The Shannara Chronicles “Reaper” Review (Season 1 Episode 5)

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On the latest episode of “The Shannara Chronicles,” the journey of the Princess and her cadre began in earnest, while Cephelo plotted to rescue a captured Eretria and kidnap Amberle and get back Wil’s Elf Stones, in “Reaper.” But first, we got a flashback, to the night Amberle’s father, Prince Aine (Roy Snow, another “Spartacus: War of the Damned” alum) was killed, some ten years ago.

It all started out innocently enough, as a young Amberle and Lorin raced one another to the Ellcrys, where, even then, she was running circles around the boys. She also got a glimpse of her future when she touched the tree, presumably for the first time. However, the fun didn’t last, as the two youths were caught and taken back to their parents.

Amusingly, though, after seeming to admonish Amberle, her father ultimately celebrated her, even going so far as to encourage her to run the gauntlet, though no woman had ever been among the Chosen before, which explains why she did so in the premiere. It was nice seeing where Amberle got her drive to succeed where others would have her fail.

Meanwhile, we saw young prince Ander snuggling up to a pre-Commander Tilton, only for the former to be followed into a secret passage by the nefarious Slanter (Jared Turner, “The Almighty Johnsons”) and his men, who would subsequently kill various guards before attempting to assassinate the King. Slanter is the self-appointed leader of the so-called Gnome Rebellion, who is known to the King.

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However, before they could, Aine stepped in to defend Eventine, sadly giving up his life in the process, much to the horror of Amberle, who witnessed her fathers’ final moments. All concerned were killed, save Slanter, who was captured and imprisoned until present day. So, basically, though I’m not entirely sure he realized it, Ander’s screwing around led directly to his own brother’s death.

Back in the present, Amberle and company head towards the forest, stopping for the night just outside of it. Unfortunately for them, Cephelo has already arrived ahead of them and he and his men rise up from their hiding places and take them all by storm, capturing the Princess, stealing the Elf Stones and leaving the rest, including Wil, to die by the wolves that assemble in the area at night.

Meanwhile, the Dagda Mor, after chastising the Changeling for failing in her mission, sends another demon to intercept Amberle and company at the Fort when they arrive. The Changeling makes a plea for a second chance to prove herself by infiltrating the Palace once again and attempting to turn the Kingdom against Allanon. Though dubious, he grants her the chance, after having his way with her. (Hello, implied demon sex!)

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Back at the Kingdom, Ander returns with news that the demons have been slaughtering innocent villages. We catch a glimpse of one, where various villagers have had their heads decapitated and put upon stakes for all to see as a warning. Ander wants to attack them back while they still have the advantage, but the King insists that guarding the Ellcrys is more important. This doesn’t go over well with Ander, who corners Arion and attempts to convince him to go against the King and attack the demons, but he refuses.

The remaining villagers, many of whom are gravely injured, are taken inside the Palace walls, where Catania tends to them. She also finally thanks Bandon for saving her life, and sets up a date with him later on. Allanon steps in when he sees that Bandon intends to serve as a soldier and instead coaches him on how to fine-tune his psychic powers, starting with doing a read on Allanon himself.

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Since Allanon has already died once before, that is what Bandon sees. Later on, he touches the Ellcrys, where his vision of Amberle’s death is repeated, only this time, he also see the Dagda Mor, who imprisons him. Allanon recognizes that something is wrong, as Bandon’s eyes turn black and pulls him away from the tree just in time…maybe. (That is the last we see of the two, so we’ll just have to wait until next week to see Bandon’s fate.)

Back at Cephelo’s camp, he honors his pact with Eretria and grants her freedom, along with a payment and a horse to get started. As she is leaving, she sees him with Amberle, and it is obvious he intends to have his way with her later on. Her conscience finally getting the better of her, she sneaks back into camp, knocks out Cephelo’s men en masse with a sleeping powder, and rescues the Princess after all, opting to take Cephelo with them, as “insurance,” which turns out to be a wise move, though not for the reasons she expected.

Meanwhile, Arion has a change of heart and decides to scout the Break Line for demons and gather intel on them, in hopes of later convincing the King to allow him to lead a group of soldiers to attack them, once they know more. There is one catch, however: he wants to free Slanter and take him with him, as Slanter knows his way around the area better than anyone else on the premises.

Ander isn’t thrilled about this development, but ultimately goes along with it, with Tilton accompanying Ander on the journey. Ander stays behind to handle the King in the meantime, after Ander breaks Slanter out and sneaks him out of the very same secret passage he used to his advantage ten years prior.

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Back at the encampment outside of the forest, Wil attempts to stop the bleeding on a nasty wound Cephelo gave Crispin before leaving, in hopes of further attracting the wolves. Though he eventually does so and is able to cauterize the wound, it’s a little too late, as the wolves have already caught their scent and attack, killing one of the women in the group. Thankfully, Eretria arrives just in the nick of time to scare off the wolves and save the day.

Though Wil is still dubious of her, Eretria does return the Elf Stones to him, and makes it clear she’s still into him, even if the feeling is no longer mutual. Amberle stops Crispin from beating Cephelo to a pulp for what he’s done, and the team proceeds into the woods, stopping when they approach the Fort, as they notice it’s oddly quiet.

As it turns out, the demon the Dagda Mor sent has already arrived and killed off everyone there, tossing a group of decapitated heads at them (!) and then proceeding to go after them. Wil and Cephelo draw the demon away by using Wil’s blood as a decoy, as, according to Cephelo, demons are attracted to it.

It works, and they lead the demon to a pit they saw earlier, where radioactive barrels (I think) are scattered, which had taken out one another of Amberle’s guards previously in a pretty spectacularly gory fashion. He lights his lighter, tosses it into the pit once they are clear and the demon is inside the area, and the demon is promptly blown to smithereens.

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We end with Amberle’s team down by a considerable margin of men, Wil still at a loss as to how to properly use the Elf Stones, and, in a nifty twist, the Changeling posing as Ander, infiltrating the castle and killing the King, assuming his form and taking his place, which does not bode well for the future. RIP Eventine- he will be missed, though at least John Rhys-Davies technically still gets to stick around, albeit now as the “evil” King.

This was another fun episode, and easily the most over-the-top and gory since the premiere, not to mention the most sexed-up. MTV continues to amaze with what they allow the show to get away with here, and though it’s not going to give the likes of “Game of Thrones” any pause, it does make for a nice stopgap until that show returns. I must say, I’m enjoying the show much more than I ever thought I would, considering the source. (As in MTV, not Terry Brooks’ excellent source material.)

I like the way the show is tweaking the novels a bit, notably the business with the radioactive barrels, which I don’t recall being in the original stories, though feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, book readers. While I get that some of this may frustrate fans, it does make for some solid action and great gore effects, so I can’t say I’m complaining that much about it. Besides, I can’t imagine anyone is surprised that certain liberties have been taken with the material. It’s just the nature of the adaption beast.

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The Shannara Chronicles”? Did you also enjoy the action and the gory FX? Were you surprised by how risqué some of it was? What did you think about the flashback? Do you think that Arion taking along Slanter was a wise idea? Or Amberle taking along Cephelo, for that matter? (Actually, that one has already paid off- in the short term, at least.) What do you think will happen next, non-book readers? Sound off down below and see you next week, for episode six!