Our main trio is officially on their way toward actually doing something quest-like! But of course things aren’t going all that smoothly. Let’s jump into “Reaper,” and as always, there are spoilers ahead.
When at the end of last week’s episode saw Cephelo promising to swoop in and rescue the captured Eretria, I was a little worried this would simply be a retread of the third episode. And in some parts it was, but at least the story is moving forward. Wil takes a back seat in this episode in order to focus more on Amberle and Eretria, specifically the two of them together, which was a well-timed move.
The quest has begun, but things are tense between Amberle and Wil after last week’s revelation. After some mild bickering with the apparent Elven quest leader, Crispin (who seems to exist only to be annoying, and doesn’t seem to appreciate the whole Amberle is a princess thing), the group is quickly captured by Cephelo. For the… fourth? time now in only five episodes, Wil loses the Elfstones to the Rovers. This time Amberle is the only one taken prisoner though, leaving Wil to deal with a pissed off Crispin who blames Eretria for all of this even though she had next to nothing to do with it. She was chained to the back of the horses, remember!
And now I guess we have to talk about the would-be rape scene. Cephelo being the major creep that he is, after freeing Eretria decides he’d like to try his hand at sleeping with an Elf princess, even if she is vocally unwilling. And so, within the first half a season, The Shannara Chronicles has already introduced its first rape story line. The scene fell flat on so many levels and it never really felt like Amberle was at risk here, so more than anything the take away from this scene was regret that MTV felt the need to go there. And of course Eretria sweeps in at the last second to save Amberle, which will hopefully form an actual bond between these two. She has knocked out all of the other rover’s with a sleeping drought and captures Cephelo because neither she nor Amberle is willing to be the one to kill him. I really wish we could be done with that character already, especially now that his attempted rape has marked him as irredeemable.
The girls (with Cephelo) return the crabby elf camp and Wil, and the adventure continues. Crispin gets a few good hits in on Cephelo, which Amberle steps in to stop… no idea why. After a few more missteps the group arrives at their destination to find that it’s already been ravaged by a demon, one who still happens to be hanging out at the base. Cephelo does play a role in keeping some people alive, but I still wish he’d been a victim of the Reaper demon in this scene so we could say we’ve seen the last of him.
Interspersed with the main plot, we also saw flashbacks from when Amberle was a child and her father, who was supposed to become the king one day, was murdered by a gnome. I really enjoyed all of these scenes, and the ending battle was particularly well done and heartbreaking, if not all that original. At the time, Commander Tilton was hooking up with awesome-uncle Ander even though she’s now with lame-Uncle Arion. So that’s interesting and helps build those characters up a little more. Good timing too, since the adult characters seem to be getting a plot arc of their own for the second half of the season as Ander goes off on a quest with the same gnome who killed his brother.
Speaking of sideline plots, Allannon spent this week helping Bandon to control his powers, but these scenes felt more distracting than helpful and could probably have been cut down to next to nothing and still been just as effective.
The episode ends on all sorts of cliffhangers. It’s unclear where Eretria is going to stand with the group now. And of course there’s the matter of the Changeling’s murder of King Eventine, which is sure to cause some problems for absolutely everyone as the season continues. The overall quality of the series continues to (generally) grow with each episode, and so once again I find myself looking forward to next week.