The Shannara Chronicles S1E03 “Fury” REVIEW

The Shannara Chronicles S01E03 “Fury” REVIEW

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stars 3.5

Airing in the UK on 5Star on Thursdays at 9pm
Writers:
Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Directors: Jonathan Liebesman

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • As the demon, a “Fury”, lunges for Amberle and Wil, Allanon jumps in to save the day, heroically killing it in two strikes. But he’s been gravely injured in the fight, and seems close to death. He gives Wil orders: keep Amberle safe and get her back to the Ellcrys. However, keeping Allanon alive is Wil’s number one priority, so he and Amberle rush to try and find a cure, even if it means defying Allanon.
  • Before they can get back to the Druid Cave where Allanon lies, Amberle and Wil are ambushed and captured by Eretria. She doesn’t swallow their story about demons and druids, and besides, she has an agenda to keep to above all else: get Wil to her adoptive Father, Cephalo.
  • Cephalo treats Wil with far more respect than Eretria ever did, but it’s just an act to try and seduce Wil into becoming a Rover, and more importantly into unlocking the Elf Stones. He reckons that Eretria murdering Amberle in front of Wil would be a good catalyst, but Eretria isn’t morally agreeable with that. Instead, she gives Amberle the option of fleeing, but unwilling to leave without Wil, Amberle takes Eretria hostage.
  • It doesn’t pan out quite the way Amberle had hoped, but just before anyone gets killed another Fury appears at the Rover’s hideout. Incredibly, it hardly manages to cause any amount of terror at all before Wil unlocks the power within the Elf Stones to smite it with powerful magic.
  • As Wil lies unconscious, knocked out by the immense magical power he used, Allanon makes a reappearance; he’s been healed by the magic in the Druid Cave, and is able to re-awaken Wil away from the Rovers.
  • As the reunited trio make their way back to Arbolon, they come across a gruesome scene – two elves strung up and ripped apart by demons. It turns out that they locked away their son, an Elf named Bandon, for reasons he refuses to give. Feeling pity for him, Amberle decides to bring him to Arbolon, despite Wil and Allanon’s misgivings, which may hold some weight, as we quickly find out that Bandon can see visions similar to the ones Amberle sees.
  • Back at Arbolon, Amberle must consult the Elven Council, who will decide whether she can interact with the Ellcrys after abandoning her post as a Chosen. As the last standing member, and so the only one who can perform the ritual, she’s granted entry and begins the
  • ritual.

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Review:

If there’s one thing Shannara can deliver, it’s spectacle, and it doesn’t let up this week. Although the Fury doesn’t do much in the way of advancing the plot (at its core, it’s “Wil gets Amberle back to the Ellcrys, deftly avoiding the obstacles thrown at them along the way”), it looks great doing it. Still, that’s not all Shannara has to offer. This episode delivers in character development and magical powers, whilst suffering from leaden exposition along the way.

If the last episode belonged to Allanon, this one is Wil’s. Primarily, he’s finally taking steps towards becoming the badass the storyline wants him to be as he uses the Elf Stones to release a burst of powerful, dazzling magic. We knew he had it in him really! It’s a pretty sudden development, but he did have the impetus of a life and death situation to spur his dormant powers on, so contextually it flies. Apart from that, Wil really demonstrates his friendship and loyalty this episode, refusing to let Allanon die and refusing to leave Amberle’s side as her Protector – even if, let’s be honest, Amberle could hold her own better than Wil any day. Still, this protective side of him is warming to see, and makes up for his lack of depth in the first two episodes.

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It’s pretty obvious that the writers are gearing up to place Wil in the middle of a love triangle involving him, Amberle and Eretria; a typical trope for a young adult show, and so not unexpected. But welcome? We’re not sure yet. So far there have only been hints of it – Wil and Amberle’s bonding scenes, Wil involuntarily admitting he’s totally got a thing for Eretria – but it’s there. It doesn’t make much sense that Amberle is making eyes at Wil this episode though, seeing as she just lost her boyfriend to a demon. So much for him! On Eretria’s side of things, there’s definite hate-tension between her and Wil, and even more so between her and Amberle. The latter get up close and personal a lot during this episode, although that’s mostly because one has a knife to the other. Violence seems to be the flirting weapon of choice in the Four Lands.

The plot this episode would be a lot smoother sailing if it wasn’t for the hefty amount of contrived conveniences going on throughout. To name a few: Eretria happens to stumble across Wil and Amberle’s exact location; Allanon somehow knows that Wil and Amberle are at the Rover base; the trio somehow happen to come across another supposed magic user in a world where magic is supposed to be nigh-on extinct!

And speaking of Bandon, the writers seem to have thrust him in our faces a little. He goes from being chained down in a basement to being able to sway Wil’s actions at Arbolon – is he really that trustworthy? As an audience all we really know about him is that he has visions similar to Amberle’s, which isn’t all that reassuring. Hopefully we’ll find out more about him soon.

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Despite these overly convenient moments, the episode fills itself out nicely. Although we don’t learn all that much new information, it’s decently paced and action-packed enough to keep you interested, particularly with the introduction of the Rovers’ home base and its subsequent demon attack. There is a blip in the final quarter of the episode, namely the Druid Council scene, which drags on with unnecessary amounts of exposition. Amberle is the last Chosen left – it really shouldn’t be a difficult decision as to whether she should take on the ritual or not! Ah, politics. But of course Amberle is redeemed, and is set to take on the Ellcrys’s trials next week. Considering that “failure = death”, it sounds like it won’t be a walk in the park for her.

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The Good:

  • Wil feels like a real character with a real personality this episode, and not just the comic relief. He’s proven his loyalty and steadfastness, and of course with his pretty epic display of magic, he’s also proven that maybe he can live up to his title as the last Son of Shannara.
  • In fact, most of our protagonists get a bit more depth to them this episode; it was a surprise to see Eretria unwilling to murder Amberle, for example.
  • Shannara continues to be a feast for the eyes, with its gorgeous scenery, impressive CGI, and maybe with a few exceptions (is Wil wearing a hoodie?!), great costuming.
  • Whilst the acting overall is pretty good, props have to be given to Cephalo’s actor, James Remar, for making such a nasty character so believably trust-worthy, even if only for a minute.

 

The Bad:

  • Convenient plot devices can throw the pacing and believability of the story.
  • Shannara can sometimes suffer from over-exposition. Did we really need that entire Elven Council scene?

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  • Who exactly is Bandon? Are we supposed to like him? Dislike him? Trust him, even? He’s come out of nowhere and doesn’t do all that much to serve the plotline, at least in this episode. As character introductions go, his isn’t the best.

 

And the Random:

  • Bandon is an entirely new character created for the TV adaption of Shannara.

Review by Jessica Anson


 

 

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