After last week's show on the road, this week's episode, "Changeling," features a whole lot of wheel-spinning at Arborlon. In fact, so little actually happens in the way of plot that it can be summed up with more or less one short sentence per character.
- Amberle earns the trust of the Ellcrys and gets its seed (ew...) by killing a fake Wil
- Eretria sneaks into Arborlon to try and retrieve the Elf Stones (again)
- Wil sleeps with Eretria because...????
- Bandon has some more visions
- The Changeling kills some people
- Allanon kills the Changeling. Almost.
- Amberle, Wil, and Eretria set off on a quest.
That's it. This is a dull episode in which basically everyone acts like a complete dip. In fact, let's see if we can do a rundown and discover who is the dumbest.
Could it be Cepholo (oh, yeah, he's in this episode, too)? He sends Eretria into Arborlon to fetch the Elf Stones alone. There's no reason for this. He's got a gaggle of Rovers that could go in and do a better job since, hey, he's not going to sell them into prostitution/slavery. Then, when Eretria is in chains at the end of the episode, he looks happy about it. I think we all get that Cepholo is sadistic, but it feels less menacing and more "I read the script and this is what it told me to do."
Or is Eretria queen of the dummy people? Her big plan to infiltrate Arborlon was to just casually walk around wearing a cloak. As far as general stealthiness goes that's ... not. And when Wil catches Eretria (and by the way, Eretria gets repeatedly caught in this episode), her big plan is to hit on him? Really? Who would fall for that?
Oh, right. Wil would. Because he is also an idiot. In fact, Wil might take the crown for idiocy. He bones Eretria even though he knows she's after his lucky charms. Why? Because she tells him how Cepholo (who's not really her dad, just her owner) likes watching her try to fend off his men. You know what you shouldn't do to a woman who just told you about her history of sexual assault? The sexy times. That's just ... not a thing you do. Especially when the woman in question is Eretria, who has a pretty well documented case of Stockholm syndrome. Let the blood rush back to your brain, my dude.
Amberle isn't an idiot, but mostly by virtue of inaction. She doesn't get much to do in this episode, aside from go into a tree, get placed on a quest and be annoyed that Wil boned Eretria AGAIN. Amberle also pushes Wil away because of her vision where she murders him, but that's not aggressively stupid. It's not hard to understand why being near someone she pretend-murdered might make her feel a little uncomfortable.
But you know who is pretty stupid? Allanon. Yeah, it breaks my heart, too. He keeps betraying the fact that he can kind of read minds, but is also somehow totally unable to figure out who the Changeling is. Also, Allanon is staying at Arborlon and letting Amberle, Wil and Eretria handle the mission because a vision said that's how it would be. Are you for real, you adorable mountain man? Amberle doesn't know what she's doing, Wil doesn't know what he's doing, and Eretria is evil ... and doesn't know what she's doing! This is a terrible plan!
And speaking of terrible plans, even the Changeling is a complete bonehead. It can look like anyone, but spends most of the time appearing as someone who wouldn't be anywhere near Amberle, aka the woman it's supposed to kill. And when the Changeling finally wises up and shifts into looking like Wil, it still reveals its true identity before it's remotely in striking distance of Amberle. All it had to do was wait a few more seconds, get close, and its mission would have been a success. WHY? WHY SO DUMB? GAH! We were all rooting for you this episode, Changeling.
All right. It's impossible to decide who the true lord of all buffoons is, so let's wrap this up.
- Amberle gets her father's sword. It's a very pretty sword. Who doesn't like a sword? Boy, the good stuff is pretty thin this week.
- John Rhys-Davies could read the phonebook and I would believe he was setting me upon the holiest of missions. Any time he's on screen I'm reminded that Shannara has the potential to be some worthy and watchable fantasy television.
- The Changeling isn't actually dead! Which could (arguably) mean its plan all along was to fake its death so it can get back to killing around Arborlon (or anywhere else, really) without anyone knowing what's happening.
- When Amberle faces the Ellcrys trials, she has to kill a fake Wil. That seemed like some hot foreshadowing to me. But when she's presented with an actual fake Wil, it's Allanon who does the slaying. That just feels really uneven and gives Amberle precious little to do.
- Of all the things I don't like about Eretria, her rapey backstory (and maybe future) is the worst. I keep waiting for the story to move beyond #EretriaSoVictim, but it stridently refuses to.
- Bandon is purely an exposition character at this point. Is he good? is he bad? Is he a little bit country? All I know is that he has some future sight which he uses to move the plot forward. Give a guy some dimension, I mean jeez!
- What do you mean Allanon is staying at Arborlon? You had one job, show -- keep that beefy me magnet on screen for as long as possible. Taking him out of the main story is the opposite of that. Why would you do this to me, your faithful reviewer?
And that's all for this week. See you next time when, with any luck, we can get this show back on the road.