The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep9 – Safehold

Amberle, Eretria, and Wil finally reach the Bloodfire in the penultimate episode of The Shannara Chronicles.

Meanwhile, King Ander tries his best to muster his troops for the coming war with the demons, and the Dagda Mor uses Bandon to try and wreak havoc in Arborlon. It’s a thrilling and intriguing chapter of the show that makes the most of the dystopian elements of the Four Lands.

Safehold isn’t quite what you expect it to be, but that makes it all the more intriguing. It turns out that the trio’s destination is an underground tunnel that was once part of the subway system, and the name “Safehold” actually came from a faded highway sign of San Francisco and Oakland. It’s a pretty neat twist that helps blend the modern elements of the show with the fantasy setting.

Amberle, Eretria, and Wil enter the dark tunnel and after they see the symbol from Eretria’s mysterious tattoo painted on the walls, they follow the path and narrowly escape being devoured by three trolls, and eventually reach the temple-like structure from Amberle’s vision. Eretria’s importance to the mission grows as she is the one who leads them to the Bloodfire, the tattoo on her shoulder evolving into a map of the subway. And, following the prophecy from the man with the melted face from the previous episode, her blood proves to be the key to unlocking the Bloodfire.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep9 - SafeholdBut before all this, the three heroes are tested and taunted by the two guardians of the Bloodfire, who try to turn them on each other. The two witches prey on each of the heroes’ weaknesses and almost succeed in causing a rift between them. But fortunately, Amberle, Eretria, and Wil’s friendship had grown and solidified after their experiences in previous episodes, and the love triangle aspect has become less apparent.

Working together, they manage to release the Bloodfire and Wil defeats the witches with his elfstones. Amberle walks into the fire and disappears while Eretria falls unconscious, probably paying a heavy price for her part in the mission. They have come so far in their journey to save the world and endured so much, but it looks like they will still have much to contend with in the final episode of the season.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep9 - SafeholdAnother person who suffers from his destiny is Bandon, whose story gets explored once more in this episode. Where he had seemingly been set up as the successor the Druid Allanon, it turns out the Dagda Mor has been exerting his control over the poor boy and he struggles to prevent the demon from controlling him completely. But he isn’t quite strong enough yet and Allanon sees the effects on the boy.

Both internal and interracial politics were also effectively explored in The Shannara Chronicles, as Ander adapted impressively to his role as king. To better prepare for the coming conflict, he made sure to prioritize training his elven warriors. Ander is already proving to be a leader who would make his father and brothers proud, and one who will be able to hold the fort while Amberle fulfills her destiny.

The Shannara Chronicles, S1 Ep9 - SafeholdHe also sent his trusted adviser to seek an alliance with the gnomes. Slanter responds favorably to this summons, after having recognized that the demons are the common enemy. The gnomes arrive just in time to free Ander from the prison where he had been sent by an ambitious councilwoman.

Ander reasserts his authority and with the gnomes supporting him all the way, he obtains the confidence and loyalty of his own people. They agree to stand with him as they face what may be the most significant battle in their history.

It’s a powerful moment when the last leaf of the Ellcrys falls to the ground while King Ander, Allanon, the Elves, and the Gnomes watch in silent dread. With the death of the Ellcrys, the Dagda Mor’s army is complete and he declares war, setting the stage for the epic season finale of The Shannara Chronicles.