LEGEND OF THE SEEKER
Richard Cypher -
Darken Rahl -
OTHER LEGENDS OF THE SEEKER
OTHER FANTASY SHOWS
Mists of Avalon
Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
Darken Rahl is dead, defeated by the Seeker, but the events that saw to his downfall have opened a direct rift between the Seeker's world and the Underworld, through which an unkillable creature has passed. Richard Cypher, the Seeker, wishtes to kill it, but first he has to deal with the news that he is the brother of Darken Rahl and that the Mordsith have taken a town's female children prisoner.
The first season of THE LEGEND OF THE SEEKER was endearingly simple. There was a bad guy with an army, a good guy with a couple of powerful friends and there were a lot of wrongs to be righted along the way. Streamlined storytelling that didn't allow for a lot of complications.
What a difference a recommissioning makes. This set up episode is jammed full of complications. First there's the news of Richard's connection with Darken Rahl. No great surprise there, but it leads to all sorts of questions about Richard ebing the next Lord Rahl and facing a civil war on a scale much larger than the one here. Then there's the Mordsith, who get the ball rolling with some half-naked bathtime power struggles leading to Richard getting himself a new companion. Charisma Carpenter (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL) guest stars in a bit of stunt casting that doesn't really add very much to proceedings.
On top of that there's the underworld monster to be dealt with and a prophecy that Richard will fail and a new Seeker must be names. Whew that's a lot of plot set up and there isn't the space or time for it, so everything is crowbarred in and no justice is done to any of the individual plot strands.
There is the usual slow motion swordfighting and another dodgy CGI monster, but the view into the Underworld is quite impressive. Certainly it's more impressive than the facial hair that Craig Horner is now sporting.
Now that the set up is over, perhaps the show can get on with improving because it needs to prove that the highlights of last time around can be maintained a little more consistently.Top
The secret to closing the rift between the real world and the Underworld lies with the Stone of Tears, an ancient relic of great power. To get to that, the Seeker has to find an Abbott, but the Abbott has been locked away in a Daharan death camp that is still operating. Liberating the camp is one thing, but the sacred locket that is needed has been taken by a thief and the fate of the world now rests, literally, in his hands.
With this second episode LEGEND OF THE SEEKER sets out its bid to be taken more seriously as a grown up fantasy series. For one thing, it's drenched in blood and death. And we're not talking the simple bloodless death of sword an arrow, but the slow gurgling deaths of hanging, slit throats and multiple stab wounds, all pumping claret all over the place. Even the Seeker decides that it's OK for one of the good guys to commit murder on the Daharan prisoners if it helps the cause.
The cause happens to be another quest storyline. The Box of Ordun (no, sorry, that was last time) - the Stone of Tears lies somewhere and there will be many trials to overcome to find it. It's a simple format and it works well enough in getting the travellers from story to story, so why break what is already working. It only works, though, as long as the weekly stories are strong enough to keep familiarity and boredom at bay.
There's certainly no chance to get bored here at the dead rise, innocents are slaughtered and the show screams for adult acceptance. Time will tell if it is worthy of it, but it's off to a fair start.Top
Kahlan receives a vivid dream that tells her she will soon be the last of the confessors. When Richard determines to set out with her to the home of the confessors to learn the truth, Cara admits that she carried out Darken Rahl's orders to kill them all, including Kahlan's sister. Richard banishes Cara from the group, but when the villagers of her hometown decide that she must die for her crimes as a Mordsith, the Seeker goes to her aid, arguing that she was as much a victim of the Mordsith as they were.
Step forward Tabrett Bethell's Cara to take centre stage for the revelation of her backstory. The process for creating the Mordsith was detailed in Denna and so Richard's argument about Cara being as much a victim as the villagers has a lot of supporting evidence, but it's an interesting argument to be having round about now. Is a suicide bomber as much as victim of the people who radicalise him as the innocents that he blows up? Could it be that LEGEND OF THE SEEKER has aspirations above its station as fantasy fluff and nonsense?
Certainly, Cara is proving to be a more interesting companion that Richard's original ones. Though she is apparently working on the side of good now, she is far from reformed and certainly doesn't look on her evil past with anything other than pride in a job well done. When she learns just how deep the deception of the Mordsith was to break her, she is humanised a little, but not enough to be weakened as a character and prior to that she is willing to face agonising death rather than recant what she believes to be a process that gave her strength and purpose.
