The Shannara Chronicles is back with a rollercoaster of an episode full of fallout from events, emotional upheaval, and action. Here are my thoughts about episode 4 named Dweller.
The Shannara Chronicles comes back with quite the punch as this episode deals with the fallout of the events in the past episodes. There have been some interesting character developments in this episode, and so I will go through it through the main story lines.
King Ander, Queen Tamlin, Lyria and the Crimson spies
The episode starts out quite dark and takes place right after the events of Allanon and Wil’s escape from Graymark. General Riga is furious when he finds out that his men have lost the captives. Without mercy, he slits one of his own men’s throats and orders his lieutenant to get the weapon’s supply coming to them from what we later learn are Leah weapon makers. It definitely seems that there is an alliance between the Crimson and the Kingdom of Leah.
In fact, Garet Jax is the one to recognize the swords used by the Crimson soldiers as coming from the Kingdom of Leah, and tells Allanon and Wil this information. I will get back to this a little later.
Now Queen Tamlin is quite an onion of a character. Ever since she had been introduced, there has been one interesting part of her character brought to light after another. In this episode, the Queen has a very intriguing conversation with Bandon, who practically storms her castle alone and corners her after killing her guards. He tells her that the Warlock Lord is about to be awoken and will come to collect on the oath she had swore to him. We learn that when her kingdom was in great need the Queen made a pact with the Warlock Lord in order to save her people. We see that Queen Tamlin is willing to do whatever she has to to protect her people, but she is visibly shaken by Bandon’s warning and threat. What exactly were the terms of the deal she struck with the Warlock Lord and how will she maneuver out of it as she is sure to try?
Now after Garet Jax warns Allanon of the Kingdom of Leah’s very possible alliance with the Crimson, Allanon sends Eretria and Garet back to the capitol city of Leah in order to warn King Ander that he is in more danger than he realizes. Allanon and the rest of them do not have to make a far leap in order to believe that the Queen may be involved.
But Ander is not as dense as one may think. Even he is starting to question the information given to him namely the story given to him by his guard (and childhood friend) that Catania ran back to Arborlon because she could not bear the news of him getting married. In an earlier recap, I mention that I didn’t think that Catania would have acted like that and would have known that Ander may have to marry to secure an alliance. This same thought crossed Ander’s mind who thought it very out of character for her to run back to Arborlon without talking to him especially since she was the one who pushed for this alliance. The guard is almost caught in his own lie, but Ander still wants to believe in his childhood friend.
Garet and Eretria do make it to the Kingdom of Leah and tell Ander all about the weapons they found on the Crimson soldiers. Eretria then reveals that she saw Allanon get taken by the Crimson and that she sent Catania to warn Ander. Ander says she never reached him and now knows the awful possibility that something terrible befell Catania, but he still has no proof.
We then get the scene where Ander’s guard is coming to meet the Crimson soldiers to give them the weapons cache he got from the Leah. It is in that moment that Ander whips off his helmet and confronts his guard. In this moment, his guard reveals his true betrayal and how Catania was murdered. Instead of killing him though, Ander takes him back to the Kingdom of Leah to stand trial.
He then confronts the Queen on whether or not she knew about this alliance with the Crimson. She is almost caught in her own lies, but manages to get out of it. She then tells Ander that she plans on executing any member of her staff that were in league with the Crimson.
Fans then got to see a pretty interesting way of execution as the Queen condemns those who were aligned with the Crimson. The men, including Ander’s guard are standing on the edge of a platform which overlooks a massive waterfall. The Queen condemns them all for being in line with a terrorist group and then pushes all but one of the men off the ledge and into the massive waterfall. She then leaves Ander’s guard for Ander, but not before she gives him a very chilling look.
Now I think one of my favorite interactions in this episode was between Ander and his guard and childhood friend. Even though the guard was not in the series for long, I really felt the emotion in the scene between the characters and I want to give the actors props for making me feel that way. You can really see that Ander was hurt by his friend’s betrayal, but fans can also see that the Crimson has more sway over the people than Ander originally thought. Ander does not spare his guard and pushes him off the ledge into one of the many waterfalls that the palace sits on top of. Ander is certainly growing more wise to the real ways of the world and how to act as a strong king even if it means doing something he doesn’t want to do.
And he is not the only one either. Lyria has a shining moment in this episode as well. Lyria is being primped and groomed for being Ander’s new Queen and a puppet queen for her mother, but, after a talk with Ander and Eretria, Lyria comes to realize that her mother needs her mother than she needs her mother. Lyria finally stands up to her mother stating that if she decides to marry Ander and becomes his Queen, she will not be at the beck and call of her mother, and will not let her do as she wants in her new kingdom. I’m really glad that fans get to see Lyria stand up to her mother. I would also say that Tamlin had more losses then wins this episode, but she is a fighter and it will be interesting to see what her next move will be.
Bandon and Flick
Bandon’s path takes a very dark turn in this episode. After his confrontation with the Queen of Leah and her guards, Bandon is back with Flick. Flick is trying to reason with Bandon, telling him that if the Warlock Lord is ever resurrected, Bandon won’t be his ally, but his slave. Flick is trying to get Bandon to come back to light, but what happens next may prove to be something he can never come back from.
Bandon decides to test out just how good the “good people” that Flick speaks of and whether they are worth saving. He leads Flick to a nearby small cottage where a small Elven family lives made up of a father, mother and their pre-teen son. He makes up a story about how his uncle and him need lodgings for the night as they are weary traveler. All starts well as the farmer agrees to house and feed them.
