Honesty time! I only tuned in to The Shannara Chronicles because I think Austin Butler is super fine. (Somewhere, a casting director just earned her wings.)
I also really enjoy fantasy, but let’s be real, it’s MTV, so I was expecting ridiculously good-looking “teens,” a flimsy plot, and some juicy business. Then I watched the pilot. And yes, I got my good-looking “teens,” and sure, there’s some scandal happening. But the plot? It’s actually… pretty freaking solid, y’all.
To give you some background, this show is based on a book series that Terry Brooks began in 1977 (OG!). I’ve never read the books, so I can’t tell you if this is a faithful adaptation, but here’s the premise:
Humankind as we know it is ancient history, and Earth is now the Four Lands. In terms of setting, it’s basically a combo of The 100 and The Lord of the Rings–there’s elves, there’s courtly intrigue, there’s apocalyptic scenery, and there’s harsh, wild frontiers. There’s also demons, but they’ve been kept in the underworld by a magic spell tied to a tree that looks like this:
The problem is, the tree is dying. So now, a resurrected Druid (Manu Bennett), an Elven princess (Poppy Drayton), a half-human, half-Elf (Austin Butler) and a scheming thief (Ivana Baquero) have to band together to save the tree and fight the dark forces of the big bad, Dagda Mor.
Here’s what I like about it:
1. Hot People
This ain’t some ABC Family Freeform shizz, where only the girls are hot. MTV cast mega attractive women and men, including these two stunners you see in the above photo. I don’t know how I missed the boat on Manu Bennett before but I am ALL ABOARD now. And Austin Butler is just so pretty, you guys. The only thing that’s a little off-putting is the fact that his character, Wil, is a huge doofus. Like, wide-eyed, bumbling, dopey doofus. This dampens his sex appeal, as you would imagine, but I have hope that he’ll evolve (into my pants).
I also really dig Poppy Drayton as Amberle, the Elven Princess. She’s got a quiet strength that feels rare for a teen show, and when she’s feisty, it doesn’t feel fake.
The only main character that I haven’t warmed to yet is Eretria (Ivana Baquero), a sort of nomadic outlaw who is trying WAY too hard to be the sexy bad girl. Take it down a notch, sister.
2. High Fantasy
A winged demon! Elfstones! A killer troll! Magic! A shapeshifter! And that’s just the pilot. Shannara is ALL ABOUT being a fantasy, and I love that unabashed commitment.
3. Compelling Story
It might be because Dagda Mor’s make-up is super scary and gross, but it took me less than an hour to start caring deeply for our heroes and their quest to defeat the demon army. Plus, Shannara took one out of The 100 rule book and immediately set some high stakes by killing (with relish and plenty of gore) several seemingly important characters in the pilot. I have a feeling that many, many more people will die. GAME ON.
Is it a perfect show? No. Is it better than Game of Thrones? YOU’RE HILARIOUS. But Shannara sure caught my interest, and I’m excited to see what happens next. (It better include Manu Bennett and some fierce smoldering.)
If you’ve had a chance to check it out, meet me in the comments so we can dish about Elven Princess fashion (hey, skin!) and whether or not Wil deserves Amberle.