The Wheel of Time, Episode Eight, The Eye of the World, Review: What in the Blood and Bloody Ashes was This?

Although I have had some issues with Amazon Prime’s adaptation of The Wheel of Time, mostly to do with the premiere episode, I overall enjoyed the show up to Episode Seven… then I watched Episode Eight. 
Directed by Ciarian Donnely again, this episode, titled “The Eye of the World”, is without question the weakest of the season, so far.
This is especially bad considering this is the first season’s finale, and I am really hoping it is not an indication of the quality of future seasons.
Admittedly, when “The Eye of the World” first started, I was pretty excited for it.
The reason for this is that the cold open for the episode is our first introduction to Rand’s prior life, Lews Therin Talamon (Alexander Karim), the Dragon Reborn… wait “reborn?”
Yeah, that was the first sign of trouble in the episode because there are quite a few inaccuracies to the most simple parts of the lore in this opening scene, like Lews Therin’s title, and Latra (Katie Brayben) somehow knowing the Dark One would taint the male half of the One Power.
Seriously, how the heck did she predict that?
Although, I was able to look past these issues during my first watch of the episode because I liked how the scene was performed in old tongue.
It really showed a commitment to the world building of the lore, even if some parts of it were contradicted. 
We even get a good look at the futuristic setting of the Third Age, which looks oddly good for a time when the Dark One threatened the world.
However, I guess they did need to show how far the world had fallen since the Breaking of the World, so it’s not too much of an issue. 

There are some issues with Lews Therin’s first scene in the show but overall I liked it.

We then pick up with our two sets of characters, as Rand and Moiraine make their way through the Blight, towards the Eye of the World, and Lan and the Emond’s Fielders reel from the revelation that Rand is the Dragon Reborn.
Lan’s top priority, though, is locating Moiraine, and Nynaeve informs him of how to do so because of a “tell” she has.
What this tell is and how Lan has not noticed it after decades of being Moiraine’s Warder is never explained.
Another issue is a line Lan says that is translated right from the books.
As he is saying goodbye to Nynaeve, he tells her, “I will hate the man you choose. Because he is not me. And I will love him if he makes you smile. You are as beautiful as the sunrise. You are as fierce as a warrior. You are a lioness, Wisdom.” 
Now, while this is a book accurate line, for the most part, I just don’t think it works here because it feels entirely different from the context of what is happening in this scene.
In the books, Lan has quite a different personality, so the reasons for him telling Nynaeve this are for meant to mean something else and thus the line does not match up with the show conversation.
Sure, the quote has been changed slightly to try and make more sense for the show but it still does not quite work right.
Then there’s the dialogue.
Again, it’s true to the book, however the issue is that the dialogue for this adaptation has been more modern so to hear this old fashioned love declaration feels rather strange.
Speaking of strange, we then get our first look at the Dark One, who visits Rand in a dream and, honestly, I personally did not find him to be that intimidating.
To be fair, I think it’s an issue with the costuming, rather than the acting of Fares Fares.
The way his shirt goes down below his jacket makes him look like he got out of bed late, realized he had to go terrorize Rand, and haphazardly put on whatever was there to make it in time. 

The Father of Lies is kind of hard to take seriously with this costuming.

Also, I’m pretty sure there are some things about this dream scene that contradict key aspects of the series’ lore.
This, and the Moiraine fake out death was obvious and annyoing.
Unfortunately, this is not the last we’ll see of one in the episode, as can be seen with one of Min’s visions of Nynaeve “dying.”
Upon waking, Rand is informed by Moiraine about her plan for him to use a sa’angreal to seal the Dark One away again.
Again, though, that’s not how it works in the books but whatever.
They do not have a lot of time, though, because the Dark One is sending his most terrifying force against Fal Dara. 
No, not Trollocs, no, not Mydraals, but terrible CGI!
Seriously, what in the light was up with the Trolloc CGI in this episode?
Sure, some of the Trollocs did look pretty iffy in previous episodes but the ones here looked so abysmal that it broke all my immersion.
It looked like Sharknado quality, I’m not kidding. 

See?

