Episode Reviews for Season One of "Legend of the Seeker"
Legend of the Seeker – Fun Escapism Fantasy TV
By Erika Blake
This past weekend marked the 2 hour premiere of the much anticipated new syndicated fantasy series LEGEND OF THE SEEKER. Based on the SWORD OF TRUTH book by bestselling author Terry Goodkind and produced by Sam Rami (Spiderman) and Rob Tapert (Xena, Hercules.) together the 3 men bring the characters from the novels to life to introduce Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd to a broader audience. The series is the first foray into fantasy syndicated television since HERCULES and XENA went off of the air over 5 years ago. Rob Tapert who produced both of those series is on board with LEGEND to push the genre in a new direction taking it from camp and elevating it to a more serious, FX filled, and approachable formula that should attract fans of Fantasy films.
Set in New Zealand, from the opening horseback chase sequence in PROPHECY to the Celtic sounding music, one immediately feels the LORD OF THE RINGS connection due to the familiar landscape. The series, however, is not, nor does it ever try to take on Tolkien’s tales. Terry’s books are loved by millions of fans because of the rich depth of the world that he created, which in no way resembles the work of Tolkien. Certainly there are similarities at its core – the series opens with a hero’s journey, the introduction of a mysterious woman in white, and a crazy old wizard/mentor, however these such characterizations and story telling tools are of the norm in fantasy fiction and beyond that all similarities end. The series strips away the myriads of tiny details that Goodkind infuses his books with, thereby providing to new viewers just enough info that they can readily understand and get invested in without bogging them down with too many confusing details. Unlike Tolkiens books, THE SWORD OF TRUTH series is at its heart a love story which stands it apart from the books that created an entire genre of fiction.
Die-hard fans of the books will likely find themselves seething at omissions that were made in order to bring the novels to television. The point of the series is not to retell the books but to bring our favorite characters to life in a new platform and introduce them to people who may have never heard of the books before. Considering that some of the spectacularly magical sequences in the books that would cost a fortune to produce – even in film – and R-rated sequences that are peppered throughout the novels – there’s no way such things can be incorporated into a TV series that isn’t on HBO. Novel purists are going to have to accept that the show will be different than the novels. Remember, the parent company that produces the series is owned by the Mouse so somehow, I doubt the Mord Siths will be presented in the series, instead the producers are promising new adventures for us with our favorite characters that will be better suited for television. The first 2 episodes did depict lots of (implied) bloody sword fights and gory critter carnage – so we can already expect that they won’t completely neuter the show.
I personally have only read the first 5 books in the series before I burnt out on them…. ‘shippers beware, this show is certain to drive you all CRAZY. I blasted through the books in less than a month and as a result, now 4 years later, I only remember fragments from them. What I found interesting was that the snippets from WIZARD’S FIRST RULE that I do remember were all utilized in the first 2 episodes (PROPHECY and DESTINY) of the series. Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd are written spot on and in synch with their characterizations from the books.
Richard is portrayed as the wide eyed, down to earth, happy go lucky woodsman who lives in the realmwhere magic doesn’t exist and is forbidden. When he finds himself suddenly caught up in a chain of events that begins with him rescuing a woman from a pack of 4 chainmail covered warriors, his simple life gets thrown into chaos as he’s exposed to a world that he believes only exists in fairy tales. In his heart, Richard is a good man who oozes integrity and charisma, both being qualities that will forge him into being a great leader. By assisting Kahlan, Richard finds himself pursued by Fain, the leader of Darken Rahl’s men who crossed the boundary in pursuit of the Confessor. Betrayed by his brother Michael and given his true heritage by Zedd, Richard learns that his life is not what it seems, that he was in fact an orphan, a child of prophecy who is destined to become a Seeker…not just a Seeker but the one who will destroy Darken Rahl and who is destined to free the world from tyranny.
It’s a lot for a simple woodsman to digest you start the day all shirtless and happily making a bridge to help the people in your community, saving a damsel in distress only be blown off by her, getting poisoned by a strange plant, having your father (who wasn’t really your father – surprise you were dumped on his doorstep and your step brother resents you as a result,) you’re framed for murder, have your beloved horse get eaten by a nasty flying creature called a gar, and end the day learning that you are destined to murder a man who is evil personified. It’s not a wonder that we’re treated to some much expected whining from Richard’s behalf. There are perks though, that girl who blew him off in the beginning has vowed to protect him at all costs which means that Richard’ll have plenty of time to sneak peeks at her impressive cleavage. Even though he’s crazy, Richard will get a flame throwing old wizard to guide him into a strange new land. Also, he gets to wield a kick-ass sword.
The Sword of Truth holds within it old magic. To anyone holding the sword, it’s just a steel blade, but in the hand of a true Seeker while wielding it in righteous anger in pursuit of justice and freedom the sword empowers its master to tap into ancient magic. The sword conjures the imprinted memories of the previous Seekers who came before you, it remembers their fighting techniques, and when the Seeker is in the heat of battle it will assist him to be victorious over his enemies. Not a bad perk, eh?
Kahlan, the Confessor, is depicted with the same no-nonsense strength that she exudes in the books. Confessors can make people reveal to them their darkest secrets or with a single touch can put someone under their spell to do their bidding. This skill is particularly useful in battle if she’s outnumbered. If she can grab hold of an enemy soldier she can simply turn him on his own men and slaughter them. This ability comes with a price, it drains Kahlan of all of her energy and she’s left helpless.
In the books, it’s mentioned in great detail how Kahlan’s life as a confessor is lonely. No man would consider touching her in fear that she will either try to look into his soul w/o his requesting to do so or that she will force him to do something that he does not wish to. This is briefly brought up in PROPHECY after Richard and Kahlan’s first encounter when he helped her to fight off Rahl’s men, Richard openly offers her his hand to help her get to her feet and puts his hand on her shoulder to ask if she’s alright. She pulls a knife on him assuming that he’s about to attack, his touch confuses her and she explains, “I’m not used to being touched.” Due to time constraints in the one hour format of storytelling this isn’t extrapolated on but will likely be further explained in later episodes, particularly as the sparks that are already flying between Kahlan and Richard begin to burn brighter. Kahlan’s chasteness doesn’t just come from men fearing her but from another factor that will likely be revealed in later episodes.
Kahlan the Confessor is a symbol of light, justice, and goodness – she gives herself entirely to her cause in life which is to protect the Seeker so that he can complete his mission to kill Darken Rahl. Ultimately she was raised to believe that her own life has no purpose but that she is a vessel for allowing this prophecy to be filled and nothing more. Her journey in the story begins with her and her sister Dennee being chased by Rahl’s men through the woods on horseback. Her sister falls victim to an arrow and with her dying breaths hands over a sacred book to Kahlan and asks her to complete their mission and get it to the Seeker. The book of counted shadows contains ancient magic that Darken Rahl wishes to posses. Such magic in it will help the Seeker to defeat Rahl, but if Rahl gets it, he will be able to control the entire world. A boundary exists between Richard’s realm and Kahlan’s world. This boundary is a green wall of powerful magic that is filled w/ spirits of the dead who harkens unaware travelers to their deaths if they get to close to it. Using magic, Kahlan breaks through the barrier and races through in order to locate the Seeker. Rahl’s men follow.
When Richard saves Kahlan, she has no idea that her first encounter with a living soul in this foreign land is the man who she was searching for. She hunts down Zedd, the wizard who brought Richard here to begin with over 20 years ago to protect and hide him from Rahl. Kahlan is horrified to learn that Zedd didn’t teach Richard anything about his true destiny and upon hearing what’s expected to do Richard rejects his destiny.
It takes Richards amiable adopted father getting murdered, having the book stolen, and Zedd getting fried when he stepped too close to the boundary for him to finally man up and fully embrace his destiny. Zedd, just like in the books is a wonderful blend of wisdom, terror inducing magic wielder, and lunacy.
After several spectacularly choreographed sword fight sequences the trio head through the broken boundary together to begin Richard’s quest to becoming the true Seeker, the champion of goodness for all of the people in the land. The satisfying end has Darken Rahl learning that his men had finally broken a hole into the boundary only to have an entire garrison of men destroyed by the Seeker.
Overall if you’re willing to let yourself just enjoy what has been presented to you and not bog yourself down w/ trying to compare/contrast the TV series to the book, the series is a fun, beautiful adventure to watch. My sister who never read the books thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 episodes. Unlike previous fantasy series, they’ve removed the camp factor out of it making it an entertaining drama to watch. Craig Horner and Bridget Regan crackle with chemistry. With his Brad Pitt-esque drool worthy physique and her impressive cleavage, there’s plenty of male/female eye candy to keep casual viewers entertained. I found it somewhat jarring in the beginning after watching tons of interviews with Craig where he rambles on in his thick Aussie accent to have him suddenly speaking in a flat American accent but that’s easy enough to get used to. Craig oozes charisma on the screen and if he continues each week to show off his impressive physique he will easily develop a large fan following outside of his native Australia.
New comer Bridget is also highly appealing. With her fair skin, approachable beauty, and tall frame she makes for a stoic and impressive fantasy leading lady. Bruce Spence, best known as the crazy guy from ROAD WARRIOR or as Tion Medon in REVENGE OF THE SITH, Spence towers over both of the shows two leads and sparkles as novel’s the beloved wizard, Zedd . With other Sci-Fi pedigreed actors like Craig Parker as Darken Rahl (LORD OF THE RINGS) and Jay Laga’aia as Chase (Captain Typho from the STAR WARS prequels,) LEGEND is bringing in experienced actors from some of the greatest sci-fi film franchises to help the two relatively unknown leads to bring the show to life.
The FX in the premiere were impressive and on par with some of the best fantasy TV mini-series from the past or with what you see every week on STARGATE. Utilizing their own FX house, the behind the scenes crew hand makes the costumes, creatures, and props for every episode. Each piece is unique and the costuming is to die for delicious eye candy. The costumes of our leads look like outfits that people would actually wear on a daily basis. The chain mail armor of Rahl’s men looks forbidding and uncomfortably heavy. Rahl’s costumes are densely opulent.
After watching years of STARGATE with the same peasant type costumes and same structures, it’s wonderful to see a new fantasy world on TV where the sets are unique and highly detailed including what appears to be some cool Maori style carvings as a nod to the show being shot in New Zealand. The show also harkens back to old school fantasy serial films w/ its brooding, nighttime cloud swirling effects which gives the show it’s own feel and style.
Is LEGEND OF THE SEEKER high fantasy like the original novels? Not really, the TV series is an adventure romp that is fun but at the same time doesn’t insult your intelligence while watching it. With its higher level production costs, you shouldn’t feel ashamed telling your co-workers that you enjoy watching it, whereas XENA might’ve been considered a guilty pleasure. The lush New Zealand scenery is breathtaking, the fighting sequences are thrilling, fast paced horse chases, and the characters are immediately engaging.
This show is all about hope – hope that good people with big hearts can defeat evil. What’s not to like about that?
Desperation Overrides Reason in BOUNTY.
By Erika Blake
As our trio of heroes enter into the Midlands there is trouble afoot, the D’Haran soldiers are out in force plastering bounty posters of Richard’s lovely face all over local towns and are offering a thousand dollar reward to anyone who brings him to the local garrison. Also, food is nowhere to be found as is evident by a young boy getting hauled away by the imposing D’Haran guards and threatened with execution for stealing from their stores. Kahlan, Richard, and Zedd aren’t faring any better, our trio is first seen racing through the forest in hot pursuit…of lunch. The rabbit, however gets away just before nearly getting obliterated by Zedd’s wizard fire. Kahlan and Richard are rather horrified that Zedd would want to crispify their lunch.
A pair of bounty hunters find their way to one of our heroes campsites and all that they find is Richards very recognizable tooth pendant which we later learn that Richard lost in pursing the previous day’s meal. It also looks like Zedd, Kahlan, and Richard lost their horses a problem that I’m assuming will befall them frequently on this show.
The bounty hunter heads into a local town where he asks the local map maker to create for him a magical map to locate the Seeker. With the assistance of Richard’s lost tooth our map maker creates a map that magically shows where Richard is located at all times.
The map works beautifully and our wandering and hungry trio find themselves caught unawares by animal rope traps and are hanging unside down out in the woods ala Luke Skywalker being trapped by the Wompa in ESB. I bet that as Richard saw his sword lying uselessly on the ground that he wished he could call the power of the Force to get it to him, but alas there the comparisons with Luke ends. If Richard can’t get out of this mess…this pretty boy Seeker become some D’Haran solider’s playtoy before being delivered to Lord Rahl.
Zedd picks up the call to protect his boy and shoots Wizard fire to heroically break their ropes…and misfires. He did succeed in scaring off a couple of the goons however, flaming bushes are apparently very terrifying. Finally he hits a mark and frees Kahlan who flips to her feet, grabs one of her knives, and kicks Richard’s sword up into his waiting hands. She then charges the closest bounty hunter and goes on the attack while Richard frees himself and Zedd…yeah in case you didn’t know it, Kahlan’s a badass. Zedd comes up firing and manages to blast a couple of the goons but they fail to catch the leader. Kahlan chases after him as he flees on horseback. She fails to catch him and only manages to capture his saddlebag. In it they find money and the map that they figure out is somehow tracking Richard.
Our heroes enter the village where the boy had been hauled away and try to get a nice meal, only to immediately have Richard’s face recognized…I mean really, have you seen all of the townsfolks around there? Of course Richard stands out, he’s 1000’s of times hotter than any of the local guys. A blond servant girl helps them escape from a pack of would be bounty collectors and tells them a weeping story about her brother being hauled away by a monster and begs them to help her.
As they head out to help the girl, they come across a man who claims to be having problems with his wagon, only to find that he’s another bounty hunter with map #2 that the mapmaker had created and sold…he’s a businessman, why should he care if he’s sending more thugs out to get Richard, right?
