The Shannara Chronicles S01E07 “Breakline” REVIEW

The Shannara Chronicles S01E07 “Breakline” REVIEW

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stars 4

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

Writer: Deanna Kizis
Director: Jesse Warn

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • Wil wakes up having been washed down a river with only the dead Reaper for company. He quickly comes across another Elf, who tries to attack him as he thinks Wil is an Elf hunter.
  • Along the river, Amberle and Eretria come across those exact Elf hunters, who Eretria seems to be familiar with.
  • The “King” sends both his Princes to attack the Dagda Mor, which they both know is a suicide mission. Commander Tilton knows it too, and worries for Arion’s safety.

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  • Allanon – who isn’t dead! – writhes on a plaque in a Druid Cave, presumably having managed to magically teleport himself there. It doesn’t look good: his attempts at a magic healing chant fail, and his eyes dull.

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  • Having convinced his would-be attacker Perk that he’s part Elf himself, Wil sets about healing his new companion with something akin to… medical marijuana? Whatever works! Perk explains that the Elf hunters are specifically after Elven ears, and has lost one to them himself.
  • Amberle and Eretria try to escape through the woods, but the hunters quickly catch up to them. Amberle stumbles and loses her sword, leaving it for the hunters, who discover that they’re not just hunting any Elf, but a royal one.

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  • Although the Princess and the Rover have lost the hunters, they manage to fall, literally, into a trap. It leads down to a preserved high school from before the War, filled with relics like lockers and plastic chairs, and an ancient yearbook filled with photos of humans killed in the demon attacks.
  • Eretria notices for the first time that Amberle had been badly injured by the fall from Pykon, and offers to help tend to it.
  • They banter for a bit about how Eretria does care about Amberle for more than the money, really.
  • Wil and Perk track the hunters to their camp, where Perk’s friend has been locked up and where Wil is hoping to find his.
  • He eavesdrops on them talking about going out and finding them. They leave one member behind to guard the camp while they’re out – the guy who cut Perk’s ear off. Big mistake. Perk leaps in, and with Wil’s help, subdues him. And then, to Wil’s horror, Perk slits his throat.

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  • On the brink of death, Allanon is visited by what seems to be the Ghost of his former Master. He begs to be allowed to pass on, but his Master tells him that it’s not his time, and with the barest flick of a wrist seals Allanon’s wound shut. He’s re-energised and better than ever.
  • The hunters jump down into the high school, with Amberle’s head as their motivation. Eretria and Amberle band together to take down some of the hunters, and on the way find a map of the former San Francisco with a newspaper clipping attached – a clipping that has a picture of the same symbol Amberle saw in the Ellcrys.
  • They’re jumped by Zora, the hunter’s leader, who Eretria recognises instantly – they used to be in a relationship. Amberle attempts her ever-helpful “you need to let us go because I’m the only one who can save the word” method of escape, but of course Zora isn’t having any of it.
  • Arion and Ander reach the Breakline, but there’s a problem: the massive horde of demons Ander saw there before has gone. It’s deserted. They make their way down to try and find the Dagda Mor, accepting that they’ll likely not make it out alive.
  • Zora ties Amberle to a rope that’ll take them back to the surface, but there isn’t room for Eretria – so of course logic dictates that she has to die. But just before Zora can deal the blow, Wil dramatically falls from the sky and knocks her clean out.
  • Turns out Perk’s “friend” is actually a dragon, which comes in handy for a quick rescue. But as Wil’s using the dragon to airlift him and his friends away, Zora shoots an arrow into Eretria’s side and she falls. Wil and Amberle are forced to leave her, for now.
  • The Princes make their way to the centre of the demon hideout, where the Dagda Mor is waiting for them. He doesn’t waste any time revealing that the King is dead and that he’s been playing the two like puppets, including bringing him the Blade – which he promptly sticks into Arion.

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  • Allanon appears like the big damn hero he is and blasts the Dagda Mor with a powerful barrier spell that throws him to the ground and protects Ander from harm. Ander and Allanon make their way back to Arborlon, where the first port of call is to destroy the Changeling masquerading as the king… making Ander the new rightful King.

 

Review:

After miraculously surviving their long drop down from the mountain, Wil, Amberle and Eretria are once again being diverted from their Heroes’ Quest, this time by Elf hunters and… high school?

But before we get to that, let’s have a look at the goings-on at Arborlon. With the sneaky King “Changeling” Eventine having procured a blade that practically screams “dark power” and having (apparently) done away with his archenemy Allanon, it looks like things are fast becoming pretty hopeless. Even more so when the Changeling sends both Princes off on a mission to take on the Dagda Mor. It’s suicide and they both know it, but hey, it’s the King’s orders.

