The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep8 – Utopia

Another busy episode of The Shannara Chronicles as Amberle and Wil seek to rescue Eretria, who finds herself in a mysteriously idyllic human community.

Meanwhile, Allanon reveals that Bandon may become the next Druid and Ander struggles with his new responsibilities as king of Arborlon. Bandon’s fate does not come as much of a surprise, since the importance of his character has been hinted ever since his introduction.

After being sold by the elf hunters to Tye, Eretria is shown even more vestiges of human life from before the war. Tye’s idyllic community, which enjoys such modern conveniences as electricity, medicines, movies, and guns, is called “Utopia” because it is supposedly a peaceful colony untroubled by the menaces of the wild such as trolls. The residents of Utopia live a life of constant enjoyment and comfort and the occasional viewing of the original Star Trek. (I found it funny how they booed at Spock because his ears reminded them of elves.) From the outset, it does look like an ideal settlement, but these seemingly perfect communities always have something ugly to hide.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep8 - UtopiaThat soon becomes apparent when Wil and Amberle arrive to rescue their friend. It turns out that the price for the peace of Utopia was giving the trolls regular sacrifices, a barbaric practice that contrasts with the serene and happy lives of the people in the community. But Eretria is no fool, and she realizes early enough that Tye has been lying to her so she steals his gun and rescues her friends from the troll that had come to devour them.

Before all this, it was Amberle who was the most vocal and determined to rescue Eretria from whatever fate the elf hunters had in store for her. This was a refreshing development that showed the evolution of the friendship between the two female leads, after they spent time bonding in the previous episode. It’s great to see their friendship grow and not have it hindered by their feelings for Wil.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep8 - UtopiaWil and Amberle almost took their romance to the next level right before discovering Cephelo following them. And though the Rover was far from trustworthy, he still led the two to Utopia and then took off, believing he had grabbed Wil’s elfstones. Fortunately, the half-elven hero had learned enough about Rovers to hide the real elfstones somewhere other than in the pouch around his neck.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep8 - UtopiaBack in Arborlon, Ander started getting drunk again as he struggled to face the heavy responsibility of being king. He had decided to abdicate, feeling that he would never be as worthy of the throne as his father or his brothers, but Allanon tries to talk some sense into him. And in the end, though he knows how difficult the way ahead will be, he decides to do his duty by his kingdom and accepts the crown with renewed conviction.

Eretria also struggled with her destiny in this episode, pointing out to Amberle and Wil that all throughout this mission she had never been given a choice. All her life she had been a slave to one master or the other and she longed to be free. But she also understood the importance of their mission and finally realized that she had some true friends for the first time in her life.

After Eretria rescues her friends, a wounded Cephelo volunteers to fend off Tye and his comrades in order to allow the trio to escape. There’s a touching moment between him and Eretria, and though Cephelo has been one of the most untrustworthy characters in the show, his final act affords him some slight redemption.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep8 - UtopiaThe Shannara Chronicles this week was all about characters struggling with their destiny, with Bandon’s reluctance to inherit the powers and responsibilities of a Druid, Ander’s concerns about becoming king, and Eretria’s doubts about her role in the quest. Not all of these conflicts are resolved in this episode, but showing these struggles makes the characters more compelling and relatable, lending some depth to the overall story.

As this episode of The Shannara Chronicles ends the trio are finally on their way to Safehold, but with two episodes left in the season, the journey is not about to get easier.