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 woman, 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 who can channel 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 t00?
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.

Wheel of Time, Episode Six, The Flame of Tar Valon, Review: More Than Pillow Friends.

Directed by Salli Richardson-Whitefield, Episode Six of The Wheel of Time, “The Flame of Tar Valon,” was an episode many fans were interested to see.
This was because it is supposedly Brandon Sanderson’s favourite episode of the season.
After seeing it, I can see why because it definitely is one of the best episodes, but I would personally put it behind Episode Four, “The Dragon Reborn,” and Episode Seven, “The Dark Along the Ways,” which I will review later.
“The Flame of Tar Valon” kicks off with the backstory of Siuan Saunche, the Amyrlin Seat, who lived in a small fishing hut with her father in Tear.
The young Siuan (Kiera Chasna) has begun to Chanel and her father warns her to be careful no one sees but this warning comes too late, as the two return to find their hut burned to the ground and a Dragon’s Fang signed into the remains.
This causes Siuan’s father to reluctantly send her to the White Tower, where she goes on to become the Amyrlin Seat many years later.
On that note, I will say that the acting for this initial scene was fantastic.
This is especially the case for Peter de Jersey, who plays Siuan’s father.
In a single scene he actually almost made me tear up during the emotional goodbye to his daughter. 

De Jersey’s performance shows how great the casting of this show is, since they made sure to get great actors for even minor roles.

After this opening, the episode cuts to the present with the Amyrlin’s trial of Logain and following interrogation of Moiraine, Liandrin, and Alanna.
The introduction of Siuan (Sophie Okonedo) is well handled, with a great transition from a panning shot to a high angle looking down, as the shot also incorporates CGI to show the grandness of the Hall of the Tower.
We then get a pretty intimidating first impression of Siuan, as Logain is brought in for his trial.
The False Dragon appears to be pointlessly trying to show strength by gloating about killing Kerene, however Siuan quickly deduces that he is trying to anger her so she will kill him.
Knowing this is what he wants because of the loss created by Logain’s gentling, the effects of which were explained by Thom in Episode Four, Siuan decides to give Logain the most fitting of punishments.
Logain will be forced to live so he can serve as an example to other False Dragons, and he is dragged off screaming out of the Hall, begging for death.
This done, Siuan turns to Moiraine, Liandrin and Alanna, berating them for violating tower law by gentling Logain without a trial.
In the end, Liandrin and Alanna are able to avoid trouble, however Moiraine is not becsause Liandrin turns the attention onto her.
Siuan demands to know where Moiraine has been all this time but she has to say nothing because, since she cannot lie, she would have to reveal she has been searching for the Dragon Reborn, which would create chaos and likely not end well for her.
So, she tells Siuan she cannot say, and the enraged Amyrlin berates her before delcaring she will decide her punishment tomorrow.
This allows Moiraine some time to track down the missing Emonds’ Fielders, the first two of which she tracks down is Rand and Mat by having Lan follow Nynaeve.
Rand leaps to Mat’s defence, afraid Moiraine will gentle him because he can channel, however it is as this point that it is revealed that the reason for Mat’s sickness is not channeling but the cursed dagger he stole from Shadar Logoth.
This was a great scene, providing more examples of the actors’ prowess.
Barney Harris’ “bless his heart, he tries,” was charmingly funny and Rosamund Pike’s “you stupid boy” was excellently delivered. 

The performances of Pike and Harris were fantastic during the dagger scene.

Moiraine saving Mat from the sickness of the cursed dagger makes Rand trust her more, whle Moiraine tells him that if Mat was ordinary then the dagger would have consumed him long ago, saying that if he touches it again he might be lost forever.
It is that this moment that Nynaeve comes in, ready to berate Moiraine, only to have this turned on her instead, as Moiraine condemns her for not informing her about the boys, especially since she knew of Mat’s condition.
Moiraine then takes it even further by stating, “if wisdom is the title you claim, I suggest you start using some.” 
What a fantastic line and an epic burn for Nynaeve.
Yet Moiraine still faces trouble, even when relaxing, as she meets one of the Blue Ajah Sitters, Maigan, who tells her that she will convince Siuan to allow Moiraine to stay at the tower.
Moiraine has no intention of staying, however, since it will be dangerous for whoever the Dragon Reborn turns out to be, especially if its Rand, Mat or Perrin.
Speaking of Perrin, though, Moiraine tracks him and Egwene down next, and Egwene gives her the rings taken by Valda, while Moiraine tells them to prepare to leave soon.
Then, we get the big twist of the episode, as Moiraine uses a Ter’angreal in the portrait seen in her room during the previous episode to transport herself to meet with Siuan.
The two are revealed to be lovers, just acting like they are at odds to avoid suspicion while they search for the Dragon Reborn.
I quite liked how this facade was slowly unveiled compared to the books where its just spoken of rather than shown.
Their romantic relationship is also something new since, in the books, they were described as once being “pillow friends” but that was the extent of it, really.

I like the change of Moiraine and Siuan’s relationship and I will get into why further in the book spoilers section.

After the reveal of their true relationship, Siuan reveals she has been dreaming about the Dark One at the Eye of the World, so Moiraine decides that Siuan must banish her so she can take whoever the Dragon turns out to be to stop him.
This plan has a slight hitch, however, because Liandrin’s own agents have uncovered the Emond’s Fielders Moiraine is hiding.
She is quick to deal with this problem, though, shutting Liandrin up by blackmailing her with the information that she is seeing a man in Northharbour.
With this done, Moiraine continues to initiate her plan, recruiting Loial’s aid, and reuniting Egwene with Nynaeve.
This also had a moment that cracked me up when Nynaeve is grumpily telling Lan as they walk into the room, “If you can’t lead the world from a room built of wood and dirt, how can you call yourself a leader?”
That is classic, stubborn Nynaeve right there.
The scene somehow only gets funnier with Moiraine’s “Siuan Saunche waits for only one woman and it’s not you,” comment, and Egwene looking prideful when Siuan says one of them is the most powerful chaneller in a thousand years, only for her to visibly deflate when Siuan says it’s Nynaeve.
I did not expect this episode to have some of the funniest moments of the series so far going in, so that was a pleasant surprise. 

“The Flame of Tar Valon” really had some great humor.

After these great jokes, the scene turns serious as Siuan informs Nynaeve and Egwene of the coming of the Last Battle, telling them the only thing that matters is what they do.
It is interesting how she only gives this conversation to Egwene and Nynaeve, potentially because she hopes the Dragon Reborn is one of them and not Rand, Mat or Perrin, since a male channeler would go insane eventually.
Once this is done, we get the most emotional scene of the episode, where Siuan is forced to banish Moiraine to protect their mission of helping the Dragon Reborn.
It is here that Moiraine repeats the exact same words to Siuan that her father did at the beginning of the episode, showing how much she loves her.
Probably the only thing that kept me from tearing up here was the funny idea of the other Aes Sedai overhearing this and realising the two have been in cahoots this whole time.
Although, I guess Moiraine whispered that part so it does make sense that no one was suspicious.
There is one part of this scene that I am not too sure of, though, but that is book spoilers so I will leave it for that section of the post.
Once Moiraine’s banishment is done, she, Lan, Loial, and the five Emond’s Fielders head for the Waygate, which Loial will use to guide them to the Eye of the World.
However, as they’re going through, Mat refuses to follow and the episode ends with him being left behind as the Waygate closes on everyone else.
If this seemed like a weird scene to you, it’s probably because Barney Harris actually left the show at this point, most likely for personal reasons, so he will not be in the rest of the series.
Donal Finn has been cast as Mat from Season Two onwards and I hope he can do just as great as job as Harris.
I would also like to praise Harris for his performance.
He was a fantastic Mat Cauthon and I am quite sad to see him go, since his performance was one of my favourites.
I hope that for whatever reasons he left the show he is able to get back on his feet and continue acting because he is quite talented.

Goodbye Barney Harris. You did an excellent job as Mat.

Overall, “The Flame of Tar Valon” is definitely one of the best episodes of The Wheel of Time so far.   
And the next one is even better. 



 

Book Spoilers:

So, let’s talk about the expansion of Moiraine and Siuan’s relationship, compared to the books.
The way I read the description of their relationship in the novels is that by being pillow friends they were in a friends with benefits agreement that stopped some time before the present story began.
In the show, however, they are going all the way with the romantic relationship and I actually quite like this change because it adds a new dynamic to both their characters.
It will also be interesting to see how this progresses, considering that Moiraine ends up with Thom in the books and Siuan ends up with Gareth Bryne.
Although, I don’t think I am alone in saying that Moiraine’s relationship with Thom came out of nowhere in the books, so I am glad she has a romantic relationship in the show that actually feels earned.
As for the thing I was unsure of during the banishment scene between Moiraine and Siuan, it was Siuan using the Oath Rod to make sure Moiraine stays banished until she calls her back.
I may be wrong about this, but making her swear on the Oath Rod would meet quite a lot of backlash in the Tower, considering how something similar happened with Elaida in the Gathering Storm, when she tried to add a new oath that everyone had to obey the Amyrlin.
So, wouldn’t Siuan ordering Moiraine away using the Oath Rod cause similar backlash from the Aahs?
Or maybe I am mistaking this and it is just the addition to the Three Oaths that they would take issue with.  
Moving on, the next member of the cast I want to talk about for the book spoilers section is Mat, specifically how he is described as having a darkness in him.
This is certainly a change from the books, considering that Siuan describes him as someone who would run into the fire for his friends and Mat proves this multiple times.
I hope this part of his character is intact when he comes back played by Donal Flinn in Season Two.
Now, I would like to talk about Liandrin again, specifically the scene where Moiraine blackmails her with her knowledge of the man she has in Northharbour.
What if this man is a Darkfriend contact of hers?
It could be Padan Fain, or someone else.
We’ll probably get a better idea of who this Darkfriend is, if he is one, next season.

I wonder how Liandrin’s connections to the Black Ajah will be revealed in the show?

About that next season, though, one specific hint gave me a feeling of dread for what is about to happen in that season.
When meeting with Moiraine, Maigan says she might be going to track ship disappearances in the west.
This is almost certainly hinting at the Seanchan, one of the best detestible people in The Wheel of Time story.
The thought of seeing them gives me both a feeling of excitement and dread for the pain and suffering they will inflict.
I would say that I quite liked a few of the changes to the books in this episode.
The only one I had a massive issue with was Mat staying behind but I’m forgiving of that because it’s understandable, considering Barney Harris had to leave.
I can definitely see why this might be Brandon Sanderson’s favourite episode of the season. 

The Wheel of Time, Episode Five, Blood Calls Blood Review: A Fantastic Easter Egg.

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.

The CGI for Tar Valon and Dragonmount is great.

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.”

I cannot wait to see more of this version of Loial.

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.

The Stepin storyline teaches us a lot about a Warder’s bond with their Aes Sedai.

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. 

Really liking the look of Perrin’s golden eyes here.

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.

This was an emotional moment from Perrin.

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. 

It will be interesting to see which of the Foresaken from the books are kept and which are removed.

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.

This was the moment I went from feeling sad to laughing my head off.

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.

Seeing this Padan Fain cameo made me lose my mind.

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.