The Shannara Chronicles premiere react: 'Druid'
The elves, humans, gnomes, and trolls of the Four Lands are back! And have no fear: The Shannara Chronicles may have moved from MTV to Spike for season 2, but the cast and the countryside are no less beautiful for it.
At the end of the last season, elf princess Amberle sacrificed herself to become a mystical tree named the Ellcrys, thereby defeating the demon army sweeping the Four Lands. When the action picks up a year later, the characters have scattered. Let’s catch up with them, shall we?
Our reformed Rover learns that her troll captors from season 1 are actually humans in camouflage. And not just any humans; they’re led by Cogline, a Druid who knew Eretria as a child and promised her mother he would always protect her. He invites her to make a home with his people in what remains of San Francisco.
Eretria insists that Wil and Amberle will come for her because, of course, she doesn’t know about Amberle’s arboreal fate. But when they never arrive, she settles in with the humans, rocking a new makeup lewk and scavenging circuit boards from the ruins to bring to Cogline for his experiments in electricity.
Still, trolls remain a problem, and the episode kicks off with a pair of them chasing Eretria through the forest and onto the remains of the Golden Gate Bridge. She weaves through long-dead cars — reminding us that this is our Earth, long after something bad happened to, well, us — and lures ones of her pursuers onto a booby-trapped car placed at the edge of a gaping hole in the bridge. He topples in (or she — can we really determine troll gender?), but as Eretria’s savoring her victory, the second troll barrels into her and knocks them both in the water. This seems like a poor tactical choice, but trolls, ya know?
As Eretria drifts in the water, an ethereal version of Amberle appears in the water, wearing a gauzy white dress and alarmingly purple eyeshadow, to warn Eretria that a new darkness is coming, and the fate of the world depends on her finding Wil.
When Eretria comes to, she’s in her bed with her lovely girlfriend Lyria (Vanessa Morgan) hovering over her. Motivated by her vision of Amberle, Eretria asks Cogline about her old friends. He tells her they never came looking for her and urges her to let go of her old life.
Eretria’s moodily whipping knives into a troll dummy when Lyria catches up with her to ask why her girlfriend’s saying the names Amberle and Wil in her sleep.
Eretria says Amberle was the bravest person she ever met and cops to having been in love with Wil; although he only had eyes for Amberle, he was still the first person to ever see something good inside of her.
This earns Eretria a kiss, and although Lyria’s closed-mouth about her own past, she offers one bit of truth to Eretria: Cogline’s been lying to her. He told his scouts to hide Eretria from anyone searching for her, and a few months after Eretria arrived, Lyria overhead the scouts offering Cogline proof that the Eretria problem was taken care of.
Assuming that the packrat Cogline kept the evidence, Eretria and Lyria break into his study and root through his possessions until they find Wil’s ugly necklace from season 1. Ha! May that hideous thing never grace his neck again.
Cogline catches them snooping and tells Eretria that he was just trying to protect her, then begs her to ignore the Amberle vision because the truth will likely only bring her pain. She ignores his advice, and she and Lyria set out to find her friends.
Unfortunately, they’re swiftly captured by a group of Rovers, but I’m sure those crafty ladies will wiggle their way out of trouble.
Bandon and Allanon
Bandon’s also rocking a new lewk this season, but it’s way less cute than Eretria’s. His hair is long, his skin is greasy, and his eyes are vicious. He leads a group of disciples along a snowy mountain to a stronghold that’s fashioned in the oh-so-subtle shape of a HIDEOUS MENACING SKULL WITH GLOWING EYES. Four Lands Disney, it’s not.
Inside, they find an elaborate casket and, somehow, merrily burning candles. Once there, Bandon starts to speechify about the Warlock Lord’s blade calling them together to resurrect their master. His minions will be reborn as mord wraiths, while Bandon will learn from a Druid with real power.
He designates one of his apostles as the leader and bestows upon him the mark of the snake, which gives the lucky guy slitted pupils. Then Bandon intones, “Let darkness reign once more,” and stabs the sword into a slot near the casket.
A panel on the casket opens to reveal a preserved heart, and he calls for the Warlock Lord’s return to bring war, chaos, death, and torment to nonbelievers. The heart starts beating and dripping blood onto the casket.
Suddenly the doors blow up to reveal everyone’s favorite grumpy Druid. Allanon and Bandon leap into battle, employing both magic and swords (and magical swords, come to think of it). Allanon overpowers the minions, but Bandon’s picked up some slick fighting skills and gloats that Allanon will die forgotten and alone.
Snake eyes orders the rest of the minions to drink the heart blood pooled on the casket, which doesn’t seem hygienic at all, and when they do, they literally go up in smoke, only to reappear as mord wraiths, which are basically screeching nightmare demons. (See? This is what happens when you drink ancient heart blood from a casket in a skull-shaped stronghold with glowing eyes!) Snaky wraith uses his new powers to blow Allanon out a window, which could be dicey since they’re on top of a mountain.
