Despite a high-stakes struggle for the throne and a heck of a cliffhanger for Eretria and Amberle, tonight’s episode completely belongs to Marcus Vanco, who kills it this week as a possessed, tormented Bandon.
But let’s start with the Wambertrio. They’ve come to the end of their quest, which is marked by a battered, faded overpass sign that used to point the way to San Francisco and Oakland. The papers they took from the high school seems to be a map of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, and since the bridge is destroyed, they decide to take the tunnels under the water. (By the way, a wise San Franciscan has informed me that this is the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate Bridge, and this Midwesterner apologizes for getting it wrong in last week’s recap.)
Before they move into the tunnels, Wil gets an idea and picks up a rock. He adds letters to the damaged sign, turning the still-visible SAF of San Francisco and OLD of Oakland into SAFEHOLD.
All right, I’m of two minds with this. On one hand, it’s cool to use references the audience will understand to explain an arcane name from the novel. But at the same time, Safehold is so ancient that its location has disappeared from the elves’ collective memory, and it’s so named because a sign from our time faded, leaving only those letters visible and yet those same letters are coincidentally still visible on the sign after (presumably) many generations have passed? THIS TIMELINE BUSINESS IS GOING TO KILL ME. I get that the show wants to be The Lord of the Rings-meets-The 100, which are both worthy aspirations, but none of the decay in here makes any sense.
Anyhoodle, they enter the tunnels using torches they find at the entrance (which are clearly made of PVC pipe), and Amberle suggests they split up. (Gurl, no, why?) Wil and Eretria head off together, and he apologizes for the unpleasantness in Utopia, but she brushes it off.
“I just wanted to believe that there was a place for me,” she says. Then they bond over their conflicted paternal feelings: Eretria spent her life running away from Cephelo, who died to save her, and Wil grew up embarrassed by his drunk dad, who was ruined when he used the Elfstones to save the Four Lands.
Amberle interrupts the daddy issues chat to point out a room full of sleeping trolls with Eretria’s tattoo painted on the wall. In order to sneak past, they shimmy along a pipe across the ceiling. The women make it fine, but doofus Wil somehow drops his Elfstone pouch directly onto one of the trolls (which, with their gas masks and overall unpleasantness, I’m guessing are what the Dread Doctors will evolve into three millennia from now). Wil grips the pipe with his legs and unfurls himself to snatch the Stones back, and I bet his yoga teacher’s pleased he’s activating his core like that.
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Above ground, they finds a room with lit candles, as if someone was just there. Eretria’s tattoo is printed on a Latin-filled book, and she says the whole room feels strangely familiar to her. Then her eyes go milky, and she flashes back to Hebel’s warnings and the images from Amberle’s visions. Suddenly her tattoo burns what looks like a BART map into her skin, and she feels in her blood where they need to go. That’s all … incredibly unexpected. Who’d’ve thought our Rover had magic in her?
As she leads the way, she asks Wil if this is how he feels when he uses the Elfstones. “I feel invincible,” she says.
“I usually feel like I’ve been set on fire and beaten with a shovel, so no,” Wil replies.
Eretria leads them to the ruins of a church with a pod-shaped statue on the floor that echoes the elf architecture we’ve seen in Arborlon. Amberle directs Wil and Eretria to stand in front of the stained glass as they do in her vision. They comply, looking hopeful that something will happen. Eventually, Eretria’s tattoo shape appears on the floor in lights, but they still don’t know what to do — until two terrifying women calling themselves the guardians of the Bloodfire appear, their beautiful faces morphing into skulls.
NEXT: The “save the Ellcrys” plan hits some snags