Good thing Allanon isn’t actually dead, then! Well, for Ander at least. Arion was this week’s unfortunate victim of Shannara’s death quota; vicious karma for outright refusing to believe all the terrible things Allanon’s been telling them all this time? It was a fairly given thing that Allanon wouldn’t actually die, even if it was still a heart-stopping moment watching him burst into flames last week (maybe just because we were wondering, “Oh no! Who’s going to offer an alternative to all the teenage drama now…?’) Still, it’s nice to see him alive and possibly better than ever after being juiced back up by his Ghost Master. At least he managed to save one Prince, and the decidedly more level-headed one at that… even if he did go all guns (swords?) blazing into the King’s chamber to strike the Changeling down without even trying to determine if it really was the demon or not. Would have been awkward if the Dagda Mor had been lying, huh? Either way, Arborlon’s got a new King now.

Oblivious to all of this, Wil, Amberle and Eretria spend this episode fighting off Elf hunters. It’s just one thing after another with these guys! At least the Reaper’s been dealt with; a combination of gravity and the Elf stones that Wil has finally got working again. He’s split off from the girls and runs into a new character, Perk, who really isn’t happy about having his ear lopped off to be used as natural medicine for Gnomes. He’s pretty hot-headed, what with his attack on Wil and given that he slits a guy’s throat with hardly any hesitation. It seems like he’s not normally one to be messed with, which is confirmed when we find out he has a dragon for a friend. If it is a dragon. It looks like one. Whatever it is, it’s a pretty awesome addition to Shannara’s world.

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Speaking of the world, Amberle and Eretria take another fall this episode, but it’s much shorter and leads somewhere far more interesting: an ancient, preserved high school. It’s more than a little surreal. So far, we’ve only had hints and glances of “our” world merged with Shannara’s – a lighter here, a satellite dish there – so it’s a big leap to suddenly have an entire school. It could be entirely unbelievable and a huge step out of the world we’re used to, but the “creepy abandoned school” atmosphere is actually done pretty well, and at least we’re finally getting somewhere with finding out the links between the old world and the new world.

Plus it was nice to have an entire section of an episode dedicated to Amberle and Eretria bonding. Eretria might put on that “bad girl” façade, but it’s clear that she’s come to care for Amberle. As Amberle points out, she could have left her and Wil for dead last episode, and this week she’s helping Amberle with her wounds. Her soft spots are showing! The girls even make light of their mutual infatuation with Wil, which helps ease the tension between them even more. They really do work better together than when they’re antagonising one another, which shows when they team up to take down their Elven hunter pursuers.

Hopefully next week will see our trio (and their dragon?) back in the plot, especially now that Amberle’s found what looks to be a map to the Bloodfire. Apparently it’s in the former San Francisco! Plus we’re looking forward to seeing what Ander’s going to do now that he’s been forced into the position of King. Sorry Arion, you did your best.

 

The Good:

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  • For once, the Princes’ section of the plotline was a really compelling part of the episode! Particularly the face-off with the Dagda Mor.
  • Allanon isn’t dead! That’s reason to rejoice in itself.
  • The high school sequence, although surreal, was done well. It could have felt jarring and not in keeping with the aesthetic of the series, but the set was dressed well and it was just about buyable as a natural progression from everything else “ancient” that we’ve seen glimpses of.
  • Amberle and Eretria bonding down in the high school and having a proper conversation was a great moment, really emphasising that these two are genuinely friends by this point.
  • The love triangle was present, but not pushed. For example, Amberle picks up some D&D dice that remind her of Wil’s Elf Stones; or her and Eretria casually talking about their mutual attraction to their friend. It was nice to not have it shoved in our faces for once.

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  • Perk isn’t the easiest character to warm up to, but he knows a dragon? Instant improvement!

 

The Bad:

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  • The Prince’s face-off with the Dagda Mor was a great moment, but far too little screen-time was given to it. Too much time was spent focusing on the less important Elf hunter storyline, which was a bit of a shame. Arion’s death and subsequent reactions could definitely have been given some more focus.
  • For some the high school sequence may have too much of a leap outside of the show’s usual world, but even more so was hearing the slang term “booze”..
  • Save for literally falling from the sky to save his friends, Wil didn’t really get to do that much this episode.

 

And the Random:

  • The dice Amberle picks up are standard dice used for Dungeons And Dragons – apt in an episode where a dragon is introduced!
  • The photos in the yearbook are actually of various Shannara crew members!

Review by Jessica Anson


Read our other reviews of The Shannara Chronicles

 

 

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