[This is a review of The Shannara Chronicles season 1, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Shannara Chronicles proves that not all places are as they seem in this week's adventure, entitled 'Utopia'. Eretria finally embraces her destiny when Wil and Amberle show up in the nick of time.
'Utopia' may be the best episode since the series premiere almost two months ago. It's difficult to say if Shannara has matured as a series since its conception, but the episodes do have a more stable rhythm, making them easily digestible. Perhaps guilty pleasure is the right word to use when describing this drama since it lacks the subtlety and ambiguity of its more "prestigious" piers, like Fargo and Better Call Saul.
That was not meant to dig at Shannara, since MTV and its creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) are clearly trying to reach a different demographic. This is still a series that's a lot of fun even if everything is on the surface. Eretria's encounter with the charismatic leader of Utopia made for some interesting drama, as the young rover had a difficult decision ahead of her. The question Tye brought to her attention made sense. Both paths in front of her were a kind of slavery. One meant being a slave to Tye and the other to destiny. Deciding which of these paths to follow on her own would truly make her free.
Ivana Baquero gave her best performance yet, as she had to make us believe that she might actually leave the quest, or die in the process. Going back to everything being surface level on this show, there was little doubt that Eretria would end up joining Wil and Amberle, but Baquero sold the dilemma as best she could with the material given. The young Spanish-born actress has come a long way since playing little Ophelia in Pan's Labyrinth, so let's hope that this is a sign of better things to come.
Tye was a solid villain, possessing both the charm and craziness factor that made him watchable. In a world where Trolls, Gnomes and Elf Hunters can kill you at anytime, doesn't watching old Star Trek episodes and dancing the night away sound like a better alternative? It sure does, well if you're into sacrificing innocent lives to a Troll every now and again it's all good. It was also nice seeing old human technology being used. Eretria is a good shot and it will be interesting to see what other "ancient" contraptions the group will come across in the future.
Back in the elven kingdom, Ander finally accepts his role as king. With two dead brothers you can't blame the young prince for getting a little depressed and turning to drink. Thankfully, Allanon was there to provide Ander with a little wisdom before he threw it all away. After overcoming so much adversity, Ander should make a good ruler - but what his role will be in the larger scheme of things is still unclear.
There are only two more episodes left this season. What do you think of the journey so far? Keep watching to see what happens next.
The Shannara Chronicles continue with 'Safehold' next Tuesday @10pm on MTV. Check out a preview below: