Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Season One, Episode Seven

Dear Fangs readers, I continue to watch, recap and review this disappointing series so that you don't have to watch it. You're welcome, and yes, I'm BITTER.  It's week seven and Grendel is still missing. I think it's time we put out an amber alert for him, what say you all?  Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands decided to give us an an action packed week with a little bit of intrigue and unsurprisingly failed on both fronts.

Having not been warned by Abrecan, Herot is completely unprepared when the Wulflings attack. The Wulflings come roaring into Herot with a massive dog like creature which tears its way through the people. The Wulflings make off with Kela and some gold which includes King Hrothgar's golden death mask(yeah, it's as creepy as it sounds),  losing one of their own in the process.  This is absolutely a disaster because in order to remain Jarl, Rheda needs the vote of Thane Gorrik to keep her majority vote. Having Kela spend most of her time as a damsel in distress is the least interesting thing they could do with this calculating character. I did however love watching Elvina cringe when Kela questioned why it is that Beowulf is allowed to walk around freely though he struck Slean and if their fight was about her. The only time we see her act with any real agency is when she sneaks out of Elvina's hut to hang out with Brinni, who she has clearly developed an eye for, only to be captured. The lesson in this is that bad things happen if you step out of your lane.

We did get to see some intelligence from Varr, a character who is the only one thus far who has managed to hold my interest.  Varr gives away his swords to Beowulf, claiming that mental acuity is preferable to a weapon or physical strength.  There's so much about Varr that we don't know but it's not surprising given that Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands doesn't seem to believe in character building beyond telling us that he learned a lot from the Varney. This episode we saw an unarmed Varr take on an armed Draven with his bare hands (okay, not his smartest move) and win, as well as trick Draven into admitting he understood the common tongue when they were trying to interrogate him.  This btw is the last bit of sensibility that we saw for this entire episode.

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands has made a point of showing that Slean cares very deeply for Elvina, yet he had no problem putting her life at risk by suggesting that the signal fire not be lit.  I guess the possibility of Thane is better than love.  We had two instances of characters actually speaking in earshot of people that lead to disaster.  Elvina and Varr (I suppose two moments of stupidity are allowed) discussed the love triangle between her, Beowulf and Slean, in Kela's earshot. Then we had Beowulf and Rheda discuss the fact that Kela is Thane Gorrik's daughter and the necessity of her marriage to Slean in front of the captured Draven.  Why in the name of heaven would they discuss the importance of Kela within Draven's earshot? Look, I know that the writers wanted to set it up so that at the prisoner exchange Draven had a reason to steal Kela and run away with Jogan but there had to be another way. It's this kind of clumsy writing that makes Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands painful to watch.

Abrican has now absolutely confirmed Slean's loyalties though it's clear that he is bidding his time until he can stab Slean in the back.  Slean should have asked him why his uncle would trust a man who betrays his own mother.  At any rate, Abrican further proved that he has no problem dispatching people and we saw this when he had Vlade poisoned, so he would have someone to blame for the missing salt and a failure to light the signal fires. Beowulf looked suspicious which means that he will go into his investigator mode again which largely involves walking around in circles and making obvious observations.  Abrican's willingness to kill off Vlade should really concern Hane, given how vocally critical he has been of Arla.  Abrican is not a man who likes his motives and or his decisions questioned. Given that we now know that Arla is a former assassin, Vlade had better watch himself. Abrican also went as far as to make a deal with Draven when he arranged for Vlade to capture him.

When we first met Arla, I thought that we were going to get another strong female character, particularly after her slaughter of a Wulfling last week.  This week we learned that she was hired to kill Abrican but fell in love with him and became his queen instead. I get the whole heart wants what the heart wants but if men on this show can be ruthless, then why can't women, particularly if you are going to make one an assassin? I don't hold out as much hope for Arla now but it would be a real boon to this show if they could do something with her character.

Is it me, or has Abrican been plotting against his sister for a long time now?  Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands has established that Abrican is the antagonist this season, so isn't it about time he really make his move?  I don't understand why they are dragging this out. Could it be that if Abrecan is dealt with, they have no continued reason to keep Grendel out of the story?

Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands is beautifully filmed but that's about the only positive thing I can say about it.  This week, it proved that some of its cast is too stupid to lead anything. Vishka, who started off as a strong female character gets more disappointing each week and having her freeze up instead of simply throwing an axe had me rolling my eyes.  If that were not enough the writing is just plain and simple sloppy.  Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands seems to be at a stand still despite all of the action we saw this week. Finally, I know that this airs early in the UK but can we have a little blood if we are going to have all of this death and battle please?  I wonder if this plot is ever going to go somewhere?