With its second season, Legend of the Seeker found a good rhythm and balance between lighter episodic fare and the ongoing struggle between Richard and The Seeker; not to mention his dead mortal enemy from the first season, Darken Rahl. It's a shame that modern audiences weren't able to accept this syndicated show, as it attempted to revive the genre once dominated by the likes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, also by producer Sam Raimi. But Seeker took itself a little more seriously, and maybe that was the problem for audiences. Or maybe the proliferation of original programming across cable just makes the syndicated format not work anymore. In the 1990s, when Hercules and Xena were battling the forces of evil, there were tons of syndicated action/adventure dramas littering the television landscape. But there were also more independent networks. The continuing rise of cable, as well as the birth of UPN and WB taking up valuable prime-time real estate from syndicated shows, all but killed the format. Legend of the Seeker was an attempt to revive it, and it had the producer pedigree to succeed. After a moderately successful first season, Seeker must have slipped too much in the second season to survive.
It's a shame, because the show was so much stronger this season. The addition of Tabrett Bethell as a Mord'Sith ally to the regular cast added more than just an incredibly sexy woman who didn't mind sporting a plunging neckline on skintight leather fetish gear. She brought an attitude and an edge that darkened the saccharine sweetness of the original trio of Richard (Craig Horner), Kahlan (Bridget Regan), and Zedd (Bruce Spence). It was particularly beneficial as she was able to take some of the dramatic burden of angst and tortured past off of the shoulders of Spence, who proved himself too limited an actor to pull a lot of it off. In fact, Spence's performance was one of the most frustrating parts of the first season, but even he was much improved and seemed reinvigorated by the greater threats and larger scope of this second season.
While the first year saw Richard and his merry band of followers -- all two of them -- battling the forces of Darken Rahl (Craig Parker), with the second season the stakes are much higher. Thanks to their tactics in taking out Rahl last season, there are rifts now forming between the world of the living and the dead. The Keeper, lord of the underworld, is poised to rise up and destroy/conquer the world, and to keep Parker in the cast, he's even got Rahl on a short leash as his envoy to the human world.
In order to close the rifts, Richard and friends must find the Stone of Tears. Modeling the season on an epic quest allows the writers to have plenty of side stories that aren't integral to the plot, most of which further explore the past lives of the characters. The Mord'Sith Cara (Bethell) receives particular attention in this arena, as her past is perhaps the most tragic. The Mord'Sith are one of the most evil and sadistic organizations in the world, so it is eye-opening to reveal what torture has been inflicted upon them from a young age. It makes Cara's slow transformation into a true ally and friend throughout the season all the more enjoyable to watch.
Bethell shows skill in managing the character growth while maintaining the somewhat limited emotional range of a typical Mord'Sith. After spending time in an alternate reality with Richard, he trusts her implicitly, but Kahlan isn't nearly so willing to place her or Richard's lives in the hands of a woman who is part of the Order that spent the better part of a year trying to kill them. The spats and development of the relationship between the two women is one of the more emotionally satisfying journeys of the season.
Kahlan struggles early in the season with the realization of her responsibilities as the last remaining Confessor, and thus the Mother Confessor. For a time, she returns to the seat of power and considers abandoning Richard and the quest to take on the mantle. Richard is later forced out of the quest himself when crippling headaches being attacking him. A group called the Sisters of the Light reveal that he must return with them to a safe haven and be trained as a wizard, or the headaches will kill him. However, as time progresses much slower in their citadel, he will miss too much time in the outside world if he stays with them; not to mention that The Keeper might take over the world and destroy them all anyway.
Throughout the season, more secrets are revealed about Richard's past and his surprising connection with Darken Rahl. It's even a surprise for fans of the Terry Goodkind book series this show is based on, as the relationship is changed here. Ultimately, the battle with The Keeper does reach a satisfying conclusion, but the groundwork was laid for further dangers and conflicts in a hypothetical third season. Alas, Legend of the Seeker was cancelled, and so we are only left to speculate on what might have been. Or we can just go read the books, where there are plenty more adventures ahead for our intrepid group. But I'd recommend backing it up to the beginning, as the series took several liberties from the source material in an attempt to make a more accessible action-adventure series, rather than the dense serial that might have better satisfied hardcore fans of the books. With a major new cast addition, Tabrett Bethell and the Mord'Sith character Cara she portrays are the joint subject of one of the extras on the set. The video looks both at the development and progression of the character throughout the season, but also offers behind-the-scenes moments with Bethell. She discusses her take on the character, the troubles they had with making a Mord'Sith outfit that was functional for the series' signature fight scenes, as well as her integration into the tight-knit cast and crew that had already spent 22 episodes together.
Another short video spotlights the creation of the Underworld, which is a major secondary setting throughout the season, with writhing naked bodies and an impressive visual of torment and torture for a show with a syndicated budget. There are also some additional extended scenes, but those don't really add that much to the narrative. Conversely, for those who appreciated the show and are sad to see it cancelled, any additional moments with these characters are worth their time. While it would have been nice to have more, or even some commentary on any of the episodes, what's here does provide a satisfying foray deeper into the world that author Terry Goodkind created and Sam Raimi and company brought to television. It would have been nice to see the series get a few more seasons, but we'll have to be satisfied to relive the fun and excitement of these 22 episodes as a show that found its groove just in time to face its untimely demise.
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