The Shannara Chronicles “Breakline” Review (Season 1 Episode 7)

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On the latest episode of “The Shannara Chronicles,” we once again more or less picked up where we left off, with Wil, Amberle, and Eretria having fallen to the river below after Cephelo cut the zip line they were going across to escape the demon chasing them. In “Breakline,” we saw that they had all survived the drop, and that Wil managed to get a shot off at the demon using his elf stones, killing him in the process.

Unfortunately, they were all separated from one another, with Wil jumped by an unknown elf, who we discover is being chased by human hunters who are harvesting ears from elves to sell to gnomes, who think they have healing powers. The elf in question is named Perk (Stuart Shacklock, “The Z-Nail Gang”) and the hunters have already taken one of his ears before he was able to escape and are still after him.

The changeling, still posing as the King, meets with both of “his” sons to send them on a suicide mission to kill the Dagda Mor, claiming that the Warlock Sword is the only thing that can do so. He does so despite a returned Arion informing the King that the demons have a massive army now and that, even if they banded together with the Federation, they would never be able to defeat them. Obviously, the two should be dubious, but orders are orders, so they prepare to leave.

Meanwhile, Amberle wakes up somewhere else down the river and spots two hunters, which Eretria stops her from approaching, recognizing them as such and grabbing the Princess just in time. Eretria thinks that they’re after Wil, and that if they follow them discreetly, they will lead them right to him, so they do so.

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Wil heals Perk’s ear wound with some leaves with vaguely psychedelic properties, and says he knows how to get back to the hunter’s camp. Perk says they have his partner captured there, and that his two companions might be there as well, especially if one of them is an elf. Sure enough, the hunters get wind of Amberle and Eretria and give chase, with the Princess dropping her sword in the process, alerting them to her royal status in the process.

The two fall into a hole in the ground, which leads to what turns out to be a former high school that was apparently buried in an earthquake or the like and somewhat preserved in the process. They find a yearbook and the trappings of a prom, complete with a subtle reference to the late David Bowie (there’s a banner reading “We can be heroes!” above the band stage).

The hunters report back to their camp and the seeming leader, Zora (Zoe Robins, “The Killian Curse”) says she will pay double to whoever finds the Princess. By that point, Wil and Perk have arrived and he tells Wil that he was on a scouting mission to warn nearby villagers about the demon attacks in order for them to get out while they could, his village having already been attacked.

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Amberle and Eretria bond somewhat, with the former pointing out that the latter didn’t have to come back to her camp to save her before, and that she clearly cares about her. Eretria says that’s all well and good, but they need to find a way out of there. They look around for an exit, where Amberle picks up what looks like more elf stones, but which turn out to actually be Dungeons & Dragons dice!

Meanwhile, we see that Allanon is still alive and back at the Druid cave we saw in a previous episode. However, this time the cave doesn’t seem to be healing him like it did before and he is struggling to stay alive. He sees Bremen (Kevin J. Wilson, yet another “Spartacus” vet), who informs him that his time has not yet come. Bremen says there is another hero out there that needs his help who can’t do it alone, and he must get there before it’s too late. He heals him accordingly, and Allanon sets off in search of the hero in question.

Back at the hunters’ camp, Wil goes to follow the leaving hunters in hopes of finding his friends, but Perk spots the hunter who cut off his ear with it and jumps him and Wil must intervene to save him. Eventually, the hunter is subdued and they get a lead on where the Princess was last spotted. However, much to Wil’s horror, Perk kills the hunter in cold blood, slashing his throat.

In the high school, Eretria tends to a wound Amberle sustained at some point, while she tells her about her vision. It seems that the two of them and Wil are destined to be in some building with a stained-glass window, where Amberle will have to stab Wil to prove to the Ellcrys she was ready for what was next.

Before they can discuss it any further, the hunters arrive and rappel into the school. Amberle and Eretria band together to take down two of the hunters, snagging their ropes in the process, and killing one with a crossbow they lifted from the first one, but Zora is still out there somewhere.

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The King’s sons arrive at a ravine near the Breakline, which Arion identifies as their best bet to sneak up on the Dagda Mor and defeat him, but that it will likely be a fight to the death. However, they also notice that the area is oddly deserted. Have the demon army already left to descend upon the Kingdom proper?

Amberle spots a magazine article behind a sliding glass door and recognizes a picture of the stained-glass window from her vision. She nabs the article, which identifies the building as being in San Francisco, where it has apparently survived an earthquake. There’s also a map behind the glass, which she grabs as well.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Zora grabs them as well, and we discover that Zora and Eretria used to be an item a while back, but Eretria took off and abandoned her for some reason or another, which Zora still isn’t too happy about. She holds them at bay with a crossbow and walks them back to the gym, where the hunters dropped down to call for her people and get them out of there.

