Don’t you hate it when, as the top spy of your country, you are given the task of marrying and having a kid to get close to the target you are supposed to be spying on? Well, this is the absurd problem the spy known as Twilight faces in Tatsuya Endo’s wickedly funny and wholesome manga Spy x Family. Taking on the identity of psychiatrist Loid Forger, Twilight, through a series of increasingly hilarious events, manages to procure a wife, Yor, and child, Anya.
Twilight’s mission is to enrol Anya at Eden Academy, the school where his target Donavon Desmond’s son, Damian, is enrolled. There, Anya will attempt to befriend Damian so Twilight can get close to Desmond, all while he and Yor play at the perfect husband and wife and parents. There are just two issues, the first of which is that, unbeknownst to him, Yor is actually an accomplished assassin known as the Thorn Princess. The second issue is that Anya is actually a telepath who escaped from the organization experimenting on her. She is the only one in the entire family aware of her parents’ secret identities… and she thinks it’s amazing. Que an ever increasing hilarious set of events where Twilight takes on spy missions, while trying to keep his family oblivious, Yor assasinates people, while also trying to keep her family oblivious. All of this is taking place while a fully aware of everything Anya does everything she can to make sure that her parents don’t find out the truth about the other, so she can keep her newfound family. These scenarios only get funnier and funnier as the story goes on, with constant great gags, such as Anya’s signature “heh,” which was the image I saw that got me interested in readying Spy x Family in the first place.
As well as being hilarious, the manga is also quite wholesome. Although Twilight and Yor both enter their fake relationship with the intent of using it for their own personal gain, Twilight to complete his mission and Yor to hide from suspicion of other people over her being single, they slowly begin to grow closer in their relationship. They actually feel like a real couple, and real parents to Anya. It got to the point where Yor actually screams at some criminals that she is Anya’s mother and I literally shouted, “damn right, you are!” Some of the best moments in the manga are just of the family hanging out being wholesome. It’s not just them, though, because even the side characters are pretty great, from Twilight’s friend Frankie, Damian, Twilight’s fellow spy Nightfall, Anya’s teacher Henderson, and Yor’s brother Yuri. Some of these characters even provide the biggest laughs of the story so far. All of this is brought togethor by some great illustrations by Endo, with his paneling doing quite a great job at bringing the humor across.
Currently at 57 chapters, Spy x Family is a comedic and wholesome blast, one which will probably gain more fans when the anime adaptation by Studio Mappa and Cloverworks releases in 2022. If you have not read Spy x Family already, then I highly recommend it.
If I were to rank the Wheel of Time episodes we have so far, then Episode Five, “Blood Calls Blood,” would be one of the weaker episodes, only above the first episode “Leavetaking.” I did enjoy “Blood Calls Blood,” it’s just that the episode is a bit of a mixed bag for me, containing many fantastic moments but also many questionable moments. Directed by Salli Richardson-Whitefield, the episode begins with the aftermath of the brilliant Episode Four, “The Dragon Reborn,” with the Aes Sedai and their Warders mourning not just their fallen but also the fallen in Logain’s army, including the king he brought to his side. The main focus, however, is definitely on Stepin, who is wracked with grief over the death of Kerene, as he buries her and removes her ring. Although, in the first sign of some of the issues this episode would have later on, it is weird how shallow the graves are. That said, there are also many good parts to this scene, along with the display Stepin’s grief, like Nynaeve tugging her braid, a moment show only fans will probably not take much note of but, for book readers, it is a nice touch for her character in the novels. As well as this, the weather itself is also a great part of this scene, showing how much time is passing, taken even further with how the episode cuts to a month later after the opening credits. What’s more, many of the characters also display signs of how much time has passed, specifically with Rand and Perrin, as their hair has grown considerably in the month timeskip. Not only this, but all three groups of main characters have now made their way to the White Tower.
Moiraine’s group arrives without issue, except for Nynaeve still creating trouble for Moiraine by telling her she should be careful of her. Yet, the arrival is much grimmer for Rand and Mat, because Mat’s condition is still deteriorating, with him being scared that he may have actually killed that family at the farm, but Rand insists he did not. Sadly, though, if Rand and Mat’s situation is bad, then Perrin and Egwene’s is 100 times worse, as they are captured by Valda and the White Cloaks, probably the last group of people you want to be captured by… well, at least of the groups we have been introduced to so far. Back to Egwene and Perrin, the Tinker’s try to help them escape, with Aram leading the way, but the White Cloaks are brutally efficient in their capture of them. We then go from a scene of chaos to a scene of calm, as Rand is investigating a library at the inn they are staying at, when he is confronted by a kind hearted Ogier named Loial, another fan favourite from the books. Now, I’ll be honest, I saw some leaked images for Loial long before I saw this episode and I was not impressed. The practical effects just made him look too cheesy. That said, I really should have waited to see him in motion before I judged because, after watching Loial’s scenes in “Blood Calls Blood,” I actually think he looks pretty good. Certainly not how I or many others probably imagined him, but good. Then there’s his actor, Hammed Animashaun, who knocks it completely out of stedding. As soon as he started talking, I was like, “well, there’s another example of perfect casting in this show.”