Of course now that she is with the heroes, the townsfolk have to be shown to be the bad guys and so have to become a bloodthirsty mob, undermining the message and what is one of the strongest episodes to date.
Tabrett Bethell is also proving to be better as an actress than we might have expected, giving her character a lot more going on behind the eyes than her reformed villain might necessarily need, giving her more depth and interest. It also doesn't hurt that tight leather is a good look on her.
If the rest of this season can maintain this quality of story then there might be hope for the show yet.Top
Searching for other confessors, the Seeker's group locate a young woman called Annabelle who has been kept unschooled in her powers by her fearful father. Now that she is out in the world, she is unable to control herself and manages to confess both Flynn and Richard, leaving Kahlan no choice, but to kill her and leave herself the last of the Confessors.
Forget the story of the crypt containing what might be the Stone of Tears and concentrate on the shock when Annabelle accidentally confesses Richard. Concentrate on the pain that Kahlan experiences when Richard proclaims love for another. Concentrate on the possibility of Richard and Kahlan finally getting it on since he's already confessed and can't be hurt further.
This is all about the relationship between Richard and Kahlan and has far more depth and surprise in it than we might have expected from most of what went on in Season 1. The decisions that Kahlan is left to make are more emotionally challenging and make her character far more interesting that the warrior woman in love that she has been up till now. It's certainly a more adult form of storytelling than we are used to from the show.
Except for the quest aspect, that is. That remains as formulaic as everything that has gone before. Still, more of this we could certainly stand.Top
The witch Shota has already prophesied that Richard will fail in his quest to beat the Keeper of the Underworld and so she puts a spell of forgetfulness on Zedd, returns him to his youth and asks him to name a new seeker. Zedd, now a headstrong youth, names himself Seeker and promises to descend into the Underworld to take on the Keeper himself.
Following a few episodes with more depth and complexity than we are used to in this show, LEGEND OF THE SEEKER goes all simplistic on us again with this story of amnesia and uncontrolled magic. It's lively and entertaining enough on a surface level and the climactic descent into Hell is impressive before ending in a damp squib, but this is the least exciting episode of the season to date.Top
The Sword of Truth amplifies Richard's powers as the Seeker to make him more than a fighter. There is a downside, though, as it also amplifies his negative side, more specifically his anger and hate. When he and his companions come to the aid of a pacifist community, the power of the sword threatens to overwhelm him.
A week after Zedd fell foul of his proud, Richard falls foul of his anger. What's next? Kahlan falling foul of her makeup regime? The plot is fairly basic and nothing that we haven't seen before in other genre shows and there is only passing interest from Cara's confused response to a community that is so pacifist in its views that they won't even eat meat.Top
Denna, the Mordsith who attempted to bend Richard to her will is running a brothel since the fall of Darken Rahl, but she has a plan that will do nothing less than see her rise to the ultimate throne of Dahara. All she has to do is kill Richard first.
It's seems that the character of Denna brings out the best in the show writers because her episodes in Season 1 were certainly memorable and this is one of the strongest of the new season to date. The plot diverges from the usual by being unpredictable, surprising and full of twists that aren't signposted a mile in advance. Sure, it all resolves in a very formulaic way, but there are some detours taken, such as Richard's trip to the Underworld, that are genuinely suprising.
Add to that the return of Kahlan's sister and the enmity between Denna and Cara and there is much more depth and clever plotting than we are used to from the show. Long may that continue.Top
Denna sets a trap and captures Zedd, but Richard has to leave his rescue to Kahlan and Cara as his wizard powers start to emerge and threaten his life without proper training.
This is another surprisingly strong episode wth lots of plot to go around. Not only are Richard's wizard powers coming, but ther is the search for Zedd, Denna's plan and a whole subplot about invisible killing creatures that might once have been wizards.
The acting and dialogue may not be up to the plotting, but as a romp, LEGEND OF THE SEEKER is coming along quite nicely.Top
Richard reaches the Temple of the Prophets and learns that it is not a place of learning and goodness, but of secrets and death. Someone is manipulating him, but who? In the quest for the Stone of Tears, Zedd names a new seeker who has an immediate effect on Cara.
