The Shannara Chronicles recap: 'Graymark'
Wil grudgingly saves Allanon from the torture-happy clutches of The Crimson
Do you prefer your Druids bloody with a side of torture? Then have I got good news for you! The Shannara Chronicles is running a special on battered Druids, extra rare.
The Crimson have imprisoned Allanon in the Warlock Lord’s former stronghold, Graymark, a rusty metal-and-barbed-wire fortress that’s at least 40 percent tetanus.
Allanon points out the irony of Riga sitting on the Warlock Lord’s old throne while killing the magic-users who could help defeat the evil Druid if he rises again. Riga takes offense at the idea that he won’t be able to handle that battle. After all, “I defeated you,” he sneers.
Riga’s really after the Codex of Paranor, that repository of magical knowledge, so he can destroy it and purge all magic from the Four Lands. When Allanon gives his usual lecture that magic is a gift that comes with a price, Riga tells him he knows all about that price, having seen his men ripped apart by demons in the War of the Forbidding.
Allanon tries to argue that this is all part of the Warlock Lord’s plan to get rid of anyone who could stop his return “once the sun turns black,” but Riga doesn’t waver from his plan to keep poking Allanon with a fiery brand.
Elsewhere in the Four Lands, Wil comes to after his fight with Bandon to see the hazy form of Eretria walking toward him. She tells him about her Amberle vision, while outside, Mareth and Jax circle each other warily. Jax accepted Eretria’s bag of leave-my-daughter-alone diamonds as payment to track down Wil. He holds up Wil’s most-wanted trading card and declares, “Haircut was a good call.” Ha!
Wil wants Jax to take them to Graymark (cheerful slogan: Magic users go in, and they don’t come out) so he can grab Allanon and deliver him to Bandon to save Uncle Flick. Jax, who’s done some bounty work for The Crimson, says he doesn’t do politics, ideology, or guilt, just money. But when he tries to beg off of what’s clearly a suicide mission, the rest of the group question his courage and manhood until he agrees to escort them. Nicely played.
When they stop for the night, Eretria returns Wil’s necklace to him. Noooooo, don’t you dare put that ugly thing back around your neck, Wil! She says she only recently found out he’d come looking for her and had assumed Wil and Amberle moved on, the way she did.
Then she tells him about her Amberle vision and reminds Wil that Amberle made her own choice to save them all, so maybe he should stop blaming Allanon and go back to being the Wil who sees the good in everybody. You know, this is excellent advice and honors Amberle’s agency in deciding to make the sacrifice she did, and I hope Wil listens to it. That seems unlikely, though, when he moodily asks if Eretria’s ever watched everything she ever wanted disappear before her eyes. Uh, yeah. A few times, actually.
Wil eventually confesses that he can’t stop using the Stones to see Amberle and wants to know why Eretria left a safe, happy life to help him. Eretria says Amberle loved him and sent her there to find him. And like Cephelo always said: Dry your eyes; you’re lucky you have today.
When Mareth catches Jax eavesdropping on the Rover/Short Tips reunion, she startles him with an illusion of himself, which will never get old for me. Like every new character this season, Jax has a mysterious backstory; he tells Mareth that he used to have a cause he was willing to die for, but he declines to elaborate.
Jax does elaborateon his plan to collect the Crimson bounty on Wil’s head as part of this trip. Oooh, double-dipping on your payments! Wil’s fine with that — he’s going there to free the man he never wants to see again, after all — but he does ask Jax for schematics of the fortress to help them escape once they’re inside. Everyone agrees this is a terrible idea, but it’s the best one they’ve got.
Now for a quick check-in on the Kingdom of Leah: Tamlin informs Lyria that Eretria happily took the bag of diamonds she was offered. And also, if Lyria doesn’t marry King Ander and go along with Tamlin’s plans, the person watching Eretria will kill her. Jax, you sly dog, are you triple-dipping?
Tamlin then explains why she wants her daughter on the throne: An elvish civil war is inevitable, and as queen, Lyria can ask the human army for help in quelling it. Once they’ve done that, these “peacekeepers” will just keep conquering until they’ve taken over the whole kingdom. Commence evil mustache twirling.
Good-hearted Ander has agreed to the marriage settlements, and when he asks the murderous elf guard where Catania is, the traitor (whose name is Edain) lies that she couldn’t stand to watch Ander affiance himself to someone else, so she bailed. Ander tells Edain he couldn’t have survived the tumult of this past year without Catania, then exits in blissful ignorance.
After he’s gone, Tamlin orders Edain to set up a meeting for her with Riga. Friends, I cannot wait to see Edain get what’s coming to him, enraged elf king-style.
