The Wheel of Time, Episode Two, Shadow’s Waiting Review: Monsters of Men and the Shadow.

Episode Two of The Wheel of Time, “Shadow’s Waiting,” is, in my opinion, the best of the first three episodes released by Amazon Prime.
Directed again by Uta Briesewitz, it follows up the first episode much better, delivering a well-paced story that highlights many of the characters, both new and from the first episode, greatly.
These new characters who are greatly highlighted are the Whitecloaks, who we first see in the beginning scene, before the opening titles.
We are introduced to one of the Questioner Whitecloaks, Eamon Valda, whose actor, Abdul Salis, chews on the scenery, just like Valda chews on the cooked bird, which cuts up the inside of his mouth, all the while he monologues to the Yellow Ajah Aes Sedai he is burning at the stake.
“An Aes Sedai should know above all others that sometimes brutality is the only path to mercy.”
You can really see why the boy who brought him the dish was clearly terrified of him.

Salis is clearly enjoying playing the sadistic Valda.

Once this gruesome introduction to the Whitecloaks and Valda is done with, we get our first look at the show’s opening, and it is really good, showing how the weaves of the Wheel of Time create the pattern that shapes the world, with the Aes Sedai being woven as well.
From here, we go back to our main cast, with Moiraine and Lan leading Egwene, Rand, Mat and Perrin out of the Two Rivers, Trollocs in hot pursuit.
The Trolloc CGI still looks a little iffy at times but, for the most part, I like the way they are animated, with many Trollocs running on all fours.
It is only through crossing the river by paying a ferryman that they are able to temporarily escape from the army of the shadow.
Seeing the Trollocs advance towards the riverfront, hundreds in number, was a chilling sight, made even creepier by the arrival of the Mydraal as the Trollocs part for it, only for the creature to snarl as the main characters retreat.
The ferryman wants to go back for his son but Moiraine tells him she cannot allow it because that will give the Fade a way to get the Trollocs across to continue the pursuit.
Lan cuts the small ferry away, sending it adrift, and Moiraine creates a whirlpool to destroy it, only for the ferryman to jump after it and drown.
This shows just how ruthless Moiraine has decided she needs to be in this situation and really brings to mind Valda’s comment about brutality being the path to mercy.
Moiraine was brutal in creating the circumstances that killed the innocent ferryman, however, this was also merciful because it saved the five Emond’s Fielders and potentially the entire world because one of them is the Dragon Reborn destined to fight the Dark One.
Afterwards, we see the group resting now that they have put a distance between them and the Trolloc army.
Things are tense but that night Moiraine talks with Egwene, seeing the potential in her power and telling her about the Three Oaths of the Aes Sedai, making sure to note that the wording is important.
“One: To speak no word that is not true. Two: To make no weapon with which one person may kill another. Three: Never to use the One Power as a weapon, except in the last extreme defence of her life, or the life of her Warder, or another Aes Sedai.”
Using these oaths to show Egwene how serious she is, Moiraine offers her a place among the Aes Sedai and shows her how to channel.
No spoilers from the books, but I personally found this to be a perfect adaptation of Moiraine and Egwene’s interactions in Book One.
However, such an interesting and character building scene then turns into a literal nightmare when Rand dreams of coughing up a dead bat and then sees a mysterious man with eyes of fire

The ember-eyed man watches the Emond’s Fielders in their dreams.

Rand wakes up, only to find that this nightmare has influenced the real world, as dead bats now litter their campsite, with all three Emond’s Fielders having dreamed of the same thing.
Unfortunately, Rand thinks it is Moiraine who made them dream this and goes to confront her but Lan steps in the way and even the stoic Warder looks slightly afraid, showing how grim the situation is.
Rand continues to berate Moiraine as she commands that they leave, with some great acting from Josha Stradowski, and this creates a further rift between him and Egwene.
However, the tension is lifted slightly by Mat’s jokes: “The lady does shoot fireballs, so let’s try to stay on her goodside.”
Barney Harris is continuing to nail his performance as Mat.
Yet, as the group go to catch up with Moiraine and Lan, we see that Lan was hiding and watching them, proving Rand right that Moiraine would not willingly let them go with so much at risk.
And then who should show up but the Whitecloaks.
This scene is especially interesting when you consider Moiraine’s conversation with Egwene about her oath not to lie.
Watch this scene with that oath in mind and you will learn quite a few things about Moiraine in what is an excellent case of subtle exposition.
Things seem to be going well with this group of White Cloaks’ leader, Geofram Bornhald (Stuart Graham), until Valda walks up, intent on interrogating Moiraine.
As he’s searching her, likely looking for her ring that Lan is hiding, Lan admits to being from the Borderlands where he learned that men should keep their hands to themselves or risk losing them.
Valda then chuckles, probably remember how he cut off the poor Aes Sedai woman’s hands before he burned her alive.
However, Moiraine gets them out of this situation when Valda accidentally touches the injury she recieved in the battle during “Leavetaking,” diverting the Whitecloaks’ attention away from them to the Trollocs.
It is here we get an interesting piece of information about the Whitecloaks, as Bornhald suggests Moiraine finds an Aes Sedai to heal her, showing that not all of them are as fanatical as Valda.

This scene makes it clear that there are differences in the White Cloaks.

With the group being allowed to pass freely, Egwene confronts Moiraine about lying to the Whitecloaks but Moiraine points out that she did not lie, she just told a different version of the truth, showing that when you speak to an Aes Sedai you need to listen carefully.
Later, noticing Moiraine is looking worse, Mat seeks to lighten the mood, singing a song about someone named Manetheren, to which the others join in.
Moiraine then reveals that Manetheren was not a person but a place, and tells the story of how the city bravely fought in the Trolloc Wars for thirteen days before their army was entirely wiped out.
The king, Aemon, died and in anguish, Queen Eldrene used the One Power to destroy the Trolloc army but weilded so much that it killed her, with only the children and their keepers sent into the mountains surviving.
This tale was very harrowingly told by Rosamund Pike and a great adaptation from the books.
As the group once again stop to rest, Moiraine guesses that Lan is trying to guide them towards the cursed city of Shadar Lagoth to ward off the Trollocs.
However, Moiraine points out that this would be too dangerous.
As the group are gathering fire wood, Rand and Egwene start to reconnect, and Perrin goes off on his own, only to be confronted by a pack of wolves.
One would think this would spell disaster for Perrin, especially since he is wounded, but, no, the wolves only lick his wound and then leave.
Just like in Episode One, I have to commend the soundtrack of this show, with the OST “Golden Eyes,” which is played during this scene, being especially good.

I’m interested in how Perrin’s story will be adapted, especially because of the changes from the books.

The next scene shows the group hunkering down for the night, Moiraine’s condition continuing to worsen, only for Egwene to wake up, potentially from another nightmare about the man with eyes like embers, only to see the Fade and Trollocs have found them once more.
Left with no choice, Lan leads them all to Shadar Logoth, which the Trollocs refuse to enter.
Lan then explains the history of the city, the name of which means the titular “Shadow’s Waiting,” telling them of how it was one of the cities which promised Manetheren aid, only for the citizens to lock themselves behind their walls, yet they were supposedly consumed by the evil inside.
After Rand and Egwene observe the cursed city from a tall building, we get one of my favourite moments in the episode, as Mat sits next to Perrin and comforts him about Laila’s death, giving him a knife she made, probably thinking Mat could use it to help Perrin.
It is not just Barney Harris who is great in this scene, though, but Marcus Rutherford as well.
He brings a gentle nature to Perrin’s grief, which is really in character from the books.
Unfortunately, now Mat is without a knife, and it is at this moment when something leads him to a sketchy looking dagger, which he takes with him, disregarding Lan’s warning.

Mat, buddy, you’re a good character, but why, oh why did you stupidly take something when you were told not to?

It is then that they are attacked by the Mashadar, the evil which apparently consumed the city.
It kills one of their horses, and seperates the group.

Rand and Mat are stuck togethor, as are Egwene and Perrin, while Lan also gets an unconcious Moiraine out of the city, who has enough lucidity to wake up and tell him he has potentially killed them all by taking them to Shadar Logoth.
Thankfully, this story is just beginning so the characters all have plot armour.
That does not make the chase with the Mashadar any less engaging though, as the three seperate groups manage to escape Shadar Logoth, only for Lan to be taken unaware by Nynave, who says that if he doesn’t lead her to the others then she will slit his throat. 

Nynaeve is back!

This brings an end to the best of the three currently released episodes.
Does “Shadow’s Waiting” have the best moment of these episodes?
No, but it is the most consistantly good of the three, delivering both well adapted scenes from the book and interesting show original scenes, along with great performances from the cast.

Book Spoilers:
I don’t really have much to say, compared to the first review.
There were quite a few book changes but I actually enjoyed them for the most part.
Not saying that they were better than the book, as for some of these that still remains to be seen, but these changes were enjoyable to view playing out.
First of all, I quite liked how scarier the show Whitecloaks are compared to their book counterparts.
I could never take them quite seriously in the books because of how buffoonish they could be, but the show really raised their threat level, especially with Valda.
I like how he was introduced much earlier in the story as well.
Maybe he will be merged with other Whitecloak characters from the books so we can have a single antagonist in the Whitecloaks to focus on, rather than multiple?
Another big change from the books was the story of Manetheren coming during the main characters’ journey, rather than in the Two Rivers.
Moiraine tells the people of Emond’s Field their history before she leaves and the importance of this branches out into the other books. 

“Wheep for Manetheren” indeed.

It makes me wonder how the characters in Emond’s Field will learn of their history in the future.
Maybe Perrin will tell them about it when the show gets to adapting The Shadow Rising, another thing I cannot wait to see because Perrin’s story in that book is excellent.
Then there’s the changes to Shadar Logoth, with no Mordeth leading Mat to the dagger, which later becomes relevant to Padan Fain.
They’re probably going to switch this up for the show.
Finally, one detail I found funny as a book reader was when Mat talks of how Nynaeve would make Moiraine’s life a misery if she were here, which is funny because this is exactly what happens in the books since Nynaeve was not taken by the Trollocs there.
Cannot wait to see how the two women will interact in the future and how this will compare to the books.
Overall, “Shadow’s Waiting” is a really good episode that I thought made some good changes, or at the very least changes that can be shaped in different ways that will still make sense. 

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