My (SPOLIER-FILLED) deep dive into episode 4 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.
When I first finished watching this episode, I was in tears. Not a heavy downpour. Just a raw, emotional high had over swept me. It was a rollercoaster the whole way through. There were some moments of touching character development and moments of intensity. Through it all, I enjoyed just about any minute of it. In fact, I can’t think of anything off-hand that I didn’t like. My deep dive into the episode follow.
FINAL WARNING: Following this paragraph will contain HEAVY SPOILERS of the episode and my 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!
Every episode so far has had a cold open and this one is no different. We start out with a flashback to the kingdom of Ghealdan. The castle is under siege and soldiers are frantically running everywhere. The king is in retreat as a figure follows. Battered and wounded, the king becomes cornered as the figure approaches. The man is Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte). He is the self-proclaimed Dragon Reborn. They converse and Logain convinces the king that he is not there to conquer. Despite voices telling him to kill the king, he instead heals him and gains him as a follower.
Perrin / Egwene
Following the opening credits, we cut back to the present. Again, we split between several different plot lines. The first plot line is Perrin and Nynaeve and their time with the Tuatha’an (the Tinkers). The two are welcomed by the group, in particular Aram. As the wagons roll out, the pair follows along. They are told of the beliefs of the Tuatha’an, a pacifist belief called The Way of the Leaf. When they stop for a rest, the group partakes in merriment and dancing. Egwene is swept in as Aram gets close to her. Perrin, on the other hand, pulls in on himself and has a discussion with Ila.
What I enjoyed about this scene is how Perrin’s internal conflict resonates within himself. When he wonders why they don’t defend themselves, Ila turns it on him, asking how he has felt since he held the axe. This leaves Perrin internalizing. The scene and his later discussion with Ila about the Way of the Leaf, her story as to why she follows it, was quite powerful.
Rand / Mat / Thom
The next plotline follows Mat, Thom, and Rand as they race across the countryside. They have procured horses, apparently through horse theft on the part of the gleeman. They come to a farm and intend to sneak into the barn and sleep for the night. However, they are waylaid by the farmer and his family. They manage to convince the farmer that they mean no harm and agree to work for a little rest.
As they work, Mat seems to be getting a little sick. He steps away and spits up a blackness that soon disappears. He is startled by a little girl. She gives him bread and they have a conversation about his sisters. She gives him a doll, Birgette to take to them. Meanwhile Thom tells Rand the story of his nephew. The boy was able to channel and was eventually gentled by the Aes Sedai, followed later by suicide. Thom is concerned that Mat may be able to channel as well and that is the reason for his behavior.
Later, Rand has a dream where he sees Perrin beating on a forge. However, there is a body on that forge. Mat walks by in a trance with bloody hands and Egwene is taken captive by the mysterious fire-eyed man. When he wakes, Mat is missing. He and Thom go to the farmhouse and find the family slaughtered. Mat is standing in a trance with his dagger out toward a corner. They soon realize that there is a Fade there and it attacks. Thom holds it off while the boys make their escape.
This was a great plot line. Mat’s connection with the girl was touching, but painful given her fate. It was interesting to hear the story of Thom’s nephew as well. I have heard complaints about the blackness that comes out of Mat’s mouth. I think it is obvious that this a subtle hint for those who are not familiar with the books the source of Mat’s sickness. It is a visual representation.
Moiraine / Lan / Nynaeve
This plotline kicks off with the three now in the Aes Sedai camp as they guard the captured Logain. Moiraine is being healed by Kerene Sedai (Clare Perkins) while Lan is practicing with her Warder, Stepin (Peter Franzén). Nynaeve is overlooking the camp when she is approached by Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood). They exchange some words until Lan approaches and Liandrin leaves. Later, Nynaeve joins Lan at the fire with the other Warders and we get some good banter and some exposition.
Moiraine joins her sisters with Logain and they discuss the how strong he is. You can sense some mistrust between the sisters. Moiriane and Alanna (Priyanka Bose) reminisce about their time as novices while they shield Logain together. These scenes give us some exposition and insight into the sisterhood of the Aes Sedai.
After Lan later leaves Nynaeve by the fire, he returns to Moiraine, and they discuss the Dragon. Moiraine obviously does not believe that Logain is the Dragon. The next day, Lan and Nynaeve share a touching scene together where they appear to connect. However, it is cut short by a disturbance in the camp.
