The Shannara Chronicles recap: Changeling
The Wil-Amberle-Eretria love triangle elbows its way front and center tonight as the three prettiest people in Arborlon make a series of decisions that radically shift the group dynamics. Also, two of them get naked.
First up is Amberle, who enters the Ellcrys to see if she’s worthy of the world-saving quest. Pollen to the face from an Ellcrys flower (rude!) sends her to a blasted, body-strewn wasteland.
Lorin appears, accusing her of never loving him but having feelings for someone else. Then Wil appears, wearing all black. Even his huge stone arts-and-crafts-fair necklace is dark. Say one thing for Wil Ohmsford, say he knows how to properly accessorize.
Dark Wil orders Amberle to kill him to prove her commitment to the quest, then attacks her with a sword in an aggressive manner that I don’t think real Wil could manage. He tells her to harden her heart because the fate of the world depends on her not letting fear or love distract her.
She finally runs him through with a sword, and Dark Wil gasps out that she passed the test. She then sees a vision of Wil, Eretria, and a stained glass window. She comes to inside the Ellcrys, bloody and disheveled, and the flower opens to reveal the Ellcrys seed, an avocado-sized silver pod. When she emerges, King Eventine booms, “The Ellcrys has chosen Amberle to carry the seed to the Bloodfire.” Amberle leaves the sanctuary, giving Wil a strange look and a wide berth.
We flip to the Changeling in the form of a castle guard and communicating with the Dagda Mor, astral-projection style. The DM orders it to kill Amberle before she leaves the palace. And in case you were worried that our favorite Druid is terrible at his job, the Changeling also says it’s taking all of its power to hide its presence. Unfortunately for the head Ellcrys-keeper, he notices the guard’s odd behavior and is rewarded with a sword through the throat. Also unfortunate is that he was one of two elves of color that we’ve seen, so now we’ve got even less diversity on this show than before.
So, as a reminder, Amberle has to take the Ellcrys seed to the Bloodfire, which is located in Safehold, and thanks to her vision quest, she now knows that Safehold lies beyond the Wilderun. Prince Ander reminds the king that he once met an elf with experience in the Wilderun, and the royal planning committee decides to send Amberle and Wil to meet him at Fort Dray Wood. A group of soldiers, led by Crispin Edensong (James Trevena-Brown), will accompany them.
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Wil can’t take Amberle’s strange behavior anymore, so he asks why she’s being weird. While I appreciate this direct approach, Amberle hedges and says she’s frightened. “It’s a good thing I’m coming with you,” Wil quips. “I can annoy the demons to death.” But she brusquely tells him not to let his emotions get in the way, and he looks stung. Okay, she’s taking the tree’s advice, but that’s no excuse for hurting Wil’s feelings.
Wil wanders outside and finds Bandon, who recoils from Wil’s offer to bandage the wounds on his wrists left by the chains. Bandon admits that when people touch him, he sees their death. In fact, when he touched Amberle, he saw her and another woman dead in a room with the stained glass from her vision.
NEXT: Fool Wil twice, shame on him …
Who could that other woman be? Well, it’s no coincidence that at that moment, Eretria’s breaking into the castle to steal the Elfstones again. She finds Short Tips in his room and levels with him: Cephelo wants the Elfstones and will kill her if she doesn’t get them. Further, she grew up learning to steal by day and fending off Cephelo’s men by night. She actually doesn’t want the stones; she wants to escape with Wil to a new life.
Sweet, simple Wil won’t help her escape because his new life “could be very, very short.”
Then she turns on the charm, calling him brave and saying Amberle’s lucky to have him. Wil, still reeling from Amberle’s dismissal, says the two of them aren’t together. Then he tells Eretria that he’s not falling for the seduction act again, but she tugs him to her and kisses him.
“I get why you don’t trust me, but I am sorry,” she says. He accepts her apologies, she pushes him to the bed, and we fade to black, presumably so she can do some non-verbal apologizing.
Gotta say, I love the murkiness of this scene. Is Eretria serious about running away with Wil? Did she share the details of her life with him as a manipulation or because she wanted him to know her better? Was sleeping with him the plan all along? Or is it something she actually wanted to do? She’s an untrustworthy mystery, and I hope we get to peel back more layers this season.
In a more clothed part of the castle, Allanon and Amberle are plotting to unmask the demon, and she asks where Wil is. We cut to him, naked and asleep in bed (except for his Etsy necklace). Eretria kisses him and whispers, “I’ll never call you ‘Short Tips’ again.” Hey ooooh!
And now it’s time for some Changeling shenanigans. Bandon bumps into Amberle’s handmaiden, Catania, in the hallway and has a vision. He warns her that she’ll die if she goes upstairs. Not surprisingly, Catania ignores the crazy stranger. Upstairs, Amberle spots Eretria trying to escape. Eretria bolts, and the Changeling takes that opportunity to assume her form.
Catania runs into the hallway and gets in the way of Changeling Eretria’s knife, but Bandon pulls her aside. (Wonder if he’s ever tried to stop a death he predicted before?) Assassination unsuccessful, the Changeling switches back to being a guard, and the real Eretria is caught and dragged before Eventine and Amberle. She insists that she’s innocent until Wil strolls in and announces, “She came for the Elfstones. I wouldn’t put anything past her at this point.”
