The Shannara Chronicles: Season 2 Opens With Mind-Blowing Changes
By Arlene Allen
Season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles premiered last night on Spike, with an awesome first episode entitled “Druid.” In it we learn the fates of Wil, Eretria, Allanon, Bandon, and the elven kingdom. Season 1 ended with Amberle sacrificing her life to save the Ellcrys and stop the invasion of the Dagda Mor and his undead minions. Bandon turned to the dark side, Eretria was captured by trolls, Allanon disappeared (as he frequently does) and poor Wil was left, devastated to pick up the pieces.
At the beginning of the episode, we learn that Eretria’s captors were not trolls after all, but humans disguised as trolls. Their leader is Cogline, a man Eretria knew as a child. It turns into a happy reunion, and Eretria is whisked off to their home in the ruins of Old San Francisco. The scenery and backdrops are so impressive and stunning; what an incredible job the special effects crew has done!
A year passes. Eretria is happy scavenging metals and pieces of technology for Cogline, who is a sort of techno-druid, trying to recreate some of the technology of old human society. Eretria is convinced that Wil and Amberle will come for her, but Cogline tells her to face the truth, that it’s been a year and they are just simply not coming. Eretria should be content with her new life, and her new love, Lyria. But of course Eretria knows deep down something’s not right.
When they’re scavenging for parts, the group is attacked by real trolls, her friends run, but Eretria, never a coward starts impressively kicking butt. She takes down several trolls before she herself is knocked off a bridge (the Golden Gate Bridge!) and into the water. While Eretria seems to be drowning, she has a vision of Amberle, who tells her there is a new darkness descending on the world and only Wil can stop it. Eretria wakes up in bed with Lyria, who tries to comfort her, but now more than ever, Eretria knows her destiny lies with Wil and Amberle. Seeing her lover’s distress, Lyria tells Amberle that Wil did come but that Cogline chased him off. They break into Cogline’s office, where Eretria finds Will’s pendant. Oops.
Cogline catches them, but Eretria confronts him until he is forced to confess that yes, Wil did come but was sent packing, “for her own good.” The ever hot-headed Eretria wastes no time before ditching Lyria and Cogline and her new life and heading out to find Wil. She doesn’t get very far before she is captured by real trolls. Uh-oh.
Cut to Bandon, who has done full dark side. He has totally embraced the role of badass warlock, and he and his minions live on a snowy mountain in a stronghold shaped like a sinister skull. Bandon begins to lead his followers in a creepy ritual to reawaken the Warlock King who will take over the world with Bandon at his side. The ritual is chilling, creepy and gruesome – Bandon retrieves a heart that is magically beating (I’m pretty sure it’s the Warlock King’s heart) and squeezes it until all of its blood runs into the magical markings on the altar.
The doors to the temple burst open, and there is Allanon, sword drawn and ready to put Bandon in his place. He does try to convince Bandon to come back to the light, but Bandon holds a grudge – he wasn’t too happy about being mind-controlled by the Dagda Mor and losing his love Catania. The side of goodness has no more cookies to offer Bandon, so of course he doesn’t bite. A swordfight ensues, Bandon owns Allanon (I’m starting to wonder how Allanon ever gets anything accomplished, with all his dying and resurrecting on rinse and repeat), but Allanon loses part of his sword in Bandon’s belly before falling off a cliff. Bandon has no worries, as he and his followers lap up the blood on the altar. The minions turn into Mord wraiths, Bandon is healed and given a vision of a warlock sword, last known to be in the possession of one Jerle Shannara…related to present day Wil, last of the Shannar line. Bandon sends his wraiths off to find Wil while Allanon is left a literal cliff-hanger.
As for Wil, he is living in a gnome healing village, training to be a doctor (who knew gnomes were such peaceful healers?). The gnomes look at Wil out of the corners of their eyes; he is an outsider, and he also has Issues. A young woman comes to Wil to have a burn treated, but after he gives her an ointment, she magically heals herself. Oh yeah, she’ll be back. Wil meanwhile is still devastated by the loss of Amberle. In a form of magical self-flagellation, Will summons Amberle only to have her dissipate in his embrace. Definitely the boy has Issues. They start getting in the way of Wil’s surgical training and after he freezes during a surgery, the head gnome tells him that maybe healing just isn’t his bag, that he has an untapped power he should be nurturing. After what happened to Amberle, he wants zero to do with magic or quests or adventures.
King Ander stops by to see how everything’s going with the healers and the gnomes; they are fine but understaffed and and low on supplies. Ander has no good news either; with some sly undertones of socio-political criticism, he reports that the Elven lands still haven’t recovered, with many displaced and homeless, and they too are running out of supplies. There’s also a crazy man on the loose, a General Riga who hates magic users, and feeds into villagers fears after the tragedy that befell them. They are all too easily convinced magic is to blame (insert more sly socio-political commentary) and are encouraged to report magic users if they discover them. When General Riga and his army called the Crimson catch up with the magic users, they are branded and crucified (this episode is not short on gore). Anyone who fails to report them are killed, usually along with their families. Yeah, he has those villagers intimidated and under his thumb. He too is searching for Wil and is handing out these very cool looking wanted cards. Riga gets a lead on Wil’s Uncle Flick, and goes off to terrorize Shady Vale. He sends bounty hunters after Wil.
Wil is drowning his sorrows in a tavern when who should wander in but the lovely lady with the burned hand. Her name is Mareth, and she tells Wil he is wanted. She shows him one of the wanted cards, and warns him that a trio drinking in the corner are actually bounty hunters working for a whack job killing magic users ( General Riga), and obviously Wil is at the top of his list. They try to slink out of the bar, pretending to be a happy drunk couple, but blow their stealth check (this show so lends itself to Dungeons and Dragons and gamers) and the bounty hunters pounce. There’s a massive bar brawl, and the bounty hunters are taken out. Mareth is a pretty deadly babe herself, and Wil holds his own, but is badly injured in the fight.
They sneak back into the healers’ village, Wil worried about being caught and this being the final straw that will end his healing career. He heals himself with the elfstones and falls asleep. He is awakened to the sound of intense distress; he finds survivors of an attack on Shady Vale by the villainous Riga. One survivor tells Wil his Uncle Flick has managed to escape somehow, and tells him Riga and the Crimson don’t play; they are hell-bent on the destruction of magic users. He tells Wil to get out of Dodge, and Wil actually listens, grabs his things and beats it. He’s going to go after Eretria again, and refuses to come back alone this time.
He doesn’t get very far before Bandon’s wraiths attack (Wil’s life is going to be sheer hell this season). The wraiths are distracted by another Wil, and he leads them off on a wild goose chase through the woods. Wil is dumbfounded, a very WTF expression on his face, especially when he discovers that Mareth is behind the illusion. He asks her why she is helping him, and she tells him he needs to lead her to Allanon. Persistent Wil keeps asking why and Mareth drops the biggest bombshell of the episode: she is Allanon’s daughter!
What a great way to start a season! I was riveted and on the edge of my seat the whole time. I really felt Eretria’s and Wil’s gaping hole of loss; the sacrifice of Amberle was such a major blow that even I haven’t recovered from. I love how the actors are all in; in certain fantasy shows it seems as if they know it’s a genre show and are consciously play acting Not these actors! We also get a little fan service; Wil may have cut his hair but he still has Those Abs, and Bandon is no slouch when it comes to muscle. I appreciated the socio-political undertones, creating relatable parallels to our own times. It’s also never far from the viewer’s minds that this is OUR world, post-apocalypse. Second season is off to an amazing start – I can’t wait for episode 2!!