The Shannara Chronicles: “Fury” goes backwards in order to move forward

The two-part opener for The Shannara Chronicles wasn’t a perfect piece of television, but it was marvelously entertaining and superbly beautiful to look at. “The Chosen” also did a creditable job of introducing all the show’s major characters and conflicts and setting up the major quest that will occupy the rest of this first season. The show’s third episode, “Fury,” is a step backwards in several ways, and it does become a little bogged down at times, but by the end it seems ready to move along to the real meat of the story.

After the fast-moving, plot-heavy “The Chosen,” the order of the day in “Fury” is to take a step back, metaphorically, and dedicate some time to character development. This is mostly a good thing, and Eretria especially improves upon further acquaintance, where we learn more about her motivations and what her life is like when she’s not out in the woods being a sexy, wise-cracking rogue. Amberle, who is a serious young woman, turns out to also be smart and funny once you get to know her a little more, and Poppy Drayton has noticeably relaxed into her role. Wil is in turns sweet and stupid and infuriating, but I think he’s overall likeable and not nearly as insufferable as other characters of this type.

Unfortunately, the episode also takes a step back more literally, by having our heroes travel all the way back to Arborlon before they can continue on their quest. More on that later, though. Before that can happen, there are some detours and another seemingly significant character is introduced.

While Allanon manages to save Wil and Amberle from the fury from the end of “The Chosen,” he’s injured in the process, and his incomplete instructions to them send Wil diving into the Silver River to get some kind of healing mud. It’s a good thing Allanon was just planning on healing himself with his druid powers, though, because by the time Wil gets out of the river, Eretria has shown up and has a dagger to Amberle’s neck. As they’re dragged through the woods to the Rover camp, Amberle takes Wil to task for falling for Eretria’s “half-baked Rover seduction” and the show’s love triangle is officially born.

Things continue to move along nicely once they reach the Rover camp and meet Eretria’s “father” Cephalo, who is almost inexplicably obsessed with the elfstones and is convinced that threatening Amberle’s life is the way to get Wil to share their secrets. Joke’s on Cephalo, though. Wil truly doesn’t know how to use the stones, Amberle is pretty resourceful, and Eretria isn’t totally on board with the plan. Before all that stuff can really come to a head, however, the Rovers find themselves under attack by the second fury, who has tracked Wil and Amberle to the camp. While people scatter in chaos, Wil desperately pulls out the elfstones and is able to use them to destroy the demon. Cephalo tries to take the stones, but Allanon shows up just in time to rescue Wil and Amberle, and put them back on the way to Arborlon where they’re supposed to be.

On the way back to the elven city, they come across a destroyed farm in the countryside. While searching for survivors, they find a boy chained up in a barn wearing a very creepy mask. He introduces himself as Bandon (which is a legitimately awful fantasy name; I hate it so much) and tells them that it was his parents who had locked him up, though he doesn’t share the reason why. It’s a very strange kind of random encounter that I don’t remember being in the book, and Bandon turns out to be a very strange character.

When they finally reach Arborlon, they receive a cool welcome, as abandoning your sacred post like Amberle did is pretty frowned upon. Here is where things go a little off the rails, though, and it feels like the show was just killing time for the last ten or so minutes of the episode. Literally none of this stony-faced posturing and lengthy deciding whether Amberle would be allowed near the Ellcrys was at all necessary. Just let her in the tree, dammit, and move along to figuring out who the spy in Arborlon is so we can move along to some real questing. Unfortunately, the unmasking of the spy is going to have to wait until episode four.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I feel like a dirty old lady for saying it, but Austin Butler is surprisingly hot. I would have had the hugest crush on him twenty years ago. Also, Amberle totally checking him out was one of the funniest moments of the show so far. She might be a little too serious at times, but she’s not made of stone.
  • I would have liked to see a little more time spent on the emotional fallout of Pyria’s death, which seems like it should be a pretty big deal for both Allanon and Amberle. Sadly, I don’t think the show will ever have time to revisit this.
  • Cephalo threatening to kill Eretria is already tiresome because it’s such a toothless threat.
  • I didn’t love the elfstone props in the first episode, but they actually look pretty cool when Wil uses them.
  • The vibe between Amberle and her uncle Ander is very odd. I know the characters are supposed to be fairly close in age, but it definitely feels more like kissing cousins than almost-siblings, which is what I think is the intent.
  • I guess Bandon has visions of some kind, and that’s probably going to be important later on.
  • I hope this is the end of Wil threatening to bail on the quest.

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