takes the viewers on a whimsical adventure through the night. Orion is a young kid with many irrational fears ranging from dogs and killer clowns to the ocean and social ridicule. Yet, the dark remains his biggest fear. As such, his life turns upside down when one night, the actual embodiment of Dark, a giant friendly Night Entity, visits Orion and invites him on a whirlwind escapade across the globe. In the process, Orion meets several other entities, like Insomnia, Sleep, and Sweet Dreams, and finds himself on a quest of a lifetime.
The film surprises its audience with an alternating narrative between two different Orions at different points in his life. In doing so, it ends up charting a rich tale within its central storyline that follows young Orion and Dark as the duo learn to overcome their greatest fears and insecurities together. Still, the oscillating narratives and the introduction of new narrators may leave the viewers with some questions toward the film’s end. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Orion and the Dark Plot Synopsis
Orion is a regular elementary school kid, save for the debilitating list of fears he harbors. As such, the boy finds himself cowering at school often to avoid his natural inclination toward being scared of just about everything. For the same reason, he even declines to go on a field trip to the Planetarium despite his crush, Sally, expressing her excitement at the prospect of them bonding during the same.
However, despite his fear-journal’s chockful nature, Orion’s biggest fear remains the persisting and equally unavoidable dark. Even though his parents attempt to soothe his worries, he always sleeps with his door open wide, with several emergency light backups to keep him company. Yet, the night before the trip, a storm arrives, blanketing Orion’s room in darkness, much to the boy’s displeasure.
Consequently, once Orion begins to freak out, a tall, squared figure emerges due to the former’s annoying complaints and insults targeted toward the dark. As it turns out, the figure is an actual personification of Dark, who is sick of people constantly rebuffing him because of their hurtful fears. As Dark talks about his insecurities born from other people’s perceptions of him, Orion finds himself opening up to the entity, sharing his own similar experiences.
Therefore, Dark concludes that Orion should accompany him on his nightly routine to overcome his fear and prove the misconceptions about the entity wrong. Although Orion hesitates, he realizes he doesn’t want to let fear govern his life any longer. Thus, the two embark on their journey with the young kid perched on the entity’s back as he flies around the night sky, showcasing the merits of darkness, such as drive-in cinemas, fireflies, and fireworks. Yet, Orion manages to harbor specific fears towards them as well.
Eventually, Dark introduces Orion to other Night Entities: Sleep, Insomnia, Unexplained Noises, Quiet, and Sweet Dreams. Each entity has its own duties to fulfill during the night. For the same reason, no one is pleased to see Orion, who manages to accidentally become a pebble in everyone’s shoe due to his inability to understand their roles.
However, after a particularly unpleasant altercation during Sweet Dreams’ routine, Orion realizes that despite his shortcomings, he has managed to overcome his fear of the dark. Consequently, he begins helping the Night Entities in their tasks and bonds with them. Nevertheless, after coming across a particularly sinister dark cottage, Orion realizes his fears aren’t entirely over.
Thus, the boy blurts out a nerve-stricken rambling wherein he implies that daylight is better than darkness in a multitude of ways. In turn, the Night Entities misinterpret his words and assume that Dark is the reason for people’s indifference toward them. Furthermore, they decide to abandon the night and align themselves with Light, the golden boy, and Dark’s nemesis. Orion attempts to change their minds but to no avail.
Therefore, after Dark is forced to travel the world alone, spreading nighttime, he decides he no longer wants his job. For the same reason, he decides the best thing for him to do is cease to exist. Consequently, Dark allows himself to stand under Light’s glow and disappears out of existence.
Orion and the Dark Ending: Does Dark Die?
Dark brings Orion along for a ride through the night as a way to prove to himself and others that he isn’t the scary, glum being that everyone makes him out to be. Although everyone is afraid of him, Orion, with his multitude of fears, always has the most adverse reaction to him. For the same reason, Dark believes that by showing the kid how pleasant he can be, he would finally prove his worth. Nevertheless, Orion’s fears end up getting the better of him and bleed onto the other entities as well, who decide to turn to the Light.
However, the same is only the narrative within young Orion’s story. Early in the film, the viewers discover that young Orion’s adventures are actually a bedtime story that an Adult Orion is telling his daughter. Like her father, Adult Orion’s daughter, Hypatia, is also gravely afraid of the dark. As such, her dad has taken to regaling a tale of his childhood adventure with the Dark, personified, to help her overcome her fears.