Richard and Kahlan once again prove that a man is only as great as the woman at his side and the two of them take out more thugs with barely breaking a sweat. Our bounty hunter thinks he’s a badass and shoots 2 crossbows at Richard, only to have the Sword of Truth swat them away like flies. The badass is reduced to a puddle of whimpering goo. Richard and Kahlan convince the man to tell them where he got the map with Richard throwing Kahlan’s title around. “Tell the Confessor where you got it.” Poor Richard, he still has no idea what that threat really means or why Zedd was warning him in the last episode to stop lusting after Kahlan. He has no clue what she’s really capable of or why people fear her so much. I’m assuming this will come up at some point and will drive a wedge between our merry band of heroes…but not today.
When Zedd sees the second map, he opts to go find the mapmaker and leave child rescuing services to his younger charges.
The blond girl leads Richard and Kahlan to a series of caves, she runs ahead, separating herself from them. Richard storms ahead ignoring Kahlan’s warning that his destiny and life are more important than the life of one boy.
Meanwhile the mapmaker, Sebastian, had sold a third map to another bounty hunter and found himself face to face with the same guy who he orignally made the map for. Sending thug #1 after his latest customer, our mapmaker is now greeted by a Wizard on a mission. Zedd asks why the mapmaker why he didn’t just sell one of the maps to the D’Haran’s only to be told that the soldiers don’t buy – they take what they want. It seems that without anyone around willing to stand up to the D’Harans everyone in the Midlands is out for his/herself and can’t trust that anyone will help them. Horrified that he’d sell out Richard like that, Zedd asks him to make a special map for him and threatens him if he even thinks of making another map that would lead anyone to Richard.
In the cave Kahlan and Richard search for the girl. Without warning Kahlan is thrown down a pit and Richard knocked out…yep, never trust a blond no matter how sweet they may seem to be, they’re always trouble. Turns out our 2 timer is sister to the boy who got taken away for stealing food at the beginning of the episode. She plans to trade Richard for the safe return of her Brother. For some reason she thinks that the D’Haran soldiers would be more honorable than The Seeker. Meanwhile Kahlan discovers that the creature that they were facing wasn’t actually a local legend but the real thing and with the assistance of a rope left over by a previous victim she propells out of her pit and gets herself out of the creature’s den and heads off to find Richard.
If there’s one thing that can be said for this show, Kahlan is no damsel in distress. Just when you think to yourself “Ah Zedd will find her,” no, Kahlan gets out of her messes on her own and comes out filthy and pissed off. It’s nice to know that someone’s got the brains in the operation, god knows where Richard and Zedd would be without her around to keep them on track. Kahlan’s not Wonder Woman (although I’m beginning to think that Bridget Regan would make a GREAT Wonder Woman) but her will to survive and live for her mission is strong and makes her determination unstoppable.
Anyways, Kahlan follows the map w/ Richard and manages to defeat blondie. The bounty hunter who was still on their trail teamed up w/ the guy who received the last map and together they surrounded everyone. That was short lived since the map that Zedd wanted created was one that would track the bounty hunters.
With the 3 bounty seekers all tied up, Richard who had spent his time in captivity trying to convince the girl that he’d help her to rescue her brother lets her go and vows to go through with his promise, much to Kahlan’s great distress. In order to rescue the boy they were going to have head straightinto a garrison full of D’Haran soldiers.
The exact how they get the boy out, I’ll let you find out on your own, but in the end, the girl who thought that the Seeker story was just a myth suddenly became a believer. She came back and told the townsfolk not only that the D’Harans had no intent of actually paying the reward, but that the Seeker was in fact their hero.
Finally, on their own w/ their day’s misadventure’s behind them, with the 3 maps in his hand Zedd removed all of the ink and magically rematerialized Richard’s pendant for him giving him back his last connection to remind him of his Dad. Kahlan acknowledged that if Richard had listened to her the boy would have died and that his determination to help was probably the right course of action after all.
Overall the episode was solid and well written. Although I often had my suspicions on how things would turn out, the writers kept me pleasantly suprised. I probably could have done without the antics of the 2 keystone cops ie…the pair of bounty hunters who spent the last 1/2 of the episode looking for Richard, butthey acted as nice comic relief and served a purpose in the end.
The episode had a couple of purposes to it. First off they had to show how desperate the people of the Midlands were and how ruthlessly the D’Haran soldiers were making their lives miserable. These are people without hope or any expectations that anyone will help them. With Richard agreeing to help a single boy he established himself as a man for the people. His willingness to help the little guys will end up going a long way with helping him to convince people to side with him against Darken Rahl and his forces. As Zedd said, the story will spread as will his reknown in the strange land.
Kahlan was by far my favorite character in the episode, she got to show off some mad fighting skills and her getting herself out of trouble officially put her on my favorite TV heroine list…not that she wasn’t there already from the books. I just hope that we don’t have to have Kahlan reminding Richard of his destiny in every episode…we’ve had enough of that w/ Chloe parroting things about Clark’s purpose in life on SMALLVILLE for the last 3 seasons. I only hope that the writers on SEEKER can let Richard be smart enough to always keep that in the front most part of his mind because that’s how he is in the books.
This, I am guessing, won’t be the only time that Richard will find himself fooled by people. Richard is still a wide-eyed Westlander who needs a few more cases like this before he starts to be a bit wary about the world around him and that people might be expecting more than they’re revealing to him. A big part of what makes Richard such a great hero is that he thinks with his heart and most importantly that he tries to see goodness in people and he fights for those who cannot help themselves.
Overall – FX were good – we got good scary glimpses of the monster’s ugly face, icky gooey corpses, awesome booming Wizard force and fire, and tons of sword fighting. The episode rather felt like a season 1 episode of STARGATE SG1 where our good guys were exploring new worlds that were Goa’uld had enslaved all of these human worlds for centuries and they trusted no one, w/ SG1 having prove themselves over and over before the people of the galaxy finally realized that they were there to help them. Our trio of heroes on SEEKER have a mighty upward hill to climb before Richard will have enough of an army to back him so that he can defeat Darken Rahl, but the stage has now been set for that to happen.
I’d give it a 3/5 since it was lacking in any real character development or overall character advancement, but it was entertaining which is the point of the series…it’s not meant to be Shakespeare.
A Question of Parentage in BRENNIDON
By Erika Blake
This week’s episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER had two of our main leads wandering down the path of familiar exploration. The episode opened with The Confessor sorting out feuds between the common people of the Midlands, a job that Richard (Craig Horner) found confusing and dull. Zedd (Bruce Spense) explained to him that Kahlan (Bridget Regan) is more than just her magic but that she’s an excellent reader of people and can usually sort out the truth even without having to touch the person, it’s what makes her the highest moral authority in the land.
A very bored Richard is then invited to go on a stag hunt and after bickering with his trusty wizard mentor he heads off with the two hunters. We are treated to a series of gorgeous shots of the New Zealand forests filled w/ shimmering sunlight. The hunting party finds themselves heading in the opposite direction that they thought the stag might be and stumbled upon the town of Brennidon the very town where Richard was born. Overcome with curiosity Richard departs from the hunting party and goes to investigate the town. As he comes towards the outskirts of Brennidon he stumbles upon a small graveyard. An old man keeping it explains that they were the graves of the children killed by Darken Rahl in his hunt 23 years prior to find the Seeker. Richard is horrified, not realizing how many children had perished so that he could live. When he tries to console the man by offering that perhaps the Seeker is still out there, the teary eyed man defiantly states then that the Seeker must be a coward.Richard has a huge uphill battle to climb in winning over the emotionally scarred people of the Midlands and unfortunately the people of Brennidon were ground zero for Rahl’s wrath. If any of them had the slightest bit of logical sense to them they would’ve known that until now, the Seeker would’ve been a boy and wouldn’t have been able to help them. Asking a boy to do the work of a man is beyond foolish and taking their own pain, weaknesses, and heartache out on him is ill placed.
Arriving at Brennidon Richard discovers that the city is heavily guarded and he can’t get in unless he’s got credentials. Not letting that stop him, our young hero hops a ride on a hay cart and gets into the city. Once inside he finds that an execution is about to take place, a young woman had dared to speak out against Darken Rahl and for her lack of faith in their savior the local town guards planned to kill her. Richard immediately steps forward and calls them on their lack of justice and weak reasoning for wanting to kill the woman. As we might suspect, the guards interest immediately shifts from the woman to the stranger who’s trying to rebel rouse the usually docile and whipped crowd. Sensing that he’s going to have to fight, Richard pulls the sword and it begins to glow. Everyone in the town recognizes what that means…the Seeker has returned. Instead of rolling out the red carpet, Richard has to fight off a bunch of the guards, he rescues the woman from her execution spot, and then he flees into the city. While on the run a woman stops him and offers him refuge inside her home and tells him that she knows who he is and how he got out of the city because she had held him in her arms. Richard asks her if she is his mother and she says yes.
For all that Richard seems to be constantly getting himself into trouble his heart is always in the right place. The Seeker is rather like a Confessor in his own way he always questions matters until he sees the truth and discovers where injustice is being served. Once he determines who the victims are he will then defend those who cannot help themselves or are being wrongly accused. When Richard risks revealing his identity to the townsfolk he was being 100% true to himself and where his heart told him to go. If there’s one thing to be said, Richard Cypher is no coward, foolish perhaps, but never cowardly.
Meanwhile back at the camp a woman from Zedd’s past has come forward and offers the comic relief for the episode when after a tumble in the hay for old time’s sake, she declares that Zedd is the father of her child. The young man steps forth and looks nothing like Zedd…to the charge, our wizard vehemently declares that he had used “magical protection” to assure that such an offspring could’ve ever happened. His declarations are in fact so over the top that nobody believes him and Zedd finds himself forced with the unpleasant task of forcing Kahlan to see the truth and asks for her to solve out the question of paternity.
I do have to say that it’s rather refreshing having a tale where the Wizard of the First Order is in fact a randy fellow who partakes in enjoying the company of a willing and pliable female and has to defend his own honor. This is a stark contrast to most of our tales out there where the wise old wizards are always seemingly celibate (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.) Of course being accused of fathering a young man might cause Zedd some unwanted grief and perhaps might make him rethink keeping his mouse in the house the next time a woman comes along and wants to see if he is as magical in bed as his in out of it.
In the company of his mother Richard learns why the people of Brennidon are so utterly terrified of the D’Harans and Lord Rahl. Rahl had in fact asked them to give the baby Seeker up and if they had done so the guards would have left after killing only it. Instead when no one spoke up the slaughter was ordered. A young man enters the home and Richard discovers that he has a brother named Mark. With the insistence of their mother, Mark promises to lead Richard to safety and to try to sneak him out of the city. Both covered in cloaks (and Richard looking eerily similar to Frodo Baggins,) the boy leads Richard to a cellar where he says that he will hide him until nightfall. Richard nods his head and agrees to hide and thanks his brother for helping him. Before closing the door, Mark informs Richard that he’s not doing this for him but for Brennidon and locks him in. When Mark roused the troops they arrived to discover that Richard had found two rocks, started a fire, and burned his way out of the cellar. Richard was free and on the run.
Again, we’re back to Richard trusting people too quickly. The boy, however, was convincing and his mother was so sincere that it’s understandable that Richard would’ve been easily deceived. The great thing though is that Richard isn’t stupid, he thinks on his own feet and is always strategically planning his next step.
Richard fights a town guard and steals his cloak giving him the perfect cover to leave the town. What I personally loved is that he knocks the guy out not by slicing and dicing him but by cold cocking him. Richard punching his way out of sticky situations is as entertaining (and not as deadly) as using his sword. Donning the cloak he is close to escaping until he learns that there’s been a new order issued to round up all of the women in Brennidon who might’ve been the Seeker’s mother. Knowing that that order could come to no good Richard heads back inside instead of saving his own neck.
Meanwhile, Zedd is squirming under the intense questioning of the Confessor. She asks him a couple of times how he could be certain that his ‘magical protection’ worked so that he wouldn’t impregnate a woman and Zedd keeps evasively assuring her that he did. Finally she asked the correct probing question, “Did you do this EVERY time?” Under the watchful gaze of Confessor, Zedd realizes that he’s been cornered and asks if the woman can leave the room. Eventually Kahlan comes back and declares that Zedd is in fact not the boy’s father. The young man it seems is frightened of hunting and his mother thought that perhaps it was because he had a wizard for a father. The boy reveals that he had been attacked by a boar and Zedd smiles and now relieved that his honor is no longer in question he informs the young man that he can help take away his fear.
Back in Brennidon the D’Harans arrive and challenge the Seeker to come forward. Richard’s mother shouts out to everyone that Lord Rahl must be just and powerful for his past actions…for he would do anything to protect the Midlands. The D’Harans think that she is most wise, that is until she screams out the harsh reminder that Rahl was such a big man for killing innocent babies instead of waiting to let the boy grow into a man so that he could fight him fair and square. She then gets the crowd all riled up and announces that she is the Seeker’s mother and with defiance states that she will never help the D’Harans to locate her son. When it seems like she’s about to get skewered right there by the D’Harans the brave women in the city all start to speak up and announce that each one is actually the Seeker’s mother. Now not knowing who’s telling the truth, all of the women are rounded up and the D’Haran leader announces that if the Seeker does not turn himself in by sundown that he will start executing one of the women on the hour each hour until he does. Overhearing this Richard thinks fast. He shows up at his mother’s house and confronts his brother and tells him how the D’Harans have already destroyed his adopted family by killing his father and turning his brother against him. He offers Mark the harsh truth that once the D’Harans get their hands on him that they won’t honor any agreements but will not only kill their mother but will not leave the city. Mark seems convinced and is prepared to listen to Richard’s plan.
One of the big complaints that book purists complain about is that for the show they messed w/ the original mythos. Originally we never met George Cypher, he was already dead when WIZARD’S FIRST RULE begins and Richard had to figure out who killed him and why on his own. The show successfully pushed the story forward slightly and allowed us to catch a glimpse at the wonderfully warm and caring man who helped to nurture Richard into the hero he will become by raising him with hard work, respecting the land, and caring for other people. Now that we all know how wonderful George Cypher was in PROPHECY, we as viewers are able to connect with why Richard is so heartfelt and convincing when he’s able to talk about his loss to others. I somehow doubt that the plot device would’ve been as effective had they stuck with the original narrative.