Two sides try to play Richard off in this story, but since one side is led by Jolene Blalock (ENTERPRISE) it is not hard to guess who is on the side of darkness. As a result the effect is muted. This is further helped by the fact that it is blatantly obvious that the prophecies all speak of the Seeker and there is a new Seeker in town, so keeping Richard locked up is pretty much a waste of time.
An inferior episode.Top
Richard finds himself back in the Temple of the Prophet where his wizard training is almost finished. The time differential between the Temple and the outside world means that Kahlan is now married and a mother and the quest for the Stone of Tears has failed and the Temple is only place the Keeper of the Underworld has not yet conquered.
Since the explanation behind Richard's changed fate is given very early on there is no surprise that he is living a false reality and therefore there is no tension in what befalls him since we know there is going to be a great big reset button at the end.
The threat to the Mother Confessor is more immediate since the Sister of the Dark who stole Richard's wizard power is now free and out for blood. Cara has fallen for the new Seeker, which means that his fate is sealed and so it proves.Top
Zedd uses a magical amulet to take Kahlan to a city where she is needed to overthrow a petty dictator and restore the rule of law. The amulet breaks and two Kahlans are created, one who is cold and calculating and possesses the power of a Confessor and the other one loving, compassionate and completely without the powers that have kept her and Richard apart.
Yes, it's that hoary old multiple personalities made flesh scenario that was so beloved of the STAR TREK only this time it's a broken magical amulet rather than a malfunctioning transporter that splits the character two ways. It's been done many times and this really adds nothing to the idea.
It does mean that Kahlan and Richard can finally get it on and there is the usual amounts of kick-assery, but this is nothing more than mildly diverting.Top
Cara is killed in a fight and immediately accepts the Keeper of the Underworld's deal to be brought back as a Baneling and be forced to kill one person each day in order to stay alive. There is a rumour, however, of a cure, but can the group get to the hidden source in time to save her?
It would seem that dying in the LEGEND OF THE SEEKER is unlikely to be the end of any character's story. It is, of course, convenient that the cure comes about just as Cara is in need of it, but the rest of the story at least gives enough shading to the character and her situation to ensure that the audience can never quite be sure that she will do the right thing.
There is also some underworldly torture to contend with that isn't too pleasant and the victory also doubles up as a defeat.Top
Kahlan is seiZedd by a leader who is in league with the Sisters of the Dark and whose castle negates any use of magic within. To get her back, Cara reluctantly masquerades as a Princess and Zedd as a Dowager aunt whilst Richard must pretend to be the Midlands equivalent of Casanova.
It is Cara's discomfiture with all things princessy, and especially the ridiculous speaking in rhymes, that is the core of this entertaining episode. Admittedly, Bruce Spence looks far too comfortable in a dress, but the plaudits go to Tabrett Bethell who gets to play something more than just sneering confidence for a change.
The plot is painfully simple and when Kahlan is on the screen it gets all a bit too preachy, but it's a relatively harmless and fun hour.Top
Sister Nicky of the Sisters of the Dark needs to control the Seeker, so she gives up her magic in order to bind herself to Kahlan. Whatever happens to Nicky now happens to Kahlan as well. In order to get Richard to obey her is to threaten suicide.
This is a neat twist of a plot set up, but the rest of the story doesn't manage to live up to that. Who would have thought this world would have landmines? The snakeweed, however, is a smart concept and the way in which it is used to show the consequences of Richard's actions is chilling, showing the increased maturity of this second series.Top
A girl called Maia declares herself to be the reincarnation of the Creator and determines that Richard is secretly working for the Keeper. Explaining how past events in the Seeker's behavior prove this it seems likely that she will sentence him to death.
It's time for the clips episode where money is saved by scripting a framing device that allows old clips to be recycled and thus cut down on filming costs. It's a standard practice and a cheat, but at least some effort has gone into coming up with something decent to justify it.Top
A vengeful wizard locks Kahlan and Cara in a tomb with only 24 hours' worth of air and demands that the Seeker kill several men he sees as cowards. Whilst trying to avoid doing so, Richard unleashes a terrible monster.
