The Wheel of Time, Episode Four, The Dragon Reborn Review: Fantastic Divergances.

Coming into Episode Four of The Wheel of Time, “The Dragon Reborn,” I was excited to see Logain’s show original storyline, but I was not prepared for how good it would be.
Directed again by Wayne Yip, “The Dragon Reborn” is undoubtedly the best episode of the season so far and the crazy thing is almost none of it is in the books.
This is mostly show original and yet I think it exceeds the scenes we have got so far that actually adapt directly from the source material.
I would call “The Dragon Reborn” a perfect example of how you do an adaptation original storyline.
You put the characters from the source material in a new situation but you still stay true to who those characters are.
“The Dragon Reborn” opens with a bang, showing just how much damage a male channeler can do in the world of The Wheel of Time, as we see Logain and his forces attacking the kingdom of Ghealdan, with the king being forced to flee.
Logain pursues, however, and we see just how different male chanelling is from female chanelling, as Logain’s is corrupted by a dark taint.
He eventually tracks down the king and confronts him and here we see who Logain is, as he genuinely believes he is the Dragon Reborn, motivated by the voices that are created by the madness of male chanellers.
Yet, despite the voices urging Logain to kill the king, saying he will betray him just like his parents and sister, he instead spares him, healing his wounds and telling him, “there’s a place for anyone at my side. Even my enemies.”
So far, I really enjoy this version of Logain the show is presenting.
Alvaro Morte does a good job of showing his charisma in how he got the king to join him, and we see he is strong enough to hold off the madness, despite still suffering from it.

The opening scene really shows why so many people followed Logain.

Once the opening credits are done, we then cut to the present at the Aes Sedai camp where Logain is being kept prisoner.
Moiraine is healed by the Aes Sedai Kerene (Clare Perkins) of the Green Ajah, who is strained in her use of the One Power because of how much energy it takes to keep Logain shielded.
Moiraine demands to be taken to see Logain, and also meets up with Liandran and another Green Ajah named Alanna (Priyanka Bose), who are shielding the False Dragon.    
Speaking of Alanna, this is another case of perfect casting as Bose is able to perfectly portray the Alanna I imagined from the books.
As for Liandrin, she wants to gentle Logain, meaning removing his ability to channel completely, but Kerene is against this, wanting Logain to be brought to the Armylin Seat at the White Tower for a trial.
Moiraine then takes up the burden of shielding him as well, and Logain’s strength is so strong that even she clearly begins to wonder if she has made a mistake and he is the Dragon Reborn.
Meanwhile, Lan is training with Kerene’s Warder, Stepin (Peter Franzen), who mentions that the Armylin Seat is not fond of Moiraine and Lan.
Upon seeing Kerene coming back, Steppin has a conversation with her in their tent about Linadrin wanting to gentle Logain gaining traction with the other Aes Sedai, pointing out how the Red Ajah have supposedly been gentling men without a trial across the land.
We know this to be true because we saw Liandrin gentle a man in the opening scene of the very first episode, showing how Kerene really underestimates her since she says even Liandrin won’t cross the Arymylin Seat, which she already is by gentling men without a trial.
After this conversation, we cut to Perrin and Egwene’s storyline, which is much better than it was in Episode Three, with numerous instances of excellent dialogue, but that’s yet to come.
Once we get the introduction to this part of the story, we then get the introduction to Rand and Mat’s, as they travel with Thom.
However, Rand is very distrustful of Thom, wondering if he killed Dana to get them to trust him and may actually be a Darkfriend, to which Mat admits would be smart.

I wonder how Rand feels about Thom after what happens later in the episode?

