The Shannara Chronicles: Safehold Review

The penultimate episode of Shannara's first season brings and end to its first quest. Here's our review...

This Shannara Chronicles review contains spoilers.

Shannara Chronicles Season 1, Episode 9

This is it, folks: the end of the Bloodfire quest. It’s been a long, strange and somehow monotonous trip to the San Francisco Bay area where an underground cathedral holds the key to the Four Lands’ salvation. We’ve had a solid round of tabletop game fun with Amberle, Wil, and Eritrea for the past few weeks, but now it’s time to start packing up those dice bags and heading back to the real world where people can take a shower.

Despite the ups and downs of the episodes that preceded it, “Safehold” quickly brings this arc to a climax that we kinda sorta imagined all along. The clues were there if one looked – “your body is the vessel, your blood is the key” – to guess that Eritrea was going to be sacrificed. Which is why I’ve been suspicious of this season’s way of endearing her at weird moments. I’m not saying it didn’t work. I’m saying I could sense they were prepping us for her exit.

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Being Amberle’s sacrificial lamb is something that would piss her off, wouldn’t it? Her dying moments were spent in a spell-induced confrontation with the elven princess, after all, digging up their past dramas. That says a lot about what the show considers to be its main emotional conflict, doesn’t it? Amberle vs. Eritrea. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed seeing these two bond over the past three or so episodes. Something about their rivalry felt forced, while their friendship was much more organic.

But who’s to say she’s even dead? This is The Shannara Chronicles after all, the genre show that dares to not give a f**k. Our little rover girl from Pan’s Labyrinth could be alive and well by the end of next episode. I haven’t read Elfstones of Shannara, but since the TV adaptation has already diverged enough from its source material, anything could happen. She could be alive by the end of the season finale. She’s a headlining star (and what I assume to be one of the more popular characters, if this show indeed has such a thing yet.)

Still, it’s got to suck being Amberle’s sacrificial punching bag, because it’s always about Amberle. She’s the main character: it’s her world, her story, her Bloodfire, her man. Or is it?

Shannara could borrow a twist from Frozen and have Amberle choose to resurrect her frenemy after putting Dagda Mor behind bars (or whatever she’s going to do with him). The whole season will have been about their relationship and not about Wil. He’s just the guy in the middle. Such a twist may turn Shannara into the slashiest genre show to ever slash on TV this side of Supernatural. (If that happens, I swear to God I’ll start referring to this show as The Slashnara Chronicles.) I can just see the fanvideos now: “Is Your Love Strong Enough” Legend OST – Amberle/Eritrea <3

Besides, how can Eritrea die now? We just found out so much about her character now that we entered Safehold, which was really just the BART tunnel between Oakland and San Francisco. And as far as abandoned subterranean train tunnels go, this one was surprisingly well lit and easy to navigate through. Her mark was clearly graffitied on the wall, and we found out she’s related to some group (biker gang?) known as the Filli Apocalypsi. I want to know more about this, so let’s bring her back to life you guys.

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I have to say, I still don’t care much for the royal intrigue B-stories that happen back at Arborlon. I get that their consequences have an effect on Amberle’s storyline. I get that they serve a necessary function. I’m just not entertained by them. For me, the action is where Amberle, Wil, and Eritrea are at. Anything else is an excuse to check your phone.

I also find it insulting that Allanon, who was an extremely badass character at the beginning of the season, has been reduced to babysitting characters that don’t interest me. Like Bandon. Why is he still around? He’s not even in the book series. And why did Allanon secretly ruin his life? I refuse to believe he’s that important.

So yadda-yadda, Ellcrys is dying, troll alliance, and Dagda Mor is free and ready to cause hell. Amberle is going to kick his ass. Bring on the CGI.


3 out of 5