There’s nothing more tired than a love triangle on a TV show. It’s been done by almost every single TV show ever… and, quite frankly, not always well. So why does the love triangle at the center of The Shannara Chronicles feel so fresh and exciting?
According to executive producer Miles Millar, it’s because of the people who make up the love triangle: half-elf, half-human Wil (Austin Butler), elf princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) and human Rover girl Eretria (Ivana Baquero).
“They’re both incredibly strong women—and it’s almost like, if this were made like 15 or 20 years ago, he’d be the chick and it’s two strong guys fighting over him,” Millar says. “Now, he’s completely out of his depth with these two strong, capable female companions who almost laugh at him at every turn. He’s really struggling.”
He continues, “For us, the love triangle was essential in what made this show different. Why do this show if you’re not going to change things up? It felt fresh in the fantasy genre to have these two strong, female characters. They’re different, and they’re both incredibly likable in their own ways. They’re both capable, and I liked the idea that in this future world, all women are strong. The gender politics have changed. It was refreshing to explore and write that.”
Wil will constantly find himself learning from both Amberle and Eretria as the trio goes on their quest to save the dying Elcrys later this season. But Millar reveals that the showrunners were most excited about exploring Eretria’s background and growth.
“Eretria has this very tense relationship with Cephalo [James Remar] who is her adoptive father—but not in a good way,” Millar says. “She was bought, so it’s almost like she’s a slave. She has the most important and significant arc of the season, which is to break free of her background and her past and really step forward to become a hero and a woman who is in control of her own life. For us, she is the most relatable character for a modern audience, in terms of how does someone escape the darkness of her past and the abuse. It takes incredible courage.”
He continues, “Plus, the prejudice she receives in this world, as humans are the ones looked down upon the most by other races—Eretria has a lot to covercome. You’ll end up really rooting for her and her quest for freedom. That’s her journey this season. She’s working to become her own woman in many ways. Now is her chance to finally break free of her enslavement.”
Now that Wil has an idea of the power he possesses when it comes to the elfstones thanks to his showdown with the fury in last week’s episode, expect him to be motivated to learn more about his magical potential despite knowing that it has negative side effects.
“Wil is someone who has lived an incredibly sheltered life,” Millar says. “He’s like a small town boy who gets to go to the big city for the first time. His eyes are wide open and he really has no idea. He’s learning that he’s destined for greatness. He’s the bearer of the elfstones and he’s got this incredible magic power. But there’s a darkenss to the elfstones and the magic. They claimed the life of his father. For him, it’s a struggle between wanting to be a hero and also figuring out what that will do to him, to his psyche, to his well-being. It’s a really ancient struggle.”
That personal struggle over whether to trust the magic inside of him or not will take Wil to some dark places this season.
“What’s interesting is that you see this world through his eyes,” Millar says. “He’s taking us on this journey to see the four lands. He’s the innocent who comes to understand that the world is a dark place. This isn’t a family-friendly show; it’s going to go to some really dark places. It’s gnarly and violent, as it should be. We’re dealing with demons and creatures of darkness. We wanted it to feel real and elicit a visceral response when someone dies. And Wil’s reactions to what he’s seeing make it all feel very, very real.”
What do you think of the love triangle at the center of The Shannara Chronicles?
The Shannara Chronicles airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.