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.

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.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the piece of dialogue in the episode.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Book Spoilers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perrin sees the ember eyed man in his dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wheel of Time Trailer Reaction: Let’s Hope the Wheel Weaves it to be Good.

Warning: This will discuss spoilers for Book One and beyond for the Wheel of Time. So, if you don’t want to know some stuff going into the show then don’t read this.

The Wheel of Time turns and adaptations come and pass.
Well, now Amazon Prime is delivering their own Wheel of Time show developed by Rafe Judkins. 
For those unaware, The Wheel of Time is a 15 book epic fantasy series created and written by Robert Jordan, until his unfortunate passing due to a terminal illness, after which Brandon Sanderson finished the story based on Jordan’s notes. 
I first got into the Wheel of Time based on the recommendation of a book YouTuber I watch named Daniel Greene and have just finished the seventh book in the series, A Crown of Swords.
So far, I am loving this story and its characters, and I was very excited to watch the trailer to get an indication of how the books would be adapted. 
And the trailer did not disappoint, beginning with two important characters, Nynaeve al’Meara (played by Zoë Robins), and Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden).
Nynaeve appears to be training Egwene in the Wisdom ways, and by that I mean tossing her off a damn cliff and into the water.
Following this, we get our first look at Emond’s Field, with the narration of the lines accompanying the beginning of every book playing, “the Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass.” 
With these lines, we get our first good look at our three ta’veren, Rand al’Thor (Josha Stadowski), Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris), and Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford), and the three of them look great, especially Mat, who really seems to give off the trouble making spirit he has in the books. 

This shot appears to perfectly encapsulate Rand, Mat and Perrin’s personalities. I hope the actors can bring them to life.

There is also some romantic tension between Rand and Egwene setup, which is explored further in the trailer. 
After some traveling shots we get another interesting moment where we see a Warder kissing an Aes Sedai ring, possibly meaning her death in a potential show only storyline I will get into later.
Then we get a shot of Egwene emerging from the water, covered in numerous colours, which is the best shot of the trailer once you understand the symbolism at play. 
It took me watching a breakdown from Daniel Greene to get it but when he hinted at the symbolism it floored me. 
If you read Book Six, Lord of Chaos, you will definitley understand what this brief moment is foreshadowing, especially with the narration about legends.

The foreshadowing in this image for Egwene’s character is truly great.

We then get our first look at Tar Valon, the home of the Aes Sedai, with Dragon Mount in the background and it looks fantastic.
The CGI is truly top notch here. 
Afterwards, we get our first shot of the character the trailer wants you to believe is the protaganist, Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), arriving at Emond’s Field, explaining the one power and how the women of the Aes Sedai use it to protect the world. 
Funny how they show the Red Ajah with Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) while she narrates about this. 
But what she says is given weight by the showcasing of the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) and her Keeper Leane Sharif (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), who all seems to appear much earlier than they do in the books. 
We also get a lot of displays of the one power, with another Aes Sedai healing Moiraine and one stopping a bunch of arrows thrown at them, with Lan (Daniel Henney), who is Moiraine’s Warder, guarding Nynaeve. 
So, the trailer already seems to be dropping hints at their future relationship. 
A sequence of shots then follow, most importantly from Shadar Logoth, where we see Mat with the cursed dagger and the Mashadar pursuing the characters. 
Then we get Mat looking away from what looks like a dead Aeil in a cage, maybe foreshadowing how Perrin meets Gaul in Book Three, The Dragon Reborn.
Speaking of Perrin, we then see him being confronted by a wolf, most likely Hopper, which has me very excited because I love that storyline from the first book, Perrin being my favourite character in The Wheel of Time so far. 

I can’t wait to see Perrin’s storyline adapted. I wonder if we’ll get to see Elyas and the White Cloaks as well?

Curiously, we then see an almost undressed Rand and Egwene sitting togethor, suggesting they will be a lot more romantic than they were in The Eye of the World. 
Although the narration does hint at this not lasting.
The one narrating this is Tam (Michael McElhatton), Rand’s father. 
We then get a bird’s eye view of Winter’s Night, which transitions perfectly into Aes Sedai saying goodbye to their dead. 
This second shot is not connected to Winter’s Night but it does foreshadow what will happen there. 
We then get our first look at a Myrddraal, looking very creepy, as Lan warns someone, probably Rand, that the Dark One is after him and his freinds.
This is quickly followed by shots of a terrified Mat and suprisingly calm looking Rand being pursued by the Mydraal riding a skull masked horse and leading an army of Trollocs. 
Then we get shots of Nynaeve and Lan stuck in a fight, which takes on intersting meaning when we see the False Dragon Logain (Alexandre Willaume) appearing to break free from his captivity under the Red Ajah. 
Therefore, the people fighting Lan and Nynaeve might be his followers. 
This seems to showcase a brand new storyline for Logain, which I am all for because I am very interested to see where his character will go in the books, especially with how Min prophesied his future glory, whatever that means. 

I am excited to see where Logain will go as a character both in the books and in the show.

I am also guessing that this escape attempt will result in the Aes Sedai death we see the Warder mourning near the beginning of the trailer. 
We then see Siuan telling Moirane that the Last Battle is coming, followed by some fantastic footage of the Trollocs in shadow. 
Coming into the trailer, I was kind of concerned that the Trollocs would look goofy but they actually appear pretty terrifying. 
More fighting shots follow, before we see our characters heading towards a Waygate out in the wilderness.
This is followed by our first clear look at a Myrddraal. with its hairless, eyeless face, and mouth full of serated teeth. 
Like the Trollocs, the Myrddraal looks horrifying and I cannot wait to see more of it. 

Look at how many teeth that Myrddraal has! That’s a whole lot of nope right there.

The final shots of the trailer then show Moiraine channeling against the army of Trollocs controlled by the Myddraal, and Lan fighting alongside her in some epic action shots, as Moiraine calls down a bolt of lightening to end the battle. 
With that, we get the offical logo for The Wheel of Time and a release date, November 19th.
This trailer was great. 
The cast looks well chosen, the CGI and fight scenes look good, it teased an interesting show original storyline with Logain, and even the music of of the trailer is well done, with Lorne Balfe being announced as the series’ composer. 
That last fact is another thing I am pretty excited for because I quite enjoyed his score for the His Dark Materials adaptation.
Overall, though, I can say that I am very excited for The Wheel of Time adaptation after this trailer.
Fingers crossed that these fantastic books can be done justice.