Episode 4 of The Shannara Chronicles, Season 1, titled ‘Changeling,’ takes us straight into the Ellcrys with Princess Amberle. Once inside, Amberle walks around until she sees a flower bloom in front of her. Leaning forward to look closer, she’s surprised when the flower spits pollen into her face, causing her to wake up once again in a vision of the ruins of Arborlon.
She is soon met by a vision of Lorin, who accuses her of never loving him and for having feelings for Wil. Lorin morphs into a dark version of Wil, who attacks her, insisting that on her quest, she will not be able to be distracted by anyone or anything, including love. Dark Wil says that Amberle must kill him in order to pass the test.
Outside the tree, Allanon is watching her lose her battle against Dark Wil, and Wil delivers one of the great lines of the episode: “Is this your usual grave look or should I be worried?” In the end, Amberle prevails, and Dark Wil dies, telling Amberle that she needs to focus on her quest. She is given more visions, and this time they include a look at Safehold and the Bloodfire, where she must take the Ellcrys’ seed, which is then presented to her. Amberle reemerges from the tree, and King Eventine realizes that she’s been chosen for a grave and dangerous quest.
The Changeling, who has taken on the form of one of the Black Watch, stands guard at the Sanctuary and communicates telepathically back to the Dagda Mor, who commands it to kill Amberle. As it shifts back into the Black Watch guard’s body, the Ellcrys caretaker, Went, sees the change in its eyes and asks, “What are you?” The Changeling then takes this show from what I believe Terry Brooks called a family show to a bloody sword from chin to scalp. Seriously, yuck.
In the throne room, we get to meet Captain Crispin, and we hear that they’ve summoned Katsin to Arborlon to help lead them on their quest. Outside Arborlon, Cephalo and the Rovers watch the city, and Cephalo commands Eretria to sneak in and steal the Elfstones from Wil.
Back in Arborlon, Wil approaches Bandon, who flinches away when Wil offers to bandage him, leading Wil to guess that Bandon sees things when people touch him. Bandon tells Wil that he can see their death, and that he saw Amberle and a human girl die in a room.
Later, Wil returns to his room, and Eretria sneaks in. In the throne room, Eventine tells Prince Arion that the last few days have shown him that Arion is not yet ready to be king, and that no matter what happens, he will no longer be abdicating the throne as planned. After attempting to apologize, Arion insists that he deserves to rule, which angers Eventine further.
Eretria tells Wil how trapped she is under Cephalo, insisting that he isn’t her father and that he simply bought her when she was a girl, preying upon Wil’s good nature. She apologizes to him and seduces him, and later we see her taking the Elfstones and whispering that she’ll never call him Short Tips again. [insert groans]
Bandon passes Catania in the hallway and has a vision of her being killed by Eretria. He tries to stop her, which causes Catania to panic and run upstairs. As Eretria is making her escape from Wil’s room, Amberle spots her and pursues. The Changeling sees an opportunity to kill Amberle and takes on the form of Eretria. Catania, still fleeing from Bandon, accidentally comes between Changeling Eretria’s knife and Amberle, but Bandon tackles Changeling Eretria to the ground. It shakes them off and flees, then quickly changes back to a Black Watch guard.
Meanwhile, Real Eretria is still attempting to flee when she is stopped by Prince Ander. Unfortunately for him, she knocks him to the ground and turns to run, and is then captured by Commander Tilton. Accused of trying to kill Amberle, Eretria is taken to a cell. Before she is taken away, Wil stops them in the hall and takes the Elfstones back. Eretria insists that she didn’t do it, and that Amberle is still in danger.
Eventine takes Amberle to a room, where he gifts her with her father’s sword and tells her that the Elves were robbed of a great king when her father was killed.
Wil comes up with a plan to find out what the demon looks like by having Bandon touch Lorin’s body to see who killed him. Bandon sees the vision of Amberle killing Lorin, which allows Allanon to figure out that it’s a Changeling. Wil suggests using Eretria as a decoy, insisting that she’ll help because she has nothing left to lose. Before they leave, Bandon tells Wil that the human girl he saw die with Amberle was Eretria.
When Amberle and Wil visit Eretria in the dungeon, Eretria laughs at Wil’s explanation of a “struggle” and tells Amberle that “the struggle was mutual and lasted about an hour.” Although visibly bothered, Amberle shakes it off, and the plan to capture the Changeling goes forward.
As Wil and Eretria wait in a room for the demon, word arrives that a Black Watch guard’s body was found in the palace. Wil realizes that this means Amberle is likely in danger and takes off to find her. We see Wil storming into the Sanctuary to find Amberle, but as he approaches, he attempts to kill her, but is stopped by Allanon, who breaks its neck. Wil runs in just in time to see his own body morph into the Changeling.
Wil and Allanon try to get Amberle to admit that she saw Eretria in her visions with the Ellcrys and the Bloodfire, but when she doesn’t, Allanon reveals that he already saw it in her thoughts. Although she’s reluctant, Amberle consents to have Eretria comes with them to meet Katsin, who will help them get to the Wilderrun, which is Allanon’s best lead to Safehold. The group heads out with Eretria in chains and Cephalo watching, muttering to himself that she needn’t worry, because Daddy is coming.
What are your thoughts on Episode 4, Changeling? Do you think the love triangle, which is now a central plot, is endearing or annoying?
One thing’s for sure, Austin Butler makes for an adorable doofus.
Next week’s episode, Reaper, will air on January 26, 2016 on MTV.