Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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

It's episode six and there's still no sign of Grendel. At this point, I think ITV needs to hire a private detective to find him.  To some degree, it's to be expected that Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands should deviate somewhat from its source material but this has become ridiculous.  The story continues to simply plod along without much excitement and I cannot shake the disappointment I feel with this series.  This should have been epic but it's about as exciting as watching paint dry at this point.  It doesn't matter that they are giving us a better look at the trolls, it's simply not enough.

It looks like things are coming to a head for Herot (it took long enough)  Slean has finally come to terms with his divided loyalties and decided to support his Uncle Abrecan's bid to overthrow his mother.  I don't see the sense that this makes given that should Abrecan have a son by his young wife, who is quite handy with a sword, this would leave Slean out in the cold.  If that were not enough, when Bregan was attacked by raiders, Slean was quick to help out Abrecan but balked at the idea of lighting a warning fire.  In Slean's mind, a successful attack would weaken his mother. He's a real winner isn't he?  Slean wants to rule the Thane of Herot but doesn't care that Herot's people are going to be attacked and potentially die.

What pushes Slean over the edge is catching Beowulf kissing Elvina.  Though Slean promised Elvina that nothing would change who he loved and who he took to his bed, Elvina was certainly not of a like mind.  This didn't mean that she chose Beowulf but Slean didn't give her a chance to explain before throwing a punch over Beowulf supposedly stealing his woman.  Well, that confirms it, no matter how independent the women of Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands are, they are an aberration because when it comes right down to it, women are still viewed as property.  Given the time period that this is set in however, I understand this position even if I don't like it.

Elvina has once again raised my suspicions.  It's clear that she doesn't want to be with Slean now that he is going to be married to Kela but despite her attraction to Beowulf, she is resistant to him.  I think that there might be more going on here than the love triangle that the show seems to be painting for us. To be clear, Slean is not the brightest man and he seems to be ruled by his emotions and easily influenced whereas, the same cannot be said for Beowulf.  Could it be that Elvina doesn't think that she can achieve whatever plan she is hatching with the mudborn by bedding Beowulf instead of Slean?  Yes, Elvina is doing something with the mudborn and this was made plain by the fact that she left food for the mudborn who kidnapped her earlier.  It makes me wonder once again if Elvina herself is mudborn and living in hiding?

Beowulf has been dropped back into his role of investigator and unless he took some classes, he will simply meander around the way he did last time.  A man comes rushing into Herot to report that he has been attacked by a troll. This never should have happened because miners leave salt out for the trolls to feast upon.  When denied salt, the trolls turn to human blood to get the salt they need. Hmmm, who would have thought of humans as salty? Do we taste like bacon? Okay, back to some serious talk now.  Given that the salt comes from Bregan, clearly there is some kind of treachery going on.  Unfortunately, not for one moment does Rheda consider that Abrecan is behind it because she assumes the loyalty of her brother and Slean never bothered to tell her about the plots against her.

I was really hoping that we would see a lot more of Kela this week particularly given that she killed her sister in order to come to Herot and marry Slean.  Instead, what we got was an overly obvious conversation with Vishka in which she makes it clear that the world runs on power.  Ummm yeah, tell us something we don't know and in fact, tell us something her actions haven't already made clear to us.  Kela is continuing to play the sweet innocent who is afraid but she has a dagger in her doll. Last week I thought she would be the perfect match for Slean, but this week I think she is far too smart to be saddled with him.  I hope that we get a lot more character development with her and that she isn't just shunted to the side.

So, the plot is supposedly moving somewhere but at this point, I really don't care where it goes. When we look back at the first season of Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, I suspect the conversation will largely be about missed opportunities. It has to date made some interesting points about colonialism but they are subtle and quite easy to ignore.  A few moments per episode exploring this idea does not do justice to the fact that the humans have moved in and taken over the land belonging to the mudborn.  At this point I'm not even sure if the writers know what Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands is supposed to be but it certainly isn't like the original tale.