Allanon makes the Pensive Druid Blue Steel face as Wil retrieves the Elfstones. Eretria tries to convince Wil that she had a million chances to murder Amberle in the woods, so trying in the castle makes no sense. Now Wil’s got the Pensive Halfling Blue Steel look going on. It looks less natural on him than it does on Allanon.
In preparation for her journey, Eventine gives Amberle her father’s sword and says she has his selflessness and bravery. “Arborlon could not have chosen a finer protector,” he says. Eventine also breaks the news to Prince Arion that he’s not going to abdicate the throne even if they defeat the demon horde because Arion’s not ready to be king. When Arion starts to sputter, Eventine snaps that Amberle’s father understood that no one deserves the crown. Arion pouts that it’s tough to live up to his dead brother’s legacy. Oh, boo hoo, Man Bun.
Hey, Amberle and Wil are talking again! But it’s immediately awkward when she asks how Eretria got her hands on the Elfstones. Wil badly lies that they struggled and she knocked him out. I ask you, is that not a little true?
But mind-reader Allanon knows Wil’s dirty little secret. Both men agree that Eretria probably didn’t try to kill Amberle, and since the murderer’s still out there, they use Bandon’s gift to see Lorin’s final moments and determine who it is. Bandon announces that it was Amberle who killed Lorin, and Allanon realizes it’s a Changeling. The group hatch a plan to use Eretria as a decoy Amberle to lure out the demon. Wil thinks he can talk her into it, and Allanon gives him a “try not to sleep with her while you’re negotiating” glare.
Two important points here: Bandon confirms that the woman he saw dead with Amberle in his vision is Eretria, and Allanon tells Bandon that his own mentor was a seer who walked the line between light and dark. I’m hoping we see an Allanon/Bandon druidic training montage soon, possibly set to “Eye of the Tiger.”
NEXT: Lies and the sexy liars who tell them
Amberle and Wil visit Eretria in the dungeon to offer her freedom in exchange for help. She’s either the bait, or she faces the Elven court, Amberle says, reminding her that she assaulted Wil. Eretria is highly amused by this. “Assaulted? Is that what he told you?”
“The details aren’t important,” Wil demurs.
“The struggle was mutual and lasted about an hour,” Eretria coos.
Amberle’s shocked but keeps her cool, even though she’s obviously Not Cool With That. So much for no emotions!
So Eretria poses as Amberle, and she and Wil have some delayed pillow talk as they wait for a demon attack. Eretria accuses him of seducing her. Wil is baffled by this interpretation, as is everyone watching. He tells her he couldn’t possibly regret sleeping with her more than he already does, but she finds a way: “That princess won’t want a Rover’s sloppy seconds.”
Before Wil can respond, Captain Tilton steps in to say that they found the body of a guard, which means that’s the Changeling’s likely form. And this means that the Changeling could know they’re using a decoy because the guards were in the room as they were planning.
We cut to the Ellcrys sanctuary, where Wil races toward Amberle. He draws a dagger, shocking everyone but Allanon, who pounces and breaks Wil’s neck. Then another Wil rushes in — the real one this time. Man, good thing there aren’t two Changelings.
With the demon dead, Eretria tries to leave, but Amberle wants to send her back to the dungeon. Then Wil remembers Bandon’s vision and realizes that Amberle likely saw Eretria in her vision, too.
Busted, Amberle claims she thought the vision was a warning about the attack that just happened. More like she wishes that were the case, instead of it meaning that Eretria’s destined to travel with them. However, Allanon wasn’t in her vision, so that means that the people setting out for Fort Dray Wood will be Amberle, who’s been lying about her visions; Wil, who tried to lie about his sexytimes; and Eretria, who lies about everything. This should be fun.
As they prepare to depart, Wil begs Allanon to come along, but Allanon assures him he’ll learn to unlock the Elfstones and keep everybody safe from demons. “It’s not the demons I’m worried about,” Wil says, looking between Amberle and Eretria. He’s got 99 problems, and these ladies account for most of them.
Via telescope, Cephalo watches the road trip from hell get underway, with Eretria on foot and chained to two guards. He murmurs, “Don’t worry. Daddy’s coming,” and that sentence has never been creepier than it is right here.
And just when you think it’s safe to go back in the castle, another Changeling arrives.
The Brooks Nook
(Reminder: This section is for those of you who’ve read Terry Brooks’ novel that the show is based on and contains MILD SPOILERS FOR NON-READERS. Be sure to keep the comments safe for the un-Stoned.)
Yeah, I don’t know what to say.
Pretty much nothing here lines up with the book, other than the introduction of Crispin. The unmasking of the Changeling happens much later in the book. Book Eretria was into Wil, but there certainly wasn’t any naked time. Amberle’s jealousy is all new, as is her and Wil’s prowess with swords and Eretria’s inclusion in the traveling party. But as with the previous episodes, we’re back on track with the overarching plot (sort of) as the group finally sets off toward the Wilderun.
I’ll leave you with the line of the night that’s guaranteed to make readers cry, courtesy of Vision Wil: “The quest is more important than any one life.” The show’s doing a lovely job of foreshadowing for those who know what’s to come. (Or those who think we know — at this point, it’s anybody’s guess how it’ll all go down.)