After over a year of waiting, The Wheel of Time is back.
The first episodes were all over the place quality-wise, with the story veering off in multiple directions. Some good, some bad
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 1 saw all of our lead characters separated, with the show also becoming disjointed at times.
The series never shied away from showing off its technical prowess, but the premiere episode relied too heavily on fancy camerawork, and too little on the rich plot that The Wheel of Time Season 1 finale left them with.
It’s been a long time since The Wheel of Time Season 1 Episode 8, so we are grateful that the episode started with a lengthy recap, as almost two years is a long time to wait.
The first episode contained a major shift in who could be considered the lead character.
Unlike the books, season one mainly focused on Moiraine, much to the disdain of fans of the novels.
Fans of the novels hoped that the series would start to align and focus more on Rand, but that was not the case with the premiere episodes.
The series feels like it’s shifted to a bunch of vignettes put together. There are so many characters all doing different things that the different threads are getting lost by the constant location jumping.
Nynaeve has taken center stage at the White Tower, and her storyline also happened to be the more interesting one out of all the main players.
The jumping from Moirane, Nynaeve/The White Tower, Perrin, Rand, and Mat caused each storyline to only get about 5-10 minutes per episode (with The White Tower getting a little more time, seeing as Egwene and Nynaeve are both there along with a new character, Elyane).
Elayne is an interesting addition to the dynamic in the White Tower, and honestly, she becomes quite welcome during The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 2.
Min, the seer from last season, joined Mat on his journey this season. Announced last year, the character of Mat has been recast, and the new actor seems to be doing the character justice.
Min is a welcomed addition, as the character has a lot of charisma and a fascinating power that led her to see something that could change the course of the series: She saw Mat killing Rand with the dark knife.
But that’s not the only interesting thing about Min this season.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 3 revealed Min’s secret alliance with Liandrin, the red Aes Sedai who has a heart of steel, and seemingly her agenda.
Mat didn’t know about this alliance, or else he wouldn’t have trusted Min to be his new travel companion.
Where they plan on going hopefully gets revealed in later episodes, but her secret allegiance to Liandrin won’t be hidden away forever, Mat will find out eventually.
Liandrin showed more emotion than before with Nynaeve, and although it felt a bit strange, we got to see a side of her that humanized her. It showed that she does care about a few things underneath her hard, cold shell.
Nynaeve proved that her powers were strong enough that Liandrin convinced her to undergo the trial of arches, the trial that would accept her as an Aes Sedai.
She finished the first two arches relatively quickly, but the third arch proved to be more difficult. She was forced to face her biggest fears, most of which involved the people she loved dead.
The third arch showed her betraying the Aes Sedai and heading home to the Two Rivers, which the proctors of the trial presumed to be her failing the trial.
They even told Egwene, her best friend from home, that Nynaeve had died in the trial, leading to a short-lived mourning storyline that could have used a LOT more screentime.
Showing more of Egwene’s emotion would have made the episode more powerful, but instead, we only received bits and pieces.
The pieces we got were interesting, however. She attacked Liandrin for pushing Nynaeve too far, which led to an intense interaction between the two women.
The three-part premiere concluded with Egwene and her new friend Elayne (Ceara Coveney) sleeping in the arch chamber to help Egwene mourn.
The episode then flashed back to Nynaeve within the arch, as she watched Perrin, Lan, and Mat get brutally killed by a hoard of trollocs.
Just as she tried comforting her daughter, the arch portal appeared. She picked up her daughter, trying to save the life she created within the arch, and jumped through the portal.
She burst through back into the White Tower, but without her daughter, and cried out in agony, waking the two girls sleeping on the floor of the room. Egwene went over to comfort Nynaeve, and the episode ended.
We want more of the reactions from the people in the White Tower! We can only imagine what Liandrin’s reaction would be. Hopefully, we get to see the effect that this had on the entire White Tower in the coming episodes.
Perrin’s storyline pushed him towards his true self, and it seems like the show is gearing up to explain what exactly his connection to wolves is.
Since the first season, we’ve been guessing what his connection may be. Are they going to keep it similar to the novels? Or are they going to explain it in some other way? Only time will tell!
Perrin’s journey also led him straight into the path of Ishamael — the man who isn’t exactly the Dark One but isn’t exactly NOT the Dark One. The show has made that very unclear.
Ishamael traveled with the Seanchan, a race of people who had launched an attack on the lands under the Aes Sedai’s control, claiming it as their rightful land.
Their costumes are elaborate, and the design that went into their look took a lot of effort from the behind-the-scenes team.
The quality of all the technical aspects of the show proved to be the only consistent thing from season to season. The costumes are still amazing, the sets are incredible, and the effects are still interesting.
The issues from the premiere stemmed from the messy storytelling, with too much emphasis being put on exposition and people walking through corridors.
With all of our heroes spread out and on their own complicated, semi-convoluted storylines, the beginning of The Wheel of Time Season 2 lost some of the charm that The Wheel of Time Season 1 had.
We hope the series quickly finds its way back into a good groove that remains interesting because, at this rate, we fear that the show’s decline in quality will cause many people to abandon ship.
What did you think of the three series premiere episodes, Wheel of Time Fanatics?
Are you underwhelmed? What would you like to see more of? Are you excited to see what happens throughout the season?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
The Wheel of Time airs on Fridays on Prime Video.
Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.