The Shannara Chronicles recap: 'Wraith'
Thanks for reading the Shannara Chronicles premiere react last week, everyone! Because of your eyeballs and enthusiasm, we’ll be recapping season 2, so let’s dive right into the second episode.
When we left them, Eretria and Lyria-of-the-mysterious-past had been captured by Rovers. In short order, they’re rescued by a mystery man who leaps into the fray and slaughters everyone with a double-tipped spear. It’s gross when he cuts off all of one Rover’s fingers, and it’s grosser still when he doesn’t clean off his spear blades before retracting them into his staff.
His name is Garet Jax (Gentry White), and Lyria recognizes him as a bounty hunter who’s after her for being, in his words, “a very bad girl.” He knocks out Eretria and agrees not to kill her if Lyria comes without a fight.
To avoid Crimson spies in the palace, Ander and Allanon meet in a seaside cave where Allanon tells the elf prince what went down with Bandon at Skull Mountain (and yes, that’s its official name). Now that Bandon has the Warlock Lord’s heart and sword, all he needs is the dark Druid’s head to resurrect him. Magic kept Allanon from destroying the skull after he defeated the Warlock Lord, but he assures Ander it’s carefully hidden.
Then Allanon, Ander, Catania, Slanter, and a rando elf guard set off for the human Kingdom of Leah, where Queen Tamlin has proposed an alliance to unite the Four Lands. Unfortunately, Gen. Riga has spies in the castle and learns of their destination. He sets off to intercept Allanon and also dispatches a group of Crimson soldiers to Wil’s last known location.
This is bad news for the head of gnomish surgery, who endures a beating for protecting Wil’s location. He’s rescued, sort of, when Bandon arrives and compels the Crimson soldier to stab his buddy and then himself. Bandon psychically extracts Wil’s location and lets Dr. Gnome live with a warning to prepare for the war to come.
In Leah, the exquisite Queen Tamlin welcomes the elf party to her equally exquisite kingdom by reminding Ander that the last time she saw him, he was passed out drunk at his 17th birthday party. Well, that’s one way to start negotiating an alliance, I guess.
The elves are sent to rest up for the celebratory banquet, and bounty hunter Jax arrives to tell the queen that he’s returned with her daughter Lyria. Gaspity gasp! Jax declines the offer of a permanent position and takes his reward to the royal bordello. I’ve…got some questions. In this bordello, are the royals the customers or the courtesans? Does the crown take all the profits? What other royally sanctioned vice shops are there in Leah: a royal mead store? A royal vape shop?
At the banquet, Lyria’s dressed in full princess regalia, which involves a dress with a huge butt bow and no fabric covering the crotch, and the only thing the queen and the princess seem to agree on is the importance of sparkly rhinestone eye makeup. The Shannara Chronicles, continuing to serve us glorious eye candy!
Tamlin takes Ander aside to thank the elves for saving the Four Lands from the demons and to suggest that they can unite all the races against The Crimson through a royal wedding that puts her daughter on the Arborlon throne. Ander doesn’t look pleased, and the fraught glances he’s been exchanging with Catania might explain why.
At the brothel, Jax has located two companions for the night when a bordello-serving wench draws a knife on him. It’s Eretria, of course, and she and Jax grapple. When he realizes she’s in love with Lyria, he agrees to help, explaining, “I have a soft spot for hopeless romantics.”
When Eretria finds Lyria in her finery, she angrily asks if anything about their relationship was real. Lyria says she was finally, fully herself when she was with Eretria. Also, she says her mother hates the elves and is clearly up to something with this royal marriage suggestion. Before she can elaborate, the castle guards show up. As they drag Eretria away, she begs Lyria to tell King Ander where she is.
Eretria is brought before the queen, who says her daughter has a history of running off with feisty brunettes, including a scullery maid and an innkeeper’s son. Further, Lyria has a history of telling her paramours that she only feels like herself when she’s with them, then dropping them afterward. This tidbit hits Eretria right in the gut.
Tamlin offers the Rover an impressive handful of diamonds if she’ll leave the kingdom, or death by execution if she doesn’t. You know, offering to pay or kill someone sort of undermines your claim that your flighty daughter will dump her newest squeeze at any moment, Tamlin.
Those looks didn’t lie, friends; Ander and Catania have struck up a relationship. Ander vows not to spend his life in a loveless marriage, but Catania says they owe it to everyone who died in the demon war to build a better world through a smart alliance. Then Lyria bursts in on them kissing to alert him to Eretria’s presence.
Ander puts on his kingliest mien and tells that guards that Eretria is a hero in the War of the Forbidding (yessss, respect the Rover!) and should be unhanded. Eretria says she has a message from Amberle, and Ander breathes, “You don’t know.” He tells her about Amberle’s sacrifice, then refers to Eretria as family and pledges to give her anything she needs. And what she needs is to tell Allanon about Tree-berle’s warning that Wil’s in danger.
