The Shannara Chronicles (S02E05) "Paranor"

Shannara’s 2×05, “Paranor” keep the fast pace of the previous episodes. Mere hours have passed since the events of the previous episode. Eretria and Jax part ways. They must really have bonded during this trip off screen because she tries to persuade him to stay, and he concedes that, when he finishes doing what he needs to do, he will try and find her. He goes his own way and Eretria is soon attacked by Queen Tamlin’s guards. If you were expecting Jax to run back and save her, you were wrong. A blast of blue magic does the trick: it’s Cogline, apparently a druid. Eretria wants to join Wil and the others at Paranor, but Cogline insists they must see the Queen.
Mareth, Wil and Allanon are nearly at Paranor. The druid sentences that Mareth will not be going in with them: it is too dangerous since she’s not in control of her powers yet. His supposed daughter doesn’t agree and she storms away. This was also one of those moments when you’re watching and you just know she’s going to go after them. You just know.
In Leah, King Ander holds a private funeral for Catania, symbolically bringing flowers even though there’s no coffin, no urn, as her body was never recovered. The eulogy is short but heartfelt, Ander remembers how devoted she was to their people and how she was always right, even in matters of state. “Not a day will go by that I don’t miss her. May she rest.” Slanter has good words for Catania too, and Ander speaks the magic words we’ve all been tweeting for the past weeks, “she deserved better.” He then pledges to destroy the Crimson, and Lyria offers her help in the war to come.
Eretria and Cogline are received by Tamlin. We learn more about the bargain the Queen made with the Warlock Lord in exchange for the safety of her people thirty years ago. The Warlock killed her husband, who instead was eager to fight, and put her on the throne. Tamlin confirms this with no hint of guilt or remorse, and that the price of the deal was to let the Warlock drink from Heaven’s Well, whose magic is the lifeblood of the Four Lands. But he never got to replenish his magic before he was slayed, and that is probably the bargain Bandon reminded her of in episode 4. The gigantic threat now looms over everyone: Tamlin has doomed them all, for if the Warlock drinks from the Well, he will be unstoppable.
Wil and Allanon meet Bandon and Flick at Paranor. The rogue druid demands the magical skull of his lord. He releases Flick but he also cuts him with a poison that he won’t cure until he receives what he wants. Bandon reiterates many times that he trusts Wil and he continually tries to antagonize Allanon in his eyes. As the old druid pretends to activate the magical lock that will release the skull, Mareth – who has slithered in unnoticed – activates a cell to hold Bandon and Allanon still, as she and her father had planned. Wil feels incredibly betrayed that Mareth didn’t let him in on the plan.
Eretria asks Cogline why he never bothered to tell her Lyria was a princess. He was hoping both girls could start their lives over, together. The Rover demands the entire truth about her life this time. Her tattoo, he reveals, is the symbol of a great sect she descends from who survived great wars because they were hybrids of human and demon. The demons sensed Eretria’s magic when she was young and hunted her down. Wounded by a demon and on the run, Eretria’s mother gave her daughter up to Cogline so that he may protect her.
In Paranor, Wil refuses to let his uncle die. He will save him, no matter the cost. He intends to uphold the bargain with Bandon and he needs the blood of a Shannara and a druid to access the skull. He convinces Mareth to collaborate: if her blood works, she can finally prove to Allanon that she’s his daughter.
Cogline shows Eretria that she too has powers she can control. She can make the wraiths obey if she learns how to master the darkness inside her. She is able to make one bow to her at the first try.
Wil and Mareth activate the lock but they are transported to Shady Vale – and back in time. They soon realize that they’re in the past, right before the Warlock Lord’s creatures came after Wil’s father for the first time, before Shea Omhsford discovered he’s a Shannara.
The business Garet needed to take care of is to visit the widow and child of one of his fallen companions that he provides for. But the Crimson was on his tracks and they kill that innocent little boy in cold blood. The woman, now truly alone, curses Jax and tells him to never come back.
Wil meets his parents when they were young (and really, really hot). He sees his father experience the same kind of racist prejudices that he did for being part elf, and realizes there’s a lot they have in common. The clock is ticking and Wil and Mareth still can’t find the skull. Shea confesses he’s having strange visions, and Wil realizes the dark wraiths are coming. When one finds them, it calls Shea a Shannara, and after Wil slays it with the Elfstones, Shea asks: “What’s a Shannara?” To which his son replies, “You are.” Cut to black.
One of the themes of this season is generational conflict. In season 1, all the protagonist were orphans. Now, we have Lyria and Tamlin, Mareth and Allanon, Wil and his parents in the past… different situations, different relationships, many beautiful takes on the meaning of blood and family.
Wil has spent the past two episodes trying to save his uncle and surrogate father, only to go in the past and meet his actual father and get to know him as he never did. The Shea he knew as a child was despicable and unrecognizable. The young man Wil interacted with in this episode is a mirror copy of himself. They both fit the same unwilling hero trope. It gave Wil peace to know a different side of his father, one that is so similar to him. I think it will help him better understand certain sides of himself.
Even before receiving confirmation, Allanon believed Mareth is his daughter. Bandon teases him saying that he will take Mareth with him, train her, help her reach her true potential, or maybe torture her. Bandon and Mareth could be an interesting duo – not romantically – as they both represent a new generations of druids, both untrained, both scarred and deep down, scared. If Bandon ever gets to come back from the darkness, it would be cool to explore that relationship.
On another note, Wil is evolving more and more into a chaotic good/neutral character. He is willing to give the skull to Bandon so that he may resurrect the Warlock Lord and therefore bring war and destruction to save his dying uncle. He would’ve sacrificed the world for Flick and he would not apologize for it. This growth of character is understandable. Wil wasn’t able to protect his mother when illness took her so he became a healer; he wasn’t able to save Amberle when she sacrificed herself; he thought Eretria was dead and blamed himself for it… losing everyone you love will do things to a boy. He had to tough up.
I think Mareth hadn’t realized her feelings for Wil until Shea pointed it out to her. (To be honest, personally, I was like, what feelings?) She was not in denial, she simply didn’t know. But when Shea mentioned it, that was the moment she started thinking about it and realized. Before that there had been very few cues to a potential romantic development to their friendship, and even their fake kiss in episode 1 felt comical more than anything. Instead after Shea encourages her to act on her feelings, we see more and more of her glances, awkward positions, carefully chosen words.
I don’t know if I would be on board for Wil/Mareth. I adore Mareth’s character and I believe like she and Wil make a great team, but I felt more sparkles in the three scenes that she had with Garet Jax (come on, their first names also rhyme!) than the entire season at Wil’s side. Plus, I am really holding out for Amberle to come back at the end of the season, so if she comes back I would rather she would not find Wil in a relationship with a new girl. With Eritrea, maybe, because they all loved each other. But she has Lyria now, and I really hope they’re not repeating the Shannara/Rover/Princess love triangle.
Make sure to leave a comment below or tweet me at @ladymultifandom if you want to discuss theories!