To be fair, though, this could have been an issue because of COVID, so it is understandable if that’s the case.
Rushing to meet the terrible CGI Trollocs is the show’s unlikeable version of Lord Agelmar, who has left his sister, Lady Amilisa, to defend the city if he falls, which in hindsight is a really stupid decision, but I’ll explain why later.
As this is happening, Rand and Moiraine descend into the Eye, only for Rand to be drawn into a dream world where the Dark One shows him his ideal life with Egwene, offering it in return for serving him. 
The Dark One also confronts Moiraine out in the real world but easily cuts her off from the One Power, seemingly permanently.
Meanwhile, at Fal Dara, Egwene and Nynaeve join Lady Amilisa and two others to protect Fal Dara, while Perrin despairs over not knowing how to help.
Loial inspires him with a pretty good inspiring line, “if you want to help but don’t know how, all you need to do is ask.”

I’m still loving Hammed Animashaun’s portrayal of Loial, even if he has not had as much characterization as in the books.

Loial’s advice leads to him and Perrin helping uncover the Horn of Valere from under Lord Agelmar’s throne, however, this is not exactly a good thing because Padan Fain arrives with two Mydraal to steal the horn.
I quite enjoyed the brutal way he enters the scene, resulting in the death of two women, since it shows how big of a threat he is.
Although, the scene of him actually stealing the horn and then talking to Perrin is a little clumsy.
Fain pretty much stabs Loial, monologues to Perrin, and then leaves with Perrin having nothing to do other than stand there and listen.
The scene with Nynaeve and Egwene is not much better, unfortunately.
After Lord Agelmar is seemingly killed and the Trollocs break through, rushing to attack Fal Dara, Lady Amilisa links with the five other channelers, completely obliterating the Trolloc army.
This is why I said it was stupid for Agelmar to leave the city’s defences to his sister.
If five untrained women channeling can generate enough power to destroy an entire Trolloc army then why in the blood and ashes would you not put them on the front lines?
Not doing so just wastes lives.
Also, again, these women are untrained, so it leaves a whole lot of plot holes, like why the trained Aes Sedai did not easily destroy Logain’s army in Episode Four?
And then there’s the already mentioned second fake out death.
After Amilisa and the other two women who can channel are killed from using too much power, Nynaeve appears to die as well before she and Egwene can break free from their hold on the One Power.
Egwene then magically heals Nynaeve pretty much instantly.
What was the point of this?
It just feels like unnecessary drama.

I’m really hoping that this show quits it with the fake out deaths.

At least the fight at the Eye of the World has a somewhat satisfying conclusion, with Rand breaking free from the Dark One’s manipulations because of his love for the real Egwene, and blasting him away.
With this battle now done, Rand decides to leave, saying he can feel the madness that all male channelers suffer from.
It would have been nice if we could have seen this madness but Rafe Judkins apparently decided to just have Rand say he could feel it.
Moiraine promises to tell everyone Rand has died as he leaves and Lan then arrives after having done pretty much nothing in this final episode.
She tells Lan that Rand is “gone” and confirms that she can no longer channel, before proclaiming that this was not the last battle but the first of many to come.
The final scene of the episode then sees a little girl playing on a beach, only to witness an invading army approaching. 
This army uses their channelers to send out a tsunami onto the beach, killing the girl.

Such a show of force is honestly kind of dumb though because, unless I’m mistaken, that beach looked pretty barren.
So, were they just trying to kill one girl?
Clearly not but that’s the way it appeared.
It seems that Judkins wanted this new culture to be scary yet he did not think of a logical reason for their actions beyond this. 

“Look, a little girl! Let’s create a giant tsunami just to kill her and no one else because we’re the big, scary bad guys!”

And so this awkward feeling scene brings an end to what is undoubtedly the weakest episode of Season One by a large margin.
This episode is just full of issues.
To be fair, there are good things, like the score and acting for the most part.
It’s just that the decisions made for this episode’s story really baffle me, especially as a reader of the books.
Overall though, I would say this adaptation was decent.
If I were to rank all the episodes from weakest to best it would go Episode Eight, Episode One, Episode Five, Episode Three, Episode Two, Episode Seven, Episode Six, and best of all Episode Four. 

