The Shannara Chronicles recap: 'Dweller'
The Shannara Chronicles continues to mix various characters and send them on overlapping quests, so let’s check in on our heroes and villains this week.
Bandon and Flick
Bandon and Tamlin have an evil summit of evil in which Bandon, rocking a fashionably tattered cloak as befits a dark Druid, makes himself invisible and kills the queen’s guards. Then he reminds her of the deal she made with the Warlock Lord: He saved her kingdom during the War of the Races and allowed it to thrive. In return, she owes him a debt. And sure, she might have assumed that she’s off the hook since the Warlock Lord was defeated 30 years ago, but Bandon’s there to assure her that she needs to pay up.
Next, he visits a cold, muddy ruin of a lake, where he wades shirtless and shows off his abs and the rune scars decorating his back, including a spider web. His hostage, Flick, tries to warn him that if he keeps going down this path, the Warlock Lord will turn him into a slave and hurt the good people of the Four Lands.
Bandon then sets out to prove that there are no people worth saving. He and Flick approach a seemingly random farm and ask the man there for food and lodging. The farmer’s happy to help fellow Elves and over dinner explains that he, his wife, and his son moved in a year ago because nobody else wanted the place. It’s cursed, you see. The former owners kept their son locked in the barn because he was always yelling about demons until one night, demons showed up and murdered everyone.
Gasp! It’s Bandon’s old house! Flick, who doesn’t know this backstory, nevertheless picks up on the weird vibe and goes on full alert. Bandon suggests that perhaps the person in the barn was trying to warn his family about the demons, but the farmers says no, some people come into the world damaged, and you have to put them down, just like you should with magic users. Then the farmer’s child proudly shows off Bandon’s old muzzle.
Bandon’s smile after this display is chilling, and when the farmer says Bandon and Flick can bed down in the barn, Bandon says he prefers his old room. You know, the one with the blue bed and the nice view.
The family realizes who’s sitting at their table as Bandon asks Flick if he still wants to save these “good people.” He pins the parents to the wall and throws their words back at them: He was born damaged, so he can’t show them any mercy now. Then he kills their son with his old muzzle as the parents watch helplessly.
Yet again, Bandon has the germ of a solid argument, and then he takes it about 8 million steps too far. Blind prejudice against all magic users is harmful, but you also can’t go bleeding out children to prove your point. Yo B-dawg, listen up: Murdering magical people=bad. Murdering people who want to murder magic people=also bad. Not murdering=good.
Ander, Eretria, Lyria, Tamlin
In the Kingdom of Leah, Ander has finally started to ask pointed questions about Catania’s disappearance, and Edain continues to cover it up. Then he’s pulled away in a “getting to know you” session with his future queen with numerous “chaperones” there to make sure Lyria doesn’t run away again.
They take their conversation to the stables, where Lyria can speak freely: She still loves Eretria. Awww! What makes this declaration even sweeter is that Eretria is, in fact, in the stable to overhear it! It’s a stroke of luck that Wil sent her and Jax back to Leah to warn Ander that Tamlin’s people have been supplying weapons to The Crimson. (Also, Wil didn’t want to endanger Eretria by taking her with him to Paranor, which is paternalistic and touching at the same time.)
Anyway, this allows Eretria give Ander the final proof he needs to confirm Edain’s guilt. It’s an especially deep cut, because Edain is like a brother to him. (You know, Ander’s blood brother was pretty terrible, too. Poor guy needs better bros!)
Cut to Edain, who thinks he’s delivering weapons to armored Crimson troops. But it’s Ander under the helmet, and he pummels his former brother for the betrayal. Let it be noted that Edain’s armor is forged with visible abs, which should’ve been clue No. 1 that he was up to no good.
Tamlin arranges a trial in front of her Moon Door — er, ledge overlooking a waterfall. As she deems each of the human Crimson conspirators guilty, she uses her staff to push them to their deaths.
When they reach Edain, she hands Ander the staff. Edain says he tried to make Ander hear the pleas of the Elves, but when he refused, Edain threw in with the Crimson. He says Ander won’t understand supporting a cause greater than himself. “You’ve underestimated me for the last time,” Ander says, pushing Edain into the falls.
In a more private setting, Ander and Tamlin accuse one another of treachery in their kingdoms, and Ander wants her word that she will support him in squashing the Crimson once and for all. She promises, but he clearly doesn’t believe a word of it. In short, this alliance is off to a great start.
One alliance that’s going strong is Lyretria, who’ve moved past their recent difficulties. Eretria encourages Lyria to remember that the queen needs Lyria far more than Lyria needs the queen. “You’ve got this, princess,” she tells her.
Emboldened, Lyria meets with her mother to say that she’ll marry Ander, but she won’t be Tamlin’s pawn once she’s on the throne. Also, she wants the queen to leave Eretria alone. And that’s how you negotiate. (Next page: Let’s go spelunking!)