Allanon realizes this means Bandon’s likely looking for Wil, so he, Catania, and Eretria make plans to find Wil first.
Before she leaves, Eretria is detained by Lyria, who swears that what the two of them have is special. Eretria demands that she prove it by leaving with them. Lyria says the queen would just kill everyone if she did, so Eretria leaves the castle, crushed. (Next page: Wil learns some family history)
Alas, Allanon runs into some trouble in the stables as he’s preparing for the journey. “Some trouble” in this case means Gen. Riga’s enchanted brass knuckles that make him impervious to magic. Allanon’s quickly overpowered, cuffed with a magic-blocking collar, and loaded onto a Crimson horse.
Catania and Eretria witness Allanon’s capture, and they split up so Catania can inform Ander and Eretria can find Wil. But when Catania tells the rando elf guard they’re traveling with that someone betrayed their location to The Crimson, rando guard stabs her in the stomach and leaves her for dead. NOT COOL, YOU FILTHY TRAITOR.
Now let’s check in on Wil and Mareth, who are headed toward Uncle Flick in Shady Vale when a pursuing mord wraith forces them to jump a waterfall and take shelter in the green-lit grotto where Wil used to hide as a kid when his classmates started picking on him for his short-tipped, half-elf ears.
Mareth’s only half elf, too; her mother was Pyria, the late King Eventine’s sister and Allanon’s long-lost love whom we saw die in the series premiere. Wil points out that her imperious manner confirms the DNA she shares with Allanon.
Mareth explains that she was born with innate magic, unlike Allanon, whose magic was acquired. Since Allanon left before Pyria knew she was pregnant, all of Mareth’s magical ability is self-taught, and she now wants to learn from her father.
As they set out on their journey again, Wil argues that magic is overrated. Mareth correctly points out that he uses magic himself when it’s convenient, and if he truly wanted an ordinary life, he’d have tossed out the Elfstones. Druid’s daughter: 1, Short Tips: 0. Mareth also conjures a faux-Wil illusion to tell the real Wil what a pain he is, which is the best use of magic we’ve seen on Shannara so far.
When they arrive at Shady Vale, they find an injured Uncle Flick inside his ravaged home. Wil promises to fix him up and get them to safety, but Flick insists that they need to take a stand against their enemies. Then he tells Wil some facts he didn’t know about his family history.
Flick traveled with Shea when Allanon called him to face the Warlock Lord. After the war, Flick promised Shea that he would raise Wil as his own and keep him safe from magic. But now Flick says he was wrong to tell Wil to get rid of the Elfstones in season 1; magic isn’t what killed Shea, it was the regret that came from denying his magical purpose.
When three mord wraiths come screeching into view, Mareth tells the Ohmsfords to get to the barn while she buys them time by creating multiple illusions of herself running hither and yon as a distraction. (Only in the Four Lands can a person reasonably be described as running hither and yon.)
When the snake wraith appears in the barn, Wil hits him with a blast of blue Elfstones magic, but before they can run, Bandon kicks down the door. He says all he wants is justice for magic users who are hunted and abused by people like The Crimson and Allanon.
He then reads Wil’s mind to confirm that Wil blames Allanon for Amberle’ sacrifice and tries to tempt Wil with the promise of the Warlock Lord bringing Amberle back to him. You know, Bandon’s kind of got a point here: He and Wil are theoretically on the same side against the anti-magic crusaders, and Allanon did play Wil dirty about Amberle’s fate. But of course, Bandon’s way too dark side for Wil to actually align with, which Bandon proves by pinning Wil to the wall and making blood ooze from his ears and nose.
He demands the location of the Warlock Lord’s skull, and Flick finally confesses that he and Wil’s father were the ones who helped Allanon hide the skull. It’s locked in a magical safe in Paranor, the ancient druidic headquarters, to be opened only by a Druid and a Shannara. That’s all Bandon needs to hear to make his next move: He gives Wil three days to deliver Allanon to Druid’s Keep, or Flick is dead.
So where does that leave us? With Eretria searching for Wil, Wil searching for Allanon, Allanon captured by the Crimson, Lyria and Ander maybe getting married, Catania probably dead, and Bandon presumably kicking back on Skull Mountain, enjoying the satisfaction you feel when an evil plan comes together.
- Bandon described himself to Dr. Gnome as “something you’ll never comprehend,” which is now the only title I want on my business cards.
- Do some math with me, won’t you? Allanon went into Druid hibernation after he, Shea, and Flick defeated the Warlock Lord the last time, which was 30-ish years ago. But doesn’t Mareth seems younger than 30? And didn’t Pyria seem older than the 50-ish she likely would’ve been in her scenes last season? Eh, I should probably stop worrying about the timeline and just enjoy the pretty elves.
- Those wanting the full backstory on Flick and Shea defeating the Warlock Lord can find it in Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, although details have changed from page to screen, of course.
- Did the second episode of the season surprise you with its secret princesses and handmaiden murders? Let me know in the comments!