What They Say:
Pykon – While fleeing the Reaper, Amberle, Wil, and Eretria take shelter in an Elvin outpost; Ander and Slanter make a discovery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The addition of the Reaper the last time around added a welcome threat to the immediate moment and reflected a bit more of the kind of evil sprawling and causing trouble across the lands. The downside is that the show has taken some diversions to other stories, some that work such as the flashback and the change in power back in Arbolorn, and some that have not. And the not is mostly Cephalo as he’s just been given too much of a role when he should be moved past already so it can focus on the core trio as they move further into their adventure. So when we get a taste of that at the start as it focuses on a really nice and fun moment between Wil and Amberle with its nods to the past, it has the right kind of magic about it that you should find in this strange future world.
That doesn’t become diminished by it being a dream sequence, however, because it digs into some of what Amberle is feeling while also exploring her interpretation of the world now that she’s getting further out into it. I imagine the romantic elements and the whole “teen” MTV element of it might bother some, but it’s actually something that I’m glad to see brought into it. This wasn’t the kind of material you’d find in the novels back in the day because most readers at the time had little interest in it. Expanding it there in the serialized TV version makes a whole lot of sense and, for me, enriches it overall. It adds a little fun humor into the mix as well with how others react to the kind of triangle that’s slowly been coming together.
The journey that they’re on takes a mild detour of sorts as the weather is playing into things as a massive storm is rolling in in addition to the Reaper still being out there. What offers a bit of potential safety in the storm is an Elvin fortress known as Pykon, which Crispin insists is a fairytale but one that Cephalo insists is real as his parents died in the dungeon there. Again, I’m no fan of Cephalo and the reliance on him, but it does add an interesting element as we see how he causes friction among just about everyone. Amberle is definitely taking a more commanding presence among the group though, which includes over Crispin, and it’s welcome to see – though Cephalo has an amused smirk about him almost constantly as he enjoys toying with the power dynamics at play here.
The journey to Pykon is brief but highly reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, as is a good chunk of the early Shannara material, and even Pykon itself has its shades of it with an abandoned fortress like this. While it has a look of decay about it, accented by the storm itself, it’s not truly abandoned. While the Elvin forces have long left it, there are those that have taken up residence within. The man within, Remo, has a young girl named Mag that’s been with him as he’s taken over as caretaker for the place after his service in the prior war. He does dampen their expectations a bit about passage to the other side of the mountain, but there’s that obvious sense that he’s hiding things and not what he seems. The place at least offers a little downtime and a chance to recover a bit after recent events.
Not surprising is that we get Wil drugged again and knocked out. At least this time around it’s not just him but everyone, though it’s Mag that did it to him in order to try and save him. Remo has done this to everyone as he wants them for his own personal entertainment, the enjoyment of torture. Since he’s got the whole cruel past that you can fill in easily enough combined with being alone in this place for so long. The creepy level to it all is well handled and I like how it unfolds, especially in the naive nature of Amberle as she reveals who she is in hopes that it’ll sway Remo to let them go. Though she’s skilled in a lot of ways, she truly is pretty naive in many other ways, much to the detriment of her and her party. While Remo puts on a good show, he really is just an Elf that enjoys torture because he’s done it so much – under Eventine’s orders no less, back during the war. There’s some dark material to this about a post-war fallout and the things that would happen, right and wrong, which is now making things a whole lot worse.
The closure to this arc works surprisingly fast and a bit brutal in a way that definitely works to show that Wil will go the distance when necessary. With a little help from Mags he’s able to take down Remo and shows no problem in doing what needs to be done to ensure that Remo won’t be a problem again. A lot of shows tend to try and find a way to not kill but rather to simply take down for the moment, but I’m definitely approving of Shannara being a part of the world that it exists in and doing what’s necessary. There are stupid moments to be sure along the way and we get some usual “MTV” moments about it, but, by and large, the show works well and connects for me because of moments like this.
Subplots this time around are definitely adding to the larger narrative and that has me interested. The false king has sent the true king’s son to seek out a weapon hidden below the city, which he does with Catania in order to keep her away from Allanon for a bit since Allanon is struggling with Bandon and his seeing. There’s also an expected but well-handled subplot moving forward with Anders taking Slanter back to his people to try and rally some of them to the common cause only to learn that demons have already been there. It’s little surprise to see Slanter betray Anders at this point, but it’s something that can play into events down the line in a positive way. Even though it’s a touch naive in how they handle Slanter, I’m still glad to see the positive and hopeful side of Anders here rather than constantly distrustful. He’s looking at the bigger picture and what’s to come with the way that they need everyone on board to fight it. The divisive nature of the various races will be here for quite a while, though.
Shannara moves the quest along a bit further here by expanding on the world and its myths and past a good bit with Pykon. Though there’s a bit of a naive element to some of them as they enter the place and don’t do what’s necessary to ensure they survive, the reveals that we get are welcome and the further bonding of the cast hits the right spot for me. There’s some unfortunate loss to it as well, but these are standard moments that help to build the reasoning behind the adventure and the character narratives. The subplots add some good stuff along the way as well that have their own arcs that give us a bigger world to work with than just the core trio and their journey and that’s something that I definitely like since it’s what’s needed to do storytelling like this these days.