Seriously, the casting director deserves a raise for how amazing of a job they did choosing actors to play these characters. Loial’s charming nature also works a lot like Thom’s did in Episodes Three and Four. In those episodes, his personality allowed him to deliver exposition in a way that did not feel like we were being spoken down to, and Loial does exactly this. He even brings up how Rand looks like an Aeilman, the group of people whose culture Thom introduced to us in “A Place of Saftey.” But this pleasant conversation is interrupted when Loial informs Rand they are bringing the defeated Logain to show to the people, and Rand sees Mat going to look. He chases after his friend, eventually finding him looking at the scene from a balcony, only for Logain to look right at Mat and burst into manic laughter. This causes Mat to try and make a deal with Rand, saying one will kill the other if they ever start channeling. It is at this point, that I have to mention the easter eggs in Rand and Mat’s storyline because, oh blood and bloody ashes, were these amazing. I’ll go into more detail about what these easter eggs were in the spoiler section so not to spoil any potential show only viewers that may read this, but know that they are by far my favourite moment of the episode. It is an incredible showcase of subtlety. Following this scene between Rand and Mat, we go back to the White Tower, where Stepin is preparing for the ceremony to send off Kerene. He tells the story of his past and how it lead to meeting Kerene in a tragic performance from Peter Franzen. We then see the actual ceremony, where Stephin kisses Kerene’s ring and then melts it in a flaming pit overlooking the city. Once this ceremony is over, Lan goes to Moiraine, stroking her ring and showing just how deep the Warder bond goes.
However, this touching scene then cuts to a grim one as Egwene is stipped by the Whitecloaks, scrubbed down and redressed in a violating scene, that shows the sickness of Valda, as he has her tied to a chair and Perrin tied down over a board. Valda’s intuition is unfortunately sharp, as he deduces Egwene is not an Aes Sedai through her lying, but still knows she can channel. So, he begins to cruely torture Perrin in front of her, telling her he will kill him if she does not channel and kill her if she can, leaving the decision of who dies to them. It is during this brutal torture, that we also get a glimpse of Perrin’s abilities, as his eyes glow golden, before Valda leaves them.
The episode then leaves them temporarily to cut to Nynaeve, who is greeted by Stepin asking for something to help him sleep. When it is actually revealed what Stepin intends to do with this sleeping medicine, the scene becomes much more chilling on rewatch but, on first viewing, it merey serves as a means for these two characters to bond, and for Nynaeve to be allowed a way out. She is quickly confronted by Liandrin with her scheming but Nynaeve is naturally still resistant to her manipulations. Up until this point, the episode is great, with many standout moments, like Loial’s introduction, the easter eggs during Rand and Mat’s storyline, and the gruesome display of Valda’s brutality against Perrin and Egwene. However, it is here that we get the first of the problems that bring “Blood Calls Blood” down for me. The first of these problems is the scene after Nynaeve and Liandrin’s encounter, which sees Loial lead Nynaeve to Rand and Mat. The reason this scene does not work for me is because of how abrupt it is. Nynaeve is exploring the tower in one scene, and in the next she has been taken to Rand and Mat. It is like there was an entire scene of Nynaeve meeting Loial that was cut. At least it does lead to a further display of Mat’s corruption when he violently pushes Nynaeve awat, and we also get Nynaeve’s touching story of how Egwene pulled through from a deadly infection, potentially hinting at how she first began to channel. What follows is the the next scene of Perrin and Egwene, which is equal parts fantastic and badly shot. To be fair, the fantastic stuff does come first, with some excellent acting from Marcus Rutherford and Madeleine Madden, as Perrin confesses to accidentally killing his wife, in an attempt to get Egwene to agree with his decision to sacrifice himself. I may still feel conflicted about the whole Perrin killing his wife storyline but Rutherford’s acting really sold this moment.
Egwene then uses her chanelling to free Perrin while distracting Valda, causing Perrin to lunge forward, eyes pure golden, as wolves howl around them. Valda is naturally terrified of Perrin, allowing Egwene the chance to break free and stab the Questioner. The two then run outside and it is here that the bad shots unfortunately come into play. I thought the shots of the wolves in “A Place of Saftey” were pretty bad and these ones are much the same, with constant cuts to try and hide the miniature size of the wolves, making the whole action scene look like a bad made for TV movie. This really sticks out like a sore thumb when the rest of the episode is so well made. On a more interesting note, though, Egwene has taken back the rings Valda stole from the Aes Sedai he murdered so that is a plus, since it should be able to get them into the White Tower. Speaking of the tower, inside we see more of Linadrin’s scheming, this time against Moiraine, but Liandrin should have known this would not turn out in her favor. Then we see Lan observing Stepin performing a ritual to ward off the evil of the Foresaken, people who served the Dark One, including Ishamael. There seems to be eight of these Foresaken, and they were all sealed away by the previous Dragon.
