The Shannara Chronicles, a future-fantasy show that premiered on MTV moves to Spike TV for season two, and nothing has changed — for better or worse. Shannara premiered on MTV in 2016 with ten episodes. The show, based on a series of books by Terry Brooks, is part fantasy, part apocalyptic future. It centers around the story of a world that’s familiar in both reality and fantasy. It’s an interesting mix, somewhere in between The Road and Lord of the Rings.
It’s thousands of years in the future, and something happened that left most of humanity to history. Evolution created new species of intelligent humanoids such as Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes. The remnants of humanity and these new creatures live together in new towns and cities. Oh, magic is back too, mostly, but so are also new politics and struggles between good and evil.
On Tuesday the 17th Shannara returned to TV with a new season, on a new channel, and from the looks of episode one, the show hasn’t missed a beat. Starting off from the end of season one, the new season quickly picks up on the story of human Eretria (Ivana Baquero) who sacrificed herself in an underground network of tunnels to save her elven friends Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler) and Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton). Eretria looks doomed, but since her name is in the credits we know, instead, a twist is coming. The twist quickly makes things interesting, introducing new characters and moving a year forward. After Eretria’s story, we catch up with Wil who is learning medicine at a village and hiding from the forces that want him dead.
Perhaps the weakest part of the initial season was the writing which often produced some cringeworthy moments. For the new season, a lot of that sort of thing is ironed out, and while tropes of the genre do pop up from time to time, it’s a step above what came before. Also, the performances by Baquero and Butler, along with the supporting cast, more than makeup for this slight deficiency.
Shannara’s production budget looks a little healthier throughout the first episode too. While season one wasn’t terrible, there was some questionable CG here and there. Nothing like that rears it’s pixellated head here, and the directing style looks a level or two higher than before. Wide-scale shots of the world fill in the overall narrative, making the season two premier feel much richer than any episode from season one. It’s a more cinematic vibe, and while it’s not quite Game of Thrones, Shannara tells a fun, exciting, and intrigue-filled story. Fans of fantasy adventures or sci-fi will find the mix presented by Shannara even more interesting this season.
The bottom line here is, if you liked season one of Shannara, then that’s more than enough reason to continue watching on Spike. The show continues the story about the forces of good and evil battling for supremacy but through the eyes of characters struggling with personal choices. It’s a balanced show and, frankly, one that truly earns the often hyperbolic description of being unlike anything else on TV.