 

Book Spoilers: 

I said that, as a book reader, a lot of the changes this episode baffled me, and this bafflement started right from the opening scene.
Why is Lews Therin known as the Dragon Reborn and not just the Dragon?
The Dragon Reborn is Rand’s title.
It’s a small inconsistency from the books but a weird one.
It gets even weirder when both Moiraine and Rand die in Rand’s dream.
If this is Tel’aran’rhiod, then both of them should be dead since they died in their dreams.
Although maybe this is somehow just a regular dream that Ishamael is invading.
Speaking of, I wish they had just revealed that the one Rand fought was not the Dark One but Ishamael.
As I said, the costuming made it difficult for me to take him seriously, and this would have been worse if I was a show only viewer, since I would find him unthreatening as the Dark One.
So, is the show just going to temporarily kill him off whenever the Dragon Reborn is adapted, and then reveal he wasn’t the Dark One as well?
That felt cheap on my first read through of the books and I hope it is changed.
This said, I did like the change of it being Ishamael that Rand fought at the Eye, instead of Aginor and Bathamel.
As for the other changes of the episode, another significant one was how much less of a deal the Eye of the World and the battle of Tarwin’s Gap were.
I think they’re substituting the Eye for a seal for the Dark One’s prison here, which is fine, but the battle of Tarwin’s Gap was not handled well because Rand did not have a part in it.
That battle in the book, confusing as it was, showed off Rand’s power as the Dragon Reborn and why he was such a big deal.
Overall, the show does not really show why the Dragon Reborn is so revered and feared at the same time because Rand seems just like a normal male channeler at this point.

The power and threat the Dragon Reborns poses to the world is not seen in this adaptation, at least not yet.

All of the prophecies have clearly been thrown out the window as well, since Moiraine went through with this plan to bring just Rand to the Eye of the World, thinking it was the Last Battle.
So, what happened to all the other prophecies that Rand and the others spent multiple books fullfiling?         
Is Rand going to go grab Callandor just because he feels like it now?
Coming back to the Eye, though, the Horn of Valere is no longer there but under Agelmar’s throne.
What?
Another strange change, and it leads to another one with Loial being stabbed by Padan Fain.
Which reminds me, they never explained why Loial went with Rand and the others in the first place, so his actions don’t really make sense in the show because he has no motivation.
Also, him being stabbed by Fain with the Shadar Logoth Dagger seems to suggest that he will take on Mat’s role in the Great Hunt, since Barney Harris left.
As for Mat himself, Fain again implies that Mat could turn to the shadow, another instance of the show seeming to misunderstand Mat as a character.
Sure, Mat is a trouble maker, but he never had an inherent darkness in the books that drew him to the Shadow.

I loved Barney Harris’ performance as Mat this season and I’m sad to see him go but, man, did they have to portray him like a potential villain at times? That is just not Mat.

Then there’s Moiraine being stilled, which is another controversial divergance.
However, I’m not sure if she was stilled or just kept from touching the One Power, like Moghidien did to Liandrin in the books.
Either way, it’s a massive departure from her character, one which I hope turns out for the better in season two but, after the quality of this episode’s changes from the source material, I’m concerned.
I have liked some of the chages in previous episodes, like the extension of Logain’s storyline and Moiraine and Suian’s relationship, but the changes in Episode Eight really dropped the ball.
“The Eye of the World” is a weak ending for an otherwise alright adaptation of the first book in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. 

The Wheel of Time, Episode Seven, The Dark Along the Ways Review: The Blood Snow.

I was pretty excited for Episode 7 of The Wheel of Time, “The Dark Along the Ways,” because the teasers showed that this would be the episode where we finally got to see the Blood Snow, and it certainly did not disappoint.
Directed by Ciaran Donnely, the Blood Snow is the cold open for the episode, and it is the best of the series, showing an Aeilwoman fighting on the slopes of Dragonmount while going through labour.
This whole action scene is probably the best shot scene of the entire series so far.
I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the actress playing the Aeil, Magdalena Sittova, does a fantastic job.
Although, it is a little immersion breaking that the Aeil is able to kill so many trained soldiers while in labour.
It kind of reminded me of Mel from The Last of Us Part 2 who was also ridiculously doing death defying stunts while pregnant.
Still, I think it makes a lot more sense here because, again, the woman is Aeil, probably the best fighters in the Wheel of Time.
Also, the fight sequence is riveting and the action is great so my suspension of disbelief was ultimately maintained.

