I come at this with a lot of love. I grew up on 70s and 80s fantasy. Our bookshelves weighed heavy with Jordan and Feist and Eddings and, of course more apropos to today’s post, Brooks. I went from picture books to epic fantasy in not very many steps. From the Pokey Little Puppy to the Flaming Sword of Justice and Fate. As you do. So when it was announced they were making a Shannara series I was filled with equal parts hope and apprehension. (And maybe a tiny part of me wants to fill the hole in my heart that formed after Merlin stopped airing.)
Let’s get this out of the way early on. I am glad that the pronunciation of Shannara is not like how I have been pronouncing it in my head for years. There is Book!Shannara that lives in my head untouched by TV!Shannara. TV!Shannara can do a retelling and a reimagining without touching the characters that live in my head. Really it’s for the best. That doesn’t mean I am not going to compare them. Not in the least.
I took twenty two pages of notes while watching this show. I will admit they are small pages. But still… twenty two pages. Here they are in all their glory. Note: I watched this with Sister Number Three, so there are some interjections by her.
WAIT, IS THAT ANDER?
Ander is a baby!
Wait, there was no trial… Amberle was just… chosen. And gender wasn’t this big of a deal, right?
I am into this music.
Why was that credit scene red, white, and black? Why is that a thing right now? The elfstones are blue. I guess the tree is red?
Hi Gimli, nice tree.
Why is Ander the most dashing person in the room? Yes, we see his eyes are blue. You can stop flashing light on them.
ANDER IS STOIC. WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Ahhh yesss, Mount Doom.
We already know far too much about Allanon.
Why does he have Fandral’s sword?
*Enter the Farm Boy*
Always kill the parents. Just murder a bunch of people and call it good narrative.
THAT IS A BETTER ALLANON ENTRANCE.
LEAVE YOUR HOOD UP!
Well, clearly don’t accept drinks from sexy women.
Wil, look up the definition of “honey trap.”
Why is evil always ugly? It’s not that easy to determine.
You did not actually say “Your destiny awaits.”
I need Colin Morgan to give lessons to anyone who has to act magical abilities.
Note: I’ve started leveling characters up in Hyrule Warriors while getting Three’s description of this scene: “HE IS LITERALLY CRUSHING HIS FACE. FACE SMOSH.”
You are not witches.
I MISS MERLIN.
Real line: “The dagda–what?”
This is now the plot to Thor. Which is a classic, I suppose. Brother vs Brother.
I do not remember this much brother-angst.
Woman can leave home without being pregnant.
Well, aren’t all problems related to women’s love life choices?
SHEA WAS NOT A DRUNKARD. I can get over you making him Wil’s dad. Weird timeline wise, but ok. BUT NOT MAKING HIM A DRUNKARD. NO.
I am offended for Shea.
Allanon, you’ve met Arrow, you know how to put YOUR HOOD UP.
WHY IS SHE NAKED?
Allanon, you’ve talked more in five minutes than in two books.
Of course she was made up for the show, she calls Allanon out.
Note: We’ve referred to any character who randomly shows up, dispenses relevant plot knowledge, and disappears into the ether as having an “Allanon Complex” for years.
And now… she’s dead. Obviously.
I still miss Merlin.
How many shirtless scenes are we going to see?
Are the women really cowering at Wil’s feet right now? They are both fighters. No.
The music is once again the best part of this.
I am bored.
I’ve worn Wil’s outfit in real life.
I’m EVIL= Dressed in black.
This dialogue is cringy.
Three: “We can’t compare things to Merlin and Sanctuary, it’s not fair. But Christopher Heyerdahl would make an excellent cloaked, hooded, and very tall Allanon.”
This is a fine Allanon for this show. However, I don’t get the creepy factor of Book!Allanon.
And we are back to the plot of Thor.
There is no recognition of time passing. I don’t understand their great, meaningful relationship. Especially when it feels like they are always arguing and have barely been together.
You should never wear an outfit that Scorpius would be proud of. However, Tilton is cool. Even if this outfit is… ridiculous. She will also probably end up dead.
Yes, you definitely killed this evil monster by snapping it’s neck.
Chop of it’s head at the very least, this is a magical being.
NO GENRE SAVVY.
Yep, you didn’t cut of it’s head. This is what you get. Murdered.
Flashback. I only care if it is about Shea.
It’s not about Shea.
Already shirtless. Ahem, I mean: Plot.
I am so tired of ugly bad guys.
This would be more interesting if we didn’t assume he was about to die.
I am into this battle theme. I LIKE THIS MUSIC.
They have significantly Shakespeared up the brothers’ relationship.
“Boy!” said with disdain– the mark of The Farm Boy.
Villains: Ugly men + gorgeous scantily clad women.
THIS IS NOT BOOK!CRISPIN.
Was anyone this racist in the books? I do not remember this.
Oh right, I haven’t actually talked about Bandon yet.
He is so going evil.
Starting to practice your seer powers on an ancient druid seems like a bad idea.
That tourniquet was on the wrong side.
Why is there an attempted rape? Why does it always go there?
I wish I would have been counting gratuitous bathing scenes.
Why does it look like a pig?
Writers room scene:
Writer 1: Hey guys, how do we make this dude not look like the balrog?
Writer 2: Dual axes…
Writer 3: …and slow mo.
Writes chorus: Nailed it.
It looks like the lego Balrog. I can’t help giggling at it and I am not sure why.
“Prince,” said with disdain.
Confirmed: Plot of Thor. Shapeshifter on the throne.
I now have ice cream.
Your sword is very far away.
A playground? No.
I am in physical pain, but I have mint ice cream.
Amberle, you will actually be happier as a tree. I can almost guarantee you.
