‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: The Best Fantasy Series on TV

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ 2×04 Photos: Dweller

The Shannara Chronicles entered it’s second season with a lot of people fearing what the network change would do to the world we fell in love with and people anxious to see how this show could get bigger and better. And oh did it get better. It diversified it’s cast, included an LGBT relationship, put women in positions of power,  and broke our heart more than a couple times. It succeeded where others failed in their sophomore season.

Join us as we break down the best fantasy series on TV in our The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 review. We talk what we loved, what we could’ve done without, our favorite episodes, and more!

Overall Impression

The second season of The Shannara Chronicles kept everything we loved about the first season while diversifying and telling rich and unique stories that didn’t just focus only on the white male lead who just so happens to be the hero of the story.

What Worked

'The Shannara Chronicles' 2x09 & 2x10 Photos: Wilderun & Blood
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
Diversity When It Comes to Their Characters

We all have an innate need to see ourselves in the media we consume. And if you’re someone neck deep in fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings or series like Game of Thrones, then you’re sadly SOL. The former movies, and the books that they’re based on, skimp out on telling diverse stories. And while Game of Thrones succeeds in telling female stories, they’re often clouded by violence/rape, and have POC in positions of slavery, subjugation, or not part of the main narrative.

That’s where The Shannara Chronicles is different.

Season 2 of the series introduced three POC, two being women and one being a man. Their stories didn’t just fade into the background like other shows. These stories were right at the forefront and essential to what was happening. Mareth, played by Chinese/Cherokee actress Malese Jow, is a descendant of a powerful druid and the last of the royal elf family. After Anders death she is the rightful ruler of their people.

Then we have Lyria, played by East African/Scottish actress Vanessa Morgan. She is the heir to the Kingdom of Leah, a technologically advanced kingdom and a key player in the fight against the Warlock Lord. Lyria ended up being queen, taking the throne after her mother and betrothed deaths, and understood that her girlfriend (YES, I SAID GIRLFRIEND) had some things she needed to clear up before she could settle down with Lyria.

Finally we have Garet Jax, played by Gentry White, a bounty hunter at the center of things alongside Mareth, Lyria, and the rest of the gang. Oh and he just happens to be another person of color. Like Mareth and Lyria, it’s so refreshing to see Garet’s character fleshed out, even if we only got brief glimpses of the man he used to be. He united people, had people’s back, and ended up being a trusted ally.

Now that I’ve finished writing all this…I’m kind of in awe of these characters. This is what our shows should look like, a diverse cast of women, men, and POC that reflect the various kinds of viewers who consume the media that we put out. Shows need to be inclusive like The Shannara Chronicles. They need women in positions of power, POC who don’t fade into the background as soon as the white male lead pops up on the screen, and an understanding that diversity doesn’t alienate viewers or wig them out, it gathers them.

Diversity makes for better TV.

The Kind of Hero Wil Is

While Wil has the typical makings of a hero, denying his destiny & brooding, he doesn’t fall into the typical hero box. His story doesn’t overshadow the others, he’s honest with those he cares about, and understands that he can’t do this alone. And the fact that he knows that this isn’t just his journey makes me love him even more and want to spend more time investing in him.

TV needs more heroes like Wil. Heroes who are even when they fall they keep learning and moving forward with their education or dreams. Heroes who aren’t stuck in some twisted love triangle because they have more pressing matters and they actually respect the people in their lives. Heroes who apologize, acknowledge & fix their mistakes, and know that they’re not perfect so they lean on others for help.

Even though Wil’s has some tropes following him around (typical hero traps like denying their destiny & brooding) his kindness, gentle hand, and loyal heart make him stand out among the rest. Furthermore, the time spent apart from his loved ones wasn’t easy, using Elfstones to connect with your tree ex-girlfriend is pretty harsh on the body, didn’t weaken him or change him into a completely different version of himself. It only strengthened him and readied him for the war to come.

The Outfits

Kudos to the costume department for doing an amazing job with every single outfit. Each piece was beautifully crafted and seemed to fit the characters personality to a tee. (I really don’t know anything about fashion but we’re going to give it a whirl here.

The healers robes in Storlock exuded a gentle nature while making them distinct members of a healer organization. The Kingdom of Leah showed how advanced, rich, and refined of a people they were. And the Crimson’s guard outfits were beautiful but scary looking.