Following this, we see Moiraine talking with Alanna, as she is worried about dying and leaving Lan without her. Alanna reassures her but points out they have bigger things to worry about, like the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche, wanting blood for them gentling Logain without a trial. Moiraine assures her the situation is under control, but between the Amyrin and Liandrin, Alanna is concerned. We then get the scene right before disaster, as Lan drinks with Steppin, who questions him about Nynaeve’s obvious feelings for him. Lan naturally resists such ideas, which is perfectly in character for him at this point. Stepin is supportive, however, saying that without it life is intolerable. These words take on so much more meaning when Lan discovers Stepin has killed himself the next morning after drugging him. It was Stepin’s final goodbye to Lan, encouraging him to embrace Nynaeve’s feelings. Then comes the final scene of the episode, the funeral for Stepin, where Lan is given the role of expressing everyone’s grief, in a wonderful display of custom for the show. Both Rosamund Pike and Daniel Henney’s acting during this scene make it very emotional, and really drew me into the scene. Many are unsure about it because of how stoic Lan was in the books compared to this but I think it works… until the last show. That last damn shot. As Lan is weeping, he suddenly rips open his robe, baring his chest in such a melodramatic moment that it made me laugh out loud. He looked like a rock star baring his chest to make the fans go wild or something. It ruined the moment.
If the episode had ended before this shot, the scene would have been great but, unfortunately, they decided to include this over dramatic moment, ending the episode on an unintentionally hilarious moment rather than the emotional one they were going for. It is scenes like this, Nynaeve’s abrupt arrival, and the cheesy shot composition of Perrin and Egwene’s escape that really brought this episode down for me. Still, the rest of the episode is legitimaely great and I have heard rumors that the next one, which I have not watched yet, is one of the best of the season so I have that to look forward to.
Book Spoiler Section:
Alright, so let’s talk about those fantastic Padan Fain easter eggs. I remember watching the scene where Logain is paraded through the streets, hearing laughter, and then briefly seeing Padan Fain sleeking off before the shot cut. Que a moment of panic from me as I quickly fast forward back to see if I had seen that right and, sure enough, there he is, hidden in the background. He even appears in an earlier shot when Rand and Mat are entering the inn, whistling his chilling tune as he watches them. I love how they are subtly pointing to Fain’s pursuit of Rand, rather than making it obvious, like it kind of was in the first book. It makes me hopeful for Fain’s future in the show as well, since he became a weak antagonist for me after the Great Hunt.
As for another antagonist, Valda, I found his portrayal interesting. I had heard theories that he would be merged with the Darkfriend White Cloak Carridin, but his speech about the Light to Egwene while he is torturing Perrin makes me think that is unlikely. Another thing I loved was how the show is continuing to misdirect show only viewers about the identity of the Dragon Reborn. They’ll see Logain laughing while the focus is on Mat and think he is the Dragon Reborn, and won’t realise that Logain was actually laughing at Rand until later. Rand also saying he recognises Dragon Mount was a nice touch. As for Stepin’s scenes, these moments are entirely show original, and I quite liked what they did for the world building by showcasing the bond between an Aes Sedai and her Warder, which we will hopefully see more of when we get to Moiraine’s sacrifice, whenever “The Fires of Heaven” is adapted. There’s also the mention of the Foresaken, foreshadowing their arrival, which I am also excited for. However, there are only eight of them instead of thirteen from the looks of things, so some of them will most likely be merged together. Along with Ishamael I can clearly recognise Graendal, Semirhage and Asmodean, among a few others, so it will be interesting to see which Foresaken makes the cut in the future of the show. Overall, the book changes and divergances were quite good this episode, despite “Blood Calls Blood’s” issues.
So, we all just got trolled.
Last week, when Chapter 335 of My Hero Academia was released, I considered doing a review of it after the cliffhanger reveal that Tooru Haguakure was supposedly the UA traitor.
I had mixed opinions about this apparent reveal when it happened.
On the one hand, Tooru being the traitor lacked any emotional impact because she is one of the most underdeveloped characters in Class 1-A, heck, in the entire story.
But, on the other hand, her being the traitor would allow Horikoshi to flesh out her character and actually provide her with something memorable.
Despite my mixed feelings about this supposed reveal, though, I decided not to review the chapter and just wait until the next one, where Horikoshi would undoubtedly expand on the traitor plotline.
That way, I could see what he planned to do with this twist, so I could fully judge it.
Well, after reading Chapter 336, “Villain,” I can say that I am glad I waited for this chapter to talk about the traitor storyline because Horikoshi played us all magnificently.
It turns out the Tooru cliffhanger was actually a red herring.
She was actually tracking down the true traitor who is Yuga Aoyama.
This is revealed in a great full page spread of his distraught face, followed up by the explanation for why he betrayed UA.
As it turns out, Aoyama was born Quirkless, much like Izuku, so his parents made a deal with All For One.
He would give Aoyama a Quirk and then, in return, Aoyama would spy on UA, or All For One would kill his parents.
I actually find this reveal to be a lot more emotionally impactful than one of the UA students actually being a villain sympathiser because, despite what he claims at the end of the chapter, Aoyama is not a villain but a victim.
He has been put in this terrible situation by the decisions of his parents and now has to protect them, while betraying his friends.
However, despite this, he still strives to be a hero and has done heroic things.
This can be seen most of all in the forest attack, where Aoyama attacked Mr Compress, allowing his classmates to rescue Tokoyami.
Aoyama did this knowing full well that it could put himself and his family in danger but he did it to protect his friends and make up for the terrible situation he had put them all in.
Then, there’s his previously established friendship with Izuku, where he sought to get to know him because of how he thought they were similar, both having Quirks that hurt them.
Well, it now turns out that Aoyama is way more similar to Deku than first thought because they directly parallel one another with this reveal.
