I liked the first season of the Shannara Chronicles, I thought the plot was great, performances were strong and it had some fantastic twists that I didn’t see coming. Season 2 on the other hand was a profound disappointment.
I’ll get the good out of the way first. Manu Bennet is still badass as the Druid Allanon, incredibly powerful, wise, cryptic yet majestically fallible. He means the best and wants to save everyone but he’s almost physically incapable of giving someone a straight answer. Eretria and Will are still great characters, very human despite their fantastical origins, which helps ground the setting, especially in this season which is even more fantastical than the first one.
The problem with The Shannara Chronicles’s 2nd season is that it’s predictable. Where the first season had surprises along the way, even having a clear danger present from the very beginning, the conspiracies and political intrigue in the second only mean the writers fall into tired tropes and clichés of such storylines. From moles and double agents to sudden betrayals, you can see everything coming a mile away.
In the second season of the Shannara Chronicles, the four lands are in the middle of rebuilding from their war against the demons of the first season and with fear running high, an extremist ant-magic group emerges, their goal simple, to eradicate all magical beings from the world, killing them without mercy.
It’s a storyline I’ve seen many times before in many fantasy settings, and this is by far the least interesting of them, especially because the extremist group is led by profoundly stupid people. In the good stories, these groups have charismatic people at the front, who make their atrocities sound reasonable. After all, they’re doing it to save the world. But in the Shannara Chronicles, the leader is a madman that even his own men fear and who seems to succeed just on numbers alone rather than any sensible planning.
And to make things worse, the main villain is the Warlock Lord from the book The Sword of Shannara, brought to life by the last season’s secondary villain, who is still a secondary villain, something he spreads over like a disease to the Warlock Lord. The cast spends about three-quarters of the season fighting the anti-magic idiots, treating them like a main threat even when they know it’s not. All focus falls on them so there is no development whatsoever on the main villain. Instead it’s a bland case of “he’s evil, and he does evil things,” which makes his agent, the guy from last season, feel not just like a dupe but an irredeemable moron.
I can dig true evil, but not when it’s this bland and uninteresting. The Warlock Lord’s plan involves some magical water thingamajig that he wants to control, and the solution to it is so incredibly dumb, especially when you see the prerequisite season finale cliffhanger scene. Worse still is that they mangle what is perhaps the coolest thing about the source material, the Sword of Shannara.
In the novels the sword shows the truth, the absolute undeniable truth about something, even its wielder. Seeing your own truth is something traumatic yet here they solve it in merely a single flashback-filled episode and then it’s just another magical sword, when the whole purpose of it in the novel is that it can kill the warlock lord because he’s a disembodied spirit holding on to life when the truth is that he’s already dead and it can force him to face that truth and fade away. Here it’s just a case of “stab the bad man.”
I saw the entire second season but I can honestly say I wish I hadn’t. By the time the season finale rolled around, I had lost all interest in the plot and characters as the storyline failed to capture my interest in the slightest.
So as I said before, the second season of the Shannara Chronicles is profoundly disappointing.
2/5 – Mediocre