Welcome to the world of Shannara.
Before we jump directly into the Shannara premiere recap, let’s start with the legend of the Ellcrys.
A long, long time ago, right here on planet earth, there was a huge war called The War of the Races. As you can imagine a lot of ‘shiz’ went down, blood was spilled, and things got bad. But it ended relatively okay when the elves used magic to trap the army of demons in a realm known as The Forbidden.
The Ellcrys tree is basically the padlock on the gate to The Forbidden, locking the demons away indefinitely and preventing them from causing harm. Each leaf on the tree represents a demon, and for every leaf that falls, a demon escapes its prison. (This’ll be super important later.)
As time passed, this all became folklore to the elves. The stories and practices surrounding the Ellcrys, however, are still taken very seriously. If even for only symbolic reasons.
So, although it’s more like a ceremonial position these days, the order of The Chosen is a select group of elves that are CHOSEN (get it?) once a year to protect the tree and basically care for it in any way, shape, or form. Up until now all those chosen have been male.
Which leads us directly to princess Amberle…
Hero #1 Amberle
Yeah, if you hadn’t picked up on it before, Amberle is also a princess. The granddaughter to King Eventine, in fact.
But what makes her cool is that she literally runs on screen fighting the patriarchy. As it turns out she’s training to run in the Gauntlet, the ceremonial challenge that decides who will make it into the order of The Chosen.
Remember now, this is a boys only club. So the fact that she’s even throwing her hat into the ring is a big deal. Spoiler: She passes the test. And as it turns out, Amberle has a special connection to the tree. When she touches it for the first time, she gets a powerful vision showing her a future Arborlon (the elven kingdom) that’s been ravished by demons.
It’s her scream from the vision that awakes the Druid…
Enter our other heroes.
Hero #2 Wil
Wil Ohmsford (AKA Wil Shannara — but more on that later) is seen riding in on horseback to be with his mother on her deathbed. As he sits with her she hands him some blue shiny rocks (Elftones) and with her dying breath mysteriously tells him to, “Find. The. Druid. Find. The. Druid. Promise. Me.”
Honestly, the sequence is borderline too much, but Wil’s little, “No mamma. I’m not ready,” really salvages the moment. It showcases just how sheltered and innocent this young man still is. It’s his mother’s death that is the catalyst for him to leave his small village and train as a healer.
IMPORTANT: This is probably a good time to mention that Wil is the Shannara equivalent of biracial. He has short tipped ears because he’s half-human, half-elf. And apparently, even though magic exists, people have managed to remain complete d-bags and he’s had to deal with a lot of prejudice in his life. Very real, very dangerous prejudice, that’s about to get much more real and much more dangerous once he sets off on his travels.
Hero #3 Eretria
While traveling, Wil runs into some unfriendly miscreants. First a troll attacks Wil, then a girl named Eretria, attacks (and kills) the troll. But we soon learn that Eretria didn’t rescue Wil out of the kindness of her heart. No, she’s playing a longer game. One Wil’s just too oblivious to pick up on it.
Fast forward to just a little while later little and she basically roofies him and steals all his positions. INCLUDING HIS SHINY ELFSTONE ROCKS! OH NO!
Hero #3.5 Allanon
Allanon is the dude that awoke when Amberle screamed out in her first vision from the Ellcrys. Everyone takes notice of his arrival because, as it turns out, he’s the LAST Druid on earth. LIKE, THE LAST, LAST. After The War of the Races he was presumed dead, and with his passing magic was said to have died out.
Which means this is a really huge deal.
But while we’ve been meeting new characters and Amberle has been running away, as to not stab her boyfriend to death, the Ellcrys has been getting sick. Super sick. Allanon takes its temperature with magic voodoo or whatever and realizes the tree is dying.
CUE THE FIRST FALLING LEAF — THE GATE HAS BEEN BREACHED.
The Dagda Mor (AKA the king of the demons) rises from his prison and The Forbidding land has been awoken from its long slumber! Dun, dun, dun…
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ series premiere recap
Now that all the important introductions have been made, we’re going to blaze forward and hit the important bits. Try and keep up!
- Allanon uses his spidey-senses (or mind reading abilities, if you want to get technical) to track down a hungover Wil (those rover roofies sure do pack a punch!) and tell him they need to head to Druids cove.
- AKA THIS IS THE DRUID HIS MOTHER TOLD HIM TO LOOK FOR — so basically he’s like, “Ok whatever dude.”
- Before they set off, Allanon tells Wil that the descends from the great Shannara family. His ancestors were kings, warriors, heroes, etc… He specifically is needed in the quest to save the Ellcrys.
- Wil’s like, “Psssht whatever. *daddy issues* But I’ll come with because mom told me to.”
- ANOTHER LEAF FALLS.
- The demon that appears this time is called The Changeling. The first order of business given to her by the Dagda Mor is to go to Arborlon and kill all of The Chosen.
- Cue Amberle and Eretria’s first encounter, which, of course, is highly tenacious. Eretria ain’t got no time for anyone but herself, but before she can slip something into her drink (WHAT’S WITH ALL THE ROOFIES?) Amberle gets the jump on her and rides off on Eretria’s horse.
- Meanwhile Wil and Allanon are QUESTING. Heading to the ye olde druid school to find a book of magic (AKA The Codex of Paranor) that’ll inform them how to save the Ellcrys.
- Allanon does some really powerful swirly magic stuff and uncovers the book. Oh and just FYI, “Magic always comes with a price.”
“When the Ellcrys comes to the end of its days a flower will bloom that will bear a single seed. A member of The Chosen must carry that seed to Safehold and immerse it in the blood fire. Only then can the seed be returned to the sanctuary and the Ellcrys be reborn.”
Okay. Good news. They now have a plan. Bad news, Allanon basically knows everything and he doesn’t know where Safehold is. So…
- Remember the Dagda Mor? Turns out the king of the demons isn’t actually a demon at all. He’s a Druid that succumbed to the “dark magic of the Illdatch and destroyed himself.”
- Meanwhile, The Changeling has made it to Aberlon and has killed all of The Chosen. All except one of course. One who has run away. Amberle.
- And this is important because…? (Yes, we’re testing you.)
- Because it’s one of The Chosen who must carry out the quest to regrow a new Ellcrys, AKA the padlock on Dagda Mor’s jail cell.
- But where has Amberle been headed all this time? Well, we finally find out when she wakes up in her Aunt Pyrea’s (the king’s sister) cozy little hut. Who’s basically like the feisty independent aunt we all want and need in life.
- Some stuff with Eretria goes down, but we should probably cover that more later.
- With his well honed skill of snooping, Wil figures out where Amberle is and he and Allanon go to retrieve her.
Aunt Pyrea and Allanon have an awkward reunion and Wil and Amberle have an equally awkward first meeting. But before Wil can convince the princess to return to Aberlon, another demon is released from the Forbidden and swoops in and attacks. Not only wounding Allanon, but also killing Pyrea.
As the episode ends the fury is closing in on Wil and Amberle and the fate of the world is on the brink of destruction.
Join us next week as we recap episode 3, “Fury,” which airs Tuesday, January 12 at 10 PM on MTV.
And you can find all of our other Shannara coverage here at Hypable.