Deku was given his power by a hero and Aoyama by a villain, yet both both are striding towards the same goal: to be heroes.
I hope that Aoyama can find some redemption and truly achieve his goal in the process.
As for Tooru not being the traitor, I will admit that I am a little disappointed that she is probably going to remain the same boring character by not being the traitor, but Aoyama is still the better choice and his story now directly parralels with Deku and the themes of the story.
As for the rest of “Villain,” it is short but decent, beginning with Class 1-A training and discussing why All For One will not be tracked down so easily.
It is the Aoyama reveal where the real cheese of this chapter is.
I just have my fingers crossed that this plot twist has some significant consequences and is not just going to be wrapped up in a few chapters, given the breakneck pace Horikoshi has been taking the story recently.
For now, though, I have to praise Horikoshi once more.
You tricked us all, you delightful troll.
For quite a few years, friends were telling me that I should read Frank Herbert’s Dune, calling it one of the best science fiction stories of all time, and one that inspired generations of stories from that genre, like Star Wars, for instance. However, for whatever reason, I did not take my friends’ advice and read Dune. Then, I saw the trailers for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation of the novel. These trailers blew me away and Villeneuve is one of my favourite directors working today, so, knowing how dedicated he was to making Dune, I finally sat down and read the book. I could not put it down. The novel enthralled me from start to finish and, ever since finishing, it I have been eagerly anticipating the film’s release to theaters, and was finally able to see it yesterday. Did it disappoint? Absolutely not. Dune is not just an incredible adaptation but I already think it’s one of the best movies I have ever seen, even though I only first saw it yesterday.
The film tells the story of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), a young noble born to Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Duke Leto is the ruler of the planet Caladan, however, the Pardishah Emperor mysteriously decides to order the Atreides family to take stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, the only planet in the universe where the substance known as Spice can be found. Spice not only has various benefits to the user but is also the reason interstellar travel is possible, so it is the most valuable resource in the universe. You would think this would put the Atreides in an excellent position but, in taking over Spice production on Arrakis, they are taking over the position of the previous rulers of Arrakis, their rival family of the Harkonnens, lead by the cruel Baron Vladamir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). With the threat of the Harkonnens and even the Emperor’s displeasure hanging over their heads, the Atreides seek an alliance with the native Fremen, among them Stilgar (Javier Bardem). However, at the same time as this is happening, Paul is having strange dreams, many of which feature a woman named Chani (Zendaya), and these dreams may point to a brutal future for not just Paul’s future but also the future of the entire universe.
Yes, this is the story’s basic opening hook and it is a lot to take in. Thankfully, Villeneuve presents this information to the viewer perfectly, with only a few things being left out, like the explanation of Mentat powers. Helping this presentation of information is the incredible acting, cinematography and score. Speaking of the acting, every single member of the cast brings their A-game, whether their roles in the story are small or major. I already spoke of most of the characters, but two who I especially enjoyed are Paul’s mentors Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). In fact, I would say that I actually liked the movie’s interpretation of Duncan more than the first novel. The movie shows the friendship between him and Paul a lot better, making later scenes where the two share screen time a lot more impactful.
As for the cinematography, it is absolutely beautiful and Greg Fraser did an amazing job. I had a massive grin on my face almost the entire way through the film because of how gorgeous almost every single shot looked. What made this grin even wider was Han Zimmer’s brilliant score, his best one to date, in my opinion.
Pair this excellent acting, cinematography and score with Villeneuve’s direction, and you have a masterful adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel that needs to be seen in theaters. Seriously, I am so glad I decided to watch this for the first time at the movies instead of on HBO Max. It just provides an experience for this film that cannot possibly be matched on the smaller screen. I just wish that the studios had realised what they had and agreed with Villeneuve’s wish to film the sequel at the same time, so both parts could be released closer together. Well, at least we are getting a sequel, with hopefully more on the way, since I have also read the sequel novel Dune: Messiah and loved that as well. I cannot wait to read the rest of Dune novels now that I have finally finished The Wheel of Time books, and it would be great to see those get future adaptations as well, given how excellent Villeneuve’s Dune was. In regards to the future of Dune as a movie franchise, I only have one thing to say. Let the sequels flow.
I once again fell behind on reviewing Choujin X, and so I have decided to keep my reviews for the manga similar to my My Hero Academia reviews, where I only review chapters that significantly impact me, as the reader.
Well, I think Chapters 14 and 15 suit this definition perfectly, with me quite enjoying the chapters and how they both set up the future of the story and build up the character arcs.
Chapter 14: Sinker, Part 6 – Sayonara.
Chapter 14 sees the end of Tokio’s fight with transformed Shiozaki in fantastic fashion.
Most of the fighters are out for the count against Shiozaki, however Tokio is still standing, ready to play Shiozaki at his own game.
He also has a better chance than the others, since, as he has beastified into a vulture, he can see the rocks Shiozaki throws, even when they get up to speeds of 200 kilometers an hour.
Although, in order to hit Shiozaki’s throws he has to use what he learned in Little League, so that’s raises some concerns for his chances.
These concerns grow worse when Tokio’s arm is broken by a 300 km throw from Shiozaki but, thankfully, for whatever reason, Tokio does not start to sink.
