The Shannara Chronicles is taking a different path from its source material this season, opting to tell a new story rather then jumping into the next book in the series. This new direction has impacted the journeys of both Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler) and Eretria (Ivana Baquero), who find themselves struggling to move on from the quest that saved the Four Lands and took Amberle’s (Poppy Drayton) life.
When Season 2 began, Eretria had a new home for herself among fellow humans, along with a new relationship with Lyria (Vanessa Morgan), but before long the Ellcrys called to her and a new quest began. Soon after, things got even more complicated with the revelation that Lyria is actually a princess from the kingdom of Leah. Now heartbroken and feeling betrayed, Eretria still has to continue her new quest to save the Four Lands from a new evil.
The TV Junkies had the chance to speak with Baquero about Eretria’s journey in Season 2, including her relationship with Lyria, and her pending reunion with Wil, as well as discussing her experience representing LGBTQ stories on screen.
The TV Junkies: There was such a big gap between Season 1 and 2. How was it to step back into Eretria’s shoes after the long hiatus?
Ivana Baquero: Yeah, there was a big gap, and also for the actors too. Moreso because we waited a long time after the show aired before they announced the second season. For us, because we had to wait so long and we weren’t sure if it was renewed or not, the opportunity to step into the shoes of our characters again was even more special. Just going back to New Zealand for a second time, spending six months there. Most of the crew was the same, and obviously there were many new characters, but the core cast and crew were all the same. It was almost a feeling like going back home. It’s a project I really, really like, and we all have a lot of fun. There’s nothing like it on TV, that high fantasy with elves and orcs, so I think we felt so lucky, and were able to really appreciate coming back.
TTVJ: You mentioned all of the new characters introduced this season, and the one Eretria is the closest to is Lyria. Last episode she found out Lyria is actually a princess–what was going through Eretria’s mind at that point?
IB: She’s so smart, and has such amazing instincts. She had a feeling that Lyria was not who she said she was, and you can clearly see it by the way she’s dressed. She doesn’t dress like one of the enclave. Eretria obviously didn’t know that she was actually the Princess of the Kingdom of Leah, the kingdom of the humans, so when she finds out she is almost reminded of Amberle in that she figures, ‘I guess I’m binded to princesses, but I never figured that you were also a princess.’ It’s a little funny when she finds out, but also heartbreaking because she really just wants to love and be loved. She thought she found the person who accepted her for who she was, and that she could accept the other person who for they were, and she gets a bit bummed. She realizes that’s pretty much never going to happen in the Four Lands. You can never find peace in the Four Lands.
TTVJ: That’s kind of a depressing way to look at it.
IB: It is, but at the same time it’s also who she is. I don’t think she’d be happy in a stable, conventional life. She’s all about fighting for what she believes in, she’s a warrior. She belongs in that land where you have to live the adventure and where bad things happen, but you fight against them, and you fight for the people you love. It’s maybe a depressing way of seeing it, but it’s also hopeful. It’s like real life–real life is not perfect.
TTVJ: I find Eretria has the most human story out of all the characters, which is why people connect with her too.
IB: Totally. She comes from a very difficult background, yet she always struggled to accept it and she fought against it. Even when she was deep in it in Season 1, she always stuck for what she believed was the right thing. She always had moral values, and she fought for her freedom. She got her freedom, but she still has to figure out what she wants in life and who she really is. I think she’s a good example of how it’s important to fight and be strong, but it’s also okay to be vulnerable, to fail at times, but to get back up and do what you believe is the right thing to do. In that regard, she has a very human story that’s parallel to people in the real world.
TTVJ: You mentioned how Eretria was reminded of Amberle after the truth came out about Lyria. When watching Season 1 I was always intrigued by their connection, but what do you think her relationship with Amberle was?
IB: I think it never got to the point where it became romantic. Whether Eretria wanted it or not, it just never led to that. In saying that, they had this amazing connection and amazing relationship where there was more friendship than anything. For Eretria, Amberle was the person who opened her up, gave her a purpose in life, and offered her a chance to join the quest. They went back and forth a lot in Season 1. Initially Eretria didn’t really trust Amberle, she had a really hard time with her because she was so different from anything she knew. She thought she was a little bit spoiled, and entitled, but then she grew so fond of her that there was that line that we’re talking about on whether she has feelings for her or not. I think those feelings, in that relationship, were more friendship, whereas with Lyria it’s completely different because they’re both at the same level, they both fell in love with each other and are in a relationship. They’re two very different relationships.
TTVJ: Of course now with Lyria there’s a level of mistrust. Is there still hope for them in the future?
IB: There is. In real life, couples split, they have issues, there’s trust issues, but when there is love and passion, you can work things through. Whether it’s going to be turbulent or not, we’ll see, and how they’re going to get there, or if they’ll get there is what we’ll discover through the season. It’s not going to be left like that. They have so many things in common, they’ve shared so many things together, that I think they realize it’s worth giving a shot.
TTVJ: One thing I’ve loved about The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 is how it has doubled down on its diversity and level of LGBTQ stories. How does it feel to be part of positive LGBTQ representation on television?
IB: I honestly think it’s so awesome. I had so many people approach me in Season 1, in fact, about the Amberle and Eretria relationship, and be so passionate about it, and tell me how they felt represented, and how there’s not much of it on TV. It came to me as a surprise in Season 2 that she had a relationship with Lyria, because, as we know, Season 2 isn’t based on the books, it’s the gap between the second and third books. When I found out she had this relationship I felt so lucky to be able to portray that. People may like it more or less, or they may feel more or less connected to the story, but we truly did it with so much love, and we hope that they like it. Like you said, the show has other things like many more diverse characters, and amazing female characters. To be in a show that has all those things is so unique and it makes me want for it to have a third season so, so bad, because I feel it covers so many things, and so many people can feel connected to it. I feel so, so lucky.
TTVJ: You said yourself how Shannara Chronicles is the type of high fantasy show that you don’t often see on television, and when you do see them they tend to stick to a lot of straight, white characters. In a way that makes the show stand out even more, and it’s an exciting thing for audiences to see.
IB: Totally. I think it represents the real world. Keeping the essence of the books, and the essence of the fantasy story, it runs parallel to so many things that are going on in the world, and it’s so relevant to nowadays. I do think it’s an important show and that it caters to so, so many people.
TTVJ: Wil is a very different character from how he was in Season 1. How will Eretria react to this more hardened Wil?
IB: That’s a great question. I really love their relationship, I think it’s so cute–and they struggle. They respect each other and they love each other so much, because they go back and they have this amazing story where they saved the Four Lands in Season 1, and they share the mutual loss of Amberle. They have a really strong bond, but Eretria deeply wants Wil to wake up and maybe, in a way, grow up and accept his reality. Wil struggles with that. He is a man, but he’s got so much trauma, so many scars, that he struggles to move past every that’s happened to him. Eretria will try to lift him up and help him. It’s going to be funny and cute.
If anything, their relationship is one that we all have grown with in Season 1, so we all feel very connected to it. I remember all the writers and producers in Season 2 said that they could afford to play so much with our characters because they already have so much history. They will reunite, and we will see how those things that happened to them will impact their relationship in Season 2.
How do you feel about Eretria’s journey so far? Are you looking forward to her reunion with Wil? Sound off in the comments below.
The Shannara Chronicles airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Spike and Space.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.