The Shannara Chronicles S01E04 “Changeling” REVIEW

The Shannara Chronicles S01E04 “Changeling” REVIEW


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Airing in the UK on 5Star on Thursdays at 9pm

Writers: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

Directors: Jonathan Liebesman



Essential Plot Points:

  • Amberle takes on the Ellcrys’s trial, which involves having to kill a vision of someone she cares about to prove her commitment to her quest. Whilst at first this vision takes Lorin’s form, it quickly changes to Wil, who Amberle strikes down, even though it’s clear she doesn’t want to. Having passed the trial, the Ellcrys gives up the seed to Amberle, but just before it does, she sees a vision of Wil and Eretria standing in front of a symbol.
  • The Changeling is still in Arbolon, using all its strength to hide itself from Allanon. It informs the Dagda Mor that Amberle has been chosen to take the seed to the Bloodfire, and is told to strike her down before she can leave with it.
  • Prince Arion has misgivings about Allanon, and about sending Amberle out into the wilderness without protection. Ander suggests that Amberle join forces with an elf who knows his way around the wilderness.
  • Bandon reveals to Wil that when people touch him, he sees their death. He’s seen Amberle’s, and it involved the symbol that she was shown in the Ellcrys.
  • Under orders to get the stones back from her Cephalo, Eretria sneaks into the castle. She finds Wil, and reveals that Cephalo isn’t her Father at all – he bought her when she was a child. She tells Wil that she doesn’t want the stones, she wants him to help her get away from Cephalo. She seduces him, (far too easily given their history) leaving him vulnerable and allowing her to easily steal the stones.
  • In the hallway, Bandon bumps into Amberle’s handmaiden Catania, and sees her death, which is only minutes away and by Eretria’s hand to boot. Eerily, the first thing he says to her is, “You’re going to die,” which, of course, she doesn’t take too well.
  • It turns out that “Eretria” in this case is actually the Changeling, whose intention was to murder Amberle. When Catania gets in its way, it’s forced to change back to the form of a Guard, whilst the real Eretria is dragged into the Elven Council charged with attempted murder that she has no idea she supposedly committed. Faced with the death penalty, Eretria gives up the stones to Wil when he confronts her, and tries to plead her innocence to him – that she has no reason to kill Amberle, and that if there’s someone who does, they’re still on the loose.
  • With this in mind, Wil theorises that if Bandon can see people’s imminent deaths, maybe he can see the final moments of dead people as well, in which case he could see who exactly murdered the Chosen, and therefore lead them to whoever’s trying to murder Amberle. He touches Lorin, and of course sees “Amberle” murdering him. Luckily Allanon quickly catches on, realising that it’s a changeling they’re dealing with.
  • To trick the Changeling, Wil comes up with a plan to use Eretria as a decoy for Ambele. Given it’s either that or face a potential death penalty, she doesn’t have much choice but to go along with it. The plan doesn’t last long though – when it’s discovered that the Changeling has been hiding amongst Arbolon’s guards, Wil realises it might know about their plan and rushes to Amberle.
  • Turns out, though, that the changeling has taken on Wil’s form, and tries to attack her when it reaches her. Allanon swiftly deals with it.
  • Eretria’s job done, she tries to leave, but as Allanon points out Eretria was in Amberle’s vision. Eretria must go with Wil and Amberle to Safehold. It’s not a decision anyone’s particularly happy with.
  • Surprise! The changeling isn’t actually dead.




Shannara, you can do better than this. We know you can. It’s a shame; after the good, sometimes even thrilling ride of episodes two and three, this fourth has dragged the show back into the realms of teen drama, bad dialogue and frankly terrible decisions on the part of some of the main characters (mostly Wil. Sorry Wil). Let’s get right into it.

The Ellcrys’s trial was a disappointment. It’s not really made clear but it seems like the idea was for Amberle to be forced into a position where she had to kill the vision  of someone she cares about – and cares deeply about, if context is anything to go by. And it’s Wil? She’s hardly known him for any time at all. Frankly the vision of Lorin, who also shows up briefly, seems perfectly justified in snarling out, “You never loved me. You have feelings for him,” in his testy, disbelieving way. Because it is pretty unbelievable; Amberle and Wil have spent one episode around each other, and now this? Regardless, she kills “Wil,’ of course, gets the seed… and that’s it. All that build up for that?

Then there’s Eretria’s part in the episode. If we ignore the fact that she managed to hop right on over into Arbolon without any trouble, despite Arbolon supposedly being on lockdown whilst they try to find the demon that’s going after Amberle, there’s still the whole “her and Wil” thing to contend with. This would be where Wil’s terrible decision-making skills rear their head. He got seduced and robbed by Eretria back in episode one, and yet one little sob story from her and he’s going for it all over again. Talk about gullible.


That said, it’s difficult to tell where Eretria’s lies end and the truth starts. She claims she wants to get away from Cephalo, which we’ve seen hints of in other episodes, and yet she still steals the stones from Wil, as Cephalo demanded of her. She seems to be genuinely attracted to Wil, to the point where she’s insulted when Wil dismisses their tumble in the hay, but still uses seduction as a means to rob him. What’s her real end game here? Either she’s cleverly manipulative or can’t figure out what it is she wants.

It’d be nice to think that Amberle would be above all this; that her priorities are 100% on straight, and that the quest is more important to her than any potential love triangles; that her annoyance at finding out that Eretria and Wil slept together is grounded in disappointment at Wil’s gullible nature rather than of her own feelings for him. Considering her experience within the Ellcrys though, it doesn’t seem likely. Maybe if this was a slow-building, believable shot at a love triangle it would be more acceptable, but it’s progressing so fast after so little interaction between the trio that it’s almost damaging to their characters.

It’s disappointing then that Allanon is staying behind at Arbolon, leaving the trio to go out into the wilderness together with their issues. Allanon knows what he’s about, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to magic, and isn’t going to get easily distracted, so he would be a great addition to the quest. Maybe he will end up joining in, but we already know that he’s not supposed to be there when Amberle’s prophesised death comes about. Ah well.


The Good:

  • Allanon continues to be one of the best characters in the show. He has his head on straight, with a clear agenda that nothing will sway him from reaching. He sets a good example for the younger trio..!


  • John Rhys-Davies does a great job as King Eventine delivering lines like, “The Ellcrys has spoken. That ends the debate,” with King-ly decorum.
  • Particular props to the animation team for the scenes in the Ellcrys, and where “Wil” turns back into the Changeling.


The Bad:


  • The Ellcrys’s trial is a let down, particularly given the build-up to it. The bond between Wil and Amberle doesn’t seem nearly strong enough yet to warrant him being the person she needs to “kill” to prove herself.
  • So far the love triangle is being handled pretty badly. Amberle’s supposed feelings for Wil make no sense; Wil really shouldn’t be falling for Eretria’s seductions again, especially given what’s at stake. We’ve seen these characters make good choices, but that’s not apparent this episode.
  • “I’ll never call you short tips again,” is one of the most cringe-worthy lines of dialogue in the show so far.


And the Random:


  • The TV series is really diverting from books, wherein Eretria wasn’t a major part of Amberle’s quest – in fact, she hadn’t even been introduced by this point.

Review by Jessica Anson



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