Karene and Liandrin are in with Logain and the former mentions that her wards are alerting her that Logain’s followers are attacking the camp. Outside, the Warders and other Aes Sedai are gathered for defense. As the battle begins, Alanna stops some incoming arrows and uses them against the attackers. They make a strategic retreat to the cave. Inside the cave, Logain overpowers the shield held against him, throwing both his Aes Sedai guards across the room.
Moriane walks in and confronts him. She tells him that the voices he hears are madness. Karene strikes him with the power and the three sisters quickly place another shield on him. As they do, he strikes out. Karene sacrifices herself to protect Moiraine and Liandrin and pays with her life. Her Warder is struck by the loss. He goes into a rage on the battlefield, quickly dispatching anybody in his way, and rushes to the cave. As others begin piling into the cave, Stepin arrives and sees the body of his bonded Aes Sedai. He launches himself into a strike against Logain. This disrupts the shield and Logain shatters his axes, sending shards across the room.
Many are taken down, including Liandrin, Moiraine, and Lan. Nynaeve, sees this and rushes to Lan’s side. She screams as a blazing light surrounds her and weaves strike out to all who are injured, instantly healing their wounds. This sets Logain back and he is left vulnerable enough for the Aes Sedai to link and gentle him on the spot. The episode ends with a look at Nynaeve, haggard from the exertion, but with a fierce look on her face.
This was what I came for! I have been uncertain about many changes made for the adaptation. This scene was one as well. However, most of my doubts about the show have all but washed away with this scene. It was an epic moment to be sure. I am now invested in this series full hearted.
The character development for many of the characters comes through well in this episode. In episode 3, Mat referenced his background in horse trading. This episode has him demonstrating it when he is trying to calm the horse he is riding. Later, he even mentions that the mare he is riding is afraid of her own shadow. They were small demonstrations, but great nods to his knowledge of horses.
He also has a great moment with the little girl. It is a great moment, reminding of his love for his sisters. And I loved the call-out to the fans with the name of the doll, Birgette. It makes what happens on the farm later in the episode even more painful. And I was sorry to see that he dropped the doll while making his escape.
While Rand doesn’t get much in the way of development, it is good to see that he begins to relax when it comes to Thom. The conversation they have seems to go a long way toward that. Egwene doesn’t get much development either. The Tuatha’an plotline seems to focus mostly on Perrin and his struggle. While it played out differently in the books, his struggle with violence is a key part of his character. I feel I am beginning to accept the change they made with giving him a wife in the first episode. I do question whether Egwene knows that it was Perrin that delivered the fatal blow. They way she responded when Ila asked him whether he ever picked up an axe seemed to indicate that she knew.
It is great seeing Moiraine with her fellow Aes Sedai in this episode. She is still as guarded as ever, and even her sisters point it out. But there is an air of familiarity that helps to open her up to the viewer a little. The real shining character development comes from Nynaeve. It is shown that she can read people through her interaction with Liandrin. The best part was the moment when Liandrin leaves, she immediately tells Lan that the woman is a snake.
Her character is further revealed at the campfire with the Warders. She seems to boast about tracking Lan to the other Warders’ delight (I still want to know how, especially given the changes to her background). It was also good to see her growing admiration and respect of Lan. She is clearly easing on him as she gets to know him and letting her guard down. He is clearly doing the same with her. Their conversation about the ritual and the words that her parents told her before they hid her away really showed how they were connecting.
Of course, her character really shined during the climax of the episode. I was beginning to expect that Nynaeve would do something to help at the end, but I was in no way prepared for the events that unfolded. When Moiraine went down, I just thought, “Great! She just got healed.” When I saw Lan go down with a mortal wound to his neck, I was in shock.
Special Effects / Action
The effects and action were good this episode. I don’t have too many complaints from what I saw. One complaint that I have heard was the blackness leaking from Mat’s mouth. I understood this to be a way of visually cluing the viewer in on the source of his “sickness.”
I loved watching the Aes Sedai working in tandem during the Dragonsworn battle. An example is a Warder turning to hold up his shield to block incoming arrows while his Aes Sedai stood behind and prepared her weave. Even Nynaeve got in on the early action as a man tried to overtake her. She immediately fought him off with barely a blink.
Of course, the highlight was during the last few minutes. The struggle with Logain and Nynaeve’s subsequent mass healing were sights to behold. Especially the latter, that was the scene that left me in tears of awe.
As I said, this episode left me in tears. Not tears of sadness. But tears that spawned from the raw emotion that overwhelmed me as the final events unfolded. As the series goes on, there are still things that could be done (scenes omitted, changes to egregious) that could pull me away from the show. But I am now hooked and anxious to see where they take things from here.