There are two plans in play. One Zedd is creating an impressive display of magic inside a tent where he’s asking the boy to push all of his fears into a raging green fire that he’s chanting into. When the boy appears to be paying attention, Zedd dramatically kills the fire. The boy’s mother doesn’t seem convinced that the boy isn’t still afraid, but who’s going to be stupid enough to question a 6′7” wizard? Kahlan of course sees through the ruse and calls him on it once they are alone and Zedd just assures her that it was for the boy’s own good and that he should be able to get over his fear more quickly. Their conversation then turns to Kahlan who apologizes for making him reveal a secret to her, to this Zedd reminds her that what he told her was under the Confessor privilege and that she can never utter another word of his 20 year old secret.
Hummm…ok back to Richard. Richard has been delivered to the D’Harans by Mark and a bound and helpless Richard pleads with them to let the women go. His mother shouts out that she is in fact his mother and that holding all of the other women is foolish. Mark confirms that in fact his mother is guilty and appears to align himself with the D’Harans. The only thing he asks is to have a prime spot for Richard’s execution so that he can see the traitor die. Richard is thrown into a cell with his mother. She is not convinced that Mark isn’t playing Richard for a fool because she had never seen so much loathing and coldness in his eyes. Richard disagrees and assures her that it’s all a part of the plan.
The next day the hunting party returns without Richard. Zedd is finally made aware of where Richard had ended up. With a very worried Kahlan at his side, Wizard and Confessor flee to Brennidon to help Richard out. When they arrive they discover that Richard is about to be executed. Inside the lead D’Haran is proclaiming that the legend of the Seeker dies today to which Richard quips back “If he dies the legend will grow.” Always over confident the D’Haran holds the Sword of Truth over Richard’s head and declares that the prophecy is dead…only to be unexpectedly stabbed…by Mark. Richard screams out “NOW” and the entire crowd starts pulling stuff out of their sleeves and throws projectiles at the D’Haran soldiers and guardsmen. Kahlan and Zedd arrive in the middle of the chaos, Zedd fires off wizard fire at Richard’s ropes and blasts a D’Haran as a bonus. Freed of his restraints, Richard retrieves his sword, tells Mark to go and look after their mother and with Kahlan now at his side they fight off the remaining soldiers. The leader, it appears isn’t dead yet and makes a final charge towards Richard who he smites without much of a struggle. As the leader collapses to the ground, Richard calmly tells him, “Sorry to disappoint you, but the prophecy DOES NOT die today.” With the leader dead and the D’Haran’s defeated, Richard walks up to the steps to the executioners block and holds up the sword to a loud roar from the townsfolk. Kahlan and Zedd who barely had to help out are beaming with pride, Richard had succeeded in not only turning the crowd against the D’Harans but he became their leader and got out of the mess mostly on his own. Like the previous week the story of their victory will spread.
As the episode winds down we learn that the woman Bridget who claimed to be his mother had in fact been his midwife and that his mother had survived and left the village but hadn’t been seen again. With his heart filled with the promise that Mark would watch over Brennidon and that his mother was out there somewhere waiting for him to find her, Richard leaves the city with a lighter heart and tells Zedd that he will find her and he will one day have a family again.
Richard rides ahead of Kahlan and Zedd and the Confessor looks at the Wizard and asks him why he’s keeping the secret and why won’t he tell him? Zedd strongly refuses and claims that if Richard knew he would do everything in his power to protect him and could quite foolishly put his own life in danger trying to protect him.
Silly old wizard, Richard wouldn’t let you die when you were attacked by the spirits in the Boundary he wouldn’t do that even before he knew that you were his Grandfather.
Overall this was an exceptional episode, not only was it wonderful as a standalone episode but it progressed the mythology of the show forward while tying it to one of the key plot elements from the books. The episode was all about discovering Richard’s true heritage, the irony is that Richard has been traveling with his own blood kin ever since he took up the name of Seeker.
The writing was on par with the two hour premiere. Although there was some levity the episode was wonderfully emotional and full of drama. The books spend lots of time where Richard and Kahlan are apart from each other and end up learning something during their individual adventures. This episode showed that this storytelling style which is used for often hundreds of pages in the books can effectively be reduced to a one hour format. For this episode Richard learned that perhaps the people of the Midlands will be receptive of his leadership. If the women in the town who had all lost the most because of him were willing to be the first to stand up against Rahl’s men and support his leadership, then perhaps others will follow. He also learned the power of taking his compassionate and good nature and infusing it with authority to get people to assist him and turn against their feared leader.
The FX overall were light this week with only a couple scenes of wizard fire and Richard’s sword lighting up. Instead the budget was spent on a lush and gorgeous matte painting of Brennidon, mattes of the outside of the town, and a full, lived in looking village set. One of the things that I love about this show is the FX department’s liberal use of matte paintings that are obviously painted by hand and not CGI. The warmth that comes from a matte painting gives us that fairy tale/fantasy connection that you just wouldn’t have if it was overly stylized with having been 3-D CGI rendered instead. The acting overall was fantastic in the episode. Rachel Nash who portrayed Bridget was exceptionally believable and warm in her role, she actually reminded me a lot of Pernilla August from the STAR WARS prequels.
We did have a couple of quick fight scenes in the episode but the action nor the FX were the highlights, instead it was rich with character development in the best way possible with Richard being the central figure and his character receiving the most growth. For all that he accepted the name of Seeker in PROPHECY and has used the Sword of Truth to battle injustice in the last two episodes, this was the first time that Richard the leader emerged. And in the town of his birth the Seeker began his real fight against Rahl by vowing to give the Midlands back to its people and out of Rahl’s strangling hold.
By Erika Blake
“You know when you pick up a rock and there are all of these disgusting bugs and worms crawling around under it? That’s what looking inside people’s heads is like.”
Hiding the truth is the theme for this weeks episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER. When it begins we find our trio of heroes coming upon a squad of Dragon Corps soldiers, Darken Rahl’s inner circle of warriors who appear to be on an important mission. Zedd (Bruce Spence,) Kahlan (Bridget Regan,) and Richard (Craig Horner) hide while they watch the soldiers as they meet up with a source. Once there they offer up a trade for goods, which in turn ends up being a boy. The boy has remarkable talents – he can read minds of those around him by listening to their thoughts. Kahlan and Zedd are amazed and both tell Richard that a Listener is a magical person whose talents are all but extinct in the Midlands.
The boy proves his worth by pointing out that one of his men wants the Seeker to kill Darken Rahl and is a traitor. Richard, infuriated by the soldiers now taking possession of the boy wants to do something brash to rescue the child. Kahlan however, points out that following them would give them the perfect opportunity to locate Darken Rahl. With a cooler head, Zedd suddenly feels like he’s having to give a timeout to his two impatient charges and comes up with a plan that not only help to get them close to the evil Lord, but save the boy in the process.
Zedd, Kahlan, and Richard when working together make a deadly team that Rahl and their enemies should be frightened of them when they’re working together; Zedd is the crafty, wise brains of the operation, Kahlan never falters from their mission’s objective, and Richard is the warrior.
Using his magical skills of deception, Zedd transforms his image and turns his white hair black and gives himself a beard. He has a magical golden stone and informs Richard that he’s been holding onto the magic for a rainy day. The stone transformed into a bunch of shadow people from the underworld who he releases over the Dragon Corps’s evening camp. When the guards were at a loss of what to do to stop the intruders, Zedd shows up and zaps them into oblivion and provides them with a false identity to claim credit for saving the soldier’s lives. He ingratiates himself with the D’Harans and announces that he’d love to align himself with their master. The leader isn’t convinced that the great wizard is telling the truth and asks that the boy be brought out to test the Wizard’s true intention. When they get to the cart where the boy is being held, he’s gone.
Meanwhile Richard and Kahlan struggle with their ungrateful new charge who shows his appreciation for their ingenious rescue by kicking Richard in the crotch (ouch!) Through his pain Richard and Kahlan chase the boy through the woods try to convince him that they’re there to help him. The kid (Renn) is able to read Richard’s thoughts and knows that he’s the Seeker and is certain that they’re either going to sell him or use him for their own purposes. Kahlan turns things around by asking where he’s from and offers to return him to his family. The next day they make it to Renn’s old homestead only to find that his father is not only no longer there but the story around town was that the man had sold his son for $1000 gold pieces.
After confirming that Renn doesn’t have any family left in the area Kahlan informs Richard that she knows of a place where they can take the boy where he’ll be protected from bad magic and suggests taking him to Thandor where the Sisters of the Light reside. Renn overhears her idea, decides that it’s not for him and takes off. Kahlan and Richard find him hustling cards, a trick that he learned from one of his former masters. When they take him away from the joint the boy acts up and at his last wits end, Richard decides to tie him up. Kahlan sees what he’s doing, grabs Richard’s arm and stares him down and orders him to stop. Richard the farmer is perplexed, he was likely thinking that tying up horses is a great way to keep them under control, why not children too? Hee hee. I personally like Richard’s style of parenting and discipline. Kahlan on the other hand is rattled and her blistering gaze challenges Richard to seek an alternative form of punishment. Off guard by Kahlans scary and cold demeanor, Richard warns the kid that if he doesn’t behave he’ll tell the barkeep how Renn cheated at cards. Kahlan gathers up the boy and walks away leaving Richard very confused.
In the heat of the moment things could’ve gotten dangerous for Richard, Kahlan was staring him down and had her hand on him. Had she not been more in control of herself, Richard could’ve found himself put under her spell, which didn’t escape his notice which is why he immediately backed off.
Meanwhile Zedd is off proving his worth to the Dragon Corps by helping the traitor guard escape only to capture him again. He does this by freezing the horse that the prisoner had taken off on mid jump. Zedd’s storyline is rather entertaining, mostly because the prisoner keeps needling the head Dragon Corp leader by singing songs that he’s making up about how the Seeker is going to defeat Darken Rahl and just manages to infuriate the man to the brink of murder.
Renn refuses to co-operate though with his kind traveling partners and cons Richard into catching him a tasty lunch instead of the gruel that he offered. Renn does this by threatening to tell Kahlan what Richard is really thinking when he looks at her. When Kahlan and Richard try to reason with the boy and get him to move on, he starts screaming and alerts the D’Harans of their location. Richard and Kahlan find themselves taking on a squad of Rahl’s Dragon Corps fighters and in the process Richard’s right sword arm gets wounded.
Renn doesn’t understand why Richard would put his life on the line to save his. The boy has lived for too long being used and abused by everyone around him so that he doesn’t know how to trust anyone. He seems genuinely perplexed on why Richard would want Rahl dead if he didn’t want his throne or riches. After sharing with Richard and Kahlan some of the sins from his past that people in power forced him into revealing terrible things about those around them, he then turns the table on Kahlan and reveals to Richard how she was also used in her youth.
Now, so far on the series Richard knows very little about Kahlan. He’s seen her use her Confessor power twice but doesn’t really understand it. He knows that she acts as a mediator and that people seem to respect her, but until now exactly what her power entails is enshrouded in mystery. Due to the season being 22 episodes, it’s obvious that the writers are doling this information out and will reveal more and more as the season progresses. I don’t have a problem with that, Kahlan’s powers really shouldn’t just be revealed all at once because it’s a great plot device to sprinkle throughout the season.
In this episode though we finally got our first hints of things to come and Richard’s first insight into the life that came before for the girl who he can’t take his eyes off of. Kahlan revealed her mother had once put their father under her control and that when her mother died, their father was free of her hold and came looking for she and her sister. He used his daughters to perform terrible things on people who their father believed owed him. When they disobeyed, he would bind them, which Richard tearfully realized was why she didn’t want him to tie up Renn.
Throughout Kahlan’s heartfelt and teary recounting of the horrible memories that she and her sister endured Richard is appalled that a man would use his children in that matter. For the first time since showing Richard Shar, Kahlan stripped herself emotionally bare and we got to see her softer more vulnerable side that is portrayed often in WIZARD’S FIRST RULE but hasn’t been overly visited yet on the show. Kahlan is guarded about who she is and Richard is a patient man and is happy to wait for her to open up to him in her own time and won’t force her (which is another thing that carries over from the book.) This new information was frightening to him, Kahlan who always comes across as hard as steel and will do anything for justice seemed powerless to do anything about stopping her Dad. When he asked why she didn’t turn her power on him to make him stop, Renn simply replied “because he was her father.”
Kahlan used the opportunity to turn things around and told Renn that after she and her sister did break free of their father’s hold the Sisters of the Light found them and gave them a new home.
Later Richard is seen by the fire watching Kahlan sleep (can you blame the boy for being entranced by the sight of her ample bosom?) Renn awakens and asks why he just won’t tell her how he feels. Richard tries pulling out the “complicated adult stuff” lines but that falls on deaf ears. Renn cuts through the crap and states that Richard’s worried that Kahlan doesn’t feel the same way as he does. The boy then tells Richard that he has nothing to be frightened of because she feels the same way. Richard is shocked by this, apparently he failed to notice how many times her eyes seem to conveniently drop lower than his and ogle his chest, or her looks of amazed, bordering on hero-worship appreciation and respect whenever he goes all Seeker and saves the day. He asks Renn why she doesn’t say anything and the boy is genuinely perplexed, he says that he doesn’t quite understand but it’s something about her not wanting to hurt him with her magic. Kahlan awakens and scolds both of them (in a very Mom-like tone of voice) for being awake. With this new information about Kahlan in his head, Richard can’t meet her eyes and Kahlan goes over to Renn gently sings to sleep. Much to Richard’s amazement Kahlan’s hidden talents seem to have no end.
This entire scene could be viewed as the highlight of the episode and for understanding a lot of the subtext that’s been suggested all season so far but that we haven’t yet been shown. We finally got hints of why Kahlan is holding back from allowing herself to fall in love with Richard and more importantly we can start to see that this is becoming as big of a struggle for her as it is for him. These are two people who trust each other to protect each other at all costs, – they can’t afford to keep secrets from each other. But they do seem to share a common one that is now bubbling to the surface and could be used against them or distract them from their true mission – this is the very thing that Zedd warned Richard about back in DESTINY and is why he refrains from revealing his familiar connection to his charge. Love may be a splendid thing, but not when you’re trying to save the world from evil – it could be used as a weapon by one’s enemies.
