Legend of the Seeker


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Wizard’s First Rule:
People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs,
and most of it is false, yet they think it all true …
Because of [this], the old wizards created Confessors, and Seekers,
as a means to finding the truth.

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Jungians must be having a field day with this one. Or they should be. For Legend of the Seeker provides a mythic portrayal of the voyage of discovery that some call the process of individuation and others identify as the search for the divine. An archetypal journey if ever there was one. Perhaps this is why we are never really told what it is the Seeker is actually seeking. But this apparent omission is of little consequence since, according to Jung at least, "The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime." In other words, the actual purpose of the quest lies elsewhere, unrecognized until it has already been accomplished: the steps along the way that, surprising as it may seem, lead back to the very origin of life.

Accordingly, Legend of the Seeker should not be seen as just another cheesy television offering of fantasy-adventure but, instead, as a wondrously intricate depiction of such an opus: with each character representing different aspects of the (disavowed) personality, the purpose of this "adventure" is to confront ā€“ and ultimately assimilate ā€“ disavowed aspects of the Self. Whether they be deemed the epitome of Evil or the personification of Perfection, the ultimate task is to recognize how these are but fractured elements of a whole, projected onto and embodied by others.

The distinct advantage of a television series – over film – is particularly evident here, as it provides the show’s creators with ample time to explore the different aspects of this journey, what Teresa of Avila called the different "dwelling places" of the Interior Castle, and what might hold the significance of the Mandala, itself.

An Impossible Love

On the other hand, Legend of the Seeker is also a love story – more specifically, a tale of "impossible love" – that defines, and to some extent defies, the Seeker’s quest. One might be tempted, as some Jungians would be, to interpret this "love" as merely symbolic, as an externalized representation of the soul, in which the object of affection is merely a displaced, because unrecognized, aspect of oneself (i.e., his anima or her animus). But to do so would reduce the complexity of this tale, and the import of the Other. For as useful as the concept of animation may be, particularly in alerting us to the unconscious forces that direct our behavior and our choices, there is such a thing as matter – and things that matter – beyond the internal life of the (male) Seeker.

The fact that this "impossible love" is reiterated time and again throughout the first season – in terms of the bond that develops between the two protagonists, as well as its impossibility – is an indication of another imperative, one that acquires its authority from elsewhere. Significantly, this other imperative is not their love. Rather, it’s the journey that trumps the heart’s desire, an objective that exceeds the comfort provided by another’s embrace. (An entire episode, Revenant, is dedicated to precisely this point: an object lesson about the perils of surrendering to love’s seductions.)

Some have called this "impossibility" the sword of separation that intrudes on all intimate relationships. It is the distance – and loneliness – that invariably settles in uninvited after love’s rapturous beginnings. It is evident in the hardened edge of resentment, as well as the dulled familiarity of routine, that worms itself into the lives of lovers who, despite the most valiant efforts, are unable to recapture the ecstatic flight that first brought them together. Often, particularly for men, this intrusion leads to the compulsion to find love elsewhere, as if any encroachment of space into a relationship were an unholy visitation to be escaped at all costs, running into the arms of another for reassurance against the void that haunts us all.

For those of us lucky enough to find ourselves in such a relationship, this is about the lovers’ opus, learning to re-cognize the other – and one’s self – independent of the ecstasy of union. The sword of separation sets the lovers aflame, for desire is but the torment of alienation from one’s very reason for living. It brings a certain kind of death with which all lovers must contend, an extinction of the kind of idealization – and idolization – which no person can ever satisfy. In this sense, the "impossible love" that binds these protagonists is not necessarily about what is forbidden to them. Instead, it is about the limit of what draws one to another, as moths to flame, the asymptote of desire that finds its passionate, and inarticulate, impossibility in a wordless embrace … and the yawning gulf that refuses to disappear.

For those of us not in a relationship, or who find themselves unlucky in love, the task is ultimately the same: to find the Divine so easily attributed to the distant, unreachable Other. In ourselves.

Easier said than done.

Introduction to Another World

Like many tales of the fantastic in which the protagonist is male, Legend of the Seeker begins with a woman in distress who interrupts the uneventful life of the hero, seemingly out of the blue. Given our exposure to such tales, we might be tempted to interpret this opening scene as reinforcing antiquated notions of a woman’s need to be rescued, a sign of her inherent "weakness." It is, in fact, a measure of quite the opposite. For, despite the title of the series, this is as much her story as it is his. Even more.

As the pilot episode opens, we witness this woman as she’s hounded by a band of armed men. In evading capture and death at their hands, she will find herself confronted by a magical border that separates two worlds. On one side is the world in which she currently finds herself and, if she remains, where she will surely die. On the other is sanctuary from her tormentors, or at least that’s what she’s been led to believe. The story begins, in other words, with her desperate – yet courageous – crossing of a frontier separating two worlds, absent the reassurance that what she seeks there will be found. The fact that the armed men will follow her through the wall is to be expected, for her "escape" is not an escape at all. Instead, it’s merely a shift in the terms on which the battle will be fought.

As we soon learn, this "damsel in distress" is a leading figure in an on-going battle that has lasted for centuries, and one not unrelated to the fact that she’s a woman. Which is probably why, quite notably, the Seeker-to-be has remained completely ignorant of the raging conflict. In fact, it is precisely his obliviousness to this world – and her entrapment in it – that suggests we are not merely witness to "magic" but to the meeting of two subjectivities and, equally importantly, two diametrically opposed understandings of the very nature of reality: one that accepts the taken-for-granted and mundane at face value, and another in which one’s very existence is at stake, caught-up in an enduring conflict against those who, if given the opportunity, would steal one’s soul.

Within minutes of this opening scene, our introduction to The Legend of the Seeker, we are witness to the collision of these two realities, one where she, a refugee of war, brings an entire retinue of angry men and related dangers in her wake, while he can only drop his jaw in astonishment, wondering where he had been his whole life, pondering the far-reaching consequences of his innocent offer of assistance to the hounded one.

In fact, it is not only armed battle to which he will be introduced. Along with the hazards of physical combat, Richard Cypher will learn more about this other worldly realm so foreign to him, another dimension of reality which he would never have thought possible. One in which monstrous beasts and malevolent curses are the norm, and which requires that he learn how to muster the courage – and shed his incredulity – so that he doesn’t remain forever immobilized by fear or confusion … or, if such a thing were possible, return to his life as it existed before.

Although he doesn’t quite realize it yet, in offering to join in the battle, he has already committed to saving himself, since his obliviousness to the on-going conflict was already an indication of his conscription by the forces against which she fights. It is an irony that will only dawn on him slowly, a measure of the twisted logic of domination that has managed to capture countless others in its treacherous web, and an indication of the signal importance of the journey itself.

The Wise One

It should not come as a surprise, then, to learn that Richard is not the one she had sought out when crossing the boundary that separated two worlds. Their initial meeting was unplanned, an accident. Instead, it is the Wizard who also lives on the other side of the barrier that she was after. For it was him – and him alone – who is reputed to know where to find the Seeker.

Of course, Jungians would suggest that this "wizard" stands in for the protagonist himself, Richard Cypher, and his own – even if unrecognized – wisdom. (Or perhaps it is theirs, as both come to know the Wizard only after her magical crossing, in search of him.) Until then, Richard had dismissed the old man as a crazed hermit with a predilection for standing naked under the night sky, speaking to chickens while gazing upon the moon. However, as he soon discovers, this "lunatic" is a Wizard of the First Order, and provides the first irrefutable confirmation of these challenges to his credulity. As if the world he had taken to be "real" until now was but a lie.

His name is Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander and, as the alliteration suggests, in many ways he signifies the end of the Seeker’s journey. In the meantime, the wizard is the one who will serve as Richard’s mentor and guide. He could, in fact, be considered Richard’s "familiar": the fact that the Wise One’s assistance comes in the form of "magic" should come as no surprise, and neither should it be dismissed, since it indicates his access to the miraculous that exceeds normal understanding. At least for Richard. For – like Neo of The Matrix, another version of the same story – it could be fairly said that he’s "not that bright."

As such, and despite what might have been foretold, Richard’s future as the Seeker has certainly not been earned; neither is it an inevitability. It is also why his tutelage under this strange old man is a necessity.

It is appropriate, then, that Richard acquires the Sword of Truth, not from the woman who will share in his Quest, but from the Wizard. It is a time-honored symbol not only of combat, which he will surely require in battling the demons that will come his way. More importantly, it is a symbol of the power of discernment, of being able to cut through the nonsense and illusions that befuddle us all. With this rite of passage, Richard Cypher will acquire the name of Seeker, a reminder of his new calling, one radically different from what he had previously taken to be his life. He will discover, too, that the woman also possesses a name different than the one he has come to know, just like the strange old man who, all this time, had lived on the edge of the village and the margins of his consciousness.

But there is a sleight of hand going on here. For despite the familiar tale of the stranger disrupting the uneventful life of the protagonist, we are being introduced to a trio of characters that will define the heart of this story. We could just as well call them the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although that wouldn’t be quite right. In either case, it is the travels – and travails – of this trinity that will drive the quest, and not just the whims and desires of the Seeker alone. He is, in fact, dependent upon the others, since they possess the knowledge and wisdom that is (still) foreign to him.

The primary objective that will define the first leg of their journey (Season One) will turn around these three as they do battle with Evil. The "evil one" will be given a name but will rarely be seen, as if an omnipresent force lurking in the dark that has yet to show its face or reveal the full extent of its power. While invisible, its dangers are felt everywhere, and not just on the battlefield, since the conflict is as much concerned with effects that plumb the depths of one’s soul. For the absence of a flesh-and-blood antagonist is no measure of its (lack of) influence, for it’s precisely this void that accounts for its far-reaching power.

Each episode – each stop on their Journey – will bring them closer to a final showdown with the Unseen. But when these three travelers finally come face-to-face with a fourth, it will not be the one they had expected. And this will require re-imagining the story they had been telling themselves about their Quest, as well as the nature of the Evil against which they have been doing battle.

The Confessor

Her name is Kahlan Amnell, and she belongs to a select Order of women distinguished by their power to identify the truth. In fact, only one has the privilege of leading the Resistance with the Seeker in their battle against Evil, and she is the first in a thousand years.

When Richard witnesses her settle disputes among feuding parties – one of her primary duties as a Confessor – this will consolidate her station in his (and our) eyes. Even the Wizard will recognize her authority, voluntarily submitting to her judgment concerning a set of accusations leveled against him. Among other things, this signals her advancement over Richard, particularly when she is later elevated to the status of the Mother Confessor. For while he remains dependent upon the (external) Wizard, she has already found her own access to wisdom of another sort.

It’s likely that some women will not fully identify with the Confessor, either in terms of the chaste relation she develops with the Seeker (their "impossible love") or the fact that she is deemed "his" Confessor (for all Seekers require one), particularly since it so closely resembles the spiritualized half of the Madonna-Whore complex whereby all that is "unsullied" in woman is elevated into saintly depictions of feminine perfection, a curse precisely because it diminishes all that would make a woman real.

But Kahlan’s authority as arbiter of Truth is but one side of her power as Confessor. More consequential – and more frightening – is her ability to forcefully "confess" those that are hostile to the principles for which she stands. And this other power is what hints at something darker in her, something that sits uncomfortably with the lofty and pastoral portrait of the immaculate Confessor. Although relatively rare, such "confessions" remove all conscious intent in those subject to her touch. Effectively enslaved, they become compliant and willing servants to her every request. Understandably, the prospect of losing one’s autonomy in this way accounts for the respect accorded to the power that all Confessors bear. It also (partly) explains why she and the Seeker can never consummate their love, since this "ability" of hers would similarly reduce Richard to a bondsman. And this would undermine the very quest both have sworn to follow.

The Confessor’s power, in other words, is not to be borne lightly, particularly in light of the ease with which it can be abused. In fact, Kahlan reserves her harshest judgment for fellow Confessors who have succumbed to this temptation, using their abilities for personal comfort and convenience. While found primarily in women, it has also been discovered that men who inherit this ability – an exceedingly rare occurrence – are uniquely incapable of carrying the responsibility it brings, inevitably turning into tyrants that recruit mindless followers to do their bidding (Episode 10: Sacrifice).

About halfway through the first season, the name given to this power is Love. At first blush, this can be confusing, given the "violence" by which the personalities of those so confessed are erased and reduced to appendages of the Confessor’s will. But this can also be seen as the power that anima exercises over men, where the "violence" is less a measure of what she exacts over another but what he – entranced by his soul – succumbs to when she allows him to fall in love with her. In this sense, Confessors can be seen as the embodiment of the "anima woman," particularly those who are conscious of and deliberate in their use of this magnificent, yet terrible, power.

Needless to say, this also explains the burden the Confessor is doomed to carry on her own, forever banished from the innocence of love’s beginnings: exiled from ever believing that she – her flesh, her blood, her heart, her mind – is the object of a man’s affection, rather than the power she wields over him. It also helps us understand why Confessors would become a hunted people, just like the Seeker, since their influence is unacceptable, particularly when not beholden to the principalities and powers of those that aspire to possess her as their own or otherwise seek to delimit the terms of her existence. It also explains the ferocity with which she defends her cause.

For much of the first season, Richard is painfully unaware of this "darker" side of the Confessor’s life. (It could not be otherwise, for how could he know?) To discover that there is even more than this hidden behind her calm demeanor comes as a surprise, even to her, when both witness the vortex of anger that wells-up within her, something of which she had heard but never seen – the Confessor’s Blood Rage – and which would not have otherwise shown its face, until she had committed herself to the journey and saw the fingers of Evil grasping at the Seeker’s throat (Episode 15: Conversion).

As disconcerting as this discovery may have been, it also indicates the path that leads to redemption, for it is only in a flesh-and-blood confrontation with Evil that this Blood Rage has shown its face. Not only does it speak to the long fought battle that the Confessor and her sisters have waged against Darkness, it also points to the only conclusion that will mark the completion of her journey. The same conditions giving rise to that rage will need to be recreated so that this blind fury can give way to another resolution. One in which it is her higher faculties and powers that are brought to light.

The Powers of Darkness

Both Kahlan and Richard will face challenges. Prime among them are doubles and dopplegangers that will test their senses – they will find themselves unable to recognize each other – tricked by schemers and fakers motivated more by the promise of fortune or the thrill of adventure than the sacred promise of the quest. They will also find their lives endangered, hunted down by those with no respect for the journey on which they find themselves, seeking easy access to its rewards without the requisite trial of discovery and sacrifice.

Prime among the "wicked" is the one known as Darken Rahl, under whose orders the assassins originally sought to kill the Confessor. We could call him a stand-in for the (unassimilated) unconscious – or, in Jungian terms, the Shadow – but to leave it at that would risk underestimating the "dark side" and its power. Much better, perhaps, is the vocabulary of older traditions that speak of demons, deathly curses, and unalloyed Evil. For that kind of power, like the Confessor’s blood rage, is a terrible sight to behold. Like the Confessor’s touch, Darken Rahl also plumbs the depths of the soul, giving rise to a blind obedience that its followers would take as their own. But unlike the reserve with which she exercises her power, Darken Rahl’s is deployed with impunity, ever dissatisfied with the millions that already pay obeisance to his vision of the world and the way it should be.

While the forces of Darken Rahl may have been responsible for the Confessor’s "distress" in the series’ pilot, Richard soon discovers that he – as the Seeker – is threatened by them as well. Darken Rahl has not only ordered the death of the Confessor and Seeker, he also seeks to appropriate the powers that properly belong to them, and them alone, and it is the removal of this threat that is the trio’s primary objective during the first season of Legend of the Seeker. This is no small task, since his powers are everywhere, worming their way into all facets of living, rarely visible and hardly ever recognized as the work of the Dark One, at least not until it’s (almost) too late.

But they are not without guidance in this massive struggle. It is, in fact, the Book of Counted Shadows that the Confessor was carrying with her when she first crossed the magical boundary separating the worlds. And while Richard had not known it, this book is known to contain the secret for ending Darken Rahl’s reign, written in a script decipherable only to the Seeker. In light of the Jungian understanding of the Shadow, this would make perfect sense: its language is specific to its owner and, as a consequence, the cipher for untangling its coded message rests with the reader alone, and no one else.

That this is also a book of counted shadows suggests that this Journey, initiated by the Confessor, requires confronting more than one shadow, and that each must be accorded its place. Like the series of training grounds in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, each requires a certain form of endurance and demands the development of specific skills to overcome that which threatens from without … and within.

In addition, extricably linked with Darken Rahl (the dark one who would undermine their quest) and the Book of Counted Shadows (the map of the Seeker’s relation to the dark), are the Boxes of Orden capable of unleashing great power. As Richard discovers, much to his chagrin, it is precisely their magnificent power that has required that the boxes be kept separate from each other – fragmented – so as to avoid the disastrous explosion that would result if summoned by the uninitiated (Episode 16: Bloodline). For contained within them is an awesome force that must lie dormant and remain hidden, at least until the pieces can finally be put together, like a puzzle that unlocks the secret of one’s soul.

Ironically, then, it is these powers of darkness that provide the gateway to Salvation, and it is the Seeker’s task to discern how this is so without giving in to the (fearful) impulse to destroy what he does not understand. For it will be one of these forces of darkness – pain in the guise of a woman – that will play a pivotal role in his Journey.

A Thousand Deaths

One of the Seeker’s most feared – and respected – adversaries are the Mord’Sith, removed from their families as young girls and trained under the supervision of Darken Rahl. As the name already suggests, they represent a certain kind of death for Richard, not quite real ("synthetic") but neither one to be dismissed as inconsequential. In many ways, this "death" is not radically different from the training they have already received at others’ hands, designed to break any semblance of will, compassion, or respect for authority other than that paid to the Dark One. So, while their leathered attire might resemble the costume of a dominatrix, the ritual torture performed on Richard exceeds the forbidden pleasures associated with sado-masochistic play. Instead, for the Mord’Sith, the task is to introduce the Seeker to her world, a dungeon suffused with and dominated by pain, so that he, too, may be broken (Episode 8: Denna).

Separated from the Confessor and absent the counsel of the Wise One, Richard is subjected to repeated bouts of torture more excruciating than he could have imagined, held captive in a prison of unrelenting despair. She will be merciless in his education, even on the look out for his efforts to escape the pain by conjuring the face of the Confessor. No appeal to her humanity – or heart – will soften her resolve. Over time, she will manage to replace the Confessor as his closest and most dependable companion. For she will have shown him the unexpected comfort gained from the predictable sting of the unwanted; in the place of distant visions of tranquility, she will offer Richard the searing immediacy of awful presence. Lofty and idealized imaginings of love will be displaced, as he learns to embrace that which renders the body mute, on the edge of sane (and sanitized) existence.

For Richard, this is the underbelly of the Sword of Separation, signaled by the very absence of the Wizard and the Confessor. It is an agony that he suffers alone, where the pain of separation is transformed into a palpable reality, one that he has no choice but to accept as his own. This dungeon of a thousand deaths gives birth to a different set of sensations and a different mode of evaluation. Richard learns to welcome the aversions he had been taught to keep at bay. This is no mere numbing of pain, although the Mord’Sith is certainly teaching Richard about his "sensitivities," as well. Instead, it is a different kind of marriage, an embrace of torment not unlike the addict chasing the flood of the visceral or the cutter who finds release by virtue of inflicting a different measure of pain.

This "marriage" will also demand a certain kind of loyalty, requiring that the Seeker choose between this pain and his "impossible love." In declaring his fidelity to the Mord’Sith, Richard will be required to accept a certain kind of bondage, one not unlike the enslavement that comes from the Confessor’s touch. But this offer brings certain rewards, not least of which is the very kind of consummation unavailable to him in following his heart’s desire. It is the face of addiction, in which the certainty of pain becomes one’s life partner. It is also a choice many accept, precisely because such a relationship is so easily seen as better than the available alternatives, or none at all.

If it weren’t already clear that this Mord’Sith is a stand-in for the Confessor’s dark side – or, more precisely, the dark side of their relationship to each other – we are presented a fleeting portrait of Kahlan dressed in drag, her uniform of saintly white replaced by the blood-red of the (other) Sisterhood. For regular viewers of the show, this ruse carries a certain humor precisely because so improbable and so improbable because they are but two sides of the same figure: unrecognized because the twin has been pushed from (his) consciousness, and not unlike the Seeker and his "double," Darken Rahl.

As we will discover by season’s end, the Mord’Sith will have a key role to play in the resolution of this drama, one that exceeds the education Richard receives at Denna’s hand. For if Darken Rahl can be taken as that which has been disavowed by the Seeker, the Mord’Sith can similarly be taken as that which has been cut-off from the Confessor. And if the two are one and the same, and demand to be recognized as such, the journey will not be complete until they are able to repair what has been rent asunder.

For, ultimately, it is in service of wholeness – and the recovery of what has been lost – that this tale is dedicated.

"Reckoning"

As the season finale opens (Episode 22: Reckoning), all the pieces are in place for the completion of the Seeker’s quest. Or so it would seem. A ritual space has been cleared with the fear-inspiring Boxes of Orden carefully placed at its center. Sitting across from one another, and separated by the Boxes, Richard and Kahlan begin the task they have set for themselves. For in the days leading up to this moment, they had come to the conclusion that the three elements so assembled – the Seeker, the Confessor, and the Boxes of Orden – would set the stage for the overthrow of Darken Rahl’s reign. In the words of the Wizard,

"The Book [of Counted Shadows] tells [us] that the dark power of Orden
can be tempered only by the Confessor’s touch:
The Seeker would be enslaved neither by Love nor by Evil."

When the fractured Boxes are finally reassembled, their awesome force bursts forth, as if uncoiled from a long and enforced slumber and allowed to see the light of day for the first time. And as the Wizard had predicted, the Confessor’s touch protects Richard from the Boxes’ massive force, just as his access to that primal energy tempers the unconscious pull of the Confessor’s power. With this newly calibrated balance of forces now at his disposal, all that remains of their plan is to unleash this power against Darken Rahl himself, putting an end to his cruel reign.

But … as if to remind the pair that this is not merely the Seeker’s Quest, the Mord’Sith interrupt the proceedings, pointing to the unacceptable exclusion of a "fourth" from their holy trinity. The subsequent explosion, and the surreal events that follow in its wake, are but the logical outcome of this "correction." They also provide a formal depiction – and recapitulation – of the Journey and the demands it makes upon those that follow its path, challenging the grand resolution all had come to expect, i.e., the fairy tale ending, as if Evil could be done away with so easily.

Hence, rather than the glorious defeat of the Dark One that had been anticipated, this confluence of forces – resembling a train wreck – produces an explosion that propels the Seeker and the Confessor to different times and, reminiscent of how this story began, to different worlds: they will find themselves returned to a state of separation more absolute than the "impossibility" that had defined their journey so far. And as they find their pairing undone, each will be faced with a dilemma that must be confronted alone. An eventuality that no ritual magic could erase, and a reckoning that could at best be delayed, but not avoided.

Like a man transported on the wings of love to the bright and delicious future he imagines is waiting for him and his beloved, Richard finds himself conducted to another place and time. Fifty-eight years into the future, in fact. But to his horror and dismay, he finds that the Confessor is not there. In her stead, he finds a woman clad in red – a Mord’Sith – the very one who disrupted the rite designed to put an end to Darken Rahl. Despite their shared fate, surrounded as they are by the ashen desolation of a world gone wrong, the Seeker and Mord’Sith will raise their weapons against one other, continuing a battle having its origins in another time.

