My (SPOLIER-FILLED) deep dive into episode 5 of The Wheel of Time.
These are my deep look into each episode of Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time. I will investigate each episode in depth and give my reactions, thoughts, and takeaways. These dives are for book readers as they contain heavy spoilers throughout while I weigh each episode against my knowledge of the books and story and will touch upon things throughout the books. I will focus on the episode itself and will not delve into future episodes.
First, let me clear something up. I am not a critic. These deep dives and my first thoughts blogs are not meant as reviews. That is why I don’t give a score, really. I say all this because I see other people’s reactions and dissections and sometimes feel I am not giving the episode a full scrutiny. I’ll think of things later that I should have said or see something from somebody that points out something that I miss (be it an easter egg, a representation, a point of view, etc.).
These are my gut reactions and my takeaways. These are my feelings and my thoughts. These are my likes and dislikes. Maybe I have pointed out something that others have missed. They are based on my own experiences, feelings, and opinions. I share them so that I can get them off my chest. So that I can “partake” in the discussion. Take them for what they are.
To that end, take the show for what it is and what YOU make of it. A lot of opinions are floating around — good and bad. If you like the show, then great. If not, that’s OK. In that case I am sorry that you don’t like it. Its not going to be perfect and not going to please everybody. That is impossible. Even if they had made the show exactly from the books with no deviation, somebody would find fault with it. Take it for what it is. Maybe if you let go expectations, you will find that the show can be quite enjoyable.
Anyway, time to get off the soapbox and get to the episode.
FINAL WARNING: Following this paragraph will contain HEAVY SPOILERS of the episode and may reference any point in any of the books. If you have not read the books or seen the episode and want to avoid spoilers, DO NOT READ ON until you have done so. You HAVE been WARNED!
This episode was emotional. It has been said by others and there is no other way to describe it. It certainly was a different ride than the other episodes. But that is not a bad thing. It had its ups and downs and its good and bad. Let’s dive in.
The episode opened with the funeral of those lost in the attack on the camp. It was a beautiful ceremony heightened by the singing wails of Alanna (Priyanka Bose). The pain of Karene’s (Clare Perkins) warder, Stepin (Peter Franzén) was evident.
After the intro, we find that all groups have closed in on Tar Valon. Apparently, some of the Aes Sedai and warders break off from the rest on go into the city while the rest make ready for the procession later in the episode. The group that went ahead, of course, included Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve. They take Nynaeve to a room in the Warder’s Quarters where Moiraine instructs her to stay. There is a small confrontation between them, but Moiraine ultimately offers her protection.
Rand and Mat reach the city. The take refuge in an inn because Rand is worried about Mat and his sickness. Throughout their scenes, a familiar face pops up in the background. They are blink and you’ll miss it moments, but the eagle eye can catch Padan Fain (the peddler from episode 1) lurking around. These were well placed moments.
Perhaps the highlight of Rand and Mat’s storyline in this episode is the appearance of the Ogier, Loial (Hammed Animashaun). A fan favorite character that I will delve more into below in characters and effects below. Loial does retrieve Nynaeve from the White Tower grounds and brings her to Rand and Mat for a heartfelt reunion.
Perrin and Egwene seem to be a bit happy as the Tinker Wagons draw near to Tar Valon. Unfortunately, that joy is cut short when the Tinkers encounter White Cloak questioners led by Eamon Valda (Abdul Salis). They run but are captured anyway. Though there is no status on what happened to the Tinkers after they were brutalized by the White Cloaks.
Egwene is stripped and washed in a cringey (though impactful) scene, then given a white garment and strapped to a chair. Perrin is brought in while Valda attempts to get Egwene to confess to channeling. He tortures Perrin, though in the process, revealing something special about Perrin to the audience. He then leaves them to decide which one will die and which one will go free.
When Valda returns, he begins to work on Perrin when Egwene channels a pitiful flame. He laughs, but she apparently used that flame to mask her true intent, burning the ropes binding herself and Perrin. He snaps free of his binding causing fear to grip Valda before Egwene stabs him, takes his trophy rings, and escapes with Perrin with the aide of wolves who are attacking the other white cloaks.
The final plotline revolved around Stepin as he dealt with the loss of his Aes Sedai. While that seemed to be the focus, it also featured Moiraine and Lan and reflecting on their bond. There are references throughout, as they discuss with each other (and with others), about what would happen if Moiraine were to die. It all comes to a head when Lan stays with Stepin to watch over him, only to be drugged to sleep and discover Stepin’s body the next morning.
The final moments featured the funeral rites of Stepin. Lan was given the duty of primary griever and demonstrated great emotion as he thudded his chest in agony. Many claim that this was out of character for Lan, who does not share emotion. I argue that he does have emotions, he is just in control of them. He can hold his emotions back but release them when he needs to. Being stoic does not mean being a robot. Plus, he was given the charge of grieving for everybody in the room. Lan is dutiful and if commanded to display emotion, he is going to do it. And he damn sure did it.
Besides the Lan moment, there were a lot of character moments throughout this episode. First, let’s address the Ogier in the room… Loial. For a split second, I was hesitant when I saw him walk on screen. But then, I focused on the character, and he was the truest to book representation. He was only in a couple of scenes this episode, but I loved every minute of them.
Mat and Rand had little development, but it was good to see their reunion with Nynaeve. Nynaeve had that wonderful story regarding Egwene that she shared with Rand. It was about Egwene having a deadly sickness when she was younger and how they did not expect her to live. But Egwene was not ready, so she sat through a night of agony and broke the fever. It is implied that she did it on her own and I have heard some complaints about that. But there is nothing in the story that says that Nynaeve did not unknowingly contribute, so…
Other than that, though Nynaeve was present, she did not really feature specifically outside of a run-in with Liandrin and her confrontation with Moiraine. Lan and Moiraine were dealing with the warder bond storyline, and it was great seeing how that affected them. I feel that the characters that got the most development this episode were Egwene and Perrin.
When they were captured by the White Cloaks, we are given a scene where Egwene is stripped and washed by her captors. It is a cringy scene to watch but it shows how these people (if their brutalizing of a group of pacifists wasn’t enough). When Valda kept pressing her, it was great to see the fire in her as she pushed back. When she through that pitiful fireball at Valda, I had to laugh, but then it showed her cunning as she burned the ropes while he laughed her off.
Perrin’s development was huge. We have finally reached where he has more lines and his confession about killing his wife was emotional. That change to his story really paid off here. There was also a key moment while he was being tortured where his eyes changed color. It was only during the time when his emotions were heightened, so that leaves me wondering a few things (more on that in a moment). In any case, it was great seeing that aspect of him, even if it was brief.
Special Effects / Action
Since this episode focused mostly on emotion, it wasn’t exactly effects or action heavy. It was interesting to see the nod towards The Lord of the Rings with the ring being melted. Action was limited to the White Cloaks assaulting the Tuatha’an, Perrin and Egwene’s torture, and Lan racing through the halls to find his friend. For the most part, what was there was effect and action wise was OK.
There were two moments that sat me back for a second. The first was Loial. His look was not quite satisfying at first glance. However, I stopped caring almost immediately once I focused in on Hamed’s performance. He WAS Loial. It was fun seeing him and I was happy every time he spoke. For what it is worth, the problems that I had the most with the costume was the wig and no ears (as described in the books). I didn’t have a problem with his height. It would have been too unrealistic to have him taller. I also noticed that his hands were clearly prosthetics. I hope they can improve them over time, but I was not too upset with them.
The other problem that I had was with Perrin. When he broke from the ropes and stood up, I had an image between The Incredible Hulk and some Frankenstein movie with the way he moved toward Valda. That kind of pulled me out of it for a moment. I loved the Incredible Hulk when I was growing up (for context, I am referring to the 70s series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno). So, I was torn as I kind of liked how that called back to it the way his eyes turned yellow, and he bulked up with his rage. Part of me would not be unhappy if they kept his eyes only turning yellow at certain points.
The other aspect is what really pulled me out. When he looked like a hulking monster stalking toward Valda, it kind of looked humorous (in likely in a way not intended). That said, I enjoyed the overall arch and was happy with how the scene played out in the end.
One last thing to note is that I am starting to see some of the complaints with editing or pacing. I agree with some of those complaints and yet others I think the show is fine as is. The biggest thing was some of the cuts like Rand and Mat walking into the inn, then immediately going to their room. Or when it is suggested that Nynaeve check out the garden and it cuts to Loial bringing her into the inn. It feels like in both cases, something was left out.
It has been a few days since I first watched the episode as I wrap up this deep dive. Because of that, I have seen thoughts from others, and it generally seems like many either loved the episode or hated it. For me, it was a great episode. Perhaps on par with episode 4, but for different reasons. This episode carried an emotional theme that reflected in all of the three primary storylines. New introductions of a fan favorite character from the books were pleasant as well. Only three episodes left in the season. I am wondering how they are going to bring it all together. Until then, I am happy to be on this ride.