At dinner, Bandon starts to question the family. He asks them how long they lived in their house and how it was untouched by the demons. This is when you come to realize that Bandon has brought Flick to his old home where, in the first season, he was found muzzled in the barn by his parents because he had magic. This is horrific treatment of a child, and a treatment that the family seemed to know of. Except this family was not on the side of the child, and considered the child to be a monster as he had magic and knew that demons were coming which led to the death of his parents. Fans see how the Crimson’s hatred was starting to spread to the common people as well. Their son even joins in by bringing in the very muzzle that was used on Bandon as a child.
Having his own childhood horror story retold to him by this unsuspecting family who are less than sympathetic to the child, something in Bandon snaps. When dinner is finished, the father tells them that they don’t have room in the house and that they can stay in the barn. And this is when Bandon reveals that this was once his home and he was once that very child they looked down on.
Now this is where it gets really dark. Bandon uses his power to hold the parents down on a wall as he grabs the muzzle he once was forced to wear. Flick tries to stop him, but there is no stopping Bandon at this point. He then puts the muzzle on the pre-teen boy and then uses the strap of the muzzle to choke and cut into the boy’s throat. The parents and Flick helplessly as Bandon kills their son. This scene was horrific and, in my eyes, made Bandon’s character irredeemable. Flick’s fate is not looking so good after this incident.
Wil, Allanon, Mareth
As mentioned before, our group of heroes separated out with Eretria and Garet going to the kingdom of Leah and Wil, Mareth and Allanon going a different route towards Paranor. Wil is anxious to get to Paranor to save his uncle, and Allanon is the only one who knows the exact route to get there, but Wil soon seems to realize that they are not exactly on their way to Paranor.
Allanon is leading them on a side journey to get the sword of Shannara, an immensely powerful magical weapon that they can use against Bandon at Paranor. As it turns out, the sword is buried with Wil’s father deep within this unknown cavern that they have to repel down a ravine to get into.
As they journey through the maze of a cavern, fans get a little more insight in both Wil’s and Mareth’s path. We first get to see a little more about Mareth. The team splits up with Wil taking one path and Mareth and Allanon taking the other. This gives Mareth time to speak to Allanon. It was revealed that she is his daughter even though he is not fully convinced and he does not show any fatherly emotion towards her either. But in this moment, we get to see a little bit of Allanon’s frost towards her melt a little as she tells him why she was searching for him. She wants to learn to control her power because when she is angry she can lose control of her power and she hurt someone she loved. This moment was a small step in breaking through Allanon’s tough exterior.
Unfortunately for all of them, they are not alone in this maze that leads to Shea’s final resting place. Allanon and Mareth soon have a run in with the other resident of the cavern which is a large, creepy spider with tentacles named a dweller. They escape the dweller, but do not defeat the dweller. Both rush back towards where they split paths to find Wil.
Wil is not as fortunate when the dweller comes after him. He gets taken by the dweller. Allanon and Mareth track him down as Allanon describes what the dweller will do to Wil. It turns out this creature feeds off of pain and not just physical pain. It will make its victims relive their most saddest or worst moments.
And what is Wil’s saddest moment? You would think Amberle, but with his father on his mind, we get a flashback to one of the last times he saw his father. Wil is a pre-teen boy, and is playing with the sword of Shannara not realizing just how powerful it is. His father catches him, freaks out and takes the sword. He then beats him for using it. Now I’m sure book fans may not like this part of Shea’s character for the show, but it does follow along what we know of Shea in the show.
It is definitely a terrible memory and a reason why Wil has such complicated feelings towards his father. Allanon and Mareth find Wil and take on the dweller. Things are not looking good, but Wil uses the distraction they give to break free of his bindings and use the elf stones on the dweller.
With the last obstacle out of the way, Allanon, Mareth and Wil finally make it to Shea’s final resting spot. Shea is found on a stone slab curled up next to the sword. He looks almost perfectly preserved other than the moss growing over him. Fans get a very touching moment as Wil gets to have some closure with his father. Wil then takes up the sword and the episode ends with him unsheathing the sword of Shannara.
There are a lot of things that I liked about this episode and a few things that I was not too keen on. I really love the cinematography in this episode especially when they were repelling down into the ravine. Shannara has really done a fanstatic job in this department, but I really noticed it this episode. I think the acting has been getting better. I was particularly moved by the last scene between Ander and his guard and the scene where Wil found closure at his father’s resting place. I also found the tension build up in the scene where Bandon is questioning the family to be very well done.
The time jumps in this episode though were a bit jarring. One moment Eretria and Garet are on their way to the Kingdom of Leah and the next moment they were there. It gave no idea how much time lapsed and how far the distances between places are. It would make it seem like Graymark is right next door. I’ve seen this done in other shows, but it is still jarring and can pull a person out of the fantasy world they are in because you are trying to keep all the moving pieces and where they are straight in your head.
I also wondered how Ander knew about the super secret arms deal meeting that his lieutenant was having with bringing the Crimson the weapons from Leah. I know that General Riga told his lieutenant to secure the weapons, but I wasn’t sure how Ander got wind of it. I can only guess that Garet had some secret contacts. Maybe I missed that part, but I kept wondering how I knew.
I am definitely interested in seeing what is coming up next for this show! The Shannara Chronicles airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET/PT time on Spike TV.