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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles: Changeling

This show would have us believe the insides of trees are hollow and filled with roots, so I'm going to chalk that down to this one being a magical tree. Amberle gets some nectar squirted in her face from a flower that blossoms right in front of her (I'll refrain from making any Freudian jokes) and so finds herself in one of those frustratingly obtuse Secret Tests of Character.

According to Allanon, she's not allowed to succumb to her fear, which manifests as a vision of Loren, who then turns into evil punk Wil, who then attacks her. Should she defend herself or spare him? That's why I call these tests "frustrating", because either answer could be the correct one – it just depends on what type of show you're on.
Since there's been plenty of graphic violence already, it turns out that the right choice for this show is Amberle killing fake!Wil – though she ends up doing so mostly by accident. This doesn't seem like a satisfying outcome for either one of the potential "right answers" (to show mercy or to be ruthless), but the tree accepts it happily enough.
"Oops, my bad!"
So she's given the magical seed (be quiet Freud) which is only partially obscured by a lens flare, and heads out again.
Since all this happened off-screen in the novel, it was interesting to see it play out here. So far the show is doing a halfway decent job of staying true to the main plot-points of the book while delving into details that help them fill out the forty-five minute runtime of each episode.
Channelling Padme Amidala, Amberle changes into a brand new outfit for the ensuing council meeting (she'll be on the road soon, so I'm assuming the costume designers want to give her their money's worth while there's still time) and we learn that King Eventine plans to contact some guy who can get them to the Wilderrun. I didn't recognize the name (and it definitely wasn't Perk), so I'm assuming this is another new addition.
Speaking of which, Eretria is ordered by her father to sneak into Arborlon and steal back the Elfstones. She achieves this in exactly the way you'd expect from a female antagonist on an MTV miniseries: seducing Wil. Again.
The guy's an idiot, but I guess it's realistic that he's more interested in the hot chicks either side of him than the whole quest to save the entire world thing.
But then the show managed to surprise me. I had Bandon pegged as a loose cannon who was just an eye-twitch away from killing everyone – turns out he's a perfectly benign prophet who can't control his powers, and who actually manages to prevent one of them from coming to pass – that is, the murder of Catania.
(And I've realized who she is: Jennsen from The Legend of the Seeker. I looked up the actress on IMDB and got quite a shock considering she and I were born in the same year, on the same day, in the same city. The only difference is the month: she was born the third of January, while I was the third of February. Freaky).
Eretria gets caught up in all this when the Changeling morphs into her, and thanks to a cloak and some winding hallways, she gets arrested for attempted murder. Luckily our heroes aren't as stupid as they look (hey, it's true) and enlist her help in catching the real assassin.
Unfortunately, the single guard tasked with getting rid of the Changeling's body is totally as stupid as he looks, and is almost immediately dispatched by the Not Quite Dead monster.
Miscellaneous Observations:
This ongoing argument between Eventine and his eldest over whether or not magic/legends/druids/demons are real is already boring. To quote from (but slightly tweak the context of) A Very Potter Musical: "YOU'RE A FUCKING ELF." If you're real, so is all the demonic/magical shit happening that's been happening around you for the past week.
Let's get to the more interesting scene in which Amberle inherits her father's sword. This type of scene is usually reserved for dudes, but they play it here without any commentary on the fact that Amberle is the one inheriting her father's Traditional Symbol of Manliness. Nice.
Femmeslash watch: this week Eretria managed to make telling Amberle about her dalliance with Wil all about them, and they looked so darn cute wearing each other's clothes.
Other interesting departures from the book: the Changeling being portrayed by an actress (I'm not sure if gender was ever specified in the text, but I'm always down for a decent/scary female villain) and the details of Amberle's vision, particularly the sight of Wil and Eretria standing beneath the stained glass window.
I'll admit my interest has been piqued as to what this might mean.

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