One of the pure joys of the Richard/Kahlan scenes in LISTENER is that even though the story is wavering from WIZARD’S FIRST RULE, this scene in particular could’ve been ripped right out of the pages, there’s always this underlying tension between them and Richard desperately wanting to rescue Kahlan and take her away from the misery that she’s experienced in her life. Richard was devastated by what she told him about his past because he could do nothing to alleviate or remove that pain from her heart.
The next day Renn has a change of heart about his traveling partners and tries to convince them that instead of taking him to the Sisters of Light that he should just stay with them. Both Kahlan and Richard have grown fond of the boy but tell him that it would be too dangerous. They suddenly come across two men, one is Renn’s father. His father leaps off of his horse and tells the boy that he’s been looking for him for years and that the story him selling him was a lie. Richard informs the man that there’s a Confessor in their midst and that he had better be telling the truth. Renn however, turns around and tells them that his father isn’t lying and he takes off with the man. The boy is not happy, both Richard and Kahlan are uneasy about the exchange, but they are now free to find Zedd.
Zedd meanwhile watches as the prisoner takes a huge beating for his songs about the Seeker. The leader of the Dragon Corps decides to just kill the man. Not being able to idly sit by and watch a man get executed, Zedd warns them that he’s under a curse and that any man who tries to kill him will die himself. When the executioner goes ahead and attempts to chop his head off – the prisoner turns into a crow and flies off. Now the leader is convinced that Zedd is a liar and he’s taken prisoner.
Richard and Kahlan’s worry about Renn builds and they decide that something was wrong and turn to head back to find the boy. What they find instead is the father alone with a fresh new bag of money. He in fact wasn’t Renns father but step-father and had sold him back to the D’Harans.
Zedd is now under the scrutiny of the boy who listens to his thoughts and informs the D’Haran’s that he’s plotting to kill Darken Rahl. Renn turns around and expertly starts pointing out members of the Dragon Corps who have all been screwing the leaders wife behind his back and set the D’Harans against each other. When Kahlan and Richard arrive they find that they’ve got fewer guards to fight. Richard faces off with the leader and is outnumbered and loses his sword leaving him defenseless, luckily Kahlan and Renn had freed Zedd and before Richard can be killed the leader goes up in a most satisfying ball of Wizard’s flames that also takes out the remaining soldiers.
Renn explains that when he had read his step-father’s mind he knew that he had more men coming and that Kahlan and Richard would’ve been outnumbered. He went with his father to save them. Finally he knew that Zedd was friends with them, hence why he tricked the D’Harans into fighting each other. With Zedd now in tow the trio deliver Renn into the waiting arms of the Sisters of Light. Before Renn leaves, he tells Kahlan not to be scared to tell Richard how she feels about him, leaving her now as unsettled as Richard the night before. Her nerves don’t get much of a rest when Richard quips, “Well I guess if we ever get to be parents we’ll have had some practice.” Enter hilarious awkward sexual tension.
Finally our prisoner arrives in his crow form and Zedd poofs him back into his human self. He informs Richard that Darken Rahl just sent 200 men to a city called Kahlabra on a mission of great importance. He vows to help Richard but first must make sure that his family is safe and leaves. Zedd is confused and explains that the city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption over 2000 years ago and is buried under miles of rock.
Next week’s episode doesn’t appear to be picking up after this nugget so I’m guessing that whatever is going on in Kahlabra will come about in another episode, perhaps Rahl’s off looking for one of the Boxes of Orden?
Usually I hate it when they use kids in episodes because they tend to be really cutesy, unfortunately this episode rather fell into that case. I would’ve preferred that they didn’t have the kid go all whiny and screaming in the middle of the episode, it felt out of character with the rest of the episode where he seemed much smarter and harder than most children. He should’ve been wise enough to know that alerting the enemies to their location wasn’t the smartest of plans. The actor was alright though, his accent seemed to have caused a problem for Craig who’s own Aussie accent slipped a couple of times during the episode.
The FX weren’t completely up to par with the earlier episodes. I thought the Zedd changing his appearance in the water looked strange and the end green screens w/ Thandor looked very fake particularly when blown up on my 65” TV. However, the underworld spirits and Zedd turning the prisoner into a crow were wonderfully done.
I also thought that the violence in this episode seemed to have been cranked up a level. The prisoner was brutally beaten in his last scenes before Zedd transformed him, complete w/ blood spraying out of his mouth. We also saw Kahlan take two knives and slice a man’s throat open…from the side…but still the implication on the way that she did it was very fierce and a bit shocking for TV. It was also nice seeing an episode where Richard actually got hurt defending someone. It’s a nice reminder that he’s not super-human but is just a simple man. I’m guessing this is why he’ll be practicing up on his sword fighting next week. The trio also now officially have their first real soldier who has vowed his life to serve the Seeker. The army that Zedd promised Richard that would follow him has begun to form.
Story wise the episode rapidly progressed Richard and Kahlan towards them figuring out what to do with their feelings for each other – the child was used as a tool for that. The fire scenes were probably some of the best acted moments in the season so far, Bridget Regan really sold the scenes and showed new depths to her acting talents she was almost timid which was such a shocking change to how we’re all used to seeing Kahlan. Craig played beautifully off of her – he really does a great job of pouring his soul out with one simple facial expression. The two really are charming on screen together and in this episode they became truly believable as their book counterparts. The show is developing a life of its own that is separate from the books, however, this episode reminded us that the writers don’t stray far from the original work…it’s there in spirit.
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: Magic Gone Amuk in ELIXIR
By Erika Blake
The Theme of the episode ELIXIR is misuse of Magic and it’s burden. This episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER opens with Richard making breakfast for Zedd…by slicing up fruit that the wizard has magically suspended in the air for sword practice. Zedd isn’t overly impressed that Richard’s skills and decides to make things more interesting. He takes a melon and turns it invisible and challenges Richard to see what cannot be seen…at least he didn’t have a heavy blast shield lowered over his eyes, right? Perhaps Richard felt in tune w/ the piece of fruit since his ripped bare-chested body was covered in juice and fruit splatter, but after much concentration he was able to decipher where the melon was hiding and split it apart. Even though Richard did well, apparently Zedd was grouchy and hungry and wasn’t overly impressed.
Richard high on his newfound conquest over magic heads over to a local waterfall to wash off when he comes upon a nude Kahlan air drying after a bath. Richard is rather stupefied by the glorious sight of seeing Kahlan in her all together and when she turns and catches him gawking at her, our poor boy doesn’t know what to do with himself and is very pleased when Kahlan points out that someone is stealing their horses to give him the perfect excuse to run away and save himself from embarrassment.
Richard attempts to get the horses back but falters when he realizes that the thief is just a boy. Unwilling to kill the young man, Richard gets knocked to the ground and our trio are again left on foot. Zedd is now in a very foul mood, Richard could slice up invisible fruit but could not see a large human taking their horses. To this, Richard feebly responds that he was distracted. Kahlan who’s wearing her black corseted under clothing and armor doesn’t look Zedd in the eye. If he could’ve we might’ve seen steam erupt out of Zedd’s ears at having to deal w/ his young charges raging hormones. After Zedd storms off, Richard tries to apologize to Kahlan saying that he didn’t see anything to which Kahlan quips back, “Richard, word of advice, never lie to a Confessor.”
Ah young love, poor Richard, he just can’t cut a break not only was Zedd in a bad mood but Kahlan just won’t let him catch a break and try to smooth things over for his ill-fated timing at the waterfall. Not being able to tell a simple fib around a human lie detector has to be frustrating. This whole sequence was funny and was a humorous way to open the episode. Since we’re not allowed to hear Richard’s thoughts like we do in the novels where he’s constantly fumbling over inappropriately staring at Kahlan, it’s very entertaining to see his blooming puppy love play out on screen.
There was a major editing problem in the beginning sequences however – right after Richard gets thrown from the horse…or should I say Craig’s body double was thrown from the horse…they cut to the footage from BOUNTY where Richard threw himself onto the ground to try to catch the rabbit. This might’ve worked had he not been wearing his shirt in that scene, or had he put it on before trying to chase down the horse thief. Richard chased after the horses in only his vest – having even 2 seconds of footage of him w/ his shirt magically on was poor, poor editing. They should’ve just cut to the sword credit instead of bothering to put that in.
The trio arrive in the town of Drenidril looking for the horse thief. The boy meanwhile has sold the horses in order to buy a vial of something. He drinks it and makes a local flower girl kiss him. The effect is short lived and she runs away appalled that he’d dare to try anything on her. Richard is then seen chatting up a local bar wench who says that she doesn’t know anything about horse thieves and gives him a pint on the house. Richard, who’s had a hard morning already gladly accepts the drink and takes a long swallow only to find himself under the disapproving glare of Kahlan and Zedd. I might add that Kahlan was still wearing her black under garments and her Confessor gown was nowhere to be seen. Throughout the ep there are a few instances where she’s got a shawl around her shoulders to try to hide her dress even when she has it on. I’m guessing that she was hoping by not wearing her gown that people might be more honest and willing to open up to her in the bar since people generally fear Confessors.
Suddenly Richard has a weird flash and he sees the boy sitting by a lake. Overcome by the feeling that he knows where the boy is located he takes off with his 2 confused magical friends following in pursuit. Kahlan and Zedd don’t know what’s going on, perhaps Richard has weird abilities being the Seeker. Whatever caused his feelings they worked and they came across the boy. Kahlan in her white gown now and threatens the boy if he doesn’t explain where they can find their horses. The boy gets a look of sheer terror on his face as she approaches him and he agrees to take them to the people who bought the horses.
Back in the village Richard tries to play things cool and simply asks for the horses back. The thugs blow him off and things get out of control and a fight ensues. Kahlan is forced to reveal her true self and when she’s cornered she grabs the neck of the ringleader and pulls her whammy on him so that he can take out his own men. Kahlan is left helpless while Richard continues to pick off the thugs along w/ her converted man. Zedd meanwhile seems to still be out of sorts and finally resorts to using his Wizard fire to try to stop things. One of the thugs gets all excited by the Wizard fire and runs off. Richard helps a woozy Kahlan to her feet and Zedd comforts her as she regains her strength. Meanwhile the bar wench finds Richard and explains that she had doused his drink and has more magical elixir if he ever needs more help locating someone else she’d be glad to help again…for a fee.
The trio are called into a store and the shopkeeper who had identified The Sword of Truth (kudos to Richard for being wary about revealing his identity…he seems to finally be learning his lesson that flapping lips invite trouble) and informs them that Drenidril was being destroyed by magic – people are selling it on the black market and families have been destroyed over it. Zedd is horrified.
When they exit the store the man who Kahlan turned in their fight, Rymus, bows at her feet and demands orders. Kahlan appears sickened by the man’s devotion to her and Richard is confused. After Rymus reveals that there is in fact no way to get their horses back (they were sold earlier in the day,) she thanks him for what he did and asks him to goto another town and look for respectable work and live an honest life. By doing this, she promises him, that he’ll immensely please her. Richard doesn’t know what to make of this and insists that there must’ve been something that he could be used for to help them out. Kahlan is repulsed at the idea and explains that when she uses her power she makes those affected into her slaves. She refuses to use them for any longer than is necessary. Before he takes off Rymus reveals the location of the place where his band of marketeers purchased their elixirs from.
En route to the hideout, still puzzled over the Kahlan riddle Richard asks Zedd for a better explanation of Kahlan’s powers. Zedd’s uncomfortable with revealing too much about the delicate subject matter and tells Richard that he should just ask Kahlan himself…to which Richard promptly runs forward to ask her, leaving Zedd very bewildered by the boy’s impatience and lack of social tact. Before Richard can ask anything a puff of smoke goes up before them and Richard and Kahlan are knocked unconscious. Beyond panicking Zedd races forward to see what befell Richard and finds himself surrounded by thugs, when he flashes Wizard’s Fire at the thug from Drenidril it ricochets off of him and he’s unharmed after taking a protection elixir. Two men from behind clamp something around his neck and his fire ceases. Zedd is knocked unconscious and carried away.
Richard wakes up and is distressed to find Kahlan knocked out. When she comes to they realize that Zedd is gone. Richard finds the vial and realizes that Zedd was kidnapped. They both run off to the hideout to rescue him but find it empty. Richard insists that Rymus must’ve lied to them and Kahlan states that it just isn’t possible that the hideout must’ve been moved. She asks him if he can use his new Seeker skills and he informs her that it was an elixir. Richard tries to track them to find out where the hideout might’ve been moved but the tracks stop dead and the trail goes cold for finding Zedd. Richard and Kahlan argue over what to do next and the only thing that Richard can come up with is that he needs another douse of the elixir that the bar wench served up. Kahlan is appalled that he’s want to rely on magic instead of using his brain. Before they can come to a decision the storekeeper calls them back to the village, the boy who stole their horses is in trouble.
Zedd wakes up and finds himself prisoner to an old Wizard friend Jeziah. Jeziah immediately removes the collar and ultimately explains that they’ve been capturing Darken Rahl’s wizards, removing their powers, selling them on the black market in order to raise money to create an army to fight against the tyrant. Zedd isn’t fooled by this and insists that Jeziah must be just doing it to make himself rich – he tries to leave but Jeziah captures him again with the neck collar and his men carry him off.
Back in the village their thief is getting the tar beaten out of him. Richard and Kahlan help out and the boy is released. Richard, who’s now in a panic over Zedd runs back to the bar where he’s forced to trade his beloved tooth necklace for another round of elixir since he doesn’t have any money. He sees a flash of Zedd being unconscious w/ some strange stone sucking energy out of him. He asks what to do – he doesn’t know where to find him, the barkeep insists that the elixir will tell him but that he has to hurry because the effect will wear off soon.
