Review – Legend of the seeker: Confession messes with traditional hero’s journey.
Tracy S. Morris is the author of the award-winning Tranquility series of Southern paranormal humor mysteries.
Morris's story Fish Story will appear in the Baen anthology Strip Mauled
Her new novel Bride of Tranquility Is available now from Yard Dog Press.
Her website is http://www.tracysmorris.com/
I’m a little bit confused with Legend of the Seeker. But that’s not a bad thing.
There are certain rules in story telling, particularly high-fantasy such as you see in Seeker. One of the first rules is that you start with an innocent hero. That hero goes through trials and learns from an older, wiser mentor.
But in Seeker, the ones getting the lesson are Zed and Kahlan, and it seems that our innocent hero, Cypher is the one giving them out.
This is once again obvious in episode 1.11, Confession.
Here Kahlan has been called on by some old friends to solve a mystery. Someone is killing off members of the resistance and making it look like an accident. By the time she arrives in the village, one of her friends has also been murdered.
Some obvious clues lead her to her first suspect, a local highwayman. And it’s there that the real heart of the plot comes to play. Kahlan can prove his guilt or innocence by confessing him. But in doing so, she will be taking away all of his free will.
Kahlan, the local sheriff and the people of the village all believe that he needs to be confessed. Cypher isn’t so sure. If Kahlan is wrong, she will be confessing an innocent man.
The scariest, creepiest scene of the whole season comes out of this encounter when Kahlan, dressed in full confessor whites, strides toward the screen with her hand out, while Cypher stands by looking uneasy and we hear the screams of protest from the man she is about to confess.
The way the shot is set up, it looks like it's us (the audience) she's about to confess. We are put into the role.
Ultimately, the plot twists in unexpected ways and by the end of the episode we find that there are ways around a confessor’s powers. And while the big reveal didn’t really shock me, I thought it was interesting to see how once again, Kahlan and Zed learned a lesson from Cypher.
In several instances throughout the season we have seen Kahlan and Zed lean on the comfort of the familiar. This is the way that things are done, because this is the way that things have always been done in the Midlands.
Into that walks Cypher, a seeker who hasn’t been raised in the Midlands. In his role, both as a foreigner, a seeker and a young questioner of the status quo, Cypher makes both Kahlan and Zed question their long-held assumptions.
This is very different from the role of young heroes in other stories. Could you imagine Frodo questioning Gandalf’s wisdom, or Luke Skywalker challenging Obi Wan’s long-held assumptions about the force?
But Cypher seems to act like a medieval-proto-fantasy Jimminy Cricket: Constantly causing those around him to challenge their own assumptions, and to cast aside the ones that aren’t true.
I mentioned being confused at the start of my article. What confuses me is how someone can break the longstanding fictional rule, make the innocent hero of the story the one with the lessons to teach, and have it work out so well. But in the end, maybe that’s what makes Seeker stand out among fantasy fare. Because it dares to be different, while at the same time holding to its core value of free will.
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