This week's episode of The Shannara Chronicles, 'Graymark', sees Wil (Austin Butler) reunited with Eretria (Ivana Baquero) at last! The two friends reconnect and set off together, along with Mareth (Malese Jow) and Jax (Gentry White) to save Allanon (Manu Bennett). It's a rescue mission that seems doomed to fail, although obviously we know that they'll manage to pull him out in the nick of time. General Riga's (Desmond Chiam) determination to get the Codex leads to some graphic torture scenes that are not for the faint of heart, and fans are also treated to some more backstory on both Riga and Jax (although not a whole lot). It's an intense episode that includes everything Shannara does best: violence, drama, shirtless Austin Butler, and just a little bit of magic.
As well as all that, 'Graymark' also spends a little time back in the Kingdom of Leah, with the scheming Queen Tamlin (Caroline Chikezie) and her daughter, Lyria (Vanessa Morgan). Lyria, furious at being brought back to the palace and the loss of Eretria, isn't happy about her mother's current plan: to marry her off to the Elven King, Ander (Aaron Jakubenko). This week, we learn exactly why Tamlin is so keen on the match, and what she plans to do when her daughter is installed as Queen of Arborlon.
An Elf Alliance
Lyria demands to know why Tamlin is determined to marry her to King Ander, when she knows that her mother doesn't really care about a true alliance, or helping the Elf kingdom. The Queen is surprisingly forthcoming when the two are alone, and makes it clear that she expects Lyria to do everything she is told. Tamlin knows that there is a civil war brewing in the Kingdom of the Elves; as we've already seen, the Elves are struggling to recover from the attack of the Dagda Mor, and a faction has split off in rebellion. Known as the Crimson, these Elves are attacking magic users, believing that magic is the cause of the problems facing the Westlands.
Tamlin knows that this is a conflict that will come to a head, and she intends to be there to lend aid to King Ander and his men when they need it. Her intentions are far from altruistic, however. Tamlin knows that helping the Elves win the war will leave them in her debt, and intends to use Lyria's influence as Queen to get permission to build a garrison at Arborlon, ostensibly to keep the peace. What this really does, however, is allow the Kingdom of Leah to gain a military foothold in Arborlon, gain power over the elves, and have a human sitting on the throne. Effectively, Queen Tamlin will be the power behind the throne and on the ground, taking over the Westlands neatly and with little resistance.
Tamlin's Crimson Connection
So far, the Queen's plan seems simple. She may be ruthless, but she is only taking advantage of a difficult situation in the Westlands to gain power, right? Wrong. Later in the episode, Tamlin stops to speak with Edain (Matthew Arbuckle), Ander's right hand man. Last week, we learned that Edain isn't everything that he seems, when he brutally murdered Catania (Brooke Williams) to stop her telling the King that Allanon had been kidnapped by the Crimson.
This week, we learned that Edain is most definitely connected to the Crimson himself, after Queen Tamlin tells him to set up a meeting between her and General Riga. She tells him that he must obey her, or that she will make sure 'his' revolt will be 'over before it has started'. It's clear that not only is Edain working against King Ander and with the Crimson, but Tamlin is in on it as well. She's not simply taking advantage of the civil war that she expects to break out, she is planning to ensure that a civil war happens. It's clear that Edain is on board with Tamlin's plan to marry Lyria into Arborlon, but what isn't clear is what the Crimson has to gain from this new partnership. Presumably, Tamlin didn't give Lyria the whole plan, and could actually be intending to take over the Westland alongside Riga, and use Lyria and her 'alliance' with the Elves to ensure a victory for the Crimson. However, this is still speculative, as Tamlin is always double crossing and plotting, and there's no way to know exactly what she is planning. What is clear is that she is playing both sides in this war.