WARNING: This review contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Shannara Chronicles.
Flashbacks and demons and gnomes and marsh wolves, OH MY! In this weeks episode of The Shannara Chronicles, MTV really stepped up their game.
We begin with a flashback to ten-years ago: young Amberle (Angelina Cottrell) and Lorin (Reon Bell) race to see who can reach the Ellcrys first. Of course, Amberle wins, the Ellcrys giving her visions even then. As the guards apprehend them and bring the two back to Arborlon, we begin to understand why Amberle chose to run The Gauntlet in the first place. Her father, Prince Aine’s (Roy Snow) still alive, and the one who points out to her that while there has never been a female Chosen, there’s nothing saying that a woman can’t run.
While Aine and Amberle are having their little chat, Ander Elessedil (Aaron Jakubenko) and Commander Tilton (Emilia Burns) are having a little tryst outside the entrance to the palace. After parting ways, the Gnomes use the same entrance conveniently revealed to them by Ander and Commander Tilton to sneak into the palace. Once inside, they attack King Eventine (John Rhys-Davies), and in the fray slay Prince Aine. The gnome’s leader, known as Slanter (Jared Turner), is captured and (as we find out later) imprisoned for ten years in the dungeons. Thus explains Ander’s burning guilt over the death of his older brother.
Back in the present day, Crispin Edensong’s (James Trevena-Brown) leading Wil (Austin Butler), Amberle (Poppy Drayton), Eretria (Ivana Baquero) and the rest of the Elven scouts out to Drey Wood to find Rin Katsin, who can lead them through the Wilderun to Safehold, and The Bloodfire. They make the journey by horse, much more exciting than the five-day trip by river in the book, and which also conveniently provides the opportunity for, you guessed it, more drama!
Cephelo’s (James Remar) less than pleased to see his “daughter” being dragged around in chains behind horses (despite doing the same thing to Wil and Amberle) and plans an ambush with his Rover Clan. They succeed and he leaves Crispin, Wil, and the rest of the scouts out in the wilderness after slashing Crispin open to lure in the Marsh Wolves. After abandoning everyone, Cephelo pays Eretria for bringing him Amberle. In an attempt to appeal to her greedy side, Amberle offers Eretria twenty times what he’s paying her, but her pleas fall short of the Rover girl’s ears. Once Eretira leaves Amberle to her fate, we wait with baited breath as Cephelo seems to begin planning raping her!
As the Rovers are attacking, back in Arborlon we learn that demons have been leading raiding parties against Elven settlements. Catania (Brooke Williams) also seems to have fallen for our mysterious Bandon (Marcus Vanco) , and while it comes across as cute, again, it’s just more drama. Also, might I note once again that at this point in the books, STILL NO BRANDON! However, before either of them can do anything permanent (I dunno, like spawning another new character?), Allanon (Manu Bennett) gets ahold of him, and drags Brandon before the Ellcrys. The Druid explains that his duty is to his gift; he only sees possibilities of the future, hence why he could save Catiania last episode. Allanon has him attempt to contact Amberle through the Ellcrys, which goes horribly, horribly wrong in the end, of course!
While everyone’s getting into their own brand of trouble, Ander wants Slanter’s help finding the demons to try and figure out where they’re going to break through. In a line suspiciously similar to one in Thor: The Dark World, Slanter says, “You must be desperate to come for my help.” Anyone else see a Loki character here?
When Bandon attempts to reach Amberle through the Ellcrys, the plan goes awry; instead, his eyes turn a terrifying black, impying to me that Bandon’s been possessed by the Dagda Mor (Jed Brophy).
Eretria saves Amberle from the lascivious grasps of her father/owner, of course, emphasizing the twenty-times payment. They then save Wil’s moderately-incompetent self and the awkward group continues to Drey Wood with Cephelo in tow, which ends up actually being a good thing. Getting back on track toward Drey Wood. things begin to realign with the book storyline. As the party approaches the fort they’re met with the heads of Elves pitched atop it, including that of Rin Katsin.
First off, The Reaper looks suspiciously like a Balrog.
Seriously, right out of The Lord of the Rings! I was half-expecting Gandalf to pop out of nowhere and yell, “Fly you fools!” However, I digress. Cephelo slashes open Wils hand, hoping that demons are drawn by blood, which does work. However, Wil can’t call upon the power of the Elfstones, which means the plan kinda backfires. Cephelo leads him back to the badlands they’d avoided shortly prior, drawing the demon into the middle, where he impressively explodes a gas can.
To end the episode with a real bang, Arion Elessedil (Daniel MacPherson) states that he’s going to handle King Eventine. I suppose he does, because Arion turns out, of course, to actually be the Changeling! Duh, duh duuuuuuuh! MTV just can’t resist making more and more and more drama, and Changeling-Arion kills Eventine. I’ll admit it: I cried. The episode closes with the Changeling taking the form of Eventine. Long live the King.
This is kinda where MTV starts to lose the book. While there have been spots here and there that weren’t canon (Bandon, Aunt Pyria, Amberle not being a kid) this is where they really start to go off into left field. A horseback ride to Drey Wood is more exciting than a five-day trip by river in which Amberle and Wil aren’t allowed outside of their cabin. Yes. However, this whole thing they’re spinning with Eretria and Cephelo and the Rovers, it’s just not there. They don’t kidnap Wil and Amberle, Cephelo doesn’t try to rape her, nothing. They aren’t even mentioned after Wil gets their horse back from them while he and Amberle are heading to Arborlon. There’s no mention of the bad things the previous humans did (us, from the looks of things, thanks y’all), but it does makes it interesting.
Rin Katsin isn’t a character in the books, he’s a combination of two of them. More specifically, he’s Rin and Katsin, the guards who take Wil and Amberle to Drey Wood and both die. Also, Ander doesn’t need the help of the gnomes, he’s more than capable by himself thank you very much. Finally, the Changeling as Arion certainly doesn’t kill Eventine in The Elfstones of Shannara. He’s currently quite content spying on their every move in the form of the loyal dog Manx. I’m honestly curious as to how they’re planning on continuing with the real Eventine dead and all of the Elves being ruled over by a demon.
On one last note that’s not exactly an objection. This television adaptation is waaaaay sexier than the Terry Brooks’
series ever was. Manu Bennett playing Allanon with the accent and the hair… no way, guys. Allanon’s supposed to be deeply cowled, his face cloaked in darkness, not a steaming hunk of Aussie.
Furthermore, how many times have we seen Austin Butler shirtless now? I dare you to Google “Shannara Chronicles Wil shirtless”. I mean, he’s almost as attractive as Manu Bennett, but these books have no romance in them whatsoever thus far. Wil and Eretria do eye each other the one time they meet, but that’s it. What’s with television shows needing some form of romance or intrigue to be deemed “worth producing”?
The Shannara Chronicles airs Tuesday nights at 10pm EST on MTV.