Four and a half Torches (Out of Five)
Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the Extinction episode of Legend of the Seeker.
It’s a strange thing to review Legend of the Seeker now, a show that I’ve grown to love over the past two years, given what we all learned last week. Even if they aired one of their great comedy episodes, there would be an overlying sense of sorrow, as we know that each minute that ticks by is one less that we’ll have to spend with our heroes.
But the latest episode, “Extinction,” wasn’t a comedy episode. Rather, it was an ep with an exceeding amount of action and adventure, as well as some fantastic character moments, particularly for Darken Rahl and Cara.
Oh, what a fantastic villain is Craig Parker’s Darken Rahl. He was, of course, the big bad of Season One, and in this season has mostly been relegated to featured cameos. But as events hurtle towards the finale and the discovery of the Stone of Tears, Darken Rahl has been restored to life (in a different body … that looks exactly the same) and we’re all the better for it.
Last week, we learned that the Night Wisps, Kahlan’s Tinkerbell-esque buddies, are needed to decipher the instructions for how to use the Stone of Tears. But Darken Rahl also knows this, and sends his D’haran officers to burn down their forest home. This leads to a fantastic fight scene showcasing the rarely seen, utterly brutal side of Kahlan. We’ve seen her kick all sorts of ass over the series, but watching her rip the D’harans apart was something else.
Darken Rahl has saved one Wisp, however, which he uses as a bargaining tool — he wants to join their band and be the one to save the world. And here is one more example of the quality writing on Seeker: their main villain is coercing himself into their company … so he can save the world. But he is only doing that, we learn, to secure his place in Heaven.
Celestial aspirations aside, this is a great twist on the old mustache-twirling villain who always acts in his own best interest, because the side effect is to everyone’s benefit. So do we want him to fail? Kinda. It’s complicated.
But the big example of the quality writing occurs late in the episode in a quiet moment between Darken and Richard, when it seems that Darken is once again at death’s door. He tells Richard that before Richard killed him, he killed himself years earlier, and made a deal with the Keeper: if he was allowed to live again, he would kill at least one person each day.
Darken Rahl was the world’s first Baneling.
That’s great writing, because not only does it bridge the first season with the second, it also makes you want to rewatch Season One armed with this knowledge. Bravo, Seeker writers.
The other great moment is also a quiet one between Cara and the one surviving Wisp, who gets her to admit that she loves Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd. Cara’s been such a great character this season, and when I think about how she started the season off, this moment had such emotional payoff. So much so that you can overlook the fact that it was really just Tabrett Bethell talking to her hand for three minutes.
I’m going to miss this show so much when it’s over. It’s the only true high fantasy show that I’m aware of on television right now, and its loss will leave a gaping hole. I know there’s a fan campaign that’s attempting to reverse this decision, and while I obviously hope it’s successful, the outlook is grim.
But on the bright side, we still have a small handful of new episodes left, and I, for one, am going to revel in them.
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