Legend of the Seeker 2 (2009)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

   

Picking up immediately where the first season left off, the second installment in the Legend of the Seeker series is an action packed adventure that pits our favorite sword-wielding hero against a far more formidable enemy than he might have ever imagined.
  
Freedom has come to the Midlands with the death of its tyrannical leader, the sorcerer Darken Rahl, at the hands of the Seeker, a young man prophesied to defeat great evil wherever he finds it. But in using an ancient and powerful magic to bring about his adversary’s death, Richard (Craig Horner) has accidentally torn a rift in the barrier between the Midlands and the Underworld. The ruler of the Underworld is a vicious harbinger of death determined to conquer the world of the living. Known only as the Keeper, he uses the tear in the rift to send forth hellish minions to prey on the souls of the living. The invincible immortal beings begin a trail of slaughter that Richard must find some way to halt, little realizing the Keeper has another follower willing to do his bidding -– the spirit of Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) is to act as an intermediary between the Keeper and Seeker.
  
When the Mord’Sith storm a neighboring village and kidnap seven little girls they intend to “train” to join their order, Cara (Tabrett Bethall) and the Mother Confessor, Kahlan (Bridget Regan), must unite to rescue the children. But worse perils and revealed secrets lie ahead that will threaten their lives and test the boundaries of friendship. Richard’s grandfather and wizard Zedd (Bruce Spence) has learned of another prophecy that claims Richard will widen the rift and allow the Keeper out of the Underworld. Soon, the Seeker might become his own greatest enemy in the battle between good and evil.
 
This series fills the fantasy void while being exceptionally well written and entertaining. Loosely based on a book series but much more streamlined, the episodes are more formidable this season. The villain is infinitely more powerful, the romance is kicked up a notch, and there are new characters thrown into the mix, but that doesn’t mean it has lost its charm. Fans worried the introduction of Mord’Sith might throw off the balance but instead it breathes new life into the group. Cara is on a journey of self-discovery, cold and unfeeling at first but progressively more selfless and compassionate (to a certain extent) as the show continues. There is a fantastic cast of guest characters that range from the return of Darken Rahl in human form to a visit from what appears to be the Creator. There are reanimated corpses (mummies and zombies), time reversals, split personalities, courtroom trials, and trips to the underworld. It’s all-around a much more creative and intense season and an improvement if possible on the first. It provides our opportunity to meet Kahlan’s father, learn the truth of Darken Rahl’s existence, encounter Zedd as a young man, meet the last of the Confessors, encounter new sorceresses, and much more. Craig Parker is even given a chance to show a comedic side in playing a Darken Rahl look-alike. The acting really is tremendous this time around, particularly from Regan when she is asked to play the two sides of Kahlan -- one a cold Mother Confessor and the other a lovesick sap.
  
With the continued action, the content has in many ways also been kicked up a notch. The premiere features nearly naked Mord’Sith (one shot of Cara rising out of the water comes as close to nudity as it can; there are other shots of her bare back, and a few dangerously low ones just above the waterline) and a same-sex kiss. There are two more same-sex kisses and an implication of lesbian intimacy in “Eternity.” We see a similar bathing situation with the Mord’Sith and two men (everything is obscured beneath the waves) later on. Cara has a cavalier attitude toward sex and on several occasions takes a partner (mostly off-screen). Richard is confessed by a Confessor, who tells him to “please” Kahlan so she might become pregnant. The two engage in intense kissing and foreplay before she stops him. Later, under unusual circumstances, they do consummate their love -- in the same episode, “another” Kahlan chooses a bedroom partner from among the captain of the guard. (Neither scene is explicit but there is a lot of heavy breathing and deep kissing.) Implications of prostitutes are in a couple of episodes; there is mild innuendo and hints toward the Mord’Siths’ bisexual tendencies. The women wear cleavage-revealing outfits. When souls are sent to the underworld, they appear naked but the camera level and placement of other forms prevent us from seeing anything graphic.
  
Magic is an enormous part of the series and continues this time with reanimation of the dead and possessions -- the Sisters of the Dark, priestesses devoted to serving the Keeper, have the power to put a spirit back into a human form, whether or not the human form belongs to them. Characters have their personalities and spirits switched around several times using this method. Other spells, mummies, zombies, and creatures imbibed with magic make appearances. It appears the Creator (a goddess) has come to visit the Midlands. Her servants possess immense amounts of magic. If the magic bothered you the first time around, you shouldn't try this season either, but if it didn't then there is not much that will further disconcert you. Occasional profanity taints the dialogue, but there is a large amount of violence in every episode -- people are stabbed, set on fire, shot with arrows, knocked unconscious, and have their throats slit -- sometimes with gruesome results (such as severed heads, or blood dripping from slashed necks). There is an enormous amount of hand to hand combat, sometimes with women beating up on one another. Swords are shown poking through chests.
  
I loved seeing the characters develop. It was fun watching Cara and Kahlan start out as enemies and become friends, as well as Richard learning more about his past and parentage and even exploring a bit of Zedd’s youth. There are a lot of episodes that are just plain fun to watch -- the comedy is ever-present in spite of some serious themes and the season ends on a high note after putting us through thrills, chills, and an anticipated amount of romance.