Wil, Mareth, Allanon
The escapees from Graymark have returned to Hobbiton — er, the Gnome healing community of Storlock. As Wil recuperates from massive blood loss, Allanon and Mareth get to know each other. It doesn’t go well.
Allanon reads her mind and learns that she believes him to be her father. She says she’s not looking for daddy/daughter time; she just wants help controlling her magic. Also, her mother told her that looking for Allanon was a mistake; Allanon agrees with that assessment.
Wil shortens this conversation by insisting they leave for Paranor sooner rather than later to save Flick. But Allanon’s not done talking about Mareth, saying that the Druid sleep should have prevented him from having children. (That sounds even less reliable than the rhythm method, TBH.) Wil points out that Mareth was able to use his staff, soooo…
On the road to Paranor, Allanon takes them on a detour to pick up the Sword of Shannara. It’s the only weapon that can defeat Bandon and, contrary to the story Wil heard as a child, it was buried with his father, Shea, who never wanted Wil to have to wield it. Wil says he’s willing to pay the magical price to save Flick.
Good thing they packed their rappelling equipment! The trio lower themselves into a lush, green chasm and begin the long hike to Shea’s grave. Wil’s baffled that his father would choose such a remote burial place, which becomes rockier and more hostile the farther they travel. At times, we even switch to OMINOUS SPIDER-EYE CAM. Goreshadowing!
In classic Scooby-Doo style, the group splits up to search for the sword. Wil and the Elfstones go one way, and dad and daughter go the other. At Mareth’s prodding, Allanon begins asking questions about her magic. It first manifested when she was 10, and her mother declared it a curse passed down from her father. As she grew, it became stronger, but more dangerous and unpredictable, too.
She says illusions are easy, but if she’s upset or angry…well, the last time that happened, she hurt someone she loved, which prompted her to track down Allanon. Then she refuses to walk another step until he agrees to help her learn to control it.
She changes her “I’m not moving” plan when Allanon sees and hears evidence of dwellers, giant spider-like beasts that feed on pain. They race to find Wil.
When we cut back to him, we’re treated to a fantastic shot of an ENORMOUS FREAKING SPIDER lurking just behind him. It drags him away, leaving behind that ugly necklace he was just reunited with.
The dweller cocoons Wil and wraps him in its slimy tentacles, latching on and spreading its gross white veins across his face. The visual is honestly horrifying. The dweller starts to feed on Wil’s pain: a memory of young Wil playing with a sword he found in the barn, then his father beating him with it.
Allanon and Mareth locate the cave with all the cocoon-wrapped bodies, and Allanon busts out his cool transformer sword to do battle. The dweller wraps a tentacle around one of his legs as Mareth hacks fruitlessly at it. Then the beast explodes in a burst of blue light courtesy of Wil and the Elfstones.
They’re able to proceed unmolested to Shea’s final resting place, a lovely, mossy, sun-dappled grove with Shea’s unsettlingly well-preserved body resting on a bier. In a hushed voice, Allanon says that Shea was scared to have children because he didn’t want to pass on the burden of being the Shannara. “Always remember that he carried you in his heart, like any father would,” he tells Wil. Hearing this, Mareth starts to cry.
Wil kneels to speak to his father, saying he used to be angry at Shea’s abandonment, but he now understands that it was to protect Wil and his mother: “I’m sorry that you had to die alone. I’m sorry we didn’t have more time.”
When he sees the sword resting at his father’s side, he realizes it’s the same one he played with in the dweller memory, which was also the last time he saw Shea. He’s disappointed that the Sword of Shannara looks so ordinary, but Allanon reminds him it’s the most powerful weapon ever forged, although it’s only as strong as the one who wields it.
Allanon says the sword will show Wil his truth, even though he likely won’t be prepared to see it. Nevertheless, Wil holds the sword dramatically aloft as the episode concludes.
- Good grief, this show is an amazing travel ad for New Zealand. I want to see those glorious views for myself!
- While narratively compelling, it’s sad to see what this show has done to Shea, who was the hero of the first book of the Elfstones trilogy. Sure, creative liberties and all that. But it’s still hard to watch a character who played the Wil-esque hero role be translated as a broken drunk on the small screen. Also, book readers: Any chance the lake Bandon was wading in is the Hadeshorn?
- We peel back another layer on Jax this week: He’s plagued by nightmares and has tattoos on his hand indicating that he used to be with the Border Legion. He tells Eretria that his men were ripped apart by demons on a routine scouting mission, but declines to say more.
- Did you see Tamlin’s necklace glow when Bandon appeared? Verrrry curious. I’d love to see that come into play again in a future episode.
- Are you still enjoying this wild trek across the Four Lands? Let me know in the comments!