Kahlan chats with the boy and realizes that he’s lovesick. He explains to her why he bought the elixir and that even though the drug wasn’t real, at least for a moment he to got to feel special w/ the girl. Kahlan’s face goes dark and she asks him why he would even want that – wouldn’t he rather know what it truly meant to be loved by another person? How could he be happy with the illusion of love? (In case you haven’t figured it out, there’s a LOT more going with what Kahlan is asking than meets the eye…for those who haven’t read the books I’m not spilling anything since I’m pretty sure that all will be revealed next week, all that I will say is, rewatch the fire scene in LISTENER again for clues on what’s going on in the mind our Confessor for clues.) Before they could get any deeper into discussion Richard bursts in and hurries Kahlan out because he knows that Zedd is in serious trouble.
Zedd is having his powers drained into a stone. He uses what magic he can to force a rat to climb into the pants of his guard and says that he’ll instruct it to bite him if he isn’t released. Unfortunately Jeziah shows up and they argue over the ethics of what he’s doing and he keeps draining Zedd’s powers. He also tells his men to pack up, the Seeker will be looking for them, they’ll leave Zedd behind when he’s powerless.
Kahlan and Richard race through the woods while a drugged out Richard continues to catch glimpses of Zedd in captivity. A couple of times Kahlan falls over in the undergrowth and refuses Richard’s help at getting up…she’s now cranky and out of sorts too. Suddenly someone bashes into Richard and he gets clocked on a rock and is knocked out. It was Rymus, Kahlan’s new confessed man who was worried that Richard was going to hurt her. She informs him that he was quite wrong and checks Richard and cradles his head in her lap waiting for him to wake up. When he wakes Richard finds himself gazing up into Kahlan’s lovely smiling face surrounded by a halo of sunlight. His bliss of feeling her fingers stroking his face are short lived when he realizes who knocked him out. Richard threatens to kill Rymus but is held back by Kahlan who tells him that he didn’t know what he was doing. Richard then realizes that his drug has worn off. Not knowing what to do Richard says that he’s heading back to the village for more of the drug. No longer able to tolerate his relying on the stuff Kahlan guilts him out and asks what he thinks Zedd would say about this new dependency that he has on the elixir. She orders him snap out of it and start acting like the Seeker and think. Richard realizes that she’s right and he starts to remember small details about the caves where Zedd is being held and with some prodding, Rymus points them to where the right caves might be located.
I love it when Kahlan and Richard squabble and bicker. They sound like an old married couple and usually Kahlan ends up winning because she is the more level headed of the pair only she can get away with pointing out that the Seeker is acting like a dumb-ass. She knows exactly what buttons to press in Richard to get him to think clearly. It’s a big part of why they’re such a great couple – neither is complete w/o the other there.
They find the cave but not before Zedd’s powers are completely drained. With Rymus in tow they head out to chase after Jonas and his men to get the stone back that is holding Zedd’s powers. Richard, Kahlan, and Rymus all fight Jeziah’s men. Jonas turns himself invisible and Richard is forced to use his training from earlier in the day and manages to fend off the attacks. When the invisible trick fails to work Jeziah blasts Richard with Wizard’s Fire. The magic from the Sword of Truth acts as a shield but under Jeziah’s relentless fire, Richard is quickly losing ground in the war. Zedd eventually finds the collar and snaps it on Jeziah’s neck which stops the fire and Zedd informs Jeziah that he would be forever prevented from using of his wizard powers for what he did. In the fighting Rymus is killed and his final parting words were that he was pleased that he could die with honor protecting her.
The next day Zedd is feeling stronger as he sucks his wizard energy back from the stone. He asks Richard what he learned out of this experience…ultimately Richard is conflicted. The magic did help him to find Zedd – but it was his wits that ultimately led them to find Zedd in the end. Basically he decided nothing is ever easy and that magic isn’t good or bad, just the intentions behind it. Zedd is pleased. (As was I to hear Richard say one of Zedd’s favorite phrases in the book “Nothing is ever easy.”)
Back in the city Kahlan has a surprise for Richard and she hands him back his beloved necklace. He’s amazed and overwhelmed that she would get it back for him. When he asks how she did it, she flashes him one of her special smiles and says that Confessors can be very persuasive. The village boy tries to woo the flower girl in his own way without magic by not pushing himself on her, Kahlan seems pleased. Zedd meanwhile isn’t so full of love and drops a bomb on her. He agrees that love is wonderful for the boy, but not for her. Richard is developing feelings for her and she for him in return. He insists that it has to be stopped and that she has to tell him because she knows well enough that it will never work between her and Richard. And on that gloomy note the episode ends.
This episode had lots of plot devices buried into it that were incorporated from WIZARDS FIRST RULE. Kahlan spends a good part of the book hiding the full extent of her power to Richard. She does this out of years of feeling alone and wants to try to hold onto something that she’s never experienced in her life – real friendship with someone who treats her just like any other person and not a Confessor. Richard is the only person who has ever just treated her like a woman and does the most basic of things like offer her a hand…people fear the Confessor’s touch, no one touches her intentionally. This week we were given a big insight about the burdon that she feels in carrying her power. She also exerts energy trying to hide her power from Richard, having Reimus left alive was a great storytelling tool to explain why a large part of her finds her power to be distasteful.
There were some truly lovely moments in the episode – the 2 instances w/ Richard and Kahlan caring for each other when they were knocked out had a very fairy tale, potent with unrequited longing – I’m so falling in love with you – feel to them both. You just don’t see that sort of thing in films unless they’re big historical epics, much less on weekly TV. The scenes could’ve been ripped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. They were literally gut wrenchingly beautiful to watch.
If LISTENER was the unconscious awakening of Richard and Kahlan’s feelings for each other, ELIXIR was the episode where their love for each other began to blossem. It’s always the little things that spark it, like Richard realizing that Kahlan’s upset because she’s got these little lines crinkled over her forehead or Kahlan getting his beloved necklace back for him and flashing him that warm special smile that she only reserves for him. Neither one of them can help it, love is strange and foreign for both of them and they’re both swimming in its heady glory. For anyone who felt like that they were in mush overload, worry not, things are about to go downhill rapidly for our lovebirds. Poor Richard has no idea that he’s going to crash to Earth just when he’s learned what it’s like to walk on clouds.
I was utterly intoxicated by the beauty of the places where they filmed this week’s episode. The plants were beautifully exotic and it made me desperately want to retreat to New Zealand for vacation. The FX were well done – the magic sucking stone powers were gorgeous and Jonas going invisible was very believable CGI. The fight scenes overall took back burners in this episode, they were there but they simply progressed the story, they weren’t the big end results.
It was nice not having a “Faithless Midlander of the week” episode. Instead of blundering and comic-bookish D’Harans for villains we were treated w/ a very sinister Wizard who was supposed to be one of the good guys. This episode showed that even Zedd was forced to also have the veil removed for him and he had to “see what can’t be seen” and realize that even people who he thought that he could trust might be just out for themselves. By this episode the whole Zedd/Richard/Kahlan dynamic has completely gelled. Richard now views Zedd as a respected mentor and Zedd in turn views Kahlan to rather be like a beloved daughter. He’s the unfortunate middleman in the center of the emotional tornado that is the Kahlan/Richard love story. For more on that little insight stay tuned next week’s episode IDENTITY.
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: Identity Mix-Ups, New Villains, and Mysterious Boxes.
By Erika Blake
The theme for this week’s episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER was mistaken identities. IDENTITY opens with Richard battling w/ a huge D’Haran, losing his sword and balance, and getting skewered to death. The scene turns to a woman viewing the scene in a bowl of water and she makes the unsettling proclamation that the Seeker will die in 3 days. Ouch score a big one for Darken Rahl.
The scene shifts to a storefront owner chatting w/ a D’Haran soldier about things that are going on in the encampment of Kahlabra and his son Gryff’s wedding. The D’Haran receives a nice bribe and says that he’ll be at the wedding the next day. When the store owner leaves for the evening he’s surrounded in a back alley by 3 dark figures who turn out to be Kahlan, Zedd, and Richard. Morcant, the store owner, is a member of the resistance and invites the trio into dinner to exchange news. Full of insider information Morcant tells them about the supply runs that he’s been making for the D’Harans and how his small bribes help to keep the information flowing.
The subject switches to the pending marriage of his son when Gryff arrives. Gryff is star struck upon meeting Richard and begins recounting stories of Seekers from the past when he points out a nick that’s on the hilt of the Sword of Truth. Richard is mildly interested in the off of the cuff remark and thanks him for explaining where the damage came from. Everyone then congratulates Gryff on his pending nuptials, to which Zedd proclaims, “Of all the magic in the world there is none that is more powerful than love.” Both Kahlan and Richard suddenly get very uncomfortable and miserable upon hearing the words and squirm in unison.
The next morning Gryff and Richard are seen sword sparring in the courtyard. Richard is handily matching every trust and parry that Gryff sends his way, but he’s grateful to have a skilled partner to practice against. Gryff talks about his pending nuptials and how he would prefer to be off fighting Darken Rahl since his marriage is arranged. Richard replies that he rather envies the normal life that Gryff has and wistfully says that he might never be able to marry and have children. Gryff scoffs – but he’s got Kahlan, to which Richard replies in the old “I’m not saying what I really mean” tone that he and Kahlan aren’t romantically interested in each other, Gryff apparently believes Richard, the inflection is lost on him. Anyone who didn’t immediately get the “Freaky Friday” vibe from this scene doesn’t know squat about TV – this plot device has been used on every sci-fi series from CHARMED, The X-FILES, SMALLVILLE, STARGATE SG1…need I go on? Does that make it a bad thing? No, it usually sets the stage for a great mix of humor and drama. As an aside to this scene, I will add that as the season is progressing here, Richard is becoming a mighty skilled swordsman, so much so that it almost doesn’t appear that the Sword of Truth is the reason…he’s just got mad moves and skills that Craig Horner shows off as being effortless. Richard is enjoyable to watch while he parries, thrusts, and attacks with his sword whether it’s in battle or practice. Of course I prefer him to practice shirtless…but that’s just MY preference.
When Gryff goes into the house to prepare for his new in-law’s arrivals, an old woman approaches Richard and warns him against going to Kahlabra if he does he will die. He will know her words to be true when he sees the eagle and then the woman mysteriously vanishes. The scene then shifts to the woods and the old woman morphs into the sorceress Shota who predicted Richard’s death at the beginning of the episode.
Back at the manor the resistance fighters are planning their attack on Kahlabra. Morcant explains how he’s got a shipment of supplies to send up to the encampment and our trio works up a plan to take out the camp through infiltration. Morcant also drops a bomb that a D’Haran big wig named Nas is coming to oversee the project. Kahlan is gripped in fear – Demmin Nas is know for his ruthlessness and is Darken Rahl’s highest ranking commander. Richard, who knows nothing of the man, devises a deliciously devious plan to get them intel on the location of Darken Rahl. He explains that himself and Kahlan will get into the commander’s tent where Kahlan can confess him – they could have their own ally in Darken Rahl’s inner circle. Kahlan and Zedd are both impressed by Richard’s cunning plan. We’ve had a very nice layering of character development with Richard this season he’s gone from being a whiney boy to a strategist who’s developing all of the basic skills needed to command armies. The pacing of the show has been great for showing this character growth and I expect that as the season progresses Richard will just get stronger and tougher…particularly directly AFTER the show returns in January…but I won’t go into that yet.
When Richard examines the map he sees the eagle that the old woman warned him about and finally tells Kahlan and Zedd about the warning. Like Richard in the books who is always dismissive of magical omens, he blows it off and is hell bent on completing their mission. The scene changes to Shota in her lair and she’s angry when her vision water doesn’t alter the image and still sees Richard dying. She decides that she has to take matters into her own hands. We then come to the reluctant groom Gryff who receives and unexpected guest – Shota arrives and tells him that she’s going to make his dreams come true and turn himinto the Seeker. Out in the courtyard, Richard is confused when Kahlan demands to know why he’s strapping the Sword of Truth onto his belt. Gryff exits the house with Zedd. The old wizard is furious to see the sword in the hands of the wrong owner and calls it to him and delivers it into Gryff’s eager hands. Richard is left stunned and confused when the new trio takes off without him. When Morcant comes out and tells him to prepare for the arrival of his new in-laws Richard knows that something has gone horribly wrong and catches his altered reflection in the well. When the bride’s brother comes along, Richard flees but is easily tracked down by the family. He tries to reach for his sword but of course comes up empty. The bride’s brother threatens that if he doesn’t marry his sister he’s going to the D’Harans and telling them that Morcant is working with the Resistance.
The best thing about the whole identity switch was that Richard knew right off of the bat that the sorceress was responsible and he has the single minded determination to get back with his friends to complete their mission. Richard isn’t stupid and the writers know it.
The wedding involved exchanging vows and the bride and groom getting their arms chained together to signify their union. The marriage itself was rather hilarious with Richard’s pained facial expressions over the awkwardness of the entire situation. He might not have been the groom who was supposed to marry the girl, but he certainly felt the blazing heat of rage from the brother-in-law if he didn’t go through with it. Richard is a hero he’d rather face humiliation than risk losing a trusted ally. He went through with the crazy marriage for Morcant’s sake even if the groom’s father had no idea.
Shota sees that the Seeker is otherwise occupied and now Gryff is the one who will die in Richard’s place. Day shifts to night and Kahlan, Zedd, and Gryff are making final plans on what to do when they get into the camp. Gryff who finds this all to be a wonderful adventure, like the ones that he’s memorized from his Seeker history books quotes one of the older Seekers and Zedd is puzzled by this newfound knowledge. Gryff/Richard covers up his nerdiness by picking up the book and stating that Gryff gave it to him. Zedd is delighted that Richard is proactively reading about the history of Seekers but then turns back to their plans and asks for Richard’s advice. In an uncertain voice Gryff suggests a diversion which makes Grandpa proud and he decides that he’ll light up all of the highly volatile Dragon’s Breath Ore around the site. I love Zedd’s style, why go for a small distraction when you can blow up the entire place?
Considering how decisive Richard was at coming up with the plan back in town, Zedd and Kahlan should’ve been tipped off by Gryff’s timid suggestion that something was off with him…but Wizard’s First Rule always apply – people will believe a lie because they want to believe it. Why should they doubt that Richard isn’t who he claims to be? They have no reason to.