This scene expanded on the Blood Snow from the books in such an excellent fashion.

The epic fight finally ends with the Aeilwoman preparing to give birth, only to be confronted by yet another soldier, before cutting to the opening credits.
Following this cliffhanger and the credits, we go back to our main characters traveling in the Ways, with the exception of Mat, whose actor Barney Harris left so they had to write him out.
One thing that impressed me about this episode was actually how well they did so.
They did not just forget about Mat, he is brought up throughout, and there are quite a few teases for what will happen to him next season, when he is played by Donal Finn, like with Moiraine sending the Red Ajah after him.   
The only thing I found questionable about it is Moiraine’s perception of Mat, believing he would “turn to the shadow” if he were the Dragon.
When I first saw this moment I chuckled thinking, oh, Moiraine, you don’t understand Mat at all.
However, then I pondered whether this was not Moiraine misinterpreting Mat’s character but the writers and I became a bit concerned for where his character could go.
I will explain why further down in the spoiler section.
In any case, the characters continue moving on through the Ways, with Perrin eventually spotting a guiding that has been damaged by something.
This means Loial will need time to dechiper it, asking for the other’s patience, resulting in the best joke of the episode when Rand says, “if he’s asking for patience, then we’re gonna die.” 
It does feel like this joke was meant for Mat, as it seems more in character for him to say it than Rand, but I do understand why he had to be the one because of Barney Harris’ departure.
Moiraine ignores Rand’s concerns and the group decide to rest in the Ways, only for them to be attacked by a Trolloc, which is blasted off the path by Rand channeling. 
Rand doing this was done in such a subtle way that show only viewers would think it was Egwene but book readers like myself would understand it as a hint for Rand being the Dragon Reborn.

The subtle hints that Rand is the Dragon Reborn are done great.

However, this does not end the trouble, because Rand channeling summons Machin Shin, the Black Wind.
The group rush to the Waygate door to Fal Dara to escape Machin Shin, but it catches up to them before they can get out, whispering things they don’t want to accept about themselves to them.
It’s not as creepy as it was in the books but it was serviceable for what comes.
Anyway, the group is able to escape, thanks again to Nynaeve, and they arrive at Fal Dara, entering the city where they are “welcomed” by Lord Agelmar (Thomas Chaanhing), who is not happy to see Moiraine, thinking his sister Lady Amalisa (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) summoned her.
Although he does calm down when Moiraine warns him about the Trollocs in the ways.
Too late though because we see the figure who was following them in the Ways come through, and Perrin later thinks he sees Padan Fain in the city.
After this, Moiraine goes to see Min, another character I have been excited to see.
I will admit that I am not quite sure how to feel about the actress who plays her, Kae Alexander, at this point.
Her performance does feel a bit different from what I expected as a book reader, but I don’t hate it.

I think I just need to see more of Kae Alexander in Season Two before I come to a decision on how I feel about her performance.

Although I am unsure of Alexander as Min, I think the show did a really good job of showing her visions, even if the editing of this scene did become a bit weird at one point.
Her scene also ends rather ominously, as Min tells Moiraine that she saw the Amyrlin Seat will be her downfall.
From here, we move on to what is undoubtedly the worst scene of the episode.
It begins well enough, with Moiraine warning them that whoever goes to the Eye of the World and is not the Dragon Reborn will die.
However, once she and Lan leave we get the dreaded love triangle.
Why, oh, why did the writers have to resort to Perrin also having feelings for Egwene?
It just was not needed and it made the scene feel so contrived.
Thankfully, it seems this is just a single episode plotline and I really hope that it stays that way. 

I remember hearing Machin Shin telling Perrin that he loved another woman and I got very concerned at that point. Sadly, the love triangle was followed through on.

