The Wheel of Time, Episode Three, A Place of Safety Review: A Gleeman’s Exposition.

Episode Three of The Wheel of Time, “A Place of Saftey”, is the second best episode of the first three.
It may have the best scene of these episodes but it also has one particular scene that holds it back right behind Episode Two, “Shadow’s Waiting.”
Directed by Wayne Yip, “A Place of Saftey” begins like I thought it would, by explaining how Nynaeve escaped from the Trolloc that kidnapped her in “Leavetaking.”
Waking up after the Trolloc puts her down, Nynaeve sees the monster brutally kill and start eating an injured member of its kind, showing just how merciless the Trollocs have been created to be.
Using this as a chance to escape, Nynaeve flees to the sacred rock pool to hide but is quickly tracked down by the Trolloc, forcing her to go underwater.
The Trolloc follows but that was its mistake because Nynaeve knows these waters, and is able to expertly sneak up behind it and then kill it with its own blade, the blood forming a Dragon’s Fang symbol.
Nynaeve then emerges victorious with her iconic braid flip.

We got the braid flip, now we just need the braid tug.

Following the title sequence, we then cut to the present, with Nynaeve still holding the same blade she took from the Trolloc to Lan’s throat, demanding to know where her friends are.
Lan defends Moiraine’s actions, explaining that he is the one who left the four, and now Moiraine is Nynaeve’s only hope of finding them so she needs to help her.
Unfortunately for Lan, he underestimates Nynaeve, thinking she won’t try to kill him but, oh, how wrong he is.
His surprised, “you tried to kill me” after she attempts it, only to be stopped by Lan’s skill, had me chuckling. 
Lan then knocks her out and we cut to the best storyline of the episode with Rand and Mat, as the two are leaving Shadar Logoth, still calling for Egwene and Perrin.
Mat wants to head back home but Rand wants to head to the White Tower so he can find Egwene, since he knows she will go there.
It is here they we also get some pretty good comedy, with Rand saying, “all roads lead to the White Tower” and Mat wittingly replying, “that’s not how roads work.”  
In the end, though, Mat agrees to go with Rand.
The episode then changes scenes to the weakest storyline of the episode with Egwene and Perrin, as the two are being pursued by wolves and take shelter.
There is nothing wrong with this scene, though, it’s only a later scene I have an issue with that brings this storyline down.
This first scene of Perrin and Egwene’s is actually pretty good, with Egwene continuing to test her Chanelling of the One Power, starting a fire for them to keep warm.
We then go back to Lan, Nynaeve and Moiraine, with Nynaeve waking up, tied to a tree with a gag in her mouth.
Lan ungags her to give her some water and asks if she’s ready to cooperate, and Nynaeve replies if she does Moiraine better have the answers she needs.
Then in a moment that is classic Nynaeve from the books, Lan asks if she’s in a position to make demands and Nynaeve replies, “it’s not a demand, it’s a threat.”
Zoë Robbins is continuing to do a great job as Nynaeve.
Lan does allow Nynaeve to treat Moiraine after this, though, and we get some more good interactions between them. 
Following this comes an intriguing scene where Perrin has a nightmare about the mysterious man with fire eyes, where he sees his wife’s dead body being eaten by a wolf (I will get into why this is intriguing in the book spoilers section).

Perrin sees the ember eyed man in his dreams.

However, when Perrin wakes up, we get the worst scene of the episode: the wolf chase scene.
This chase just feels very artificial, with constant cuts that make it feel like they didn’t want the audience to focus on the sketchiness of the wolf CGI.
It really drags Perrin and Egwene’s storyline down in this episode.
Well, at least we follow this scene up by cutting back to the best storyline of the episode, Rand and Mat’s, where we see them finding a small village, which serves as their titular “Place of Safety.”
This title is ironic, though, because it is made clear right fom the beginning that it is anything but safe, with Rand and Mat seeing a dead man strung up in a cage.
Mat’s desire for jewels then starts to get the better of him, as he sees something shining in the dead man’s pocket.
Yet, he has no time to snatch it, so he and Rand walk into the tavern to try and find a place to rest for the night.
The barmaid, Dana (Izuka Hoyle), alerts them to a gleeman about to perform, and it is here that we are finally introduced to a fan favouite character, Thom Merrilin (Alexandre Willaume).
On that note, I will say that Thom is much more serious and gruffer than he is in the books.
However, this is not a bad thing, as I do personally like this take on the character.
His first scene is also great, serving as a nice piece of exposition about the Dragon who broke the world.
The lyrics tell you the story and in a way that does not make it sound like you are being spoken down to, as all good exposition should.
Willaume is also a good singer, so they clearly made that a part of the casting, which was a great decision. 