Then there’s the sex appeal. (Didn’t expect that did you?) We all know that sex sells and that fantasy is rife with beautiful babes with barely any clothes on, and if they do have clothes on it’s barely battle ready. That’s not the case for The Shannara Chronicles. They understand that sex sells but they do it in such a way were you don’t care that Eretria is in a skimpy outfit because she’s got a blade to Garet’s neck and she’s about to kick ass if she doesn’t get answers.

It’s a part they can play but something that isn’t necessary. And in a way…it makes all the characters sexier. These characters wear things that benefit what they’re doing now, whether it be form fitting pants that have just enough stretch to roundhouse kick someone in the face or fashionable rings that double as claws.

Everything has its purpose and I love it.

What Didn’t Work

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
Killing Off Catania

If you’ve read my reviews you’ve witnessed my love for Catania. After the season 2 finale my love remains strong. My love for her stems from the fact that she was a kind and brave elf with the possibility of being grand. If you’ve watched TV long enough you’ve seen the cues, the little signals in the writing that tell you to watch out for this character because they’re about to blow your mind.

Catania had these signs. I saw them.

Her death hit me hard because it seemed like she was tragically cut down on the cusp of an epic journey beginning. She had potential for so much more and didn’t deserve to be killed by two people she trusted. Even more so, she didn’t deserve to be killed the first time by a friend who left her to die alone in a room, scared and alone. And the second time she didn’t deserve to die as a means to show Bandon that love was a crutch.

Instead of using Catania as a means to push forward two other people’s journeys, why not use it to forward hers?

What We Wanted to See More Of

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ 2×04 Review: Dweller
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
Eretria and Lyria Spending Time Together

This bisexual couple is an important step in normalizing LGBT couples on TV and a badass addition to The Shannara Chronicles storyline. It only has one fault: we didn’t get enough of it. From what we saw in the trailer they looked epic. When the show actually premiered I feel like I was robbed of some of the major milestones in their lives like how they met or how they fell in love. It just was. I would’ve loved to see them growing and developing into a couple just as we saw Wil and Mareth do in this season.

If the point of Eretria and Lyria’s relationship being handled the way it was, was to show us an established romance that could battle the darkness inside of Eretria because of true love, then it would’ve been nice to see them spend some time together. They were constantly separated and put on different paths that made their romance difficult and stilted in some instances. Don’t get me wrong, we still fell in love with Eretria and Lyria.

We just wish we had more time.

Remnants of the Past

Even though the previous world was swallowed up by destruction and disaster, technology and the science that comes with it, still play a role in The Four Lands. Science enabled them to have electricity, to contain their enemies, and blast it away. We also saw buildings and a city that survived the test of time and was the home of those lost and looking to hide from the world.

When we are shown these little bits of the past, it manages to shock and surprise us, the viewer, because fantasy series are usually removed from our world. But The Shannara Chronicles didn’t happen on some far off planet. It happened in our world, long after it’s destruction and our deaths. I would love to see the show expand on this and show us suburban neighborhoods, tools from the past, and even something as crazy as a television.

The Women Interacting

This show and many shows out there could do with expanding and investing in time that two women spend together. Believe it or not, women talk about more than men when they get together to hang out. I know, I know, crazy. The women in season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles barely interacted with each other. Eretria and Lyria spent more time apart than together. We only got to see a sprinkling of Lyria and her mother interacting. And Catania interacted with Eretria before being killed off.

Mareth and Eretria ending up together at the end gives me some hope that they’ll grow to be friends and not just two women on the hunt for the guy they love. (Mareth is maybe in the like stage with Wil. And Eretria loves Wil. Not saying I want to crash the Eretria/Lyria party. Just stating a fact. Wil is her homie. You love your homies, right?) This show has done great things when it comes to diversity and I’m hoping they take it a step further by having these diverse characters form strong friendships with each other.

Give me a womance!

Location, Location, Location

We only got a glimpse of the splendor of Leah, the gnome community of Storlock, and the desolate ruins of San Francisco. All locations were vastly different but rich representations of the world that our heroes are living in. And like Little Mermaid sang in Part of Your World, “I want moreeeeeee!”

