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By Erika Blake
Episode Rating: 3.5/5
“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.