Hypable spoke to Ivana Baquero at Supanova Pop Culture Expo about season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles and what’s in store for Eretria this year.

It feels like we’ve gone through an apocalyptic rise and fall of humanity ourselves since The Shannara Chronicles was last on our screens, so in these forbidding times, fans are eager to cling to any information they can get about the upcoming season 2.

Luckily for them (and us) we had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Ivana Baquero, who plays the capable rover Eretria, when she appeared at Supanova Pop Culture Expo on Australia’s Gold Coast. The secrets of Shannara season 2 are as carefully guarded as the Ellcrys, but we were able to tease a few tidbits from Baquero, a lifelong fan of fantasy who’s thrilled to shoot on location in New Zealand alongside the same crew who worked on The Lord of the Rings.

The Time Jump?

Since last season’s shocking cliffhanger finale, we’ve been dying to know when, where and how we’ll meet the characters again in season 2. Will it carry on from that very moment? “It doesn’t pick up exactly from where it left. It’s a year later,” Baquero explains. “But in a way it does, because… I can say that Wil is indeed looking for Eretria. So that’s still happening. And we will discover who the person is that she sees down in the tunnels with the Trolls.”

It’s good to know answers are coming, and it sounds like we may flash back and see how things did unfold. But Wil has been separated from Eretria for an entire year?! We’re shook. “In this new season, because of what just happened in the first one with the war and the Dagda Mor being destroyed, there’s a lot of new evil and new elements coming up,” Baquero went on. “So rather than being one quest and one story, now there’s a lot of storylines trying to contain this evil that’s trying to take over the world. It’s going to be very interesting.”

The Family Tree?

Eretria’s past and her family lineage in particular is surrounded in mystery. Given that it’s her blood that unlocks the bloodfire, where she actually came from was one of the big plot elements left hanging last year. So we asked Baquero if we should hold out hope that we might learn about that history soon. “We will. I can’t exactly say when and how, but I think for Eretria this season is mainly about discovering where she comes from, who she is, who her parents really were, what the tattoo means… There’s a lot of that in this new season.”

Yes! That’s exactly what we wanted to hear!

The Leading Lady?

Now that our elven princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) has exited the show as part of season one’s big finale, we wanted to check in on how Baquero has felt stepping up as the show’s lead actress. “Well, we’ve gotten new characters this season,” she deferred. “We’ve got new girls, new boys… We got Gentry [White,] Malese [Jow,] Vanessa [Morgan]… Obviously, they’re great additions. And it’s great to have new people now that we’ve lost others. So I don’t necessarily feel like I’m the only female lead. There’s a lot of people involved.”

A demure response from a respectful leading lady, however, with Amberle gone, Wil and Eretria certainly remain as our original core characters. “But it’s great to be able to be a lead in one of these shows, because I’ve always wanted to do fantasy and be part of this genre, and to have a character like Eretria to portray is definitely very cool.”

The New Crowd?

There was no way we weren’t going to grill Baquero about the new characters coming to Shannara this season. Doing our best to avoid spoilers, we wanted her option on which new character she personally found to be the most interesting.

Here’s what she had to say: “The show hasn’t premiered, and we’re not really allowed to show much on social media. So it’s very difficult to tell which one is going to be like a fan favorite. We’ve got [Gentry White’s character] Garet Jax who’s a weapons master. So he’s got a lot of action and I think that’s a lot of fun. People are going to enjoy that. One of the love interests on the show for Eretria this season is gonna be Lyria, who’s played by Vanessa Morgan. So I think that’s going to be interesting. People have been really vouching for that on social media. I think every new character is in the story for a reason. I’m hoping people are really going to vouch for them and enjoy it.”

The Human Legacy?

The Shannara Chronicles is a unique take on fantasy, set in the future of this world. Delving into theoretical territory — while we had Baquero’s ear we asked her if there were any specific elements of our culture that she thought would carry into the post-apocalyptic Shannara setting.

“There’s actually a lot of that in the show, but it’s kind of like the subtext of the show. For instance, global warming is one of the things that’s in a way featured in the show, but it’s very subtle,” Baquero explained. “It’s kind of conveyed through the fact that basically where we’re at in the show is because of how we’ve destroyed the planet. How we’ve had all these wars and how we’ve kind of destroyed Earth. And because we’ve destroyed ourselves, humans, we’ve given life to these new creatures which have been born because of the nuclear weapons and destruction — the Elves, the Trolls, the Gnomes — all of them.”

Related: The Shannara Chronicles has been renewed for season 2

And of course, there’s some nonsense that society is probably never going to shake — whenever a civilization has any differentiating features, prejudice develops. “I think that’s innate, unfortunately,” she commiserated, when addressing this concept. “There’s kind of a racism also featured in the show because there’s the Elves versus the humans and the prejudice of one against the other. Also refugees and immigration, because the Rovers, I would say, are kind of the refugees, and the Elves are not letting them really prosper. So there’s a lot of real life cultural elements that are shown in the world and are not maybe [overtly] featured but are a part of the subtext. Also, feminism – with Amberle taking over the gauntlet and being the only female. So there’s a lot in this world that the previous ancient human culture has dragged on, regardless.”

Who says fantasy shows can’t tackle current affairs? Let Shannara be a warning to us all.

The Romance Factor?

Since we know that Eretria will be romantically linked to Lyria in the upcoming season, we were curious about Baquero’s take on prejudice within our future society when it comes to sexuality as well. In our parlance, Eretria is bisexual. However, what stigmas apply to that? For instance, in Eritrea’s world, would it be easier for her to be with a human woman like Lyria than a male elf like Wil?

“Within Eretria’s culture specifically, which is the human Rover culture… What I love about the show is that [sexuality] it’s so natural. It’s not even a thing. It’s normalized and it’s great. […] I think if anything there would be more of an issue if she were to go out with an Elf, because of the elitism and the difference in class.” Not too surprising in the warring world we’ve seen so far in The Shannara Chronicles. Baquero went on to reiterate that one of her favorite things about Shannara is the naturalistic portrayal of same sex relationships. “It’s not something that is frowned upon by anyone, it’s what it is, it’s been normalized. I think that’s great and I hope it reflects the future in a way. Crossed fingers.”

Interview conducted by Natalie Fisher, additional reporting by Brook Wentz.

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