Mat then wonders who the fifth candidate for the Dragon Reborn is who Dana mentioned, and the shot then cuts to Logain, so the director clearly wants you to think that it’s him, only to subvert this expectation later.
Alanna and Moiraine then have a conversation, during which Alanna also seems to indicate that she thinks Logain may be the Dragon Reborn.
But, even if he is not, she thinks that his strength is a sign of the Last Battle fast approaching, and becomes concerned about what will happen if the Reds have already gentled the Dragon Reborn, a question many book readers were asking, so I liked that this concern was addressed here.
The shock of this problem also seems to affect Moiraine, as she and Alanna temporarily lose control of the shield on Logain but are able to bring him back under control.
We then see Nynaeve overlooking the camp, only to be confronted by Liandrin, who mispronounces her name in a moment that feels very meta.
Nynaeve, however, challenges Liandrian and asks what she knows about Moiraine.
Kate Fleetwood’s smug smile again shows that she was the perfect choice to play Liandrin.
The whole casting of The Wheel of Time has been excellent so far.
I cannot think of a weak member of the cast among entire the bunch.
Following Nynaeve’s demand of Liandrin, the scene changes to Rand, Mat and Thom arriving at a farm house, planning to stay the night in the barn, before they are confronted by the home owner and his family.
They are able to convince him to stay the night, unfortunately.
I say “unfortunately” because of what happens later.
Meanwhile, Liandrin’s conversation with Nynaeve is interrupted by Lan and she leaves.
For a moment, I was worried that her badmouthing of Moiraine would convince Nynaeve, which would admittedly be out of character, but Nynaeve then tells Lan that Liandrin is a snake, showing she has the same wits as her book counterpart.
Lan assures her that they will find her friends, and then, like Liandrin, offers her a place by their fire… if she doesn’t shove anyone into it.
Lan clearly understands who Nynaeve is already.

I loved the continued build up of Lan and Nynaeve’s bond.

Back with Perrin, Egwene and the Tinkerers, Ila explains to them that their people, the Tuatha’an, follow the Way of the Leaf, a peaceful way of life with no violence, even in self defence.
Perrin seems to be against this mindset but his trauma is brought back when Ila unknowingly references the death of his wife by asking him if his life has been better or worse after picking up an axe.
As night falls at the house Rand, Mat and Thom are staying at, Mat throws up, only to be met by the little girl of the family, who shows Mat her doll, Birgitte.
Meanwhile, Thom confronts Rand about Mat, concerned that he may be able to channel, explaining how he is similar to his nephew Owyn, who was gentled by the Aes Sedai and then committed suicide.
He also explains that men go insane when they channel because the Dark One corrupted the male half of the One Power.
Using Thom as a means for exposition has so far worked quite well in the show.
None of it feels forced with him, and this usage of it raises Mat up as a potential Dragon Reborn candidate.
As this is happening, Nynaeve spends the night by Lan and the other Warders’ campfire and gets to know them and the cause of the Aes Sedai, before seeing Alanna walk off with her Warders suggestively.
So, when Lan goes to bed himself at Moiraine’s tent this, of course, gets her jealous.
Inside the tent, though, Moiraine and Lan just talk, with Moiraine voicing her concern that Logain may be the actual Dragon Reborn.
Lan attempts to take responsibility for losing Egwene, Perrin, Rand and Mat but Moiraine won’t let him and Lan responds that he should not have had a drink as, because of their Warder bond, it gets her emotional.
Meanwhile, at the Tinkerer’s camp, Aram explains to Egwene about the song they are searching for, and Perrin talks with Illa about their way of life again.
She talks of how she lost her daughter and says that her way of revenge is to live a peaceful life because, “what greater revenge against violence than peace? What greater revenge against death than life?”

This was the piece of dialogue in the episode.

We then get a continuation of Egwene and Aram’s conversation, where Aram talks of how some people leave the Tinkerers and do not return, stating, “Leaf doesn’t fight the wind. And sometimes the wind blows away from the tree.”
Again, the dialogue during Perrin and Egwene’s storyline is fantastic.
Back at the barn where Rand and Mat are sleeping, concerned about his friend’s potential ability to channel, Rand assures him that he is with him, only to have yet another nightmare.
In this one, Perrin is crushing a death body with his hammer, Mat has blood stained hands, and Egwene is held captive by the man with ember eyes.
However, it seems that the Mat part of the dream was real, as Rand and Thom run into the house to find him standing in a daze around the corpses of the family who took them in.
At first, I was scared that Mat had actually killed them, but it turns out to have been the Fade, with him pointing the dagger he found at Shadar Logoth up at a dark staircase and saying, “I see you.”
Barney Harris’ delivery during this moment is incredibly creepy.

I’ve said it many time before in these reviews, but I love Barney Harris as Mat. Gonna be sad to see him go, since he was recast for season two.

