Previously on The Shannara Chronicles
- The Ellcrys is dying
- Demons are escaping and it's all, literally very Forbidding
- Allanon is showing Wil how to be hot AND use magic
- Amberle broke some elf rules and she may be at fault for the world ending
- Eretria stole Wil's elf stones which both is and is not a euphamism
- MTV is making a fantasy series and they miiiiight be pulling it off. Maybe.
So, the pilot episode ended on a relatively minor cliffhanger. Wil and Amberle are about to be attacked by a very winged, very CGI demon. Amberle is afraid because that emotion is still kind of her one, stand-out note so far, and Wil is also afraid but he's got his pig sticker out to fight this enormous beast and, bless him, at least he's trying.
Not trying so hard at the close of the pilot however, was the man who strokes my little death, Allanon. When he and Wil find Amberle, she's staying with her aunt, Pyria who also happens to be Allanon's main squeeze from before he went into the carbon freeze, I mean deep, druid sleep.
I wanted to be excited that the show was bringing in a matriarch, but I had this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, like when it's Passover and you suddenly realize that this is probably gonna be bubbie's last seder. And I was right. No sooner had Pyria said "Where you been, Manu Bennett? Momma needs a little sugar" (I'm paraphrasing), then the demon shows up, bats Allanon out of the way like a sexy rag doll, and dispatches the one, older female character The Four Lands seemed to have going. Which is a real shame. On the other hand, I guess that means Allanon is single now, holla!
All of which, finally, brings us to this episode. Where were we again? Oh, right -- dat demon creepin' on Wil and Amberle. Well, that doesn't last long, since Allanon leaps out of nowhere with his magic sword and slices the demon's arm off right before decapitating it.
So, Amberle finds out all the other Chosen are dead. She's both scared AND sad about that news (so we're up to two emotions now, yeah!) so she runs away, which is still her go-to. Wil runs after her for a little character building confab. It's a lot of "this is all my fault" and "I get it because my mom's dead" (waaa?) and "you're brave" and "no you are". I don't recall much of high school, but I suddenly got the phantom wiff of hormones, CK1, and cucumber melon during this scene, so take that as you will.
Allanon got sliced up pretty badly in the fight. He whips out his map and bleeds all over it, telling Wil and Amberle to take him to his druid cave digs. Once there, Allanon is all "leave me" and Wil is like, "No, you're our muscly sex appeal and Dany will stop watching if you die." so he and Amberle head off to the Silver River because it's mud has some muddy healing...mud. So, a side quest then? Sure, why not -- Wil and Amberle should probably grind up their levels a bit, any way.
Amberle finds out Wil is part of the Shannara bloodline, which she is very excited about. Then, when they get to the Silver River, Wil takes off his shirt. which I am very excited about. Amberle looks him up and down like, "boy, you can get it". And, in fairness, yeah...Manu Bennett who?
So, Wil dives into the river to get some mud but, when he comes up for air, Amberle is missing. Please don't mean Eretria, please don't mean Eretria, PLEASE don't mean Eretria.
Eretria steps out with a knife to Amberle's throat. D****T. And she's got a flunky with her, too. SWELL. Eretria's gotta get Amberle and Wil back to her father so they can use the elf stones and Eretria can be free. So, I guess we're really dragging this side quest out, then.
Amberle and Wil argue over how to get out of their situation, while in collars and earshot of Eretria and her Rover friend. Wil insists that he thinks there's more to Eretria than being a heartless rover, and in a shocking move, Ivana Baquero delivers the line "You're wrong" with some actual pathos. Hooray! I actually kind of care about her for once.
Arriving at the Rover camp, Eretria's dad, Cepholo, is all smiles. Surprise, he wants to trick Wil into showing him how the elf stones work. He's hedging his bets by having Eretria fight Amberle to the death in case he needs to force Wil's hand. But then Eretria gives Amberle some schtick about how she'll only kill Amberle when she wants to and not when her dad says so. Amberle gives Eretria a good headbutt, and then the knife at the throat for good measure.
I don't want to shock anyone, but Cepholo doesn't exactly care about his daughter, so when Amberle rolls up with her, "Let Wil and I go or else Eretria gets it" speech, Cepholo just laughs and laughs.
No time for dead daughter chuckles now, though, because another winged demon shows up. Amberle shouts "Fury" so now I know what those demons are called. Thanks for getting there, show. Cepholo gives Wil his elf stones to use. Wil doesn't know what's up at first but then, for some magical reason I'll refer to as "magic," he suddenly knows how to use the stones. The fury kind of hangs in one spot so Wil can blow him up real good. I guess the demon was set for training mode? Either way, the stones burn Wil's hand and he passes out.
