Shannara Chronicles Season Finale: Ellcrys Review

Shannara's crazy first season ends on a rather somber note. Here's our review...

This review of The Shannara Chronicles contains spoilers.

Shannara Chronicles Season 1, Episode 10

Shannara has grown up so fast. It was only yesterday when MTV’s first fantasy series was little boy obsessed with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fanfiction. Now, it’s a 16-year-old girl that thought Mad Max was pretty sick after she rented it from a Redbox machine a couple of months ago. But here we are, episode ten, the epic destination that we were dashing towards on horseback while listening to Good Charlotte – or something. Too old? Fine. Woodkid. That’s the band that was playing during this episode’s montage juxtaposing Amberle and Wil galloping across the sunset beach while Dagda Mor’s army of evil knights got some exercise. It was such a musical moment, wasn’t it? I expected the princess to burst into song or something.

Looks like Eritrea was brought back to life by the Elfstones immediately, only to run off and sacrifice herself again in a BART tunnel to fend off trolls. Which is impressive for someone that has just lost a major amount of bodily fluid iover the past two hours. You’d think maybe she’d be lightheaded, but nope. She kept on swinging. I feel slight aggravation towards the show for pulling a stunt like this, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. If only it had been more Disney-fied. As it stands, it’s a little anticlimactic.

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Which “Ellcrys” is, for the most part. It’s not interested in providing us with the giant CGI-fueled battle we’d pictured in our heads since the pilot. But I get why. Large scale epic battles aren’t exactly economical for a TV budget. No matter how many shots you edit in of groups of soldiers standing around, nor how many small effects heavy wide shots are thrown in for scale, it never quite feels like enough. That’s a problem that we face with the “final battle” of season one: it’s too claustrophobic. We see rubber goblins running around Arborlon and the brightly lit dark woods outside whacking each other with blocky swords and grunting like Power Rangers villains. These visual cues tell us that shit has hit the fan. But how big is that fan, and how much shit was thrown at it?

There’s something about Wil and Amberle’s attitude during these proceedings, too, that’s just off. They act like, “Yep, this is nuts, but it’s no big deal.” But! Dagda Mor is attacking Arborlon! Wouldn’t that make you more upset, Amberle? Wil? Nothing? Oh, I get it. You just had really great cave sex. That will make anyone complacent.

I suppose the biggest twist of “Ellcrys” is that Amberle is the character who’s sacrificed. In her Bloodfire haze, it’s revealed to her (by herself?) that she’s actually the seed. So while Dagda Mor and Wil get their fight on and Allanon gets pushed around on the floor by the Force, Amberle enters the Ellcrys and sacrifices herself so the big tree goddess to grow new leaves and potentially create more demon armies with the fall. Great! So worth it. I guess it kind of makes sense that she was the seed, as she was the first girl to ever win the race to be its guardian. I mean, when girls accomplish the same feats as boys, there needs some kind of mystical justification for it, right?

Oh, looks like Dagda Mor died too. What do you know. Allanon cut his head off. Thanks, stud. He wasn’t as cool as he used to be. (I bet you can relate.) But will Bandon be a better villain? Probably not. He’s annoying. I don’t need a fake-Kylo Ren to take over for faux-Darth Sauron, thank you very much. He beat someone to death with a chain, so I know there’s no going back.

The first season of Shannara Chronicles ends, with Wild riding out to greener pastures in search of Eritrea. Luckily, we’re treated to a bonus teaser scene where we see that she’s still alive, and shocked to find out who’s behind her captor’s mask. This “cliffhanger” is either a cliff nor a hanger, but it is a neat little assurance that our lovely rover is still kicking around out there at least.

And … that’s it. As the first years of TV shows go, this wasn’t bad. Hooking us on a pilot episode with a high production value and gradually lowering the budget slowly over time was a smart idea. Yet this caused “Ellcrys” to be the direct-to-video sequel of it’s own direct-to-video pilot, and what happens when you make a copy of a copy of a copy? A season finale that lost a noticeable amount of the premiere’s appeal.

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3 out of 5