Then, the Fade emerges and Thom engages it in a well choreographed fight scene to give Mat and Rand the chance to escape. 
While making their escape, Rand and Mat come across the dead body of the young girl Mat befriended, and Rand has to drag Mat away.
The next morning, Kerene confronts Liandrin about trying to have Logain gentled without a trial at Tar Valon, and Liandrin manipulatively suggest that if Logain were to break out then they would be allowed to gentle him without a trial.
However, Keren again shuts this down.
As their confrontation is happening, Nynaeve goes to talk with Lan again and finds him doing a ritual for his fallen kingdom of Malkier.
In respect, Nynaeve follows this up by repeating the old tongue saying her parents told her before they died.
Nynaeve does not know what the words mean and Lan tells her, the chemistry between them building.
And now, for the millionth time in this review, I once again have to praise the casting, with Daniel Henney and Zoë Robins portraying the bond between Lan and Nynaeve perfectly.
This heart warming scene is quickly interrupted, though, with the arrival of Logain’s army.
However, as the battle rages outside, with the King who was recruited by Logain in the beginning taking part, Logain breaks free, knocking Liandrin and Kerene unconscious.
A vichious fight ensues, with many being killed, including the King, as Lan protects Nynaeve from danger.
Then, just as Logain breaks free, Moiraine arrives, looking for proof that Logain is the Dragon Reborn.
Logain explains he can hear the past Dragons when he channels, teaching him to do better, and that this is what the Wheel wants.
Moiraine sports a relieved smile and tells Logain that the Wheel does not want anything and that the whispers Logain are hearing are because of his madness.
Liandrin and Kerene then awaken, and the two of them and Moiraine attempt to shield Logain, only for him to break through with an attack, killing Kerene when she protects Liandrin and Moiraine.
Stepin’s reaction to feeling his Aes Sedai die is palpable but it leads to a bad situation, where he tries to kill Logain, only for the False Dragon to shatter his axes, sending the shrapnel flying, badly injuring many, including Lan who’s throat is cut.
A distraught Nynaeve runs to Lan’s side, and as he lays dying in her arms, her emotional response causes her power to be revealed, as she channels in such a massive amount that she heals everyone’s fatal wounds.

This was a great reveal for Nynaeve’s strength in the One Power.

Logain clearly recognises this power is greater than his and his eyes look wet as he potentially realizes he is not the Dragon.
This relization comes much too late for him, however, as, back on her feet, Liandrian and her fellow Aes Sedai gentle Logain.     
As Logain cries on the cave floor, Stepin cradles Kerene’s body, and Lan sees he has been healed, Moiraine looks to Nynaeve, recognising her as a Dragon Reborn candidate, bringing an end to the episode.
“The Dragon Reborn” was a fantastic episode and easily the best one yet.
The acting, action and story were all top notch and it has me even more excited for the future of this adaptation. 

 

Book Spoilers:

Given that so much of this episode was show original, there is not much to discuss other than an easter eggs, a theory, and character relationships.
For these relationships, I again like how Lan and Nynaeve’s budding romance is given time to develop, rather than just being hinted at like in “The Eye of the World.”
Then there’s the mention of how Moiraine and the Armylin Seat do not get along, showing how the show is keeping with the canon of the books, where Moiraine and Suian hid their friendship to hide their plan of finding the Dragon Reborn and preparing him for the Last Battle. 
As for the easter egg, I really liked how the doll the little girl showed Mat was a hint at Birgitte, especially since she is close to if not in my top ten favourite characters from the books. 

Can’t wait to actually see the show’s version of Birgitte, who will most likely first appear in either Season Three or Four.

Although, speaking of Mat and Rand’s storyline, Thom leaving just after we meet him does not give us enough time to become as emotionally attached, like in “The Eye of the World.”
Not a huge issue but definitely a downgrade from that first book.
Now, for my theory.
Liandrin seems to suggest in the episode that they allow Logain to escape to have an excuse to gentle him.
So, what if Liandrin had a hand in freeing him?
Book readers know Liandrin is Black Ajah so it would make sense for her to sabotage Kerene, leading to her death.
I am intrigued if this will turn out to be the case as we see more from Liandrin as the show goes on. 

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