Back in town Richard discovers that he and Bronwyn (one of my favorite names btw) are to be locked up together until morning to signify the close of their union. Richard is far from pleased upon hearing this…and then is even more thrilled when the Mordant’s D’Haran friend toasts Lord Rahl at the wedding. Richard tries to fit in and begrudgingly picks up his drink, but Bronwyn forces his hand down. Richard’s interest is piqued by the girl perhaps she will help him and be sympathetic to his plight. Her brother then stands for what promises to be a long and boring toast. He starts it with stating that he hopes for Gryff/Bronwyn to have lots of children. Richard bolts to his feet and declares to a laughing crowd that he’s ready to get right on that and asks Bronwyn to join him. Playing the part of the horny groom apparently won him brownie points and got him the exit that he wanted for the scene shifts to them getting locked into their chambers. Richard tells Bronwyn who he really is and instead of winning her trust ends up with a crying young woman on his hands who believes that she’s been married off to a madman.
Meanwhile Zedd must’ve been off sleeping and Gryff makes the moves on Kahlan and recants the story of one of the Seekers past who made a dome in Aydrindril in honor of his lost love. Kahlan is pulled in by the tale since the dome still stands even though the story is thousands of years old. Gryff tells her that he’d die for her. Believing that this is Richard talking, Kahlan is taken aback but is drawn to Gryff as he leans in to kiss her – Kahlan pulls back at the last second and the moment is broken. Sorry Gryff – it’s not so easy winning over the fair Confessor/maiden – she’s way too much woman and complicated for you dreamer boy.
Richard decides to deny that he’s the Seeker, tells Bronwyn that they should just escape. She can have the gold bands on their wrists and start a new life on her own. He shows her the window as their escape route. They are next seen out in the forest on the run and come across Shota’s henchman who pulls a sword on the unarmed Seeker. In the heat of taunting he calls Richard the Seeker. Richard eyeballs a large stick on the ground and distracts the man by asking him not to hurt the girl and flicks the stick up with his toe and into his hand. He deftly thwacks the henchman and gets his sword. Suddenly there’s another man behind the couple. Richard ends up fighting both of them with Bronwyn ducking under his arms and trying to get out of his way. When the 2 men run off Bronwyn realizes that Richard had been telling the truth all along that he really is the Seeker. As I mentioned before – even without The Sword of Truth on hand, Richard has become an amazing swordsman and his skills are easy to recognize.
In the morning Richard pries the restraints off of Bronwyn and himself and hands them to her explaining that he HAS to get to his friends up in Kahlabra. Bronwyn says that the fastest way is through a series of caves and she can show him the way through. Reluctantly Richard accepts her help.
Kahlan is distraught, she doesn’t know what to do, Richard tried to kiss her and now she’s an emotional wreck. Zedd is concerned that her not telling Richard the truth is going to endanger their mission and she explains that she was trying to spare him so that they COULD complete the mission. Clearly her secret is now becoming a huge problem and Zedd’s angry attitude infers that she needs to fix things NOW. (I will add as an aside, I love Kahlan’s new golden coat that covers her Confessor dress – the style and design of it is stunning and the color positively makes Bridget glow and is striking against her dark hair.)
Inside a crate on the wagon, Kahlan finally reveals her big secret to “Richard.” A Confessor’s magic is always present and she has to always keep it in check. If she does not hold it back, it could surface unexpectedly. This is why Confessors never marry or be with someone who they care deeply about. In the throes of passion a Confessor will lose control of her power and release it directly into her lover, thereby turning him into her slave and stripping away everything that she loved about the man as his identity is stolen from him forever. OUCH…welcome book newbs to the horrific secret that makes Kahlan/Richard one of the most frustrating couples to ‘ship for in literature…and now on TV. The fact that Gryff shows ZERO emotion over her telling him this and her tearful explanation should’ve again tipped off Kahlan that something was wrong. He says nothing and doesn’t react. The real Richard will be devastated and outraged over the news, Kahlan simply feels relieved to be released from the burden and that “Richard” seems to be taking the news so well. Gryff by the way is an ASS for allowing Kahlan to reveal this very personal thing about herself and not out himself as a fraud.
We finally get our first sight of Demmin Nas in person. The man is imposing, broad chested, huge, and has on gorgeous, obviously higher ranking D’Haran armor. He immediately asks to be taken to the unearthed vault. In the caves they place a barrel of Dragon Breath Ore in front of an ancient sealed door and Demmin waits to make sure that the fuse will catch and the barrel explodes. Deep underground Richard and Bronwyn are now panicking that they’ll be caved in and run for it. Right after Demmin extracts an ancient vase out of the opened vault Richard and Bronwyn fall at their feet. The D’Haran who Gryff’s father had traded with identified them as local townsfolk but Demmin decides that he needs to interrogate them to make sure that they aren’t spies. When the D’Haran is tying them up Richard appeals to the man’s greed and tells him that if he doesn’t let them escape, he’ll tell Demmin all about the bribes that he’s been keeping for himself from Gryff’s Father and is rewarded with a key to his cuffs.
Zedd arrives at the camp and directs the 2 giant boxes to be delivered to the Commanders tent. Gryff and Kahlan burst out when the guards leave and Kahlan immediately begins searching for clues over what Darken Rahl could possibly be looking for. She finds a leather map holder and opens it to discover an ancient scroll covered in the same text that was written in the Book of Counted Shadows. She shows it to Richard and asks him to translate. Of course only Richard CAN read it and Gryff is revealed as a fraud just in time for Zedd to arrive all pleased that he’d ignited all of the Dragon’s Breath. Kahlan puts two and two together that the sorceress must’ve been behind the identity switch because of foreseeing Richard’s death. Gryff immediately panics…playing Seeker is all fun and games until the Seeker is supposed to die! Before he can flee Demmin Nas enters the tent, sees the sword, and begins to fight Gryff. Both Zedd and Kahlan are occupied taking out Demmin’s guards. Gryff, who is no Richard Cypher loses the sword and ends up reliving Shota’s vision. Before he can get skewered, Richard shows up, picks up the sword, and engages Nas. Bronwyn and Gryff both help fight the other guards while Richard tears into Rahl’s right hand man, matching and beating him in swordplay. He eventually unswords the huge man, but Demmin is saved by a group of D’Haran guards and whisked out of the tent before Kahlan can Confess him. She retrieves the ancient scroll and our heroes flee the exploding camp.
We return to a very happy Richard who is back to seeing his own face staring back at him in the pond water and Zedd tells him that the spell must’ve broken once they went past the point of the sorceress’s prophecy. Kahlan approaches Gryff and she mentions how annoyed she was to have finally said her secret to the wrong person. Gryff tells her to just do it for Richard and that it’ll be alright. UGH – so Kahlan heard this same advice from Renn because Renn knew that Richard has true feelings for her and that he’d reciprocate her love. Gryff thinks that Richard doesn’t love her and told her to tell him because he thinks Richard won’t care. *Forehead smack* to quote WFR Zedd, “Nothing is ever easy.”
Richard talks to Gryff who thanks him for showing him that being a Seeker is more than just using the sword and swooning over fair maidens (rolls eyes – dude NO BODY wants Richard’s job you dumbass!) He gives Richard his Seeker history book and runs off to be with his fiancee. Richard goes to Kahlan who sheepishly says that she heard that Richard got married. He grins “Yes, it was a lovely ceremony.” To which she gives the odd ball reply that was filled with heartache, “I’m glad.”
Our trio are bummed that they didn’t get to turn Demmin Nas into Kahlan’s love slave but our crafty Confessor still managed to save the day and brings out the parchment to Richard to read. Richard tells them that it’s a ledger that was written on the day that the volcano erupted stating that the people of Kahlabra died protecting their greatest treasure…the last remaining Boxes of Orden. *Enter fangirl squeeling*yes I hypothesized back in my LISTENER review that this was likely coming, but still it was fabulous to hear it finally come out on the show. Richard is startled by the shocked expressions on both Zedd and Kahlan’s faces. Zedd explains that there are 3 boxes of Orden and that each contain unimaginably powerful magic. That it is said that whoever possesses all 3 boxes will be able to rule the world. As he’s speaking we cut to Demmin Nass smashing the vase and extracting an intricately decorated golden box.
Morcant’s informant tells Nas that the Seeker and his companions escaped. Nass doesn’t care he’s got his prize to take to Rahl. If you need a comparison on why this is all very bad news there’s a very ominous tone to this whole scene that reminds me a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark w/ the Nazis hell bent on delivering the Ark to Hitler. The Boxes of Orden are The Sword or Truth book’s Ark of the Covenant or their Ring of Power if you will, they have that level of magical power to the story.
Richard, Zedd, and Kahlan are back trudging through the woods planning their next step when the old woman comes upon them and congratulates Richard on being alive. Zedd threatens the woman to reveal her true form and she morphs into Shota. Zedd and she apparently have history and not the good kind, Zedd looks like he’s ready to fry her on the spot. Shota ignores the bristling wizard and is still very sorry for Richard for he has hard times ahead of him. Richard is furious with her rambling, he survived her stupid prophecy. Shota spats that his dying was only a vision prophecies that are written in the Halls of Prophecies are unstoppable. What she saw on them is that someone who the Seeker cares about the most will betray him. She says it’s the one in white and points to Kahlan. Kahlan refuses to believe and there ends the episode.
This episode rocked so hard it wasn’t even funny – it left me freaking cheering at the brilliant way that the writers are reimagining the books and are managing to put new spins on the material that book fans already know. They’ve done the impossible and left fans like myself completely in the dark as to how they’re going to actually accomplish getting to the climactic end of WIZARD’S FIRST RULE.
If anything IDENTITY showed that the writers on LEGEND know what they are doing and that for book purists who have had any doubts that the main core elements of WIZARD’S FIRST RULE won’t be addressed in the series – this episode allayed those worries. The writers are incredibly clever with how they’re mapping out this season and continually tying the episodes to the books without faithfully following them. Up until now nobody knew why Richard/Kahlan couldn’t be together – and they gave us a convenient way for Kahlan to out her secret without saying it to Richard. Not only did we get to see in her delivery of the doomed message to Gryff that her reason sucks, but that she’s in agony over it, implying that her feelings for Richard are much deeper than Zedd even suspects them to be. Now the viewers are in on the secret which will only make it utter agony to watch our ill fated young lovers get closer with Kahlan still hiding her secret from Richard.
Richard got to be portrayed as he always is in the books which is 100% mission bound. There was so much to love about him – he was decisive, distrusting of magic and strangers – Richard was 100% spot on in his characterization. The boy is becoming a man. The mate swapping is a story element that is pulled from TEMPLE OF THE WINDS…as a note from this reviewer can we HOPE that they never go there on the show and let this silly romp take its place? U-G-H!
Renato Bartolomei did a fantastic job as Demmin Nas. Although they ripped out the storyline of him being a child molester (which REALLY was unnecessary even in the books) Renato did a great job of playing cold, commanding, and scarily in control. In a lot of ways I think he’s scarier than Rahl. Since he escaped, I guarantee that we’ll be seeing him again and that he and Richard have unfinished business to take care of.
Best of all was the introduction of the Boxes of Orden. I’ve speculated in The Confessor and Seeker Society forums that the Boxes would end up being the driving force for the last ½ of the season. Couple that with the Richard/Kahlan angst getting WAY cranked up – we’ve only got great things ahead of us on the show. Speaking of which – we won’t get a new episode until January 10th which is titled DENNA. For any book newbies be prepared for what should be the darkest episode of the season. Guys will be thrilled (and some fangirls.) This fangirl will be sharpening her knife and wishing for a painful death to be delivered swiftly onto Denna who will likely be one the most memorable and life altering characters to cross paths with poor, poor Richard. By the times things are almost over, he might wish that Shota had just let him get killed.
By Erika Blake
In this week’s episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, longtime fans of the show got to be annoyed by being greeted with a clip show. For anyone who has just gotten into the series, congrats, you got a crash course in all of the main events that led up to this past weekend’s episode. I hate clip shows, they’re irritating, but I got why they felt this episode was necessary and we’ll get to that point later. For now, we’re going to simply ignore the clips and proceed in talking about the rest of the episode.
The episode opens with Richard groggily waking up and finding himself face to face with his brother Michael. The last time they met, Michael was ready to turn Richard over to the D’Haran soldiers and believed that he’d murdered their father, George Cypher. Needless to say, it wasn’t a happy family reunion. Richard started screaming at him like a madman leaving Michael confused explaining that Richard had been knocked out for 3 days after falling off of a cliff and bonking his head. If Richard felt frazzled at that point, his poor noggin nearly exploded when his father walks in and is relieved to see his youngest son up and about.
Richard seems to be in the right frame of mind, he’s unconvinced that things are as they should be. Except instead of realizing that magic must be afoot and running amok and believing that this weird reality must be an illusion of some sort, Richard thinks Darken Rahl has turned back time to before Kahlan made it through the Boundary. His brother and father seem very concerned and confused as their youngest family member rambles on about Confessors, evil D’Harans, and Wizards. Realizing that he needs to see a friendly face that should help to make sense of things, Richard sticks his huge feet into his boots and races off into the Hartland woods searching for Zedd. When he comes upon him Zedd is doing his Gonzo impression and chatting up his favorite chicken Clara and recognizes Richard when he storms into his shack, but swears that he is no Wizard and has no idea what a Seeker is.
Richard begins to feel like that he’s losing his mind and his father, who along w/ Michael had followed him to Zedd’s tries to calm him down by reminding him that he is not dead but very much alive. For a brief moment, Richard is happy until he realizes that if everything that he thought was real was just a dream, then Kahlan must not be real. We then cut to him repeating these words aloud and Kahlan is sitting over his body shouting at Richard’s prone body that she is very much alive and at his side.
Zedd wakes up and realizes that another Wizard of the First Order had cast the very rare and difficult Spell of the Lying Moon upon his grandson and in this spell – the person affected will believe that he is surrounded by friends but will actually be surrounded by enemies. Kahlan who’s sick with worry asks who would be able to do such a thing and Zedd tells her that Rahl has a wizard in his employ who could cast it. She pleads with him to try to reverse it. Zedd looks up into the sky, there are 3 stars appearing in front of the moon, if they all vanish out of sight, he will be lost to them forever.