The ideas of lotteries being held for sacrifices and the local king/lord/landowner rigging it to save his own child is a familiar one from the fantasy genre and so there is much familiar ground here, but Kahlan and Cara trying to go to a dignified death is quite funny and the mummy monster that Zedd turns into is at least a change of pace.Top
Darken Rahl's father is not dead, as everyone seemed to think that he was. He is living as a monk in a distant monastery in secret, hiding from his son. Zedd and his brother travel to the monastery to carry out their vow of vengeance for the death of their father. The Seeker gains help from a scholar who has translated scrolls that give the hiding place of the instruction manual for the Stone of Tears.
The backstory to Zedd and his father and Darken Rahl's father is quite interesting and shows a whole new side of the wizard as a young man, but the secondary story of the existence of a user's manual for the Stone of Tears seems somewhat ridiculous and the surprise revelation of the identity of the scholar is far from surprising, nor his fate.Top
Walter was an exact double for Darken Rahl and was groomed to be his replacement at the more dull events that any dictator must attend. When Rahl fell, he went on the run, but then ended up in a Mord'sith prison. Now Darken Rahl has all he needs to bring his spirit back to the world in Walter's body.
This starts off as a tale told in a tavern and appears that it is going to be a filler diversion, but then the Seeker becomes involved and it becomes clear that this is the way that Darken Rahl is going to return to the world and take up his mantle as the Seeker's mortal enemy. From that point on it is acceptable LEGEND OF THE SEEKER stuff, but as a flashback it's just plain dull.Top
Back in the world of the living, Darken Rahl sets about a plot to persuade the Keeper of the Underworld not to torture him for all eternity when he does die as a result of his treachery. He wipes out the race of wisps that are the only source of light that can illuminate the scroll with instructions for using the Stone of Tears. Cara and Kahlan must take the last surviving wisp to its birthing grounds before it dies whilst Richard must reluctantly keep his brother alive until Zedd can find a way to gain the information that is now in Rahl's head.
Darken Rahl is a slippery character and the twists and turns that he manages to come up with in this plot make him a formidable enemy to the Seeker and enliven a story that would otherwise have been just more of the same old stuff. The trip of Kahlan and Cara to the birthing grounds of the wisp is fairly predictable, but it humanises Cara's character just one more tiny bit.Top
Cara falls into the hands of the Mord'sith and Darken Rahl whilst Richard and Kahlan finally locate the Stone of Tears, but in a valley from which there is no escape.
Just when we thought that the show was starting to slip into predictable tosh once again, this episode pulls a number of twists that set up nicely the final two episodes for a stonking finale. Cara's torture and breaking by the Mord'sith is a bit rushed, having to be fitted into just one strand of a single episode, but does throw in a little lesbian chic for good measure and comes up with the nicely judged final twist that we ought to have seen coming, but surprisingly didn't.Top
Having delivered the Stone of Tears into the hands of Darken Rahl, Cara returns to kill Richard, but fails. Zed carries out the spell of undoing upon her, removing all the magic that was ever used on her. This changes reality to the extent that Richard and Kahlan are married an in peaceful rule over the land with the help of his brother Darken Rahl. There are still forces ranged against them, though, forces that use this new situation to their advantage.
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER may not have been renewed, but it is going out with a bang. Alternate realities aren't exactly new, but then very little has been that has appeared in this show. What it does, however, is set up a variation on the history that allows for a new and interesting chain of events to unfold, playing with the mythology of the show. Richard and Kahlan are finally together. Darken Rahl serves the common good. Cara is a widow finding new love in a surprisingly familiar place. It's all too good to last and of course it doesn't, but at least the manner in which it unravels is entertainingly twisty.Top
Having failed to save Cara, Zed uses the spell of undoing on the Mord'sith that betrayed her and finds that reality has changed to something more recognisable. Richard has the Stone and is close to the place where it must be set, but what of the prophecy that he will give the stone to Keeper? What of the prophecy that the Mother Confessor's heart will be everyone's salvation? And how did the stone come by its name?
The reality twisting of the last episode hurtles straight on into this final one that tries to tie up all the loose ends. Many of the big players from this series come together for the big finale, though Darken Rahl's big plan is to do nothing and let Richard save the day. Prophecy is fulfilled in satisfying ways, although the solution to all their problems is a bit deus ex machina at the end. At least there is enough of an ending to bring the show to a close rather than just leave things dangling.Top
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