The Shannara Chronicles Episode 9…welcome to the edge of darkness.

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Spike TV‘s The Shannara Chronicles opens this week’s final two-part episode run with two druids literally being burned at the stake. And honestly, I was on fire, as well!

I’ve been itching to see how Allanon and Mareth would free themselves from the peril they’d ended up in, tied to the pyre, with flames licking at their feet. Wil wasn’t close enough to save them. Lyria was hidden away, ensuring the new Queen of Leah would be safe from the Warlock Lord’s clutches. They were chained with the magic-negating collars. How would they survive this?

Suffice to say, I was forgetting a key player in the game, and I believe that is part of that character’s own motif. But I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the druids’ hero in the moment, as bloody an arrival as it was.

We return to The Shannara Chronicles with a pivotal episode. It’s the second to last, and everything is coming to a head. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering what would come next. Eretria is finding the darkness in her growing stronger, and fears being consumed. Bandon wants power as his reward for bringing his vile master back to the Four Lands. Riga is dead. The Warlock Lord has the Codex. Basically, everything is fracked, and I’m having a delicious time.

Our companions are reunited in the San Francisco-based land of Safehold, and we are treated with those images of the lands we know in our own life, on the screen. It remains one of my more cherished delights of the story’s concepts, this step into a possible future, rather than being set in a world that doesn’t exist, which is the standard for most of the genre. To see magic take over my own world, my own city, even, in this way is truly entertaining for a fantasy nerd such as myself. If one thing can be said about The Shannara Chronicles , no matter your opinion of the show itself, it is visually a spectacular piece of television, and I love to see the production artists’ work on screen.

Overall, I felt this second season really held itself together well. I loved the first season, but I thought it a bit disjointed, at times. Yes, there was a clear overlying plot, but sometimes there was too much going on. While the same could be said about season two, I think it was done more seamlessly, and followed its path in a way that fits well. I found it clear that the production folks had discovered their pacing, and it worked for me.

And to add, I think the writing just got better. The companions were faced with far greater tests to their character, and there were surprises I didn’t expect, and really enjoyed. Even episode 9 shocked me, with two different deaths I was not prepared for. Twists, turns, and spectacular additions to the cast truly made the show come into its own. In particular, the introduction of the wonder that is Caroline Chikezie, playing our queen mum of Leah, Tamlin. She will forever reign atop my list of favorites from this show.

We have love affairs that are finally being realized. After seeing Emberle in the Ellcrys, Wil has let go of his pain and is taking a new step, sharing his feelings for his new druid companion, Mareth. Lyria expresses her own hopes for a future with her beloved Eretria. Even Allanon finally tells his daughter the words she has spent a lifetime hoping to hear. And at the heart of all the love, lies that consuming fear… Will any of them survive long enough for their shared emotion to be acted on?

We end episode 9 with everyone in ultimate peril. The final battle has begun, all the pieces on the chessboard have been maneuvered into the last play, and each companion is facing their mortality in a very real way. The last moments of this episode of The Shannara Chronicles really put us on the edge of our seat. But, luckily… the final act airs right after, and we are about to see how everything comes to a head. And I, for one, can’t wait!

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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