Desperate, Tokio asks Momoma if he can use the Raise technique that Simon used to try and defeat Shiozaki.
Momoma warns he could die if he gets it wrong but Tokio is insistent.
What follows is Tokio begging Momoma to help him, while Simon yells at her not to.
This conflict Momoma is facing ends when Tokio says he wants to try Raise to save Shiozaki, causing Momoma to remember a Choujin who appears to also have had super strength rescuing her, maybe her father?
Momoma then runs to Tokio at full speed, before jumping and kicking him in the head with such force that it breaks his neck.
However, this allows Tokio to use the Raise ability to restore himself to his complete Beastified form, before he challenges Shiozaki, yelling at him to throw a sinker at him.
This is another ploy from Tokio, as it is revealed that he watched Shiozaki’s sinker throws online, almost obsessively, which plays into his favor because “I’m unbeatable when it comes to worshipping someone!”
Tokio believes that this knowledge of Shiozaki’s sinkers, along with his Beastified abilities, may just give him the edge to win.
In some great paneling from Ishida, Shiozaki throws the sinker and Tokio hits it… only for him to immediately sink into the ground.
However, as Tokio is silently berating himself for being a garbage Choujin, Shiozaki catches the ball he hit, only for his sinking ability to redirect on himself because of this, with him crashing into the ground and returning to normal.
In the aftermath of this battle, Ely arrives to congratulate a still sunken Tokio, Simon shows off his petty side by calling what Tokio did obstruction, while Momoma thinks he did a great job.
Speaking of Simon’s opinion on this, though, I can see him butting heads with Tokio in the future.
Not long after, Ichiiro Sato, a Yamato Mori Keeper, arrives to deal with the situation and considers recruiting Tokio and Ely by force if necessary, however, he knows Sandek will be stubborn about this.
Then, we get the most intriguing and horrifying moment of the chapter, when he states, “the creature of the tower kindles the flame once again,” as we see a leaning tower, emittng smoke.
Next, presumably inside this tower, we see Chandra Hume kneeling before a giant monster right out of a Lovecraftian Horror story.
The monster is gigantic, and has two clasped togethor hands holding pearls for a face.
It also appears to have wings.
Then, the unknown creature says that it has felt the birth of one of its beasts, as the final panel of the chapter shows a pile of decomposing corpses, all with weird markings on their foreheads.
This is quite a horrifying cliffhanger, one which made me quite interested to see where the story will go from here now that this monster that is supposedly the source of the Beast Choujins has appeared.
Who and what this monster is remains to be seen but I am already eagerly anticipating the answer.
That said, the pile of corpses raises some pretty terrifying implications, since in Chapter Two Hume offered to take Ely with him and teach her everything about Choujin.
If he had taken her to this monster, would she have ended up as just another corpse in the pile?
Overall, Chapter 14 was a great chapter that ended the Shiozaki fight well and delivered a horrifying cliffhanger than raises many intriguing questions for Ishida to answer in the future of this story.
Chapter 15: Fly. While Chapter 14 is a mostly action chapter, which built the story up with its cliffhanger, Chapter 15, “Fly,” is one that builds up Tokio and Ely’s characters in fantastic ways.
Ironically enough for a chapter named “Fly,” it begins with, well, birds flying, before we see Tokio wake up after his fight with Shiozaki.
Only he wakes up with the same exaggerated face as he did in Chapter Seven, but this time he’s screaming about being the Giant baseball team’s cleanup hitter.
It seems that Tokio waking up from nightmares with an exaggerated, horrified face is going to be a recurring gag in this story, not that I’m complaining.
After wrapping up Ely in a blanket when he sees she is also suffering from an unpleasant dream, Tokio goes outside to rest on a playground, where he is met by Shiozaki.
Shiozaki talks about how he wishes he had not quit baseball, but knows he only has himself to blame for all of the illegal things he did.
Tokio attempts to console him by asking him to play baseball with him in the future.
Shiozaki jokes that Tokio would not even be a good warmup for him but agrees to play a game of catch when his ledger is cleared and he is living an honest life.
It is good to see Shiozaki is changing, although a bit weird that he is not behind bars since his bank robbing was most likely discovered.
Then, we get the most shocking moment of the chapter… Ely’s age!
We see both her and Tokio’s Choujin registration and it turns out that Ely is actually older than Tokio.
She looks like a 12-year-old but it just turns out she is just short, go figure.
Sandek congratulates them on getting their Choujin registration and later talks with Tokio, who asks him what he gets out of being a Choujin.
In a classic moment of Ishida metaphor, Sandek compares happiness to a road where, if the rules are broken, chaos ensues.
Then, is a moment that is definitley a Spider-Man reference, Sandek says that “with great power… come the potential for great chaos.”
Sandek views it as a pleasure to defend the road from this chaos.
After stating this, he turns the question onto Tokio, asking what his heart is telling him to do?
Remembering how he helped Shiozaki, Tokio wonders if he can become a Choujin who helps people.
The look of relization as he thinks this is excellently drawn.
It would seem that Tokio may very well have finally discovered his dream, which he was struggling to find earlier.
This fantastic moment is then followed by a tragic one, which shapes Ely’s character.
She goes to give a replacement skooter to the kid she took one from to escape Hume in Chapter Two.