Nevertheless, Hypatia is smart enough to see the story for what it is. Still, it piques her curiosity, leading her to compel Adult Orion to continue with the tale. Therefore, as she listens in, she provides notes on occasion, one of which remains her belief that the story should reflect Orion’s struggle with overcoming his fear. Usually, one great experience is hardly enough to dissipate fear from an individual’s mind.
Hypatia knows the same is true because even though Adult Orion isn’t quite so paranoid now, he still fears things every now and then. For the same reason, she urges her father to change the story and maintain authenticity by showcasing Orion’s persisting fear. As such, within Orion’s adventures, the kid’s lingering fear breaks Dark, compelling him to fade away into nothing.
Yet, afterward, Adult Orion realizes he has no conclusive ending for the story— something he has been riffing on from the start. Nonetheless, Hypatia isn’t willing to let the story end on such a gloomy note. As a result, she decides to take over the narrative and inserts herself into Young Orion’s adventures.
Once Light overtakes the world, ridding it of the Dark, people begin to realize just how horrid eternal sunshine can be. With no nighttime, society grows cranky, falling into disorder as the bright, shining light blinds everyone without the contrast of the night. Once Hypatia arrives to help Orion, she reads him a poem she wrote about the significance of Dark in her life. Even though she’s afraid of it, she has realized that the Dark plays an instrumental role in her life.
Through Hypatia’s poetry, the Night Entities realize their mistake and return to help Orion rescue Dark. Since Hypatia is spinning the tale, she asserts that Dark isn’t dead, only lost. However, he’s alive in Orion’s memories and can be revived through his dreams. Thus, the whole team helps Orion tap into the deepest sections of his mind to find Dark. Still, once Orion finds Dark, he has to fight to keep him from falling into an endless pit, symbolizing Orion’s fears.
In the end, Orion gives in to his fears and faces them, earning the ability to save Dark and pull him out of his mind. As such, Orion, Hypatia, and the Night Entities save Dark, who is able to return to his dutiful existence. The world is relieved at his return, and though Dark and Orion say their goodbyes, the latter knows he’ll be able to find the former in different facets of his life again.
How Does Hypatia Return To The Future?
After Orion and Hypatia rescue Dark and restore nature to its yin and yang order, the kids return home. Nevertheless, Hypatia realizes she has no means to return to the future. Hypatia entered the bedtime story due to her persistent need to help out the characters. However, she also wanted to ensure that the story holds a cohesive and compelling narrative. Therefore, she can’t just disappear out of existence without providing a satisfying answer for her return.
Within the story, Orion and Hypatia are slower to understand the same. Once Orion realizes that Hypatia is his daughter from the future, he realizes that simply returning her to her geographical home won’t be enough. Yet, he has no means to send Hypatia decades into the future. In the end, the kids don’t have to worry for long since a third character, Tycho, enters the narrative, extending a helping hand.
Tycho is a time traveler who can take Hypatia into the future with his time-traveling machine. However, time travel comes with a cost, namely, time-based monsters who are hunting the duo since they are disrupting the flow of time. Thus, Hypatia and Tycho engage in a small but thrilling battle against the time-traveling monster before entering the machine and returning to the future.
Tycho drops Hypatia at her home and returns to his. Consequently, the viewers realize that Tycho is actually Hypatia’s son and Orion’s grandkid. The bedtime story about Dark and his Night Entity friends has become a tradition in Orion’s family. Therefore, like Orion told the story to Hypatia when she was young, the latter also shares it with her son. Tycho.
When Hypatia was in charge of the narrative, she couldn’t figure out an end to the story after Dark’s return to the world. Nevertheless, just as she fixed her father’s story’s ending, Tycho fixes hers. For the same reason, he spins a narrative about himself time-traveling into the past to help her mother return home. The ending symbolizes how values, fears, and changes are passed down through generations and how the young will always strive to right the wrongs and provide conclusions to the stories that those before them couldn’t finish.
Furthermore, it also solidifies how overcoming one’s fears doesn’t always have to stem from fierce disregard in the face of danger. Instead, by giving in to our fears and facing them head-on, despite their danger, one can learn to overcome them. Orion proves the same when he ends his story under the night sky as the owner of the planetarium he was once afraid to visit.