Sara Netzley
January 06, 2016 AT 03:01 PM EST

Finally, Allanon and Wil ride up to Pyria, who’s astounded to see her former love. Wil runs off to fetch Amberle, leaving the Druid alone with his ex.

“You abandoned me to grow old without so much as a goodbye,” sighs Pyria, now wrinkled and gray-haired. “And now you return, young and strong as a spring stag.”

Allanon tells her that he didn’t have any choice but to go into Druid hibernation after the war. “You will never know how sorry I am, or how much you still mean to me.” Gah, the Highlander of it all is killing me! Too bad the show didn’t use “Who Wants to Live Forever” here, instead of the Queen-lite song they chose. You would’ve seen so many fans shedding a solitary tear.

Anyway, Pyria’s not happy to see Allanon for another reason, too: He’s dragging her niece and Wil into a life-or-death struggle. “Once again, you are the puppet master, manipulating innocent lives as you see fit.” Does Allanon ever get tired of being the living embodiment of a bad-news harbinger, I wonder?

Elsewhere, Wil tracks down Amberle, and let’s all take a second to roll our eyes that Wil first sees her bathing naked in a waterfall. At least the dummy slips on a rock and goes down hard, giving Amberle a chance to slip out of the water and threaten him with a knife — still naked, of course. She glimpses his ears, and he explains that he’s a half-elf. “Yes, they’re small, so spare me the ear jokes,” he quips, then urges her to put some clothes on to make the conversation less awkward.

As she dresses, he tries to convince her that she needs to return to Arborlon, and she’s horrified to learn that the Ellcrys is dying.

Speaking of, in Arborlon, another leaf falls, and a new demon is released. It’s a fury, and it flies straight to Amberle’s location while knocking Allanon off a cliff and attacking Pyria, whose screams alert Wil and Amberle that something’s wrong.

They arrive on the scene at a run, and the Fury abandons Pyria’s body to menace them. Wil shoves Amberle behind him and faces down the enormous monster with only a tiny dagger to protect them.

And SCENE!

So what do we think, gang? Do you have room in your heart for this slightly off-beat fantasy show, where beautiful people with pointy ears race to stop a demon invasion that’s held back only by a dying magical tree, set thousands of years after the end of our civilization?

I’m definitely eager for the rest of the story to unfold. The acting’s solid, the stakes are high, and the people, costumes, and landscapes are all pretty to look at. The post-apocalypse Earth setting allows the characters to speak in an anachronistically contemporary style and wear hoodies and pants with modern pockets. After all, who knows what scraps of the old world would be retained over the centuries? It’s a fresh twist on the old sword-and-sorcery tropes; here’s hoping it catches on with audiences.

Finally, the Brooks Nook:

Those of you who’ve read Terry Brooks’ novel that the show is based on, let’s chat. (MILD SPOILERS FOR NON-READERS, and be sure to keep the comments safe, too.)

Welp, big changes abound here, for sure. Wil is Shae’s son rather than his grandson, and Shae himself apparently had a tragically diminished end to his life. The Chosen selection is more aggressive, and Amberle has far more agency in pursuing it. Then there’s the way Wil meets Eretria. And Allanon. And Amberle. Still, the end goal seems to be the same, and I’m excited to see how the show goes about reaching it.

Amberle’s definitely more of a fighter, and Eretria’s obviously going to be a major part of the narrative for the entire show, rather than dropping out of sight for chapters at a time. Plus, Ivana Baquero brings an intriguing fierceness to the role.

Allanon is basically perfect, although TV Allanon seems a little less omniscient, and his doomed romance is certainly a humanizing, vulnerable beat.

And then there’s Wil. Oh, sweet Wil. He’s far less competent in the show, no? He’s sheltered and naïve, he hasn’t started training as a healer, and Allanon’s irked about being saddled with him rather than seeking him out because he’s the right halfling for the job. I loved the way book Wil knew exactly how to play it with the Rovers who stole the horses; TV Wil doesn’t have the street savvy (forest savvy?) to pull that off yet. On the other hand, Austin Butler brings charm and humor to the table, and you need that in a show where people speak plummily about accepting destiny and whatnot. And how about Wil saying that saving the Ellcrys isn’t going to require a human sacrifice? They put that in to troll book readers, didn’t they? Sob!

At least we can all agree that Arion is still the worst. 

( 5 of 5 )

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