However, when she reaches the boy’s house, she is met with his grandfather, who reveals that the boy was murdered by Hume.
The scene then cuts to the murderous Smoke Choujin himself, who is at the tower, sitting with his back turned to the pile of corpses.
In Hume’s inner monologue, he mentions how each day “Mother” weakens, and how the beasts they are looking for could be her salvation.
This “Mother” is almost certainly the giant monster seen at the end of the last chapter.
So, does this mean that the many corpses behind Hume are Beast Choujin who were used in an attempt to save “Mother” but were failures and died as a result?
It would also seem that the Noh Mask Choujin works for “Mother” as well, and he and Hume are at odds, with Hume planning to find Tokio first for recognition.
Unbeknowst to Hume, though, he is firmly on Ely’s mind, as she sees his wanted poster while at the airport, along with the reward money for his capture.
This mixes in Ely’s two key motivations, which she brought up in Chapter Eight, taking out bad guys and money.
She wants to stop Hume because of the people he has hurt, most notably the boy, and also because of the reward money she could use to live comfortably.
It is not just Ely who has become more defined as a character, though, but Tokio as well, since after his relization and development through the Shiozaki fight, he has become more skilled, catching a piece of chalk his teacher throws at him in class when he is not listening.
It is that moment that Ely storms in, transferring to Tokio’s school, but walking into the wrong class.
Tokio then begins to follow her, wondering if it’s really Ely, peaking Azuma’s interest, as his eyes seem to prickle.
Could this be Azuma’s Choujin powers finally manifesting?
This is a brief moment, though, and it is cut off by the joke of Tokio still following Ely, wondering if it’s her, only to confront her and for Ely to humorously state, “obviously.”
Meeting to talk on the rooftop of the school, Tokio asks her what she’s doing here, and Ely says she is going to make money taking out bad guys.
She says this with the smoking tower framed in between them, pretty much confirming that a showdown with “mother” is innevitable, as the chapter comes to a close.
“Fly” was another great chapter of Choujin X, building up the character development of both Tokio and Ely excellently.
It seems they are being set up to fight Hume soon, but I do wonder where Ume and Ricardo went, since those two were built up before the Shiozaki fight, but have yet to face off against Tokio and Ely.
It’s just a matter of which villainous Choujin the two fill face off against first, Hume, Noh Mask, or Ume and Ricardo?
A common criticism I have heard of the latest film in the MCU, Eternals, is that it would have worked better as a series. Well, after watching the film, I can wholeheartedly say that I agree with this sentiment. Directed by Chloé Zhao, the film follows the titular Eternals, immortal superpowered beings, created by the Celestial Arishem to defend earth from monsters known as the Deviants. They consist of Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Thena (Angelena Jolie), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Makarri (Lauren Ridloff), and Ajak (Salma Hayak). Yes, that is 10 Eternals you have to keep track of.
This would not be a problem if Eternals was like an Avengers movie, with each of the Eternals having their own solo film, so you knew who they were when they came together for this film. It would also not be a problem if, as much of the criticism has stated, Eternals was a show instead. But Eternals is neither of these things. This is a two and half hour movie that introduces ten super heroes in quick succession and expects us to care about all of them, even when some of them have zero character development. The worst example of this is Ridloff’s Makkari. We know exactly three things about her character, she’s deaf, she has super speed, and sort of has a thing going on with Druig. That’s it. There is nothing else to her as a character because the film just does not focus on her because it spends time trying to make you care about the other Eternals, most of which do not have the proper screen time to make us care about them either.
To be fair, there are a few of the Eternals I did come to care about, like Phastos, Druig and Thena. However, even though I did like them, this was nowhere near the amount of care that it could have been because, again, there were too many characters to focus on. If they were so deadset on Eternals being a movie then they should have cut back on the characters, so they could get enough development that we as the audience would care about all of them. Unfortunately, it’s not just the characters that suffer in this movie but also the plot, with numerous side stories just not fitting in. The biggest of these is the Deviant storyline, which starts off important but, by the end, I wondered why it was still even a part of the narrative. Then there’s Kit Harrington’s role, which is more of a teaser for future MCU films than anything else. My final criticism is that there’s parts of this movie that were unintentionally funny. I remember one point in the film when a background character said something so deadpan, only to die immediately after saying it, and this made me burst into laughter, which was certainly not the reaction Zhao wanted. Although, I will say that while there are some bits that are unintentionally funny, there’s also some bits of good intentional humor as well, mostly with Kugo and his valet, Karun (Harish Patel). Along with this, I did like some of the twists and turns the story took. The acting across the board was also pretty good.
There was a lot of potential with Eternals. It’s just that this potential was crushed under the weight of what felt like a street performer juggling too many characters and plot points. Eternals would have been better as a series. If it had been one, it would have given enough time for all of the characters to be properly developed, side stories could be fleshed out without feeling pointless, and it might have just worked out into a cohesive narrative. Instead, what we got was easily one of the MCU’s weakest films. Hopefully, future Eternals films will improve on this.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After much anticipation, Amazon Prime has finally dropped the first three The Wheel of Time episodes, and I could not have been more excited for them. I am currently doing my first read through of Robert Jordan’s series and I just finished Towers of Midnight, so I only need to read the final book, A Memory of Light, to know everything. Knowing that, I think it would be fair of me to separate show spoilers from book spoilers. So, these reviews will have two sections. Section one will only be discussing what happens in the episode, and section two will discuss the book changes and what I think of them.