Thom mostly serves as an exposition character in this episode but an excellent one at that.

Thom then talks with Rand and Mat, and it’s immediately apparent how he is different from the books, as he actually takes their money.
The two boys then manage to get a room at the tavern by doing jobs for Dana.
Or, at least, Rand does because mat is more of a jerk about it.
Although, this does lead to some good humour from Mat again.
Meanwhile Moiraine’s condition is still deteroirating, even after Nynaeve’s help, so Lan goes to find some help himsef.
From here, the scene once again changes to Perrin and Egwene, but in a much better scene than the one before because it actually explores Perrin’s guilt for killing Laila.
After following the wagon tracks to try find help, Perrin volunteers to go ahead and see if the people they’re tracking are safe.
Egwene recognises that this is because of what happened with Laila and says that it was not his fault.

Marcus Rutherford’s broken reply of “it is” is gut wrenching.
It makes me wonder if Perrin will eventually confess to what he did later in the season.
In any case, the two do follow the wagon tracks and find that their “Place of Saftey” is much better than Rand and Mat’s, as they meet up with the Tinkerers, a group of nomadic travellers, among them the family consisting of Ila (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Raen (Narinda Samra), and Aram (Daryl McCormack).
The tinkerers take the two in but their introduction is a bit shaky, appearing as if from nowhere, which is quite strange since there’s a lot of them.
We do get a brief look into their culture, though, with them looking for a song, so that is interesting.
Meanwhile, Rand and Dana grow closer, and we get another great bit of comedy, where Dana mistakes Rand and Mat for a couple and Rand corrects her saying, “if I wanted a man, I could do better.”
Later that night, Mat goes to take the jewel from the dead man in the cage but is confronted by Thom, who came to bury the man.
After Mat says he has been attacked by Trollocs before, peaking Thom’s interest, the gleeman asks Mat about his Two Rivers past, noticing his accent and other features.
After cutting down the man, Thom points out to Mat that he is of a people known as the Aeil, as seen by his clothing and red hair, unusual to see outside the Aeil Waste.
He then shows Mat an important part of their culture, as the dead man is not veiled, showing he had no murderous intent because his veil would be up if he did, proving the man meant no harm when he was murdered.

Thom again serves as a good use for exposition, teaching Mat and us about the Aeil.

Thom then allows Mat to take the jewel and a stone dog from the Aeil before the two bury him and exchange names.
While this is all happening, Rand and Dana are talking and Rand has an introspective moment where he says, “I don’t know shit.”
As a book reader, this and other moments with such words struck me as odd.
It’s not a spoiler to say that in The Wheel of Time the characters have their own swear words, like “Light” and “Blood and bloody ashes,” so it is a bit weird to hear common swear words used instead of the ones from the books.
Not a big thing but it does feel a bit weird to me.
The scene quickly turns deadly seriously, however, when Dana tries to kiss Rand, only to lock him inside the room when he rebuffs her, revealing that she knows about Egwene.
Dana is a Darkfriend who serves the Dark One and her job is to capture Rand and Mat.
When Dana was first introduced, I thought she was just going to be an innocent person who would die when minions of the Dark One showed up to kill Rand and Mat, so the reveal that she herself was one of those minions was a pleasant surprise. 
Rand tries to break down the door but Dana assures him that he will not be able to because it is made of ironwood and it would take more than three men his size to break down.
Well, unfortunately, Dana may need to take up some issues with whoever told her this because Rand is able to break the door down after a few more shoves, running outside to grab Mat.
The two flee from Dana, who has Rand’s sword, but she knows this town better than them so is easily able to cut them off.
She says she has seen all five of them in her dreams, which makes a lot of sense, since she called out to Rand and Mat when they first walked into her tavern, but only one of them can be the Dragon Reborn.
Mat takes note of the five, though, meaning it probably will not be long until they learn Nynaeve is alive.
Dana says she’s going to be like Ishamael, someone who brought the Dragon to the Dark One 3,000 years ago, while claiming the Dark One does not want to kill Rand and Mat, he only wants to break the Wheel which is what she wants.