As Wil’s party finalizes its plans to infiltrate Graymark, Eretria says she can’t figure out Mareth. Wil says he’s giving her the benefit of the doubt, which pleases the Rover. “There’s the Wil I know and love,” she says, slipping a lock pick into his mouth, all sexy-like. She also gives him some of her little grenades to hide on his person and warns him not to blow off his…Elfstones. Magic-based double entendres FTW! (Next page: Wil and Allanon have chilly reunion)
When Jax escorts a bloodied Wil into Graymark, Riga’s right-hand man Valcaa also demands the Elfstones. Jax says that wasn’t part of the bounty and demands more money, which results in everyone drawing their weapons. In the end, Valcaa threatens to tell the story of the Border Legion commander who survived the demon slaughter even though all his men died. This does the trick, and Jax hands over the Stones. Looks like we’ve got an inkling of Jax’s painful backstory. Valcaa tosses Jax’s payment into the mud, and Wil gets walloped as he’s dragged away and tossed into a cell. I’m…I’m starting to think that The Crimson might be kind of jerks.
Inside the cell, Wil spits out the lock pick, frees himself, and then pulls a grenade out from, um, deep inside his pants to use on the locked door. It’s loud, and Wil knocks out the guard who comes to investigate, taking his keys but leaving his sword for some reason.
Outside, Eretria’s decided that if Wil trusts Mareth, that’s good enough for her. They start taking out the perimeter guards to aid in the Wil/Allanon escape and get unexpected help from Jax, who explains that he and The Crimson had a falling out. When Eretria applauds him for doing the right thing, Jax warns her not to speak too soon. Yeah, it’s tough trusting anyone whose loyalties can be bought. Regardless, he follows them into the tunnels under Graymark.
Allanon’s in bad shape when Wil finds him, and unfortunately Wil can’t remove his magic-dampening collar. Allanon doesn’t say hello and instead reprimands Wil for staging this rescue. Well, there’s some gratitude for ya. Wil says he’s only there to save Flick, even though that plays right into Bandon’s eeeeeevil plans.
Naturally, Riga catches them trying to escape and, realizing Jax may have been involved, orders the tunnels sealed.
Now that Allanon and Wil are both trussed up, they can chat a bit. Allanon admits to pushing Bandon too hard in his effort to save the Ellcrys, which is why he tried to keep Wil out of this recent unpleasantness. He blames destiny for Wil getting dragged back in, but Wil still blames Allanon.
Then a Crimson torturer wheels in an ominous cart of extremely unhygienic-looking medical equipment that he uses to drain Wil’s blood courtesy of a foot-operated pump and a huge needle in Wil’s neck. Of course, they’ll stop if Allanon just reveals the location of the Codex, but the Druid stays silent on the subject.
In the tunnels, the presence of guards alerts the trio to the fact that Wil’s plan has been discovered. Then Mareth freezes as both she and Allanon sense a disturbance in the Force. Suddenly, she knows where Allanon is and orders the other two to follow her. She leads them to the throne room, confused to find it empty after sensing Allanon’s magic there. Then she realizes what’s been calling her is Allanon’s staff, which she rips from its hiding place with her magic.
By now, Crimson torture guy has extracted a lot of Wil’s blood, despite Wil’s assertion that it won’t work because Allanon doesn’t care about anyone: not Amberle, and certainly not Wil.
Riga looks assessingly at Allanon and orders a halt when the container of Wil’s blood is almost full. He says that his pregnant wife was killed in the demon attack; they’d still be alive if there was no magic in the world. He asks Wil to give up the Codex so nobody else has to suffer like the two of them did. When Wil says he’d rather die than tell him, blood extraction guy accommodates that request by opening the throttle on the foot-pump machine.
Then the door swings open to reveal Mareth with Allanon’s staff. Riga sneers that he’s impervious to magic. Ah, but he’s not impervious to fire, so she blasts a burning brazier straight into him, knocking him out. I love this woman!
Eretria rescues Wil as Mareth unlocks Allanon’s collar. He’s astounded that someone other than him was able to use his staff, but she doesn’t share her parentage with him yet. Jax urges them all to get a move on, so Mareth conjures a Riga illusion that orders his men into the tunnels.
Having thinned the herd, Eretria, Mareth, and Jax go on the attack while Wil and Allanon hobble to the gate. Mareth tosses Allanon his staff so he can join in the fierce fight, and Eretria saves Jax when flashbacks to the demon war paralyze him mid-battle.
The gates are too heavy for them to open, so Allanon uses his magic to part the doors while Eretria fires a crossbow into the crowd and Mareth conjures a protective wall of fire. Allanon struggles mightily to hold the gate open as his companions escape. Mareth is the last one through, and the effort to keep the doors open burns off some of Allanon’s stylish scalp scars. At the last possible moment, he tosses his staff through and summersaults after it, barely escaping an arrow with his name on it.
Well, they’re out of the Riga frying pan. Will they now head into the Bandon fire?
- Hidden allegiances! Grudging rescues! Lethal ladies! What more could anyone ask for in an hour of television?
- Have we seen Allanon’s scars burn up before? They’ve always been an unexplained part of his character. Is it better to learn their origins and purpose, or to leave them as an intriguing druidic mystery?
- We discover a bit about Riga’s background in this episode: His pregnant mother was attacked by Mwellrets, a subspecies of Troll, and their resistance to magic was passed on to him in utero. No mention of whether they’re also responsible for his freaky eye, though.
- I’m so loving how the new characters, with their complex skills and motivations, interact with our old favorites. Are you enjoy the additions to the cast? Hit the comments and let me know!
The Shannara Chronicles