Some thoughts on The Shannara Chronicles Episode Four – Family, Friends, or Foes?

Things are heating up in the Four Lands. Betrayals are discovered. Alliances begin to form. Powerful items, vital to the victory of both evil and good, come forth. And a man discovers he may be a father.

I’d expect nothing less in epic fantasy, and once again, I am happily satisfied with what I’ve been given when it comes to the fourth episode of The Shannara Chronicles.

This week’s episode brings a lot of information to head. Some background information is revealed about our villain, Bandon. We even get to visit his childhood home, a visit that is certain to hit heartstrings both with empathy for the elf and then anger or fear of how he handles himself, when faced with his past. I’m not going to pretend, readers… It goes pretty dark. And I loved every minute of it. There is nothing like a villain that one can empathize with, who then takes the tears you have for them, and turns them into a dagger, and stabbing you straight through the heart with it. Bandon continues to be one of my favorite characters.

Another favorite is one of our new companions this season, the enigmatic and fiesty Mareth Ravenlock. The budding maybe-druid has a confidence and playfulness that I adore in a hero. It’s a funny coincidence that not only does Malese Jow, the actress portraying Mareth, bare an interesting physical similarity to the delightful Kristin Kruek, of Smallville fame, but her style gives me a lot of Kruek’s own Lana Lang. They share a strength and sexy attitude, both women not to underestimate. I can’t wait to see what else Mareth brings to us.

If I have one re-occuring complaint about The Shannara Chronicles, it would be the lack of emotional diversity in Manu Bennett, who plays our druid, Allanon. Perhaps it is a choice on the actor’s, or even the director’s part, to keep Allanon almost devoid of any expression that isn’t anger, annoyance, or stress. It’s rare we see a softer side of the druid. Understandable, considering Allanon is trying to save the world, once again. But I’ve seen Bennett in other projects, and have found much the same concern with his acting ability. I would love to see a scene where he breaks to something more humanizing. His discovery of a possible daughter he never knew is the perfect opportunity to give us something to really cry about. Let the audience feel the same kind of empathy for our hero as we might for the villain, Bandon.

We also get a further connection between Anders, our elven king, and the human princess, Lyria. Though we know that the Queen’s interest in marrying her daughter to Anders is purely for the advantage she can gain in manipulating the Elves, that doesn’t stop me from loving the alliance. If I had predictions to make, I’d say that it gives Lyria the opportunity to break free from her mother’s domination, and do some good out in the world. I am also happy to see Anders truly become the strong and capable king that I have wanted from him since the beginning of the series. He comes to a true test against emotional betrayal in this week’s episode, and I thought he showed what makes a king in the end.

Artistically speaking, this episode did not have as much incredible visuals as some of the first episodes this season. It felt more like a filler episode, in regards to the scenery and backgrounds. But there were moments of delight. The beauty of the waterfalls below Queen Tamlin’s castle were put to some deadly use this week. As well, we got a monstrous opponent, hidden deep in tunnels underground, and we were rewarded with a fun little battle near the end of the episode.

Overall, this week’s episode of The Shannara Chronicles felt a little more filler that some larger-than-life episodes before, but it held very key scenes important to the plot. And after all, it’s a mid-season episode. Being a little bit of a slower chapter is nothing surprising, and I know its necessary at times. But I do hope the art department brings me back some of the shock and awe I felt in watching earlier scenes this season.

The second season of The Shannara Chronicles airs on Wednesdays on Spike TV. Check out this preview below for Episodes 5 and 6! That’s right, we get two hours next week.

Jesse Danger Dyer

Jesse Danger Dyer is a queer artist/writer/reader/fanboy/game-master of all things fantasy and sci-fi. He also saw Return of the Jedi in theaters, so there's that.


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