How do I sit and type out something I’m not ready to accept? The season finale of The Shannara Chronicles has arrived, but I’m not ok to go.
I have not loved a classic fantasy television series this much since Legend of the Seeker, and frankly, after two seasons, I’m just as excited as I was with the pilot. And in comparison, while Legend certainly had me hooked early, with its whimsical style, by the end of its first season, I was beginning to feel confused and unimpressed. Another series, Game of Thrones, is hallowed as TV’s finest fantasy, and it’s true that GOT has an epic concept. But The Shannara Chronicles has two very clear benefits: it’s speed and its beauty. Shannara moves at a pace vastly more exciting and invigorating than HBO’s agonizingly slow storyline, a truth that I believe stems from the writing of the books themselves.
Nobody can deny that George R. R. Martin writes a detailed and in-depth story, but for some of us, there is only so much detail we can handle before our interest is no longer kept. And side by side, Shannara’s production artwork blows Game of Thrones off the screen. The sweeping arcs across the Four Lands displays the story’s “Mad Max meets Lord of the Rings” motif with incredible realism and finesse. Even the costumes are far more engaging and exotic. Show me a sword like Allanon’s Druid blade on GOT. There is none.
And, again, this show is no cerebral masterpiece. But it was never designed to be. It’s clearly written for a young adult, or younger, crowd. It has the emotional buzz and frenzy of a high school graduate, discovering life outside their parents’ home, and stepping onto their first day at their college campus. It’s not for a doctorate program. It succeeds in exactly what it was trying to be, and that’s so refreshing. I watch The Shannara Chronicles and get the feeling of youthful engagement that I remember when I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Any lover of that time-honored teen dramedy would love Shannara.
I watch this episode and I wonder, what’s next for Shannara? The ratings have not been spectacular since the series has moved from MTV, onto the Spike TV. But the reviews have stayed positive into the second season, not including my own. Even Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 95% audience approval. It can’t be denied that people love the show. As Garet Jax himself says, possibly breaking the fourth wall with this prophetic line, “If this is our last show, let’s make sure it’s a damned good one.” And they certainly accomplished that. But, without giving spoilers, it’s clear that the finale offers the potential for the story to continue. It closes one story arc, yes, but it leaves more questions unanswered, and absolutely sets up for a third season. So what will Spike do?
The finale of The Shannara Chronicles gave me everything I wanted. There were stunning views of the water-topped city of Leah, showing off the artists’ talent. There were moments of hard emotional challenges for the main cast, each succeeding in some form or another, and many leaving much open. There was good versus evil, betrayal, even lovers set against each other. There was closure, but there was the chance to move forward. And there was love. And if you asked me what more I could ask for in Shannara’s closing episode, I’d have only one answer to give.
I want more!