The Shannara Chronicles have returned for a new season of epic high fantasy. Formerly of MTV in its original airing, over a year from its last season finale, Spike TV now brings us back to the world of the druids, elves, rogues, and monsters that we love. And from the very first episode, they have not disappointed!
In Season One, we began the story with a young woman proving herself competing against the rest of her contenders, all men, in a traditional race of elite elven warriors. Certainly, something to excite and intrigue. Not to be outdone, Season Two seeks to take that excitement and amp it up to a furious degree. At the start, danger and strife explode on screen. Monsters attack our beloved main characters with murder in their eyes, blood splattering through the air as combat erupts. Magic users are found hanging dead, branded in protest of their mysticism, by a new threat. Even a very familiar cityscape of our own present, set in the millennia-distant future, captures our hearts and minds with images of what might become in a post-apocalyptic Earth, lost to nature and magic.
All within the first ten minutes of the open.
It’s clear the people behind The Shannara Chronicles are ready to get its viewers’ attention and shout our commitment to the fantasy series’ return. After watching the first three episodes, I am screaming my own pledge. I want to see every episode of the new season, and I want to see it now! But we must wait, each week, for the next installment, and happily so.
To start, I admit I loved the first season; the cast and the writers kept me entertained every episode. But in Season Two, I find myself literally stunned at the beauty of the production values, as well. As the camera sweeps through a snow-capped mountain scene, we cross a pass and our eyes are introduced to a breathtaking “evil lair,” hidden in the peaks, and I literally exclaimed out loud. Nobody was in the room with me but had they been, they would have heard my audibly shocked “whoa,” at the beauty of the artwork. I was already hooked, and it just kept getting better.
In the last season, one of my favorite guilty pleasures of Shannara is the glimpses of our own real-life present found throughout the show. A rusted merry-go-round, long taken over by weeds and flora. A skyscraper in the distance, mutated over time into a bizarre monolithic specter of what the characters in the story would call ‘the ancient past.” I’m delighted to say that the new season seems to be hitting these little tidbits of our off-screen lives even stronger than the last. Views of centuries-old cities, bridges from another era of man, and even military carriers buried into mountain…are simply background to the characters but are tangible, vivid parts of the audience’s actual life. Shannara is one of the few high fantasy stories with the opportunity for its viewership to connect, to relate in some way, with its surroundings. I think the folks behind the scenes have truly recognized that, and are taking full advantage. It’s a delicious easter egg hunt for us, and I think it really takes viewers into a place where fantasy can almost become reality.
What’s new this season? Well, to start, we meet new friends and even family. We find our main characters all in unfamiliar homes, with different people surrounding them. Each unknown face brings in the possibility of deception, conspiracy, which are hallmarks of great antagonism. And with new friends comes new lovers, as well. Shannara offered us sexy moments in its first season, but true to form with the rest of the show, Season Two is heating it up further, enticing our lust as much as our eyes. The new season also introduces us to the human kingdom of Leigh, an opulent and hedonistic land, whose seat of power is a breathtaking golden castle atop an architectural dream of a river dam. There’s an air of superiority among the humans of Leigh, setting themselves apart and above the forest-dwelling elves of Arborlon; the parallels in our own reality’s societal battles between the greedy patriarchy and earth-conscious leftists were not lost on me and brought me back into that feel of relating to the story.
Shockingly, though I am an avid reader of fantasy, I’ve never actually read The Shannara Chronicles. Even though this season is a new original story, it will still take elements from the novels. One benefit I have is complete freedom from the comparisons of the book versus screen. I get each episode on its own; no spoilers, no questions of why it was different from the original story. Every step is a surprise, and this ride is one I am thrilled to take. The first three episodes have captured me, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
The second season of The Shannara Chronicles airs on Wednesdays on Spike TV. CHeck out this preview below for Episode 4 – Dweller.