Written by: Kelsey Hlavaty
Episode 4: Changeling
This week’s recap will focus on Episode 4 of The Shannara Chronicles which aired Tuesday, January 19th, 2016. Warning: Expect massive spoilers.
Where did we leave off? Well, the Dagda Mor sent his demon to the castle in order to murder the Chosen, those who protect the Elcrys. It managed to murder all but one: Princess Amberle. She must now enter the trunk of the Elcrys as a test awaits her. Will, the half-elf-last-son-of-Shannara and Allanon, human druid (basically a wizard), must remain outside the Elcrys as it seals her fate. Passing the test would mean Amberle is suited enough to carry the seed of the Elcrys to the Bloodfire, but failing the test will cost Amberle her life.
The episode opens with Amberle entering the Elcrys. Allanon explains to Will that the test will involve testing some of Amberle’s fears. He touches the Elcrys (much like how Amberle had touched it) and gets a vision of what Amberle will be encountering within. Within the trunk, the test begins and Amberle is faced with her worst fear: the city of Aberlon is in peril and most of her peers lie dead around her. Lorin, dead member of the Chosen and Amberle’s ex, begins to taunt her, saying how she never loved him and only loved another man. Just to interject two seconds, I don’t think Amberle had met Will yet – at least between when Amberle left and when Lorin died, so who is he referring to at this point? Was the Elcrys just using this? Will emerges looking as badass/goth as ever… and even has a deeper voice berating Amberle about commitment and bravery. He tells Amberle that she must be brave enough to kill him and tosses her a sword. They fight and once Amberle manages to kill Will, the bleak colors change to more joyful tones of yellow and orange as (fake) Will tells her she passes the test. Amberle learns from this that she cannot let fear, or love, distract her from her quest. The Elcrys provides her with its seed and she emerges from it victorious.
The scene cuts to the demon, who has been changing its appearance in order to keep watch on the happenings within the castle. It reports back to the Dagda Mor who instructs that it must kill Amberle before she reaches the Bloodfire. The fate of him and the hope of the elves lies in her hands. Amberle reveals that inside the Elcrys she had a vision of a symbol on a glass stained window – she neglects to mention that both Will and Eretrea were in front of it. Allanon tries to unravel what this symbol could possibly mean. This frustrates Prince Arion as he does not want to trust Allanon, but King Eventine is not interested in Arion’s complaints and tells him to listen to Allanon. Amberle is shown to be uncomfortable around Will (is it because she killed a fake him or because she loves him?), and Will follows her to try to understand what is bothering her. Amberle refuses to tell him what’s really on her mind and resorts to essentially telling Will to mind his own business and stop getting involved in everything (honestly, thank you Amberle).
Eretrea and her father, Cephelo are shown hiding in the forest watching the castle. Cephelo instructs Eretrea that she must go into the castle and collect the Elfstones from Will – even if it means risking her life and being sent to jail. Cephelo states that she either brings the stones back or faces a much harsher punishment from him. Will and Bandon (remember that weird guy they found chained up in his house) begin to form a friendship, and Bandon admits that he is able to predict how people will die when he touches them. Bandon tells Will that the symbol Amberle drew and saw in her vision is the symbol within a room where she and another human girl will die.
In this episode, we delve deeper into the relationship between Prince Arion and his father. King Eventine is not pleased with his son, and doesn’t take to kindly with Arion’s suggestions of his father backing out of the crown. Arion feels as though he deserves the crown and believes his father is reluctant in giving him the crown because Arion lives beneath the shadow of his older brother (who sounds like a great guy and a lot less annoying than Arion, to be honest). Meanwhile, Eretrea has made it into the castle and follows Will into his room. Will is reluctant to listen to Eretrea, but she explains that she is not here to trick Will, but rather, to ask him for help. She reveals that Cephelo is not her father and that he had bought her when she was very young. She needs Will to help her be free from him. Some sexually suggestive eyebrow wiggling and eye contact is given by both ends, so you know what happens next. Will is topless and passed out in bed as Eretrea steals the Elfstones from his pockets.
Bandon bumps into Amberle’s servant and BFF, Catania, and he has a vision of her dying at the hand of Eretrea – to which he creepily explains that she must not go upstairs or she will face death. Catania begins to run up the stairs anyways. As Eretrea leaves Will’s room, she is spotted by Amberle and begins to make a run for it. Unknown to her, the demon spots her and takes her shape in order to run around the castle. As DemonEretrea encounters Amberle and is about to stab her, Catania and Bandon run in, causing DemonEretrea to miss. Commander Tilton arrests the real Eretrea (with the help of Prince Ander), and they bring her to face the King and Princess Amberle. Eretrea pleads that she sure as hell will do anything to rob you, but she would never be a murderer. As Commander Tilton begins to take Eretrea to her cell so she may await trial, Will intercepts and asks Eretrea why she would resort to murder. Sweet baby Eretrea explains that she had plenty of chances to kill him and Amberle and would not come all the way to the castle just to do so. She tells him that the murderer is probably still lurking within the walls of the castle.
Now that Eretrea, whom they believe the murderer is, is caught, Amberle begins to make plans to leave the castle. King Eventine provides Amberle with her father’s sword in a very adorable scene. The king tells Amberle that she is, in some ways, exactly like her father. She is brave enough to hold the weight of the world on her shoulders and is thus, worthy to wield the sword. However, now that Amberle is ready to leave, Allanon and Will do not believe Eretrea to be the killer and state that they must stay in order to catch the real one. Allanon reveals Bandon to be a “see-er”, someone who is able to see all possibilities, not just death. By touching Lorin’s body, Bandon is able to see that Amberle had killed him, or rather, a demon who was disguised as her. Allanon explains that this is the work of a demon called a “Changeling”, who disguises itself to mimic those around it. In order to lure the demon, Eretrea, to her displeasure, is used as a decoy princess. But, the changeling has figured this out, disguises itself as Will and follows the real Amberle. Just as it is about to kill her, Allanon steps in to kill it.
The episode ends with Allanon explaining that he knows Amberle saw Eretrea and Will in front of the mysterious symbol in her vision. Because the three of them were all in Amberle’s vision and Allanon wasn’t, the journey to take the seed to the Bloodfire remains in the hands of the love triangle, sans their mentor. As they leave for their journey (with Eretrea captive, as Amberle still does not trust her), Cephelo is seen spying on them in the forest. As well, the demon is, surprise, not as dead as they thought and rises from the dead.
Verdict? It was an overall great episode. I love that it showed Amberle in a weak point at the beginning, but she only grew stronger towards the end. I also love that, so far, the fate of elvian humanity lies in a princess rather than the last son of Shannara or a druid with ancient powers. And although I really do love the dynamic between Will and Eretrea and Eretrea and Amberle, I don’t like the blossoming love between Will and Amberle. I find it to be a little pushy and not at all natural. It pains me to watch the three of them go off on a journey together as I know the love triangle will be a definite focus of future episodes. However, I love that Eretrea is becoming more involved because I believe she has a lot to offer as a character.