Five Torches (Out of Five)
Warning: The following review contains spoilers for the “Tears” episode of Legend of the Seeker.
I can’t remember the quote exactly, but at one point during The Lord of the Rings, when hope seems lost and a victory in battle seems all but impossible, stoic King Theoden says something like, “If this truly is the end, let it be such an end.”
That pretty much sums up the season — and yes, probably series — finale of Legend of the Seeker.
That the show will probably not return for a third season is a tragedy, but after having viewed the season finale, shot before the powers that be had knowledge of this fact, I can gladly say that the episode “Tears” serves as a fitting and extremely satisfying series finale.
In a way, the episode serves as a microcosm of the entire series: they proudly display the incredible combat choreography that sets the show miles above most other action shows on television, a great deal of magic is used that never feels like a plot cheat, and while “Tears” incorporates a sizable handful of secondary and tertiary recurring characters, it never skimps on character moments for our four heroic leads, namely Zedd, Cara, Richard, and Kahlan.
Speaking purely as a fan and not a critic, one thing I’ve always appreciated about Legend of the Seeker is that while an abundance of magic is used as plot fodder, the writers always define exactly what the magical properties are, and exactly what a person, spell, or object can and cannot do. Therefore, with the crazy magical battles that occur in “Tears,” everything follows logic and no rules are broken.
Everything that happened with Nicci confessing Kahlan worked because of the rules they so carefully set up. That Zedd’s magic is useless against Mord-Sith is well established, and so the Mord-Sith were a true threat. The episode-opening spell on Dahlia worked given what we learned last week, and the Richard-saving Breath of Life that capped everything off resonated not only for its emotional payoff but because it made sense.
It’s easy to cheat as a writer when you’re working with magic, but the writers of Seeker never did, and I applaud them for it.
The plot of “Tears” is so complex I won’t even try to recap it for you, but suffice it to say that while betrayals and fireballs are flying fast and furious, the core of the show — our four heroes — keep the pace moving, even when Kahlan is under Nicci’s thrall. (And might I say, that was one of the several shocking moments of the episode. Who would have thought Kahlan, the Confessor, could ever be confessed?)
While we begin in the alternate reality that dominated the previous episode, much of the story takes place in the real world, as is befitting a series conclusion, and getting back the good Cara we’ve come to love was a moment of pure joy. Much of Seeker’s underlying arc is the love story of Richard and Kahlan, and for those shippers out there, this was the episode to put all your desires to rest.
I won’t lie — I was terrified the show would end on a cliffhanger, with a confessed Kahlan having killed Richard and the Keeper in possession of the Stone of Tears. Fortunately, such was not the case.
But I’ll tell you what I really loved. I loved that, in spite of the twist-heavy plot that had built by show’s end, they let the camera linger on Kahlan weeping over Richard’s dead body.
That was a moment that needed weight, and that’s what they gave us. With bodies littering the ground and a demonic adversary holding the key to their salvation, it’s Richard’s death and that alone that Kahlan can focus on. Because the writers had the confidence in their story to stay in that moment, we felt that sorrow with Kahlan.
In a way, they couldn’t have made a better series finale if they tried. It would seem somehow dishonest if the episode implied they would never have to face an enemy again, and the tiny scene with Darken Rahl resurrecting Nicci hinted at problems to come.
But that wasn’t the conclusion of the episode. The true ending was the revelation that the love shared between Kahlan and Richard was stronger than any dark magic they might ever face, and we end the show the way all good stories should end.
With a kiss.