Now, you might assume this is a pretty bad situation. Wil's down for the count, Amberle has nothing to bargain with...so it's a good thing there's deus ex Allanon who, magically healed, just kind of rolls up, takes his friends, and that's it. How did that work? I'm assuming MTV cut the scene where Allanon just sexed 'em all up. Too bad. Sounds like the best scene we'll never see.
With that side quest over, we can finally get back to the adventure at hand. Almost. With Wil resuscitated, the trio are on the way back to Arborlon, when they discover an elf locked in a barn with a metal mask fitted tightly to his face. Amberle releases him and promises to care for him. The elf's name is Bandon and, since he seems like he has no (living) family, I guess he's kind of aBANDONed, right? Don't be angry. I'm just telling the jokes I think we're all relieved that MTV could have made, but decided to do Shannara up right instead.
OK. Amberle, Allanon, and Wil are finally, FINALLY back at Arborlon. Turns out that, other than Uncle Ander, everyone thinks Amberle is totally to blame for the Ellcrys dying. But before she can appear before the council, we find out that Bandon has that future sight when he touches Amberle and sees her future death.
Not knowing that, though, Wil tells Allanon that he basically hates this adventuring stuff. He just wants to be a farmer on Tattoine, like his Uncle Owen! Or, ya know...whoever! So, Allanon takes the elf stones and tells homeboy he'll hold onto them until Wil comes back. Which takes less than five minutes. Bandon just rolls up tells Wil, very cryptically that, if he leaves now, Amberle is going to die when she goes to Safehold (which is where we'll be headed pretty soon, I imagine).
So, finally, Amberle meets up with the council, and they are pretty mad that she ran off after maybe possibly causing complete armageddon. She wants to come back and take care of business, but they're not so sure. Thankfully, Wil shows up and gives the most tepid rousing speech of all time. But, for some reason, it's thoughtful nods all around. Yeah, if this rando says she deserves a second chance, why not, right? What have we got to lose other than EVERYTHING?
The episode ends with Amberle needing to go inside the Ellcrys in order to fetch a sacred seed. She might die. No big.
And that is Episode 3 (the pilot was the first two episodes). There's nothing really ugly this episode, so let's just sum up the good and the bad real quick.
- Amberle is developing into an actual person very quickly. She spent a lot of this episode being neither scared nor sad.
- It's nice having Amberle check out Wil's body as a parallel to last episode when the opposite happened. I don't have any beef with people giving each other the once over so long as there's balance, and MTV seems like they get that it makes sense to show off the sex appeal of all genders.
- The scene where Wil realizes he can use the elf stones is a pretty cool moment. It felt like there were real stakes and I got caught up in the moment hoping that everything would work out alright.
- I like Cepholo quickly jumping back and forth between cult of personality and cruel monster dad. Even though the "selling my daughter off for prostituion"subtext is not my fave, I think that sinister quality James Remar brings to the role is very exciting.
- There's a very thin line between moving along at a fast clip and skipping ahead. MTV's version of Shannara feels like it crosses that line a little more than I'd like. It's most noticeab when Wil seems like he's leaving the adventure but then returns mere moments later. It's hard to sell an audience on someone being a reluctant hero when they're only reluctant for a matter of seconds.
- In sharp contrast to some things moving too quickly, if Eretria is going to be our lovable anti-hero, I sure wish we'd get to that place soon. Right now, in addition to the frequently mediocre acting, Eretria's character is coming off as exceedingly unlikable most of the time. Now that she's away from dear old dad, get her in the party so she can be unpredictable and fun there. Everyone else is so genuine, Eretria could actually work really nicely as a foil for Wil, Amberle, and Allanon.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Some people have pointed out that, had I read the books, I would know the answers to some of the questions I posed last time. But I specifically want to see how this show functions on its own. If something is unclear on the show that is clear in the books, I think that's a real problem. Also, some of those questions are just me playing around. But definitely talk about the books in the comments. It's interesting to read about the differences. Just try not to reveal any major plot events, character deaths, or other spoilery terrain.
- I'm sure I will eventually stop pointing out the parallels between Shannara and Star Wars, but today is not that day. And speaking of, if Wil is Luke, Amberle is Leia, and Allanon is Obi-Wan, does that make Eretria Han? And are Amberle and Eretria going to be "a thing"? Because that's fine by me.
- I'm really glad people are bringing their book knowledge into the comments. I would be even more glad if we'd all consider letting the comments remain a place where people talk about the things they like and don't about the show while adding their own insights and jokes along the way. I'd love to build a community here and comments that strafe into being condescending or insulting don't do that. It's such a wild suggestion, I know. But, ya know, think it over. It could be pretty sweet.
And that's all. Stay tuned for next week, when Amberle gets all up in that tree.