Previously on The Shannara Chronicles ... Amberle has to get her seed to Safehold, Bandon and the Dagda Mor got a kinky thing going on, and Eretria's body is a vessel. All aboard the Eretria Express, toot toot!
Now, on The Shannara Chronicles ... it's the penultimate episode! I can taste daylight, can you? So close! And, surprise, this latest offering, "Safehold," is weird and lumpy, just like every other episode and also just like the growth on the back of my neck. Eh. I'll go to the doctor after this review is over. Priorities!
"Safehold" features three plots for the price of one! We get a little Ander, some Bandon and, of course, the lovebirds, Wil, Amberle and Eretria. Barf. Let's (holds nose intensely) dig in.
- King Ander isn't exactly beloved by all at Arborlon. In fact, the council seems bent on dethroning Ander and replacing him with one of their own, the aptly named "Kael." No one really likes kale (be honest, it tastes like farts), and the audience is clearly not meant to like Kael, either. She has Ander imprisoned, but not before he can send commander Tilton on a quest to track down their old gnome buddy, Slanter. Fortunately for Ander, Slanter has convinced his people to rally around the elves and go to war against the Dagda Mor and his army of demons. So Slanter heads to Arborlon, rescues Ander, and the rest of the elves get in line, recognizing that Ander should totally be the king. And just in time, the final leaf of the Ellcrys has fallen, so it's time to go to war -- and they're only outnumbered one thousand to one. Yay!
- Bandon is still under the thrall of the Dagda Mor. He hears the demon tell him to do things -- kill Ander during a practice duel, attack my sweet Allanon, and have some throat-squeezing sex with Catania. Yeah. She's not into it. Next time just try slapping Catania on the butt, Bandon. And Ander on the butt. And do all sorts of things to Allanon. Mmm ... where was I? Oh, right. Allanon has to lay the magical slap down on Bandon because he seems to have gone full dark side.
- Wil, Amberle and Eretria find Safehold, which is basically San Francisco and Oakland combined. Yup. They can't cross the Golden Gate Bridge, though, because it's destroyed, but they can take a tunnel, which miraculously isn't. There, they find the place in Amberle's vision, but they also discover two witchy guardians of the Bloodfire who, for reasons, don't want Amberle to complete her mission. Also, also, Eretria's tattoo appears all over the Bay Area transit system, causing it to magically expand over her whole body. Turns out Eretria's body is a vessel and her blood is the key, which is a fancy way of saying she has to impale her hand on a magic spike that trickles her blood down a pyramid, thus causing the Bloodfire to appear. Wil elfstones his way through the two guardians, and Amberle steps into the Bloodfire, Ellcrys seed in hand, and disappears. Wil is left with Eretria who seems like she may have bled to death, but probably not.
The good news is that things were really happening during "Safehold". The bad news...well, we'll get to that in a moment. But first!
- Once again, Ander's plot is the most cohesive and the most fantasy-like. That the other elves might have doubts about him being king makes a lot of sense considering he was in a drunken stupor not too long ago. It's a little paint-by-numbers, but it was nice to see Ander's alliance with Slanter pay off.
- Speaking of Ander, the best part of "Safehold" comes in the form of an image and a question. Ahem. Ander? What you gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk?
- Eretria's tatoo growing across her whole body was a neat little visual effect. In fact, most of the last leg of the journey towards Safehold had an exciting air of mystery about it, especially as it relates to Eretria's destiny. When she slams her hand into that magic pyramid, it's almost like there's stakes (well, at least that stake sticking through her hand).
- When Amberle disappeared into the Bloodfire, I thought, "Oh, no, where did Amberle go!" I have never cared enough to think that thus far, so call it a win.
- Everything about Bandon's plot and character feels completely tacked on. If Ander rescued him from the Dagda Mor, why is Bandon still under the demon thrall? And why isn't Bandon under stricter guard after trying to kill Ander?
- Catania knows that Bandon is struggling for self control, which is exactly why now is the time she decides to try to ride the bone train with him. What? I actually thought maybe she was secretly secretly working for the Dagda Mor at this point, because why else would she hurl herself into unnecessary danger this way? Bandon sees a vision and, that false image, is a lot more interesting than Catania getting choked out because she trusted the possessed guy like a total dip.
- There is a point at which Wil, Amberle, and Eretria have to sneak passed some sleeping bad guys by shimmying along pipes above them. Wil drops his elf stones on the bad guys and then has to quietly pick them up. I assume they got idea from the plotof the second Care Bears movie. Or, you know, every other movie ever. I'm all for a little humor, but The Shannara Chronicles hasn't really tried something like this before, so it feels really out of place and silly.
- The guardians of the Bloodfire turn Amberle and Eretria against each other by pointing out that they each still want Wil. Yes, more love triangle nonsense to guide the fates of our two female leads. Not to throw down the Bechdel gauntlet here, but it's infuriating that, every time these two women start developing their own relationship, the show throws a dude-shaped wrench into the works.
- Maybe this is nitpicking, but since when have their ever been two witch-like guardians of anything? Two, as a number, is only for representations of absolutes, good vs. evil, black vs. white, Clark Kent vs. Evil Superman in Superman III. You use three witches, show. Three. That's quite literally the magic number.
And that's all for "Safehold". Next week we'll finally wrap things up, quite possibly forever since the likelihood of Shannara getting picked up for a Season 2 doesn't exactly seem great. But, if you've enjoyed me making fun of television, I bring you good news - beginning next week, I will be reviewing Gotham. Yes, Gotham -- the craziest, most ridiculous, most hammer-fisted (there's literally a guy with a hammer for a hand) show on television. I can't wait, and I hope you'll join me for that.