Suddenly Bandon has a vision that tells him Wil Ohmsford will knows where to find the Warlock Lord’s skull. He orders his crew to “find the Shannara.” (Remember, the Ohmsfords are descendants of Jerle Shannara, who defeated the Warlock Lord hundreds of years prior.) The mord wraiths screech into flight as Allanon clings to a narrow ledge, watching helplessly. (Next page: Wil’s on everyone’s most-wanted list)
Wil and the Elves
Elf Prince Ander is ruling over a struggling kingdom. A year after the demon wars, too many elves are still homeless because there isn’t enough money or elfpower to rebuild, and the other races are disinclined to help.
Worse, an extremist elf group called The Crimson, led by Gen. Riga (Desmond Chiam), is ripping through the countryside, killing anyone who practices magic or refuses to report on magical citizens. They’re tapping into elvish fear and hate and turning the citizenry against Ander.
We see their handiwork in two elves who’ve been murdered and nailed to trees, with signs that say “magic users.” Their foreheads are branded with something that, so help me, looked a little like the Wonder Woman logo at first.
Riga himself possesses one normal eye and one freaky blue one, and he’s extremely interested in the location of one Wil Ohmsford. He’s even got a drawing of Wil on a most-wanted baseball card-type thing. His combination of threats and cash convince a local farmer to mention that a Flick Ohmsford lives in nearby Shady Vale village.
So what’s going on with Wil himself? He’s cut his beautiful hair (but no worries, he kept dem abs), and, thanks to Allanon, he’s the only human allowed to train at what seems to be a gnome teaching hospital. A young woman (Malese Jow) arrives seeking treatment for a burned hand and tells him he looks familiar, but he declines to give her his name, indicating some caution on his part. After he leaves, she uses magic to heal the burn. Dun!
Wil seems happy learning the healing arts…until he freezes up during a surgical lesson, plagued with flashback of Amberle, demons, and saving the world. The head of gnomish surgery calls him “Mr. Ohmsford,” which is such a professor thing to do, and asks him to step outside. Dr. Gnome suggests that healing may not be Wil’s calling, particularly when he has a far greater gift. (Hint: It starts with “e” and ends in “lfstones.”) Wil says the price of magic is too high. “I’m not interested in saving the world anymore, just the people that I care about.” Dr. Gnome gives him one more chance to get it together or he’s out.
That night, Wil uses the Elfstones to summon a vision of Amberle. He tells her he’s lost without her, but when he tries to touch her, she disappears, and he falls to his knees.
Burn lady, whose name is Mareth, finds him later at a tavern and casually mentions the bounty on his head. Wil’s quick to pull a knife on her — “It’s not the first time a woman’s tried to take advantage of me” — but she offers to help Wil escape the real bounty hunters in the tavern. In fact, she already killed one of them outside, and as proof, she shows him his most-wanted baseball card.
They try to escape by acting like drunks on their way to a hookup, but the bounty hunters throw down in the middle of the tavern. Mareth saves the day with some lethal knife work, but not before Wil takes a nasty slice to the ribs.
Back in his room, Mareth gets a load of his stab wound and wants to fetch a healer. But Wil worries that a bar fight might get him expelled, so he uses the Elfstones to heal himself. It takes a great deal of grunting on his part, and he passes out from the effort, leaving Mareth to sniff, “How did this guy ever save the world?” Dang, lady, you don’t know his life!
Wil wakes up to the sound of distress outside as wounded people stagger in from Shady Vale. A survivor tells Wil that The Crimson were looking for him. His uncle Flick hid during the attack, but the man doesn’t know what became of him.
Things get even worse when Bandon’s mord wraiths roll into town, catching Wil as he’s pocketing the Elfstones and preparing to leave. Wil’s understandably startled by an enormous demon materializing in his quarters and blasting him through the wall. He pulls out the Stones and prepares to attack when he suddenly sees himself off to the side, running away so the snaky wraith will give chase.
He turns in shock to find that Mareth created the illusion. She irritably confirms that yes, she has magic, and when he insists that she explain who she really is, she admits that Allanon’s her father, and she wants Wil’s help finding him.
Season 2 is shaping up to be another travel-heavy show, with Eretria and The Crimson both hunting for Wil, Wil and Mareth hunting for Allanon, Ander hunting for The Crimson, Bandon hunting for a good deep conditioner, and Allanon hunting for…Wil? The Mord wraiths? His sense of humor? It remains to be seen.
So are you on board for the adventure this season? Can the new characters fill the Amberle-shaped hole in your heart? Will Lyria’s secret background play into the main plot threads? And readers of Terry Brooks’ Shannara novels, are you enjoying the little callbacks to the books (hey, mechanically inclined Druid Cogline!), or do you still wish it were a more faithful adaptation? Good, bad, or indifferent, let me know in the comments!
We wrote a react for this episode, which means we’ll just be checking in occasionally, but if this is a show you’d like to read about each week, please let us know! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and suggestions.