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The Shannara Chronicles - Changeling - Review: "Delaying The Quest"

The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 Episode Guide
1.01. Chosen - Part One - Review
1.02. Chosen - Part Two - Review
1.03. Fury - Review
1.04. Changeling - Review
1.05. Reaper - Review Coming Soon

The Shannara Chronicles 1.04. "Changeling"
Directed by James Marshall & Written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar

The Fourth episode of The Shannara Chronicles is Amberle's greatest test yet as we start to learn whether she is worthy of maintaining the title of the Chosen, as she's pushed to the limits in a gruelling test of physical strength, forced to battle her own worst fears, and friends turned evil, in the Ellcrys, where if she fails in her task, she will die before she can even begin. It's an interesting choice to focus on for the hour as it shows how well she can cope on her own without her friends to help her, as well as sees Arbolon attacked from the Changeling of the title, and it becomes pretty clear at least from episodes 3, 4 & 5 respectively that the enemy that they have to overcome each week will be listed in the title credits. Last week it was Furies. This week it was a Changeling. Next, a Reaper. This gives the show great potential to explore multiple creatures of myth and legend that can reasonably be achieved within the budget of The Shannara Chronicles, and it will be interesting to see how it tackles them differently to the other YA-inspired fantasy series currently on air at the moment, Shadowhunters. However, unlike Shadowhunters, The Shannara Chronicles seems to be executing its premise a little better so far and it will be interesting to see how it fares going forward.

That said though, as much as I'm enjoying The Shannara Chronicles, there are problems that the show has to overcome first, as we find the quest actually being stalled yet again in favour of some more enclosed Arbolon action, which is something that if you've read my Fury review (link above if you haven't!) I wasn't too keen on. It was doubly frustrating this week as Changeling spent a lot of time to tell us what we already knew, Amberle had never loved Lorin, and of course they're setting up Wil as her romantic interest so even though it was nice to see what he might look like if he was evil, more confident and more intimidating, it still didn't massively advance the plot and some plot advancement needs to be happening soon, because we're four episodes in and Amberle has only started to leave for her quest yet. Sure, it's taken some time to establish the world, but ideally, they'd be out in the open by now, having left the safety of the Elven Kingdom behind in the favour of exploring a world that has so much potential to offer.

The episode itself though does have a few things in its favour though and Changeling managed to be a lot more tense than what we've had before. The decision to expand on the Changeling made for lots of potential, after all, villains that can change into any shape or form at will are always tough enemies, so she made an interesting enemy for the characters to face. As much as I didn't like keeping all the characters at Arbolon this week it did mean that they were all in one place and we got to witness a great series of sequences unfold within its walls, with even Eretria brought into the picture again in an attempt to reclaim the Elfstones for her father, who still expects her to do her job. The enclosed walls almost gave it for a labyrinth-esque feel, and the action was thrilling enough to keep the suspense high throughout the episode during the time that was not spend within the Ellcrys.

Wil and Eretria also shared another scene in this week's episode that was reminiscent of their first encounter in the pilot, as Eretria slept with him in an attempt to get the Elfstones using a similar seduction technique. Given that this is an MTV show I really wouldn't be surprised if this is the beginning of some romantic troubles between the three characters, especially given the reminder that Amberle was more attached to Wil than she ever was Lorin, even though she knew Lorin the longer out of the two. However, Eretria doesn't get away again this time even though she manages to re-steal the Elfstones, as she is eventually captured and Wil is reprimanded by Allanon as a result.

And then finally, at the end of the episode, it looks like the quest can begin! Eretria is heading out with a party of Elves, Wil, Allanon and Amberle, whose duty to save the world comes at the highest stakes. Now that we're on the road I expect the show to only get more intense and more expansive in its use of the myth and legend. Again I haven't read the Terry Brooks novels that the show is based on so I don't know which monsters make the jump across and which don't, but the fantasy setting allows for so much potential you can't help but wonder what the writers can bring to the table next.

Overall Episode Verdict: B-
-Visions handled effectivley.
-Still in Aberlon?
-Seriously, Wil. Again?

Remember to leave your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below, and catch the next episode of The Shannara Chronicles next Tuesday on MTV.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos, The Shannara Chronicles and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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