Last time on the Shannara Chronicles: a whole lot of nothing.
Eritrea goes a-wandering. These satellite dishes are surprisingly intact, as decreed in the official post-apocalypse handbook, chapter 13 section 5 sub-section b3 (“Even if human civilization has decayed to the point where entire cities have vanished, occasional pieces of atmospheric scenery will remain in order to mournfully remind the viewer of all that has been lost”).
Amberle wanders into Eritrea’s camp and almost gets a knife in the eye for her trouble. A brief Tarantino-esque standoff ensues in which both of them lie about who they are and where they’re going, and Eritrea tries the old poisoned-drink strategy again, but Amberle is a sharper cookie than Wil and sees through the ruse. After disabling Eritrea she grabs some random stuff from Eritrea’s camp and skedaddles.
Meanwhile, Wil and Allanon ride through a fantasy desert/Arizona to arrive at Paranor, an ancient centre of magical learning. Wil says “it’s just a ruin” and there’s an awkward pause while Allanon slowly turns and stares at him, as though this line was meant to be funny for some reason.
Inside they start searching for the Codex of Paranor, which Allanon hopes will contain the means of saving the Elcryss. Will makes stupid unfunny quips and complains about everything, and I hate him and want him to die.
Back in Elftown, the king and whoever this guy is talk about Amberle’s visions. The fact that she claimed the Elcryss was communicating with her before Allanon ever showed up is enough to convince everyone that shit really is going down, and that Amberle is important. The king orders all of the Chosen and the Elven Council to be taken to some secure location and guarded night and day.
BACK OVER TO WIL AND ALLANON (this thing jumps around like a kangaroo on speed). Wil is still being a whiny pissbaby and refuses to believe Allanon, who spouts a lot of guff about his destiny and seriously for-real says “you know it to be true.”
I am so fucking tired of this destiny crap, where some random douchebag gets singled out to be the hero despite possessing absolutely no laudable qualities whatsoever. It’s not even a case where Wil is the only one who can do the thing because he has some special power, it’s literally just “his destiny” to save the world because he’s descended from royal blood.
Allanon yells LET YOUR EYES BEAR WITNESS and does some fancy swooshy magic while Wil makes stupid faces. Whoever wrote the score was clearly instructed to assume this scene would be dramatic and stirring. They were misinformed.
Anyway Allanon pulls a section of wall away and finds the Codex (“BEHOLD THE CODEX OF PARANON”). It states that when the Ellcrys begins to die a member of the Chosen will have to carry one of its seeds to somewhere called Safehold and immerse it in “the Bloodfire”, whatever that is.
If this thing contains important information about how to keep the Ellcrys alive, why was it sealed away behind a wall? Shouldn’t it have been kept in Elftown, so the Elves would know what to do when the Elcryss starts to die? In fact, why don’t Allanon and the king already know this, weren’t they involved in its creation?
Allanon says he has no idea where Safehold is, and then he’s struck by some sort of psychic vision where the demon from the previous episode taunts him. Except apparently he’s not a demon, he’s a corrupted druid called a Dagda Mor. Well okay then.
The shape-shifting sex demon from earlier sneaks into Elftown disguised as Amberle and murders all of the Chosen, including Amberle’s not-boyfriend, thus fulfilling the prophetic vision she had in the first episode. Since she’s now the only remaining Chosen, her survival is of the utmost importance.
Speaking of which: brief cut to Amberle getting attacked by trolls while riding through a spooky forest. I’ll say this in the series’ favour, at least it’s quite fast-paced. Now if only it wasn’t hilariously awful in every other regard…
While everyone is surveying the carnage one of the other Elf guys says “this must be the work of gnomes”, and I had to pause the video to laugh my ass off. Apparently they’ve “struck at the heart of the palace before.” Stop it dude, you’re killing me.
The king argues with his son, who doesn’t believe in any of this demon malarky and wants hid dad to abdicate so he can take over. For some reason. Didn’t the king fight the demons himself? Couldn’t he just say “Dude, I fucking know demons are real, shut the fuck up.”
Apparently Amberle wasn’t actually attacked by trolls, it was really this lady pretending to be a troll. She’s Amberle’s aunt, who she originally set out to find. The way they speak to each other seems to imply that they’ve never met, so I’m not sure how Amberle recognizes her on sight.
Amberle tells Amberlaunt about the vision the Ellcrys showed her, and begs for help in stopping the demons. Then WHOOSH over to something else.
Eritrea gets ambushed by this guy, who’s like the leader of her post-apocalyptic scavenger clan or whatever, and also her dad. They fight about something, I’m too bored to summarize it, and he threatens to sell her to some dude so she gives him the Elfstones to placate him.
blah blah blah Wil searches Amberle’s room and finds letters from her aunt, who it turns out was banished from Elftown because she was in love with Allanon, blah blah. Is this interesting? In fact no, it is not interesting. Allanon and Wil go off to track down Amberle.
Oh my god look at how cute this doggie is! Who’s a cute fluffy doggie with a big nose? Yes you
The fucking dog is the shapeshifting demon lady? Are you kidding me?
When Allanon said they couldn’t let anyone else know where Amberle is I legit, no joke, thought “man imagine if it turns out the dog is actually the demon and she’s listening to everything they say, that sure would be stupid”, and lo and behold.
Also check out the Dreamcast cutscene-level CG on the dog’s eyes.
Meanwhile, Eritrea and her dad’s band of “Rovers” (which seems to consist of Eritrea, her Dad and two bald guys) examine the Elfstones and Eritradad briefly alludes to the plot of the first book: an Elf from Shady Vale single handedly won the War of The Races with a magic sword and the Elfstones. He sends Eritrea off to find Wil again, promising not to marry her off if she does.
If only they put as much effort into the script as they did into the post-apocalyptic scenery.
Will and Allanon have another exposition-fest about the past and Wil’s dad. Turns out Wil’s uncle who we met in the first episode was Flick Ohmsford, who you may remember from the Quick Read.
They arrive at Amberlaunt’s jaunty beach hose; she initially refuses to help them, but Allanon reads her mind and gets Amberle’s location. After Wil scampers off to find her, Allanon and Amberaunt have an emotional encounter over Allanon’s decision to fuck off and go into wizard hibernation or whatever after the war. The actress playing Amberlaunt gives the first actual good performance in the show so far.
Random thought: why is Allanon a Druid and not just a wizard? He has absolutely nothing in common with either real druids or their common fantasy interpretation.
…Seriously? We’re really doing this?
Wil finds Amberle having a shower at a waterfall and is all “ZOMG THAT CHICK IS NAKED” but then she holds a knife to his throat and is all cool and badass. Tell me again why she’s not the main character?
Another leaf falls off the Ellcrys, which means it’s demon time!
Specifically this demon, who kicks Allanon off a cliff and messily kills Amberlaunt.
I think the demons are the one unambiguously successful element of this show. They look cool, the way they move is creepy as hell with this weird jerky, stop-motion quality like old Ray Harryausen effects, and the show does a good job of making them feel genuinely threatening.