Episode Review: No Book Spoilers. I can remember constantly checking the Amazon Prime website every hour on the day of release because I was so eager to see this show. So, when I saw the episodes were out, I immediately clicked on the first episode, “Leavetaking,” sat back, and enjoyed. Was “Leavetaking” a perfect episode? No, there are a lot of issues I have with this first episode, but it certainly was not bad and had a lot of excellent moments. Directed by Uta Brieswitz, The episode opens with the Aes Sedai Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and her Warder Lan (Daniel Henney) preparing for their journey to find the Dragon Reborn, the reincarnation of the man who caused the Breaking of the World and is prophesied to face the Dark One. I, personally, did not really care for this opening because I think it would have been more interesting to slowly figure out why Moiraine is searching for this one person. Plus, I think there was another scene that should have been the opening, which has not been shown yet, but that’s book spoilers.
Following this, we get a chase where two men are being pursued by a woman in red (Kate Fleetwood). This woman in red, who is not named yet, is perfectly cast in my opinion. Exactly how I imagined her from the book in all her cruelty. We also get a good display of the madness the man suffers from, since his friend is revealed to have been in his head, before the women do something to him. This is not shown and will likely be expanded upon later. We also see that Moiraine and Lan were watching this happen and, unfortunately, this is the worst scene in all three episodes and it’s all because of one line. Moiraine says they are going to continue their search at the Two Rivers because “there are rumors of four ta’veren there.” This line makes absolutely no sense and opens a ton of plot holes. It was just a really sloppy excuse to get them to go to the Two Rivers when the book justification for it was perfectly fine. I will get into why this line is so bad in the book spoiler section. The moment following this horrible moment, though, does a great job of respecting the lore, as we get a landscape shot as Moiraine and Lan ride off, showing what looks like remnants of destroyed buildings reclaimed by nature, showing that this is a post apocalyptic earth. We then get the title, followed by the introduction to two characters, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Nynaeve (Zoë Robbins) at a river, where Egwene goes through a ritual to welcome her into the Woman’s Circle. Following this, we get an introduction to Rand (Josha Stradowski) and his father Tam (Michael McElhatton), and also Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat (Barney Harris). And this is the point where I praise the casting. Even only after three episodes, I can definitely say that the casting directors chose the right actors to play these characters. All of the performances are fantastic. If I had to pick a favourite though it would be Barney Harris as Mat. This sucks because he is being recast for Season Two for as of now unknown reasons. Still, at least we have an entire season of his performance to look forward to.
Anyway, once the introduction to these characters has been done, we get the arrival of Moiraine and Lan. The people’s reactions to Moiraine shows the fear towards the Aes Sedai in this world. A lot of people call this scene clunky but I did not have too much of an issue with it, personally. We then get a showcase of Rand and Egwene’s relationship, with them being romantically involved but there is also tension because of Egwene potentially becoming a Wisdom. There is also a moment of Moiraine and Lan in a bathtub showing how close the Aes Sedai Warder bond is, with them being close but not in a sexual way. All is not well, though, because we see the arrival of a mysterious and threatening figure in the night. This is contrasted by the arrival of the cheery arrival of peddler Padan Fain (Johann Myers), as we get another look at the characters’ day to day lives. We see Mat having to steal to provide for his sisters, Egwene telling Rand she has decided to become a Wisdom and Rand reluctantly accepting it, along with Moiraine subtly interrogating Nynaeve. The latter scene involves a lot of great subtext, as we as the viewers can see that Moiraine is trying to gage Nynaeve’s candidacy for being the Dragon Reborn, while Nynaeve hits back with the story of the prior Wisdom who raised her, showing her fierce and stubborn nature. Then, as Lan discovers symbols of a dragon fang made out of animal carcasses, he deduces that Trollocs are coming soon. Sure enough, we get Winter’s Night, which is just as bloody as I expected it to be. The moment Egwene started dancing with some random person and there were focuses on this guy, I was like, well, he’s gonna die. Sure enough, an axe is thrown through his back, coming out of his chest, and the Trollocs invade.
Chaos ensues with great usage of shaky cam, as Egwene and Nynaeve take cover, Perrin and his wife Laila (Helena Westerman) shelter people at their forge, and Padan Fain leaves as the mysterious rider watches over the chaos. We then get one of my favourite scenes of the episode, where Mat meets up with his terrible parents, only to learn that have lost his sisters. After angrily demanding where they are, he runs through the bloody massacre in a thrilling tracking shot, all to find his sisters. This is why I already like this Mat a lot better than the one in the first few books. It wasn’t until Book Three that I came to like him but these first three episodes made him my favourite character in the show so far. We then get a great fight with Rand and Tam being attacked by a Trolloc, with Tam retrieving the heron marked blade, a moment that gave me chills. Tam’s fight with the Trolloc, short as it is, is enthralling and gives a really good sense of his experience with the weapon. Unfortunately, the Trolloc wounds him and Rand has to save him before trying to get his father to safety. Back at the village, the massacre is still ongoing, and a Trolloc runs up to kill Nynaeve and Egwene, Nynaeve meeting its roar with one of her own, which is a great moment for her. Just as it seems they are done for, Moiraine and Lan arrive, killing many Trollocs, perfectly synchronised as an Aes Sedai and her Warder.