I want to see the people of Leah that live beyond the palace walls. I want to know how the gnome community of Storlock began and how they have accumulated so much knowledge. And I want to know what kind of Old World technology is collected for Cogline in San Francisco. The possibilities are endless and I’d love to see The Shannara Chronicles give us more of these locations while exploring more of The Four Lands.

What We Wanted to See Less Of

'The Shannara Chronicles' 2x09 & 2x10 Photos: Wilderun & Blood
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
Warlock Lord with Allanon’s Face

Pretty sure everyone can agree that seeing the Warlock Lord’s face was a shocker. He was the furthest from the man that Allanon was and ended up disgusting me more than a few times to the point where I wanted him off my tv. Getting all up close and personal with demon Catania. Gross. Licking blood off his clawed figure. Gross. Looking over at Bandon with wide eyes full of glee because he just killed Riga. Gross.

In retrospect, Manu Bennett did an amazing job. I’ve never had two characters on my screen that were the same actor and where one of them made me want to barf and yell out, “Gross!”

Favorite Episodes

Graymark (Episode 2×03) – This episode saw Wil and Eritrea reuniting after over a year of being apart. They picked off right where they left and the chemistry between them was stronger than ever! The team up with Mareth and Garet felt like the cherry on top!

Paranor (Episode 2×05) – This episode saw Wil get some much needed closer when it comes to his father. It also had this really adorable scene where Wil got to see a different side of his mother and love her more for it.

Blood (Episode 2×10) – This episode saw Wil finally understanding the sacrifice that Amberle made the first time around in season one and how it was born out of love and an understanding that with great power comes great responsibility. (Yes, I did just say that.)

Least Favorite Episodes

Dweller (Episode 2×04) – This episode had Catania dying *sob* and Bandon returning to his home to cause wreck and havoc. Only shining light in this episode was our group of heroes caring for each other.

Crimson (Episode 2×06) – This episode saw Lyria and Ander become homies before it was CRUELLY RIPPED AWAY & WE WERE PUNCHED IN THE FEELS!

Season Finale Impression

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV

I loved the season finale because it felt like Wil, and the viewer, had come full circle in understanding why Amberle and Allanon did what they did to save The Four Lands.

Wil was so angry at not having the power to help someone he loved that he completely removed himself from his destiny and hid from it when it came calling. He channeled most of his anger at Allanon for setting things in motion and not telling him about Amberle’s fate, leaving the latter not to feel any of his anger despite it being her decision to become one with the Ellcrys.

By the time the season finale came around he understood wholeheartedly that Amberle and Allanon made choices for the greater good, especially Amberle. She didn’t do what she did because she didn’t care for Wil, Eretria, or her people. She became the Ellcrys because she cared too much and wanted to insure that her loved ones lived to fight another day.

When Wil fell into the water and sacrificed himself for The Four Lands, he finally understood her choice and was proud of Amberle. Hell, we’re proud of Amberle and Wil. They’re heroes.

Next Season Speculation

‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season 2 Review: Best Fantasy Series on TV

Eretria and Mareth will do what they must to find Wil. They will access the magic and darkness in their blood. And if they are pushed, do dark things as a means of getting to wherever Wil is. If those flying demons and desolate landscape is any indication, time is of the essence.

As for The Four Lands, with the death of the Warlock Lord and Riga, there’s a chance to rebuild and grow together as people. Prejudices against magic users will still play a part in season three but after the events of the finale I’d hope that they’d realize the importance of working together.

There will also come a change in the form of two female leaders, one a druid and the last of the royal line of Elessedil, and the other a bisexual queen of a technologically advanced kingdom of humans who made friends with the elves, gnomes, and humans that used to be on Riga’s side.

I know things seem a little dire and the world is in disarray, but I’ve got confidence that things are taking a turn for the better for the people of The Four Lands. Not Will, though. Oh, he’s in so much trouble. Good thing he has Eretria and Mareth on the case! And for all we know…this is where magic users go when they die…maybe he’s not alone.

The Shannara Chronicles just finished airing it’s second season on Spike. Watch here. Season 1 is available of Netflix.

What did you think about The Shannara Chronicles season 2? Let us know in the comments below! #RenewShannara

Lyra

Editor, Writer, Supreme Mugwump

Lyra enjoys loud mouthed, damaged characters, with a penchant for rescuing people and drinking their sorrows away. When she isn’t splurging on Netflix shows she’s not so quietly ranting about Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural!

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