Meanwhile back in Hartland, Michael, George, and Zedd keep prodding Richard to tell them more of his adventures and stories. Richard continues but eventually becomes uncomfortable after recalling killing Fane. He explained how he had never felt so angry and full of rage before, he was “The Bringer of Death.” This actually made me go “wow” when I watched the episode, they had Richard explain aloud what the sword does to the Seeker when he wields it in battle, something that hasn’t completely translated over from the books. Also in the books, Richard loathes that he kills people with the sword and creates a knickname for himself which is “the Bringer of Death.” So the internal narrative at this point in the episode is a nice connection to the books and shows us that a change has occurred with Richard and that he’s not wide eyed and innocent any longer, but is getting wiser and harder.
Zedd asks him if he had run across any other magical objects other than the Book of Counted Shadows and Richard talked about Renn…and what Renn told him about Kahlan’s feelings for him. As his mind wanders back to Kahlan he stiffly announces that he doesn’t want to talk anymore and darts out of the cabin. Zedd gets a frustrated look on his face and he morphs into Darken Rahl. Rahl begins grumbling that the spell isn’t working, that the stupid Seeker is completely obsessed with his Confessor and won’t give up the location of the Third Box of Orden. At his side, his Wizard, Gillar tells him that he needs to trust the spell and give it time.
Zedd follows Richard into the woods and tries to get him to open up some more, but Richard isn’t in the mood to talk. Back at his palace, Rahl switches tactics and morphs into a young woman who Richard grew up with. Apparently growing up he and the girl Anna were inseparable. Richard is now getting a headache – this is all too weird, the girl had moved away years ago and has suddenly returned out of the blue. As he is stunned at seeing her and speaks her name, Kahlan gets all annoyed, “Who’s Anna?” Zedd is frantically trying to break the spell but the second star is on it’s way behind the moon and time is running out.
Rahl as the young woman gets Richard to open up more, he talks about his time with Denna and his eventual escape from her clutches with Kahlan’s help. In his musings he reveals that he wasn’t entirely sure what happened but that somehow he just managed to break free of her hold on him. He realizes that he must still have the scar from his time with her and checks his stomach only to find it scar free.
Time is running out for the spell and Rahl is getting angry. Gillar warns him that he has to be patient, Richard is the Seeker of Truth, if he suspects that he’s under an illusion he’ll be able to break the spell. Rahl jumps back in and Richard talks about his getting married to Bronwyn and from there he talks about the Box of Orden. At this point Zedd and Kahlan are on pins and needles – the true purpose of Rahl putting Richard under the curse is now fully aware to them. Kahlan begs Richard not to reveal where the box is located. Feeling frustrated, alone, and easily manipulated by his former love who passionately kissed him and professed her undying love for him (this is all of the more disturbing considering that we know that it’s Darken Rahl who’s pulling the strings here…dude we know Richard is hot, but that’s just WRONG ewwwwww!) Richard gets cornered into revealing that on their way to get the last box to a safe hiding place, they were ambushed by D’Haran soldiers and Richard was forced to bury the box. The girl not so slyly begins prodding him on what kind of tree he buried it under and where.
Kahlan is now frantic and Zedd has lost hope that Richard will be able to break free before he reveals the secret location of the box. Not willing to give up, Kahlan begins pleading to him to come back to her, and reveals that when she told him back before Denna captured him that she felt nothing for him that it was a big lie, that she loves him with all of her heart. In Hartland Rahl/Anna are saying the same words to him, making it impossible for Kahlan’s voice to break through. Suddenly, Richard feels a strange drop of water land in his palm…it’s one of Kahlan’s tears. A mystified look comes over his face as he suddenly starts looking around like perhaps something isn’t quite right. As he’s about to reveal the exact kind of tree that it the box is buried under Anna slips and guesses the correct tree. Richard concentrates on her and the girl’s face morphs into Rahl’s. Richard screams himself out of the spell – stares at a delighted Kahlan for a moment and then bursts to his feet and screams that they have to get the box. With a wide, proud grin Zedd shouts, “That’s my boy!” Meanwhile Rahl is thrown across the room and screams in frustration as the spell breaks.
Our trio recover the box before the D’Harans can get to it and are last seen on the road. Kahlan asks Richard what brought him out of it and looking very uncomfortable, he reveals that he felt her love for him and knew that it was the most real thing in the world. She offers him a hopeful smile but instead of wanting to further talk about it, he flashes her a pained look and races ahead to join Zedd.
This episode offered us the opportunity to see what the show would be like if they followed the path of the books for a narrative. In the books, the characters spend A LOT of time TALKING to each other and talking about things that happened in the past. The result makes for a wonderful narrative journey on paper, but translates to a not too terribly exciting hour of television watching. Had the episode not done clips but had new footage of the trio hiding from D’Haran’s it might’ve been more engaging, but as a result it relatively left me unsatisfied. Clip shows serve a couple of purposes, they’re cheap to produce and they help to leave extra budget dollars for future episodes, judging by next week’s promo they went big time for FX, sets, and extras for REVENANT so I‘m suspecting that that was where the extra money went to. They also offer a great way for new viewers to get caught up on the main events that occurred in earlier episodes so that they’re not too lost.
There were a few interesting things about the clips however, we got to hear the events told from Richard’s point of view and throughout them all his consuming thoughts were always about Kahlan and the weird things that he encountered along the way. And even though in this episode we learned that Kahlan is deeply in love with Richard, he is as well; he’s just not ready to admit it aloud. He’s also not quite sure what to make of his feelings for her and why it would be that he would follow her love anywhere, even knowing that they never could be anything more than friends. Richard made the conscious choice to leave behind the possibility of a normal, magic free life, to continue his journey as the Seeker. Richard’s ‘Home’ is no longer Hartland, but with Kahlan. The pained look that he sends to Kahlan at the end of the episode shows that he’s in utter agony about this and instead of talking about their feelings any further he simply follows up on his promise that he made to her at the end of DENNA and continues to suffer in silence…as will we while they try to figure out the next step in their journey.
By Erika Blake
This is the first episode that I would flat out call filler for the season. The only thing that happened in MIRROR to move the story along was that it reunited Richard and Kahlan with Zedd. Beyond that the episode didn’t deal w/ our heroes quest to figure out how to take out Darken Rahl, in fact we rarely saw them in the episode at all, even though we did get to see plenty of Craig and Bridget.
That being said, this episode was hilarious and if you’re going to let your brain take a vacation from the usual Richard/Kahlan angst that we’ve been given over the recent months, at least this go around we got some wonderful eye candy along w/ lots of laugh out loud moments. The basic premise was that we have 2 thieves who through the use of a magical mirror are morphed into the exact visages of Richard and Kahlan. Instead of using their new looks for good, they use our heroes legendary status to their advantage and rip off townfolks of their hard earned trinkets.
The real Richard and Kahlan spend the episode learning that they have a pair of pesky twins on the loose and try to find them after they’ve managed to steal the sword of truth away from Richard. Poor Richard has to deal w/ being tricked into bathing w/ Kahlan’s frisky (and not the least bit shy) double as she lures him into a lake for a dip. Sorry no one can blame Richard for being confused particularly after being stunned and dumbfounded by the gloriousness of seeing Kahlan in her all-together. And thank you writers for giving us another view of my personal favorite non-credited character on the show…Richard’s washboard abs. We did however get to see the fallout w/ Richard feeling very betrayed that Kahlan would tease him in such a manner. This of course triggered them both into realizing that something was amok when Kahlan was magically 100% dry and Richard was drenched.
In case you ever wondered what it’s like being Richard, his double who in his true form is a large older gentleman is utterly terrified of what the real Seeker will do to him, knowing full well that The Seeker doesn’t get that amazing bod unless he’s working out like mad. In Richard’s case that involves walking for hours and oh you know slaying hundreds of trained D’Haran soldiers. Likewise Kahlan’s double moans constantly about being forced to wear Kahlan’s corset. Fake!Kahlan pimping Fake!Richard off to a D’Haran guard as a piece of manflesh was also particularly hilarious.
The real highlight of the episode was the return of Zedd who manages to stumble upon the imposters and immediately recognizes them as fakes. At the end of the episode he devises a plan to get his Richard and Kahlan back after they’ve been captured and are about to be delivered to Rahl for the bounty on his head. The thieving couple was actually quite fun to watch and were rather endearing in that they were 100% complete opposites to the people they were impersonating.
You have to give both Craig and Bridget a lot of credit they worked their hearts out in this ep so that never once were you confused over which pair they were portraying – even when they paired w/ an impersonator with one of the real pair. Both Craig and Bridget seemed to have had a lot of fun being able to get outside of just being Richard and Kahlan and it showed. Even though the ep was the what? 4th (or is it 5th?) time this season that we’ve had to deal w/ some sort of body swapping or mixed identity thing it was still fun to watch. Mostly due in part to the end scene w/ Bruce Spence that I won’t give away because it truly is comedic gold. If I had any real complaint about this ep beyond that it was ANOTHER identity swapping storyline, it would be that we didn’t get to see enough of Richard and Kahlan – but we do still have 4 eps for the season…I’m sure that we’ll get our fill of R/K angst before the season is over.
CURSED – Containing the Beast Within on LEGEND OF THE SEEKER
By Erika Blake
This week’s episode of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER was a very tightly written, non-mythology episode that ended with a big hint of what’s to come for the final 3 episodes of the season.
The dark episode begins on a light note, Richard and Kahlan are screaming and running through the woods and landing right in their campsite. Were they being chased by D’Haran soldiers? No, they were pursued by an angry swarm of bees seeking justice on Richard who dared to steal their honey. Our two ill-fated lovebirds then begin to squabble over who gets to eat the honey soaked piece of bread only to have it snatched away by the always hungry Zedd who immediately devoured it without the slightest concern on how they got it. Zedd then proceeds in informing Richard and Kahlan that they have a mission to assist a powerful ally to the Resistance whose realm borders on D’Hara.
When the trio reach King Gregor’s castle they find out that the king whose land had been overrun by D’Haran soldiers took drastic measures to get rid of them and made a pact with his neighbor the sorceress Shota and asks her to make him powerful enough to protect his land against invasion. Shota’s solution was to transform King Gregor each night into a Cathrope, a mythical creature feared by D’Haran children and people who ravages anyone who comes in its path. At nightfall the King transformed into a hideous beast and succeeded at chasing out the D’Haran soldiers after many were slaughtered. However, once the soldiers were gone, the King tried to get Shota to lift the curse so that he wouldn’t harm his own people and she refused. The cursed King began harming any of his own citizens who happened to come in his path, including, unfortunately his wife the Queen. King Gregor asked for Richard’s help because the only thing that can kill a Cathrope is the Sword of Truth.
Richard is of course uneasy with this request and his discomfort is only heightened when they meet Gregor’s daughter Corah who is filled with vengeful bloodlust against the creature that killed her mother. Zedd heads off to Shota’s to ask her to lift the curse. We discover that the Wizard and Sorceress have a rocky past and that he had left her many years ago after she had shown him a vision that if they were to have joined together they and their children could have ruled over everyone for many generations. When Zedd tried to plead Gregor’s case, Shota went to her vision water bowl and showed Zedd that without the fear of the Cathrope there to protect the land that the D’Harans would over run the kingdom and take it over. We learned in IDENTITY that Shota who also fears Darken Rahl so keeping the adjoining realm safe helps her as much as it does them.
Meanwhile back in the castle, Zedd has put some magic on the shackles that they used to lock up King Gregor at night in hopes of being able to contain the Cathrope. The King pleads w/ Richard to agree that if it comes down to it and if Zedd fails in his mission that he’ll chose his own life over the cursed man’s. Richard agrees. Night falls and the King transforms into the beast. The creature’s rage breaks through the rocks that held the magical chains in place; he knocked out Richard and headed for the forest. Unknown to the King and Richard Corah and Kahlan are out there trying to help the family of one of Corah’s ladies in waiting whose wagon needed a new horse hitched. The roar of the beast frightens everyone and it invades the camp. Wanting nothing more than to protect the Princess, Kahlan challenges the beast but is thrown aside. Corah tries fighting it and Richard arrives in time before it can harm her. When the beast even bests Richard and he loses his sword, Kahlan sees that the beast is about to slaughter the Seeker and she is overcome by the Con Dar, her blood rage. She attacks the beast and gives Richard just enough time to arm himself again. The creature throws off Kahlan and goes to attack Richard again and The Seeker slays the beast. Corah, unaware of Kahlan’s state goes to see if she’s ok and in her rage, Kahlan grabs the Princess’s throat and begins to squeeze. Richard races to her side and manages to get through to Kahlan and she releases her hold and comes out of the Con Dar.
This is the set up for the remainder of the episode where we get to see both Kahlan and Corah coming to terms with dark secrets. For Kahlan the beast inside of herself is one that she fears and has no idea how to control it. She’s so petrified by the Con Dar that she places a Rada‘Han on her neck to suppress her magic. Corah faces the fact that her father had been the horrible creature and tries to understand how both of her parents could be taken from her as quickly as she ascends the throne.
The episode was action packed and yet it managed to provide more character depth to Kahlan as she continues to struggle w/ her inner demons. Meanwhile Zedd and Shota reconnect at least on a professional level to do what they can to help Richard and Kahlan to keep the D’Harans out of Queen Corah’s realm. During the episode both Shota and Richard were the two characters who believed the most in the possibility of magic while those around them feared it. Richard as always acted as Kahlan’s conscience reminding her that she cannot fear those things that she has been given as gifts and that she just needs to be patient. Shota understood the burden that she placed on Gregor but also knew that the consequences of him not being cursed would’ve been most dire.
The cinematography in the episode was utterly breathtaking at times. The sequences that took place when the characters were out in the forest in mid-afternoon were particularly stunning w/ the light shimmering through the trees. And the golden beauty of Ageden Reach where Shota resided was stunning. Although you could tell that most of it was green screened, it gave a very surreal look to the scenes that gave it a great fantasy feel. The creature FX were convincing also with a nice blend of CGI meets giant guy in a creature suit.
