TV Review: The Shannara Chronicles 1×09 “Safehold”

With the first season of The Shannara Chronicles ending next week, it was anyone’s guess as to how they would set up the final conflict. The theme of the second-to-last episode ended up being mind games of every variety, which was a sidestep from the usually more action heavy episodes but made for a great lead in to what will hopefully be a solid finale. Let’s talk about “Safehold!”

safe2

The quest to reach Safehold has been a driving force of the entire season, and at last… we have arrived! Wil, Amberle and Eretria drop below grounds and into the subway lines in order to reach their destination. There’s a quick shimmy over a den of sleeping trolls, but all in all this leg of the journey is certainly the easiest. Unfortunately, what they go through once they arrive isn’t quite as bright and sunny. At last, Eretria gets her big moment, using her connection to Safehold to create a map to the Bloodfire. Quite literally. The map spreads out over the rover’s skin, which doesn’t seem necessary at this point because Eretria appears to know exactly where they group needs to go in order to bless the seed of the Ellcrys in the Bloodfire, hidden somewhere within Safehold. Yes, it’s a little convoluted, but we’ve all made it this far so we’ll be seeing this thing through to the end!

Surprisingly, some of the most interesting developments this week happened around the Elven court as the newly crowned King Anders’ reign was quickly called into question. The head council woman pulls something of a coup after Ander’s backed out of giving her the rule of the kingdoms last week. This turns out to be only a minor sidestep as Commander Tilton (does she even have a first name yet) takes off to revisit the gnome friend she and Anders made a few weeks ago, and despite the longstanding feud between the two races, it’s surprisingly easy to get them to come to Anders’ aid. And with 5,000 gnomes now at his beck and call, the rest of the council and their guard pledge loyalty to their new king… just in time to see the last leaf fall from the Ellcrys, meaning the Dagda Mor is and his demon army are now free.

Things are even less fun for Bandon this week. Do you remember when we first found him, locked up in his parent’s basement? Well, it turns out there might have been a very good reason for this. Sometimes, Bandon is a pretty mild-mannered dude. Other times, he’s a complete creep and easily influenced and controlled by the Dagda Mor. It’s hard to say exactly how much of this is Bandon’s own personality versus the demonic leaders control, but he’s not exactly looking like a knight in shining armor right now. With an epic battle coming next week, I doubt there will be much time left this season to focus in on Bandon’s split personality issue so we’ll see how much he comes into play next week.

Now, despite Eretria now feeling like she can conquer anything at all, reaching Safehold is not the end of our trio’s battle. There’s still the Bloodfire to conquer, which of course comes with its own set of guardians: a pair of beautiful/skeletal witches who are intent on ripping the group apart using their own insecurities. It’s not the most original tactic by any stretch, but it still works as well as you’d expect on this teenage-drama fueled trio. But they all push past their issues eventually, long enough for Eretria to use her blood to open the Bloodfire. Wil them uses the Elfstones to defeat the guardians (didn’t we think those could only be used on demons?), and Amberle disappears into the fire. It feels like a victory but leaves the group in shambles. And by shambles, I mean they aren’t really much of a group anymore.

We go into the last episode of the season with pretty much everything in ruins. The last leaf has fallen from the Ellcrys, Amberle is missing and Eretria seems to be dead. With this show, only about half of the deaths seem to stick, but this is still a less than promising situation for our heroes. Actually, the fact that Wil and Anders are the main remaining forces for good is a pretty terrifying thought, even if both characters have become slightly less incompetent over the course of the series. Now all that’s left to do is wait and see what the season finale has in store for us. There’s also no word yet on if this show has been picked up for a second season, so here’s hoping they don’t leave us with too much of a cliffhanger. But knowing this show, an uncertain ending almost seems like a guarantee.

Kellie Sheridan may as well live on the internet or in a library. She is a Young Adult author, spending her time writing and watching far too much Netflix near Toronto, Canada. You can find Kellie on Twitter (@Kellie_Sheridan) or contact her by email at kellie@theyoungfolks.com