Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands, Season One, Episode 5

I've given this show five episodes and to say that thus far it has been extremely underwhelming is to be kind.  From the moment Breca suggests that nothing else could possibly go wrong, we know that it will and that somehow, and that it will be Beowulf who pulls it all out of the fire. The trouble begins when the foursome are attacked by a giant  sandwyrm, who eats the dowry of weapons for Slean's bride. This means that somehow, Beowulf now has to negotiate a trade for a bride without a dowry and keep the support of Thane Gorrik for Rheda. There's also the issue that Slean's intended bride Mara is in love with Rowan and determined not to be married off.  Sure why not through some star crossed lover nonsense into this already overly typical plot.

When they finally reach the Isle of Dunes, their welcoming is not great to say the least. Thane Gorrik, as desperate as he is for the alliance, is not the least bit impressed that Slean didn't show up to claim his bride and is suspicious when he doesn't immediately see the dowry. Beowulf plays politician and tries to pacify Thane Gorrik.  It all becomes mute however when Mara falls ill.  It seems that sickness has been raging through the Isle of Dunes.  Not to worry though because it's Elvina to the rescue. She's determined that if they can just get something from a sandwyrm, it might save everyone. Breca and Beowulf discuss the situation in the sick area believing Mara to be unconscious.  The moment they leave, Mara wastes no time informing Rowan that the dowry is missing.

Beowulf approaches Thane Gorrik about hunting a sandwyrm but Gorrik believes its too dangerous. Beowulf however is determined because he believes that this might buy him some goodwill for the lost dowry.  Naturally, Rowan informs Gorrik about the lost dowry and together they agree that Rowan shall join Breca and Beowulf to hunt the sandwyrm and that Beowulf and Breca will not return.  This is great for Rowan, because in return for his help with the plan, Gorrik agrees to allow Mara to marry him. Say aww everyone. Of course Rowan has to fail because we all know that Beowulf is not going to return to Herot as anything but the conquering hero.

In a quick showdown, the sandwyrm is defeated and Rowan is quick to take his leave believing that Beowulf and Brecca will never return to the Isle of Dunes because they don't know the safe path back to avoid sandwyrms.  Luckily for Breca and Beowulf, the sandwyrm they killed just happens to be the one who ate the weapons they were trying to deliver as a dowry.  Gee did anyone see that coming? They return to the Isle of Dunes, by simply walking back in Rowan's footsteps. Yeah, Rowan didn't really think his little plan through.

Medicine in hand, it's time to start treating Mara and the rest of the sick people.  What no one counted on was Mara's ambitious little sister Kela, who is happy to let her sister die so that she can take her place.  Mysteriously, Mara is the only one who doesn't get well, leaving Elvina mystified (for now at least) Well, it seems that Kela is just the bride that Slean needs.

In Herot, all is not peaceful.  Shorthanded, Slean has to intervene and work as a blacksmith.  It seems the blacksmith's shop is where he used to head in his younger years to escape the pressure of who he is. His work does not go unnoticed by Rheda.  We will have to see what results this brings.  Slean also tells his uncle man that he will not participate in whatever little plan Abrecan is working on.  It seems that Slean has determined that he will be his own man.

Nothing really happened in this episode.  It seems to exist to show us how ruthless Slean's new wife Kela will be and foreshadow a match that will surely bring trouble to Herot. The moment Kela started talking to Vishka about how magical she believes Herot to be and the fact that her father much prefers Mara to her, it's clear that Kela, at the very least understands the world she lives in.  She is the perfect match for Slean because like him, she feels passed over and under appreciated.  For his part, we know that Slean is not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Thus far, episode five is the most boring episode of this season.  It just seemed to meander along and was constantly obvious about the tale it was telling.  It was so boring, that it was hard to stay focused on it.  Even though I understand what is at stake with the alliance between the Isle of Dunes and Herot, and Slean working able as a blacksmith to avoid smelters taking off to sell to the Varni, I truly just didn't care in the least.

I want to know where the epic is on this show? Sure, I see the money spent in the form of a great set and the cinematography but there is nothing about Beowulf: Return to The Shieldlands that is even remotely compelling.  The writers don't seem to know how to build any anticipation into the plot, making it as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall.  There's still no sighting of Grendal and at times, it's hard to believe that I am actually watching a show about Beowulf.