Overall the story was tightly written with lots of twists and turns in it and left me guessing until the end, and as a standalone, non-mythology episode, it’s probably one of my favorites because it was dark and sophisticated with its storytelling. The secondary characters were also likeable and memorable. Other than Shota channeling her inner Galadriel when she showed visions of the future to Zedd, there were very few other genre references in the episode. The series finally has come into its own without having to rely on overused story and plot devices to tell an episode. It was fabulous to see Shota again who is turning into a rather sympathetic character – a scorned woman who’s methods might be questionable but the things that she does, she does for the good of the world. Also, I can’t help but finding myself rooting a bit for her and Zedd to pair up, they have great chemistry on screen together. Bruce Spence provided just the right touch of sorrow to his performance when he explained to Shota why he left her long ago, his delivery was tinted w/ unfulfilled longing.
At the end of the episode Kahlan finally decided to trust that in time she could teach herself to control the Con Dar. Zedd comes to them with a new vision from Shota, that there is a copy of The Book of Counted Shadows and that soon Darken Rahl will know of its existence. Will our trio get to it before he does? For that answer, you’ll have to wait and watch this weekend’s all new episode SANCTUARY.
By Erika Blake
For anyone who missed season 1 of LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, ABC has rebooted the entire season and you can rewatch all 22 episodes in reruns without interruption for the next 22 weeks. Currently they’re on episode 3, so if you if you missed the 2 hour premiere you can catch it on LEGENDOFTHESEEKER.com, hulu.com, or buy them on iTunes.
LEGEND was Rob Tappert and Sam Raimi’s return to Fantasy television. Instead of harking back to their cheeky XENA and HERCULES days, they bought the rights to TERRY GOODKINDS 11 book fantasy series and brought the characters to life in a weekly serialized format for syndication. Terry’s books are often times violent, shocking, and sexy which made for a challenge for bringing the series to regular TV and not cable. When the season started I was worried that we weren’t going to get a lot of continuity over the course of the season due to the “stand alone” episode format that’s required for syndicated programming, happily I found myself pleasantly surprised. Not only did each episode contain its own story but usually the end of each episode was left somewhat open ended and gave us all hints of what was coming for the following week and then the next episode usually picked up right where the previous one left off. Another great plus was that rarely during the season did we have to worry about our characters having to discuss past events as a means of catching anyone up if they’d happened to miss episodes, overall the writers assumed the audience could remember what happened in the prior weeks and didn’t dwell too much on relying on flashbacks. Other than one clip episode (HOME) any flashbacks were brief. In fact the season had fewer stand alone episodes than I would have expected which gave the overall season a nice sense of continuity and flow.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve read some of the books, but I’m not a fanatic for them. The one thing I always remembered from the books was how much I loved Richard and Kahlan as characters and IMO the writers and the producers did a wonderful job at maintaining the core elements that make them such great literary characters. Even though there might’ve been a few questionable creative decisions on how the characters were presented on the show, overall I felt like the Richard and Kahlan that I loved from the books lived on my television. Craig Horner & Bridget Regan were great choices for the power couple who are the heart of the book series. Casting relative unknowns meant that the whole world could be introduced to these 2 talented young actors for the first time and allowed them to develop and craft the characters on their own terms.
Out of the two actors, Craig Horner grew the most over the course of the season. In the beginning of the season Craig spent a huge portion of each episode seemingly over-sighing and employed a lot of breathy acting that people often think of as soap opera-ish. When DENNA finally aired and Richard got the snot beat out of him by the Mord Sith Denna, two things happened, not only did Richard grow up from a boy and into a man, but Craig ceased his over-breathing thing. There are a couple of possibilities on why this could’ve happened. Either he intentionally did that in the beginning of the season to showcase Richard as being wide-eyed, young, and innocent and then dropped it to show Richard as being more mature; or experienced XENA/HERCULES actor/director Michael Hurst who directed the pivotal episode pointed it out to Craig, he listened, and then stopped relying on that particular acting technique. Regardless of which was the case – once DENNA was over not only had Richard changed as a character but Craig’s performance became stronger and stronger. In “Wizard’s First Rule” I always had a problem with how Mr. Goodkind “grew up” Richard at the end of it. For 400-500 pages or so we have Richard being love-sick over Kahlan and then spent months getting tortured by Denna and within the last 150 pages of the book. He went from being a crying, love-sick puppy to being super tortured wimp, to super stud without any real transition period in between. The writers on the show must’ve felt the same way that I did because instead of having Richard be love-sick throughout the entire season and then WHAM have this huge transformation at the end of the season, they placed his Mord Sith capture at the 8th episode mark which in return gave them tons of time and room to grow him up and allow him to mature in a more natural way.
Bridget Regan who did some Broadway work and guest shots on shows like LAW AND ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT came in as a much more polished actor and needed fewer pushes to get her into her character. Bridget herself admitted in several interviews that it was weird for her to step into a fantasy show since she knew nothing of the genre when she took the job. After the first 4 episodes or so she finally seemed to get what she was doing and brought emotional depth to her butt-kicking, D’Haran throat slashing, warrior-woman role. One of the greatest things about Richard and Kahlan in the book series is that they feel like real people. They routinely screw up and make messes out of their lives. They keep things bottled up inside when they shouldn’t and they keep secrets from the people who they love. In short, they’re flawed just like you or me. Kahlan was crafted on the show to really mirror her emotional journey in the first book. There were changes that were made. In the beginning of the book she was the last known Confessor and held the burden of being the Mother Confessor from the outset. She was very withdrawn and emotionally fragile a lot of the time. The show mixed things up and a handful of Confessors still existed. As they got wiped out throughout the season we got to see what an emotional toll this took on Kahlan as she rose up in the ranks and eventually was named The Mother Confessor. We also got to see why she was the best choice for head Confessor, that her values in goodness were untarnishable. Kahlan overall was harder and more determined in the series and yet there is an intense vulnerability that is always present that she usually only shows to Richard. In the book Kahlan keeps what she is from Richard for a VERY long time and her keeping the secret from him had pretty much the same results as it did on the show with them having this wedge between them that kept the angst flowing throughout the entire season.
To add to the stress of her journey with Richard, the writers explored her ability to bring forth her “Blood Rage” aka The Con Dar. The Con Dar is another shocking element that comes out of nowhere in the book but that I felt was treated nicely on the show. They used it twice during the season, we were introduced to it in Episode 15 CONVERSION and then re-introduced to it in ep 19 CURSED. The Con Dar truly frightens Kahlan and her not knowing how to control of evoke it is something that was left up in the air to be further explored in season 2. Over the course of the season we also saw Kahlan growing into her power. In PROPHECY using her ability to Confess a person completely physically drained her, by the end of the season instead of collapsing, she was only mildly sweating from the exertion. Adding the Con Dar into the mix gave Kahlan’s powers room to grow and expand as she grew to control her regular power.
The show wouldn’t have survived without the wonderful supporting cast of characters who surrounded our two leads. Experienced Sci-Fi actor Bruce Spence (The Matrix, Mad Max, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith) was brought on as a new kind of Wizard. Instead of being the monkish wise old man, Zedd is a horny old guy who’s always hungry and fast to find humor in any situation. For all that he was often used as the comic relief, the writers were always certain to make sure that Zedd was never THE joke of the story. Zedd got to shine in episode 9 PUPPETEER where he got to be the master manipulator in Queen Minela’s castle and steal her Box of Orden. The episode was very well written and Zedd was shown as being a mighty opponent for Darken Rahl who matched and outsmarted the evil ruler intellectually. Zedd is also the anchor in the emotionally fraught whirlwind of the Richard/Kahlan doomed love relationship. He’s the steady ear to listen to each of his young charges worry and offer them sound advice and warnings. Zedd’s wonderfully warm and caring and yet isn’t afraid to bellow out his opinions if he believes that he’s not being listened properly to. Zedd’s love for his grandson Richard and the young Confessor is evident and Bruce does a great job of showing how much both of the young people mean to the old wizard.
Speaking of Darken Rahl, we met the show’s villain, (played by “Lord of the Rings” actor Craig Parker) in the first 2 episodes and then had a 7 episode drought without him. In the beginning he seemed to be a mustache twirling, typical 2 dimensional villain, yet when Craig Parker became available for more episodes the writers did such a wonderful job of taking this character and breathing depth into him. He was fiercely intelligent, such as in PUPPETEER when Richard and Kahlan tried tricking him into riding into an ambush, yet he sent a decoy instead. The writers also wrote him to be evil not because he sat around thinking of nefarious plots to take over the world, but because he truly believed that he wanted to help people and somehow didn’t realize that burning down villages, wanting the power of Confession so that you could MAKE people love you, and sending plagues out to them were NOT acts that usually make great, kind leaders. Rahl at his heart was also cowardly and fearful which is something that you don’t see very often in villains which made it a nice change.
Another character who got a bit of a makeover on the series was the witch Shota played by Xena actress Danielle Cormack. In Wizard’s First Rule she’s rather a cackling crazy witch woman, instead the writers made her a bit ambiguous and yet kept her a bit power hungry and selfish, and yet she was loyal to Richard’s cause. We found out in CURSED that she and Zedd had a torrid past which explained their crackling standoff at the end of IDENTITY. Something tells me that she’ll be back in a bigger role next season. In all sorts of the behind the scenes features and interviews that came out of New Zealand we saw glimpses of the crew working on creating Mud People, but they never materialized on the show. I have several theories on why they were omitted. First off – in the books, Richard and Kahlan spend a lot of time hiding with the Mud People and even though we get lots of character growth that goes on when they’re there – not a lot of ACTION goes on (excluding a certain Spirit House scene – but that’s not the kind of action that I’m talking about.) I believe the writers felt that Mud People would slow down the story and make for boring TV. Also the Mud People don’t speak the same language as everyone else and Kahlan would have to spend her entire time translating them to Richard – that would waste precious episode time. Finally they’d require having a whole set built for them, a set that likely couldn’t be retrofitted to use for other purposes. So they were replaced by ‘the Resistance’ who gave Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd shelter from the D’Harans. In the end, I believe that they’ll use Shota to be the real mystic on the show.
There were some truly spectacular episodes this season and some fabulous flops. On the plus side the stand outs for me were BRENNIDON, ELIXIR, DENNA, PUPPETEER, SACRIFICE, HARTLAND, CONVERSION, BLOODLINE, DECEPTION, CURSED, and FEVER. The ones that least impressed me were BOUNTY, LISTENER, IDENTITY, CONFESSION, HOME, and SANCTUARY. If there is one thing that I have to say about LEGEND, it’s a nice pace from watching SUPERNATURAL where all of the little girls are evil nasty things; on LEGEND the girls are the ones with the brains whereas the boys are brats and evil.
I have mixed feelings about the season finale RECKONING. Something kept gnawing at me wondering why I didn’t feel as jubilant over it until I realized what it was that bugged me. The end of the book is spectacular because Richard completely outsmarts Darken Rahl and employs WIZARD’S FIRST RULE on him ‘people will believe a lie because they fear it either is true or it might be true’ (paraphrased) – in the book he tricks Darken Rahl into opening the wrong Box of Orden. Rahl already had figured out that it was the wrong box to open but he believed a big deception/trap that Richard had set for him and opened it anyway and won himself a one way trip to the Underworld. We still got that same result of Darken Rahl getting zapped and sent to his death, but the how that it happened irritated me. I don’t mind the whole time travel thing, that I felt was strong in the episode. My problem was that that writers told us from the very beginning what it was that Richard needed to do to get back to his right time. The episode would’ve been thousands of time stronger, more powerful, and shocking had we just heard Shota say “there is a way to get him back to his own time” and instead us hearing it – they cut to Kahlan agreeing to marry Darken Rahl and her suffering through raising her little boy in silence and our never knowing why in the hell she agreed to the marriage in the first place. How much stronger would the episode have been had Richard found a half crazed Shota at the palace who couldn’t remember squat on what he needed to do, his leaning over Kahlan’s sarcophagus and figuring it all out on his own? For me, this would have shown that their love was stronger than time itself and would’ve been a spectacular finale. As it was, by telling us what needed to be done and knowing the formula of the show, we already knew the outcome which took a lot of the surprise out of it.
So unfortunately, I also have to put RECKONING into the missed category because the writers themselves missed a great opportunity to culminate everything that they had worked to build up over the course of the season. The episode still wasn’t bad though and certainly left things wide open for them to take the series in new directions for next year. Overall I enjoyed the season, it was dark enough and adult enough that I didn’t feel like my intelligence was being questioned when watching it. The writers pushed the limitations on what is acceptable for standard TV. They kept in Richard’s torture by Denna, Kahlan in a lot of ways is a more vicious killer than Richard, and there were a couple of episodes that were so steamy and sexy they make daytime soap operas look tame. Yet at the same time LEGEND’s approachable for kids. Bringing Jennsen in early was a great way to give their young viewers a character who they could relate to.
Ken Billar hinted that they’d be taking stuff from the second and third books for pathing out next season. There are still unanswered questions that were resolved at the end of WIZARD’S FIRST RULE that they completely skipped over in season 1 – one being the whole Richard/Kahlan “a Confessor’s power would blast his soul into oblivion” aka “Kahlan will orgasm Richard’s soul into the Underworld” thing and the second being Richard’s parentage. Both of these things were likely, intentionally held off as big plot points to explore next season. Since season 2 won’t start until October 31st there’s plenty of time to read both STONE OF TEARS and BLOOD OF THE FOLD if you want to spoil yourself silly. And if you haven’t checked out season 1 and you’re bored with little new TV this summer, go catch up on LEGEND, the series is fun. The writers pay homage to Terry’s work and yet they have crafted the show into its own entity. The scenery is breathtaking, the FX are on the level of anything that you see on any STARGATE series, and it’s highly refreshing to watch a show that’s different from anything else that’s offered today in TV. LEGEND is a story riddled with magic, but at its heart, it’s a sweeping epic love story, and a journey about self discovery. Get lost with LEGEND and take a vacation from the ordinary.
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