Seriously, just turn into a tree already.
Has any episode not had a shirtless scene in the first five minutes?
I just snorted at the phrase “There’s a storm coming.”
Three: “Mal might have been Captain Tightpants, but Ander is Prince Tightpants.”
AND THEY CALL IT A MINE. A MINE.
HOW IS THERE ANOTHER BATHING SCENE?
Wil, you occasionally have moments of genre savvy, then you turn into a complete fool. Own it. Learn something from listening to Shea’s stories. OH WAIT, HE WAS A DRUNKARD.
Is he really being framed by one streak of light?
EVERYONE’S EARS ARE THE SAME SIZE. I LEGITIMATELY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH OF A DIFFERENCE.
Speaking of ears, I do like that one of Arion’s is slightly crooked. It’s a nice touch. Clearly, Mr. Dashing can’t have crooked ears, but it’s nice.
The changeling is even doing the Loki-lean on the throne.
Now… there is a creepy laboratory?
Creepy child. Check.
Three: “Don’t put me down for mummification.”
How touching. Turn into a tree.
Now Ander is a drunk? No.
Why is it dead parents and/or alcohol. Always.
ORGAN MUSIC IS PLAYING. I DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS GLEE OR HORROR I AM FEELING.
Don’t worry, I am sure that palm injury will heal into a silvery circle. As they do.
No one was shirtless before the credits. Good job.
Soaking wet, yes. Shirtless, no.
Three: “That hairdo is right out of Red Sonja.”
Now Allanon is shirtless. We were doing so good.
WHY IS EVERYONE ALWAYS NAKED. I MEAN WHY IS THERE SO MUCH PLOT.
Me out loud: I’ve worn that outfit. Why do I dress like a post apocalyptic elven man?
Three: Meaningfully raises her eyebrows.
Me: Nevermind, don’t answer that.
They fall into a high school. I can’t do this. The banner actually reads “We can all be Heroes.”
Either own the absurd or play it serious.
THEY ARE LOOKING AT A YEARBOOK.
WHAT IS HAPPENING.
I care more about finding out about these composers than Allanon’s resurrection.
Also, I do not remember Allanon having this much trouble staying alive.
AMBERLE DID NOT JUST PICK UP BLUE DICE. NO.
THOSE HAD BETTER SERVE MORE OF A PURPOSE THAN A DRAMATIC SIGH.
ORPHANS BOUND TO A TRAGIC FATE.
Actually, nevermind. Now I want the elfstones to be dice. We are all saved by the power of tabletop gaming.
Did Eretria just shoot someone through the eye while rolling around on the ground? That seems improbable.
Three: “I think Allanon just did his overdrive.”
Poor Arion. NOBLE DEATH.
MEANINGFUL DICE CONVERSATION.
KING ANDER. Still tho, you are like 12. It is a good thing the camera just keeps lighting your eyes up blue. We wouldn’t want to forget who the dashing one is.
Three: “Now he is King Tightpants.”
I now have tea instead of ice cream.
Note: Earl gray, although I didn’t know much I was foreshadowing then.
THIS IS A TOWN FULL OF NICE HATS.
Shut it, Allanon, there is always a choice.
I’m bored again.
A creepy cultist?
Where are you getting gunpowder?
Also, this is totally about human sacrifice.
Why does the creepy cult leader want to be Johnny Depp?
THEY SHOWED A CLIP OF STAR TREK? AND NOW ARE HAVING A RAVE?
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
I AM SPEECHLESS.
They really have trolls under the bridge?
Embrace the weird.
Bandon is going evil.
Oh look, he attacked the king.
GO DARK BANDON. GO DARK. WE NEED A VILLAIN FOR NEXT SEASON.
A map on her skin? Does that happen in the books? I apparently have no memory.
I need to read Elfstones again.
CHESS ANALOGY. WE CAN’T HAVE PLOT WITHOUT IT.
Do you feel like a pawn? Maybe a pawn of prophecy?
Bandon, your eyes are getting squintier. If I learned anything from watching all the Merlin commentary, it means you are getting more possessed.
I think I’ve fought these witches in Zelda before.
This is bizarro.
I still don’t understand Kael’s plan? Why is Ander such a bad king? Why is she going against him? I don’t understand. He is markedly less racist as far as I can tell.
TREE. TURN INTO A TREE.
WIL. YOU ARE A HEALER. THIS IS YOUR SKILL.
WHY ME? Because everyone asks that. Literally everyone.
Yep. Evil Bandon. Called it.
I am being sincere when I say this: Ander, thank you for allying with the “uglies.”
It really is terrible to be Arion.
Red magic doesn’t have to be evil? Why is it evil but also coded to the tree? Which I guess makes sense that it is holding back evil. But then blue is good. The color imagery going on in here is odd.
I repeat: Everyone who has to use magic has to go talk to Colin Morgan.
YES. CHOP OF THE HEAD. YOU LEARNED SOMETHING.
Save the world or let everyone die.
That isn’t a choice Allanon. That is being backed up into a corner. You really need to brush up on your definition of choice.
Three: “I want her to turn into something that looks like the Deku Sprout.”
YES. AMBERLE. TREE TIME.
King Ander: A study in blue eyes and tight clothing.
Bandon: Called it. Black eyes = evil. THAT OUTFIT IS FAB AND THE SWORD. FAB VILLAINY. JUST FABULOUS.
Tilton: Also called it.
Allanon… just keep saying words, wise druid words.
Eretria has to be rescued. Because of course.
As I finished watching the first season I asked myself one question: Will I watch season two? Yes. Yes I will. 100% will.
However first, I am going to get out my battered copy of Elfstones and start reading.