It’s not just the action and choreography that are excellent here, but the music as well, especially with how it’s in the old tongue. It’s not just Moiraine and Lan taking care of things, though, because we also see the Emonds’ Fielders fighting back, with a group of women taking down a Trolloc, showing just how tough Two Rivers folk can be. All is not well, however, because Nynaeve is captured by a Trolloc and, in a brutal scene, Perrin gets so lost in rage as he kills a Trolloc that he accidentally kills Laila. Is this a moment of fridging? Yes, but it is sure to influence Perrin’s character arc in the future of the story. Moiraine is also injured but pulls through in the face of a hoard of Trollocs, using much of her strength to throw chunks of buildings at them, eventually killing every last one. Although, it is kind of weird how the Trollocs just walk towards Moiraine instead of rushing to kill her as they’re being slaughtered. Another minor issue I had is that the Trolloc CGI could be a little off at times during the massacre. It was mostly good CGI though. Most of Winter’s Night was pretty on point, being a horrifying display, as it should be. Then we get the last scene of the episode, as Rand arrives with Tam who Moiraine heals, before revealing that the Trollocs are after Rand, Egwene, Mat and Perrin because of them is the Dragon Reborn and they need to leave if they want to protect their families. This moment is a little quick for my liking but it is serviceable.
Although I do like the episode overall, it does rush in quite a few places, so I wish this episode had either been extended or divided into two. At least it ends with the iconic narration “The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth. And even myth is long forgotten, when the age that gave it birth comes again. In one age, called the Third Age by some, a wind rose in the mountains of mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.” All in all, “Leavetaking” was a good beginning to The Wheel of Time show. It does have its issues, and does not quite live up to some of the story’s version of events, which I will get into in the book spoiler section below, but it is still a good start that had me excited to watch the other two episodes.
Book Spoiler Section: So, first I will get into why that scene where Moiraine says “there are rumors of four ta’veren” is such a terrible moment. As I said, it raises many questions and plot holes, one of the biggest of which is just who in the light started these rumors and how they knew about Rand, Egwene, Perrin and Mat being ta’veren? Ta’veren are extremely rare so it would take someone with a large amount of knowledge about them to recognise that Rand and the others were ones. Not only this but why would someone so knowledgable spread rumors about the ta’veren? Ta’veren are people who the Wheel of Time weaves into changing the world, so wouldn’t this hypothetical person who spread the rumors tell someone important about them rather than just telling random people? Most baffling of all, how would this person even recognise Rand, Egwene, Perrin and Mat as being ta’veren in the first place? Even if they were knowledgable about them, Rand and the others are showing no signs of being ta’veren at this point. Look at Mat, for example. Him being a ta’veren makes him extremely lucky, and yet in the episode he is shown to have terrible luck at this point, losing a gambling match. What knowledgable person would look at Mat in that scene and go, “yep, that’s a ta’veren if I ever saw one!” See what I mean? They should have just used the book explanation that Moiraine and Lan tracked them all down after years of hard work, rather than a rumor that makes zero sense when you consider what being a ta’veren is.
As for other changes, I was a bit disappointed that the prologue which introduced Lews Therin, the original Dragon, and showed his death creating Dragon Mount was not the opening to the show. That would have been a lot better than the opening we got where Moiraine just says exposition about what their mission is. There are other things I wanted to see, like Rand and Tam’s discussion, Rand learning he’s not Tam’s son, Moiraine posing as a noble lady rather than an Aes Sedai to get more information. I do get why some of these were not included though, most of all Rand learning he was adopted because they’re clearly trying to keep the Dragon Reborn identity a mystery. It’s also pretty clear they’re using Egwene as a red herring before they reveal Rand is the Dragon Reborn, as can be seen when they cut to Egwene after Moiraine talks about who it could be. As for Rand and Tam’s discussion, although I did miss it, I can’t deny that it’s replacement was fantastic, with it feeling so much like a reference to the ending of The Gathering Storm, a beautiful piece of foreshadowing whether intentional or not. Other changes include Rand and Egwene being romantically involved, rather than just interested in each other, Mat’s parents being jerks and Perrin having a wife and then killing her. When it comes to Rand and Egwene’s relationship, I think this works because it could make what comes after for them in the future of the story more meaningful and impactful. For the Mat change, I actually like this because it gives Mat much more depth than in the books at this point, which he really needed. As for Perrin having a wife and killing her, I think they added this to make his aversion towards his eventual wolf powers make more sense and feel fleshed out. There is also am interesting theory about Laila being a Dark Friend, since she had her weapon raised when Perrin accidentally killed her.
Another thing I wanted to mention in the spoiler free section but could not was Padan Fain. They did a great job of hinting at his menacing nature. I absolutely loved how we got the introduction to the Mydraal with the sinister music, only to cut to Fain whistling that tune as he enters Emond’s Field. I’ve found Fain to be a bit of an annoying gimmick villain after Book Two, so I hope the show improves on him, like they are so far doing with Mat. Overall, I like some of the changes and I dislike some of the changes. “Leavetaking” is still a good episode and the next two are even better.