Dana relatably shows why someone may side with the Dark One.

When Rand insists on leaving, she prepares to hold them off, saying she has already called a Fade to come and kidnap them.
But, before she can do anything, Thom kills her by throwing a knife into her neck, then insisting the two boys come with him to stay safe.
Rand is reluctant but eventually agrees, along with Mat, and retrieves his sword.
As the shot pans across Dana’s blood, it fades into a fantastic transition to the landscape Lan and Nynaeve are travelling on with a still sick Moiraine.

They meet up with a group of Aes Sedai, lead by Liandrin, who reveals they have caught someone claiming to be the Dragon Reborn, a man named Logain (Alvaro Morte), whose reveal serves as the cliffhanger for episode three. 

I was quite excited to see Logain since his arc is fantastic in the books.

Overall, “A Place of Saftey” was another good episode.
It has the best storyline of the first three, with Rand and Mat’s story, even if it is weakened slightly by the problems of the Perrin and Egwene scenes. 

Book Spoilers:
You know, I really should have seen Dana being a Dark Friend coming.
After all, Rand and Mat are attacked by many of them after fleeing Shadar Logoth in the first book.
I guess these events just happened so quickly in the who compared to “The Eye of the World” that I just forgot it would happen.
Although, this did make its eventual reveal nicer.
Another great thing about this storyline was the many instances of foreshadowing for Rand being the Dragon Reborn.
The shot focuses on him at one point when Thom is singing about the Dragon, Thom points out the Aeil hair colour, which is the same is Rand’s, and, most obviously, Rand knocks down a door down that is strong enough to trap three men his size.
That last one is probably the first instance of Rand channeling. 

This being Rand’s first instance chanelling was a good idea because for show only fans it raises questions, while not being too obvious that he is the Dragon Reborn.

Then there’s Rand’s reaction to Thom killing Dana, which I also found to be interesting because of how it connects to Rand from the books.
Book Rand hated hurting women and this came back to bite him a couple of times when he underestimated some of the female Foresaken, like Semirhage, and I think Rand’s angry reaction to Dana’s death was a representation of that.
It’s also clear how the cursed dagger is starting to corrupt Mat, with him being a jerk compared to the previous episode where he comforted Perrin.
Another thing I liked was how the Lan and Nynaeve scenes were handled.
In “The Eye of the World,” their relationship was merely hinted at before its reveal.
I did pick up these hints but I understand some did not so it’s good that they’re being more obvious with its build up here.
Back to the Perrin and Egwene storyline, I was a bit sad to see that Elyas did not show up.
There has been no news about his casting, so I did not expect him to appear but it was still unfortunate.
I wonder how Perrin is going to even learn about his ability since he does not have someone to teach him, like in the books.
Then, there’s Perrin’s nightmare about Laila, which is interesting because the wolves are on the side of the Light in the Wheel of Time, so it does not make much sense for them to be eating someone in the Wolf Dream… unless Laila was a Dark Friend.
This could be potential evidence for that theory but if it is true it is just a matter of how it will be revealed.
Maybe Padan Fain could reveal it to Perrin whenever he shows up again? 

Either Dana is a Darkfriend or the wolf eating her is a plot hole.

As for Logain, the ending made me quite excited for his show storyline, especially after seeing how he achieved his glory in “A Memory of Light.”
I wish he got more POV chapters in the books so the show could really do a good job of making him standout if they focus on him.  

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