At least after the worst scene of the episode we get one of the best, with Nynaeve following Lan, watching through a window as he meets up with some close friends who call him “Dai Shan.”
The music during this moment is fantastic and I love Nynaeve and Lan’s chemistry in the show, as seen when Lan ambushes her like a ninja and invites her inside.
This eventually leads to the two of them sleeping together for the first time and Lan telling her how he is the king of a long gone kingdom, Malkier.
Their relationship has definitely progressed a lot faster and differently than it did in the books but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Then, we get the big moment of the episode: the reveal of the Dragon Reborn.
After reconciling with Egwene and sleeping with her, Rand returns outside and begins to accept that he is the one destined to fight the Dark One.
We see that he really did channel when he broke down the ironwood door in episode three, and when he saved Egwene earlier in the Ways.
It also revealed that Machin Shin spoke to him about being the Dragon Reborn, which made a lot of sense because I thought it was weird that he was so torn up, when all it seemed to talk to him about in the beginning was Egwene.
Rand visits Min for further confirmation and we then see how she saw a vision of his birth in the past, with Tam stumbling across Rand’s mother giving birth and helping her.
When she died, Tam took the baby to raise in the Two Rivers.
This episode really reminded me of why I loved Tam so much in the books.

Tam al’Thor is an excellent father.

Rand then goes to Moiraine and admits that he is the Dragon Reborn and the two leave for the Blight, leaving the others behind as they realize what has happened, bringing an end to the episode.
Overall, I would say that “The Dark Along the Ways” is my third favourite episode in The Wheel of Time, right behind “The Flame of Tar Valon” and the “The Dragon Reborn.”
I know I said that I considered it better than Episode Six in my previous review but a rewatch of this episode put it down lower.
It just had a few too many issues, most notably the awful love triangle scene.
This said, most of the episode was great, especially the Blood Snow and Rand coming to accept himself as the Dragon Reborn.

Book Spoilers:

So, for the book spoilers section, I will start small with Moiraine’s comment about Mat.
As I said in my previous review of Episode Six, Mat is described as someone who would run into a fire for his friends in the books, so I find the idea that he would willingly join the Dark One to be a bit absurd.
Still, he had been under the influence of the Dagger from Shadar Logoth so maybe that would explain it.
But the show has been saying there is an inherit darkness to Mat for a while, which I am not quite sure how to feel about since this was not a thing in the books.
Could Mat be a jerk at times?
Yes, especially in the first couple of books, but he quickly proves himself as a loyal friend and hero, even if he is not accepting of either of those titles.
Another character who is different from the books is Lord Agelmar, who is way more unlikeable in the show.
Still, Agelmar is not a character I really cared for in the books, he was just okay, so I’m not too bothered by the change.
I feel the same way about the Machin Shin change, with the Black Wind just speaking to the characters rather than doing anything truly threatening.
This is a small part of the books so I can let it slide.
It also leads to Rand realizing he is the Dragon Reborn, which is great.
Speaking of that, Rand accepting this is probably the biggest change in the entire episode.
Rand goes on an entire soul searching arc for the first three books and it is only at the end of that third book that he completely accepts his destiny as the Dragon Reborn.
Here, he does it much sooner, however, I think it was done in a way that is actually true to Rand’s character from the books.
Here, Rand is told that whoever goes to the Eye of the World and is not the Dragon Reborn will die.
This makes him accepting his destiny sooner make plenty of sense because he obviously does not want Egwene, Nynaeve, or Perrin to die.
It is an interesting change, which is justified well by the story telling in the episode, and I am intrigued to see where it will go in Season Two, with a Rand who fully accepts himself as the Dragon Reborn.

Rand’s relization was well done, even if it is different from the books.

The show also clearly intends to keep some of his future storylines the same, as seen when Min prophecises three beautiful women, herself, Elayne and Aviendha.
Real humble, aren’t you, Min?
However, this positive change of Rand accepting his destiny sooner could not save Episode Eight, “The Eye of the World,” which is easily the worst episode of this entire first season.

As for “The Dark Along the Ways” though, it is still one of the best episodes of the show so far, with some intriguing changes.