The Shannara Chronicles “Changeling” Review (Season 1 Episode 4)

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On the latest episode of “The Shannara Chronicles,” we once again picked up where we left off, as Amberle stepped into the door provided by the Ellcrys to meet her fate head on, in “Changeling.” As she did, the tree’s branches came alive, “Evil Dead”-style, although, thankfully, these branches weren’t quite as touchy-feely. Instead, they presented her with a flower- aw! Okay, the flower then proceeded to drug her, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Amberle then sees the kingdom in ruins, everyone dead, and is then approached by her dead boyfriend Lorin, who chides her. Then he turns into Wil and tells her to kill him or die. She’s hesitant and he taunts her some more, but in the end, the sword fight to the death results in faux Wil’s death, not hers. Though we haven’t seen the last of one thing posing as another, making the title of the episode an apt one.

Before she leaves, the tree tells her via “Wil” to not let anything distract her again- even love. She must become hard, unyielding, and strong to succeed in her quest. As it turns out, Wil later makes it that much easier for her, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As a reward, the aforementioned flower presents to Amberle the seed this time for real.

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When she touches it, she gets another vision, this time of the location of the Bloodfire, but it’s pretty vague, save for an engraving in a stained-glass window. She also notices that Wil and Eretria are there, but leaves out the latter when later describing what she saw in her vision to others.

The real changeling, posing as a guard it killed, observes Amberle’s success and telepathically communicates with the Dagda Mor, who tells her to kill Amberle and take the seed before she has a chance to leave the kingdom. Someone picks up on her behavior and confronts the changeling, but she kills them with a sword in spectacularly gory fashion for basic cable. Go, MTV! Nice one.

As per expected, Prince Ander objects to anything and everything related to Amberle going on this quest or that Allanon has to say in general. Later on, he and the King butt heads as the latter informs him he won’t be stepping down anytime soon, and that Ander’s temper only goes to show he’s not ready to rule with a calm head. No kidding, as Ander flies into a rage at a moment’s notice.

His brother Arion proves the more contemplative one, suggesting that they summon the elf named Ren Katzen (possible misspelling) to a specific place in the woods to meet Amberle and company to help them find the actual location of the Bloodfire, which remains somewhat elusive. The plan is for her, Wil, and a cadre of guards led by Crispin Edensong (James Trevena-Brown, “The Blue Rose”) to travel to the Safehold together, which lies beyond the woods, and meet with Katzen along the way in the Dray Woods area.

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Meanwhile, Cephelo sends Eretria to the place to sneak in, nab the stones and the “half-breed” Wil and to return to him- or she’d better not return at all. She sneaks in, nabs a costume to fit in and corners Wil alone, seducing him and stealing the stones, with very little effort. Men. They make it too easy, am I right? Not that I entirely blame Wil, but still- nice going there, champ. Way to think with your elf stones and not your brain, there.

While this is going on, Bandon, the seer, admits he can see people’s death if he touches them, and that he saw Amberle in his vision being killed in the room with the stained-glass window, with Eretria by her side. By this point, Commander Tilton has discovered the dead guard and knows the changeling is posing as one somewhere on the premises and a search ensues.

Amberle talks to handmaiden and friend Catania, expressing her desire to leave sooner than later. Allanon advises against it, saying they need to weed out the changeling first. As Catania leaves, she brushes into Bandon, who warns her if she goes upstairs, she’ll be killed, seemingly by Eretria. Naturally, she runs upstairs, with Bandon in hot pursuit, not exactly helping his cause in doing so.

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Sure enough, Eretria, having stolen the stones and making her way out of the palace, is seen and also pursued, but is intercepted somewhat by the changeling, who assumes her form and attacks Amberle. Arriving just in the nick of time, Catania jumps in front of Amberle to save her, putting herself in the line of fire, or line of stabbing, as it were. Fortunately for her, Bandon also intercedes, tackling the changeling and saving Catania as well.