The Confessor will also find herself alone since even the Wizard is gone, having been burned by the explosions’ flames. Without the company of those that have shared in her journey, she will discover that her lone interlocutor is Darken Rahl himself, and that he intends to make her his Queen. Outarmed and outnumbered, she will be forced to choose between his dungeon and his bed, even as she desperately tries to figure out what happened after the Mord’Sith arrived on the scene, and how it might be undone.

Both the Seeker and the Confessor, in other words, find themselves confronted by an enemy that speaks as much to what they have so desperately sought to avoid as much as it reflects the shadow of the other. For if their relationship until now had been defined by an "impossible love," they now find themselves committed to a different kind of marriage, one where the Seeker is finally forced to come to terms with the Pain of Brokenness, and the Confessor has no choice but to face the Darkness that has haunted her since time immemorial.

The two scenes couldn’t be more different: one world shrouded in monochromatic desolation, reflective of the very absence and decay that defines its own space; the other veiled in vibrant opulence, its excess a very measure of what lies hidden beneath. Yet, despite this asymmetry, it is the figure in red that unites these two scenes. For the Confessor, gone is the uniform of white, having embarked on a different kind of mission, that of giving birth to a confessor child, one she hopes will live long enough to help the Seeker find his way back from the place to which he was taken. And as the Confessor finds herself giving birth to new life, at the other end of time, the Mord’Sith will find herself the lone survivor of her Sisterhood, their deaths an outcome of the very path to which she had so faithfully been committed.

Each will find themselves swung to opposite poles, relinquishing the place that had defined their very being. The Confessor will be forced to embrace the blood of life (and death) in more ways than one and radically different from her previous ethereal existence, while the Mord’Sith (her "sister") will be forced to reconsider the nature of her life in defense of pain, since it had always been in service of another goal.

The Seeker is not – and cannot be – a passive observer in all of this, since he finds himself stuck in desolate time with the Mord’Sith, his fate seemingly bound to hers. He will need to come to terms with his own role in bringing them to this place that reeks of death, even as he must learn to overcome the enmity that has kept them at each other’s throats, establishing a new basis for relationship that accords her the respect and autonomy that she deserves.

For she is the submerged element of the Quest, the hidden – hence unrecognized – source of all Journeys. Richard’s initial ignorance of the battle, much less the existence of the two Sisterhoods, is itself evidence of what had been repressed but which, nevertheless, continued to coexist with the phenomenal world. Ever present, yet rendered mute by virtue of this exclusion, the war continued to rage, claiming more victims in its awful wake. While ignorant of this history, the Seeker can no longer claim innocence, for his unknowingness was already a victory for the Dark. And the desire to embrace one half of the sisterhood at the expense of the other would ultimately have the same effect, contributing to the same kind of submersion that gave rise to Evil in the first place.

The fact that the Mord’Sith Cara later joins the trio as they continue on their journey (in Season Two) suggests that the Seeker learns to make this transition, perhaps finally recognizing that her name, far from signifying death and destruction, actually gestures toward a different kind of relationship, as friend and beloved. And while this might not have been spelled-out for us in the audience, it’s there for all to see.

For if there is a challenge in The Legend of the Seeker, it is this: learning to see with different eyes and discerning how they are – and have been – connected to the unspoken pain of the heart.

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"Courtly love [never advocated] unfleshly love,
but was rather a discipline of eroticism that united life and death,
like the Hindu Tantra, with the lady enacting the truth of the Goddess.
Here Eros and Psyche, Charity and Courage, can be united on a human level
– disappearing neither into the upper world nor the underworld."

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~ by mistified on 23 November 2009.

2 Responses to “Legend of the Seeker”

  1. Wow. That was a deep and thought out reflection. Your subcategories alone reminded us of what we used to like about the series. Well, mostly. The thousand deaths represented an aspect of the show or Goodkind’s personality that we did not care for and may have limited the audience.

    Here is our take on season two with lots of pics and possibly some wit if you are interested; liking the good and shedding light on what we went wrong with a sense of humor:

    http://fortresstakes.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/legend-of-the-seeker-2009-2010-season-2-22-episodes/

  2. when the mord sith are torture Richard… what episode and season ?
    and part?

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