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As Allanon rides swiftly to the two princes’ location, they approach the Dagda Mor’s lair within the claw-like hinges and see a captured Bandon there within an underground cell, who looks to still be possessed or something. They try to no avail to free him. As before, there is a disturbing lack of anyone around, leading them to wonder if this is a trap of some kind.

Zora ties Amberle up to prepare her to be lifted out of the high school gym, but Wil arrives out of nowhere and swoops in to save her. He knocks Zora aside, grabs her, then Eretria and just as they are being lifted up out of there via a bird-like creature that proves to be Perk’s “partner,” Zora revives and fires off an arrow at Eretria, causing her to drop from the rope and fall back into the gym. So, Wil and Amberle are forced to leave her behind, especially with the hunters quickly approaching and opening fire on them with arrows.

Back at the hinges, the Dagda Mor approaches the Princes and tells them he’s been expecting them. He tells them their father has long since been dead and that getting them there was just a ruse by the changeling to get the sword to him. He nabs it from Arion and stabs him with it, just as Allanon arrives, just a hair too late to save him.

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Allanon shouts something and brings down his staff to the earth, which causes an invisible barrier to arise from the ground between Ander and the Dagda Mor, which the latter is unable to pass through, thus saving Ander’s life. Allanon is also able to retrieve Bandon from his cell, and the three swiftly head back to the Kingdom.

Amberle and Wil search for Eretria to no avail, and Perk has to leave to continue his mission to warn people about the demons. He gives them a whistle-type object that he says they can use to summon him if they ever find themselves in danger again and flies off on his magical bird creature, leaving them to continue their search alone.

Back at the Kingdom, Ander informs the “King” that Arion is dead and that the mission was unsuccessful. He says that he would be dead, if not for his brother. But it’s a fake-out, of course, and when the “King” goes to hug him, Ander stabs the changeling to death, as Allanon enters the room, noting that this makes Ander the King now.

This was a decent episode, with some quirky touches- notably the prom/high school thing, which I’m almost positive was not in the books, and I’m sure will further antagonize book fans decrying the MTV-ization of their beloved novels. I did enjoy the bird-like creature rescue and the ending, with Ander defeating the changeling to become King.

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That said, there were some pretty gaping plot-holes here. Notably how fast everyone seems to get where they need to go when they need to be there, no matter where they are. Also, if the changeling and the Dagda Mor are able to communicate with one another, as they obviously are, as the changeling told him of the two Princes’ impending arrival beforehand, then why didn’t the Dagda Mor alert the changeling to Ander’s escape and impending return?

I suppose that could be written off to the invisible shield making communication from the Dagda Mor to the changeling no longer possible, but it still needed to be explained if that was the case. I’ve noticed a number of things like that over the course of the series, which I’ve allowed to slide, but really need to be addressed in the future, even if with a mere line of dialogue to provide some explanation. Otherwise, we’re just left to gloss over some pretty gaping plot-holes, you know?

Beyond that, though, this was an okay episode, just not as good as the previous one overall. With only three more episodes to go, you’d think there would be a little more forward momentum by now, instead of all this back-and-forth stuff over and over again. Yes, the team now has an idea where they’re headed next, but they still have to contend with getting Eretria back, which will likely take the better part of yet another episode.

I get that they have to fill up ten episodes with action, but there’s plenty of it in the books without taking these unnecessary detours into high schools and the like. Yes, they had to find the clue to the stained-glass building there, but did they really? Much is made of them being unconsciously led to places time and again- couldn’t they have just found themselves in the right place? After all, it’s their destiny to ultimately be there, so who cares how they get there?

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But perhaps I’m just nitpicking, or maybe the haters are finally getting to me. I don’t mind the sort of Y/A-influenced stuff as much as some, but it’s a bit on the nose sometimes, notably when they use modern slang and the like. I was halfway convinced they were going to come across a MTV logo somewhere at the school or, like, see a “Teen Wolf” poster or something, which is not what you want in a fantasy epic, as it takes you right out of things. Or it would me, at least.

So, while I appreciated the Bowie nod, they might want to dial back all that “this used to be Earth” stuff considerably. They’re just becoming over-reliant on it, IMHO, and it was verging on silly here as it was. We get it, show-runners- they’re in a post-apocalyptic California. Let’s move on, shall we?

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Shannara Chronicles”? Were you also put off by the modern references? Did you pick up on some of the plot holes as well? Do you think that they will make it to the stained-glass window building before the end of the season, or will it end with their arrival? Is Amberle really going to kill Wil? Will they save Eretria? How? What will the now-King Ander’s first move be? Sound off on this and more down below!