Holy Plot Development Batman! So much to talk about, so little time.
Penned 9 months ago.
It was 77°F in San Diego, CA and the haze.
Cake By The Ocean by DNCE was spinning on the ol' iTunes.
Hey Shannara fans, this is my spoilery top 10 list for the third episode. You know the drill if you haven’t seen the episode stop now! For the rest of you, let’s dig in!
10: Garet Jax
Well, we were all wondering about it, and it’s nice that they didn’t make us wait for weeks to get some resolution on whether or not Garet was really just a dick, or if there was something deeper there.
I like the Border Legion angle, a lot. I am a fan of the Legion, and their heroes like Ballinor and Stee Jans, so I am stoked to have them mentioned and to have some of Garet’s murky past filled out with this nugget of info.
I feel like we are going to see his transformation from the jerk we meet in episode 2, to the Jax we all know and love by the end of the season.
9: Queen Tamlin Leah
Oh, if she were anyone else, anyone else at all, this would be so good. I love a well crafted, interesting villain, and all of the ingredients for a great one have been laid out for us with Tamlin.
I love that she is basically playing both sides of the Elves, helping to enable the Crimson, so that she can take the Elven throne, I just wish they would have done it without destroying Leah. They could have made her the Prime Minister of the Federation, and had the same thing, without tainting the Kingdom of Leah.
Well, check out Graymark, looking way more Paranor than the actual Druid’s Keep. I mean seriously. From the descriptions in the book and the artwork, Graymark is much more Druid’s Keepy.
Of course, since it was a Palace of the Warlock Lord, then it would make sense it was kind of all Druid Keepy since you know, he was a druid.
7: General Riga
Man, I dig this character more and more. Desmond Chiam is doing a great job instilling this character with the right amount of malice and determination. Some of the worst villains are the ones that see themselves as heroes, and it really feels like this is Riga to a T.
It looks like we were all wrong about his magic resistance. Some thought he might be a Shadowen, a magical creature from the Heritage Series, while I believed he had learned enough about magic and druids to craft weapons and talismans to protect him.
In reality, he inherited this ability through the unfortunate circumstance of his mother being attacked by a Malworth, which is a creature immune to magic. I believe this specific creature is original for the series. I don’t remember them being mentioned in the books anywhere.
6: Druid Codex
I am on the fence when it comes to the codex. In the novels, there are vasts libraries at Paranor, filled with valuable books on magic and history, but the most valuable ones are the Druid Histories, which are kept constantly under magical lock and key. There are hundreds of them, and as the series continues and we finally have new Druids living and working at Paranor, they begin to grow.
We see the codex in the first season since it is used to find information about the Bloodfire, but it is used a tool and an expository moment. It allows Allanon to teach Wil about the price of magic.
The problem is that Riga refers to it as the sum total of all the Druid knowledge on magic, which is physically impossible. A single book couldn’t hold all of that knowledge unless they do something weird with it. I am hoping that this is explained cleverly in the coming episodes.
5: Mareth and the Staff
This was cool, well done and also problematic. I really hope they aren’t going to actually make her Allanon’s daughter, but at this point, they are either going to have to go that way or have a really unsatisfying reason for her being able to use magic that is only supposed to be usable by the big guy.
The staff and his need for it are also unique to the show, for those who are not familiar with the books. But we’ll get into that in a bit.
I haven’t been very impressed with short tips over the last few episodes. I don’t know if it was the writing or the acting, but whatever it was, it wasn’t working for me. This began to be corrected in this episode.
I love how Eritrea basically became the audience and smacked him around a little. When she accused him of not being the person she remembered, I felt like the whole audience was like, “Hell yeah!”.
Also, side note. Eritrea's quip about knowing what the scars on his arm are from? Yes, we expect you don’t know what it is. How could you? When did you become an expert in Elfstone track marks?
Hopefully, the momentum and non-mopiness his character picked up continue to build, since Wil Ohmsford is a great, complex character when handled correctly, and I do believe that the actor and the writers have the talent to handle him correctly.
3 & 2: The Elfstones
Right, so you might be wondering why the Elfstones made the list. Well, wonder no more! I’ll tell you. So far in the series, you have only really seen the Elfstones used as a weapon. What’s interesting is that the Elfstones are not a weapon.
Each set of Elfstones were created for a specific purpose. The Black Elfstone was created to negate, absorb and transfer magic into the user. The White Elfstone, as I covered in my Elves video, was created to shrink and transport the Elven capital.
The Blue Elfstones are the Seeking Stones. They were created to allow the bearer to find what has been lost, or hidden. This power is used dozens of times in the books to propel the story along. While they aren’t weapons, all of the Elfstones were given defensive powers to protect the bearer, which is mostly what we see Wil doing with them in the show.
One thing to note, his use of them to heal people and to see Amberle was created for the show. The author, Terry Brooks, is not a fan of “all-powerful” plot devices. Each magical item in the books contains a balance. For instance, the Elfstones can’t be used as a weapon against non-magical beings.
In the show, they are treating the stones more like the Sonic Screwdriver from Doctor Who. “Oh, Wil is super hurt right now, how do we get out of this? Oh, he can use the stones to heal himself, because magic.” Which worries me a bit, honestly.
Why all of this is important, is that they have to find the Sword of Shannara. I am assuming it’s hidden or lost somewhere, because honestly, if you’re the Warlock Lord, the first thing you do is hide the sword, then kill Wil, which is how it went in the books.
If the writers followed at least the first part of that formula, then the sword is hidden somewhere, which means you need the Blue Elfstones to find it, which again, is the purpose they served in the book.
But from what we SEE in the episode Wil left the Elfstones behind in Graymark. It’s entirely possible that someone picked them up off camera, but that seems like extremely lazy storytelling, so hopefully, that isn’t the case.
If the writers removed the limitation that the stones can only be given, not stolen, then that means that a castle full of Elves now have one of the most powerful magical weapons in the Four Lands in their broom closet.
Look, I know that I’ve been complaining about Allanon being powered down in the show. He is a far cry from the terrifying, larger than life figure in the books, and that can suck. But… it also allows you to do some really amazing things with his character, like in this episode.
I’m just going to go with the idea that they made Allanon this way so that they could have moments like this, adding depth and humanity to his character, and not that they just screwed up translating him to screen.
Every moment that Manu Bennet is on screen raises the quality of this show 100%. The Allanon we meet in the books is stoic, unreadable and manipulative. It’s only when the threat has ended and his time used up that you see the mask begin to fall away to reveal the human being beneath.
In the show, it seems like Allanon lost that mask years ago, and never found another one. His emotions are there for everyone to see, and he doesn’t shy away from them. While he is much less mythic in this version, he’s much more watchable and relatable.
The genuine shock seen on his face as Mareth uses his staff is great. The Allanon/Mareth dynamic should be great. I am assuming she is going to become his new druid novice candidate, which could be very cool as well.
This wasn’t something that happened in the books either. He chose his successor, more or less, at the moment of his death as more of a passing of responsibility to be called on at a later date.
Having there be an actual successor to the Druids walking around could be very cool, and help take the show in a new direction if/when Allanon is written out of the show.
I hope you enjoyed reading Shannara Explained:S02E03
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