The changeling goes back into guard mode, as the real guards spot the real Eretria and give chase to her instead. She manages to knock out the Prince, but then is knocked out herself by Tilton. Eretria is then taken to the King, who declares she’ll have to stand trial for the murder of the guard and the attempt on Amberle’s life, which, of course, she denies. Wil retrieves his stones- literally and figuratively- but lies about how she got them in the first place to everyone. Just like a guy, am I right, ladies?

The King gives Amberle a sweet sword that belonged to her late father, and expresses how proud he is of her, and how proud her father would be as well, giving me the feels. Wil makes a plea on Eretria’s behalf, realizing that she might be a thief and a hornswoggler (always wanted to use that in a sentence!), but she’s no murderer, which means the real changeling is probably still at large. Allanon realizes they slept together, but doesn’t disagree.

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Allanon comes up with a plan- if they let the changeling think they all think they’ve caught the demon, perhaps they can use the Princess as bait to lure it in and kill it. But using the real Princess is too risky, so they go Star Wars prequel with it and use Eretria as a decoy, having her dress as the real deal, in an effort to help her clear her name as well, if what she claims is true.

Of course, Eretria can’t help herself to out Wil as having slept with her to Amberle, which jars her, big time. After that, she cold tells Wil that the Princess will never want her “sloppy seconds”! Lol. Way to keep things realistically language-appropriate for the times, MTV. I can’t say I recall that phrase being used in the original books!

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Tilton tells Wil about the dead guard thing and how the changeling might be posing as one of them, and he realizes that the demon might have already gotten wind of their plan and rushes to the Princess to tell her. Except that the changeling has already gotten wind of it and poses as Wil to infiltrate the area the Princess is being held and tries to kill her before he can get there.

Luckily for her, Allanon is there and kills the demon. Shortly thereafter, the real Wil arrives, a little too little, a little too late. Is it me, or are these the worst guards ever? I mean, they know there’s a shape-shifter about, and yet they not only let one rush in, they let its twin nearly do the same! Time to hire some new guards, methinks. (See, MTV, that’s how you do it!)

The changeling assumes its real form as it “dies,” then Allanon instructs a guard to burn it and seal the ashes in an urn. Is it me, or was that a dopey move on his part? I mean, he could have at least sent a group of guards to do the deed. Instead, as per expected, the changeling isn’t really dead, one assumes, and another demon arrives to kill the guard and stop him before he can burn the changeling, so it likely lives to shape-shift another day, which will no doubt come into play later on, when we least expect it, if they’re smart about it.

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Amberle wants to imprison Eretria, understandably, but Allanon balks at this, saying he knows that she was in Amberle’s vision, having talked to Bandon by this point. He also knows he must stay behind to guard the palace from more demons, while the rest go off on their own to fulfill the quest. Amberle isn’t happy, but she acquiesces, with the caveat that Eretria be brought along in chains, not trusting her as far as she can throw her. Cephelo spots them leaving, and vows to save Eretria, and that’s it for this episode.

This was another solid episode of the show, which is really settling in and becoming very watchable. It’s no wonder MTV made the first four episodes available all at once- at this point in time, we’ve had just enough time to get attached to the characters, all the set-up is out of the way, and the real quest can begin. From here on out, it should all be pretty straight-forward, which I’m just fine with.

I’ve no doubt we’ll have to contend with much more in the way of wacky names for places and people along the way, but at least the bulk of the exposition is done and we can get into the nitty gritty of things. Who doesn’t love a good quest? I should mention that apparently, a lot of people do, as the show is doing pretty well in the ratings, which is good news for MTV, who clearly spent a fortune on this thing.

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Could there be a light at the end of the tunnel for their crappy reality TV shows to wither on the vine and original, cool programming to take over again, like in the good old days of “Liquid Television,” “Daria” and “Beavis & Butthead”? One can only hope, because I miss those days. Back then, MTV was truly must-see TV for all the right reasons. Now if we could get some music back on this thing, we’d really be back in business! (Yes, I’m quite aware of “Clubland,” but you know what I mean.)

Either way, I’m really digging “The Shannara Chronicles” so far. How about you? Sound off below, and book readers, if you’re out there, let me know what you think of the show! See you next week, as we hit the halfway mark of this bad boy!