[Review] The Shannara Chronicles Episode 1×04: “Changeling”

written by Dayna Abel

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

WELL THAT HAPPENED.

I’m really enjoying the changes made here in the translation between book and screen. Episode 4 of The Shannara Chronicles focuses on the Changeling, the Dagda Mor’s mole inside of Arborlon. Until the very last few seconds of this episode, I was concerned about disposing of the Changeling too soon, as a shapeshifter is an extremely powerful weapon and, let’s face it, really fun to watch. It’s a lot more subtle in the books with less of a focus on killing Amberle and more on providing the Dagda Mor with information, and its revelation comes as more of a gut punch. Considering it’s still alive despite Allanon’s spontaneous amateur chiropractice, I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing it doing more to cover its tracks in the future.

I haven’t talked much about Eretria so far, so let’s focus on her and the Rovers for a bit. The relationship between Eretria and her “father” Cephelo is one of convenience. Well, convenient for Cephelo. She’s a tool, a weapon, and a potential source of wealth. Cephelo is as roguish as they come and despite his claim that the Rovers are “a family,” they’re more a band of thieves and cutthroats than anything. The show introduces an interesting new facet to them, however – the suggestion that they were pushed out of their home by the Elves and were left to fend for themselves. I’d like to see more of this prejudice between the races played up, since it’s an undercurrent in many of the Shannara books.

Eretria herself has a much larger part to play in the show than the novel. In Elfstones, she’s just sort of there in the Rover camp, asking Wil to take her with him and Amberle on their quest in order to escape Cephelo. She’s still feisty and clever, but a bit more passive. The stakes feel higher here, as the Ellcrys herself seems to have chosen Eretria to be a part of the quest. Still present from the book is Eretria’s longing to be free and Cephelo’s unwillingness to release her without getting something in return for himself. I’m going to guess that Cephelo’s going to face some deadly consequences at Eretria’s hands, rather than simply mirroring his fate in the novel. I hope so, anyway. Eretria deserves that much.

The nascent love triangle between Wil, Amberle and Eretria has the potential to get cliched, what with the friction between Amberle and Eretria, and I’m hoping it doesn’t go that route. I can only handle two women fighting over a guy for so long before I just walk away from sheer boredom. I’d actually like to see Eretria come to realize the importance of Amberle’s quest and realize that there are more important things than self-interest. I suppose that’s cliche in and of itself, but I’d also like to see her inspired by Amberle’s courage and and compassion. At least get them to the point of being allies, and we’ll see if that gets to friendship by the time they reach Safehold.

The Shannara Chronicles airs Tuesday nights on MTV at 9 pm Central and can also be viewed online at http://www.mtv.com/shows/shannara.

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