My (SPOLIER-FILLED) deep dive into episode 8 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.
I must be completely honest about this episode. While I was enjoying the ride through most of it, the last 15 minutes or so just derailed me. Quite a few things happened that really threw me for a loop and nearly killed my enjoyment. I couldn’t even really feel anything during the final scene… I was just numb.
If you read my reaction, you know that I was not happy. Now that some time has passed, I have watched some YouTubers (book fans and non-book fans alike), read some articles and interviews, and I can say that I have eased up a little, but I still did not like how things played out. Many fans have had similar feelings as I did. I have not been viewed any reactions from the typically negative reviewers yet. Still, I am hoping that season 2 will renew my excitement and enjoyment.
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!
The opening scene has been a bit mixed with the reactions from what I have seen. Personally, I did enjoy it. While it wasn’t the prologue from the books that us readers are familiar with (I feel that will come, just maybe not for a while… once a certain reveal happens with the “Dark One). Still, it was good to see a glimpse of Lews Therin (Alexander Karim) and the crisis he was dealing with that eventually led to the downfall of male channelers.
Honestly, this scene is a mixed bag. From what I remember, I don’t even think his female counterpart was ever named in the books (I could be wrong) and I never heard the fear that the One Power would be tainted. The issue in the books was that the female channelers were reluctant and Lews Therin went ahead with his companions and executed his plan without them, which led to the taint. The other problem that I had with this scene was the fact that he is referenced as The Dragon Reborn. His title was The Dragon… period. He is the one that is to be reborn later. Still, the final shot showing the jo-cars and sho-wings was a nice nod.
As the episode opened, I was actually enjoying it. Although I was not a fan of the blight’s look, I did like seeing Moiraine and Rand traveling through to their destination. I was indifferent with the dream fake-out, but it was finally good to see the mysterious figure (listed as Ishamael played by Fares Fares) finally interact with Rand. When they finally reached the Eye, I enjoyed Rand’s “trip” into the vision of Egwene and their daughter.
Probably the best part, although it seemed a little awkward… like it was just crammed in… I loved the part when Lan and Nynaeve are talking, and Lan tells her that he will hate the man she chooses and love him too. That being a line from the books made the scene even more enjoyable. Most of the rest of the first half (maybe three quarters) of the episode was ok to good.
While there were a few moments in the earlier episode that fell flat on me, they were few and minor. The last fifteen minutes or so really had me befuddled, shocked (not in a good way), and on the verge of steaming. First, lets address Nynaeve and Egwene’s storyline. They joined the female channelers in defending the city against the trolloc invasion. It made little sense that the least powerful person would lead a linked circle. I understand that Egwene and Nynaeve are untrained, but having Amalisa, who failed to become a full Aes Sedai lead the circle would be like having a medical school flunky perform brain surgery.
While their attack was affective and wiped out the invaders (a feat that SHOULD have gone to Rand), the fact that she killed nearly everybody linked to her, and the only ones that survived were the ones with plot armor. I didn’t like the fake-out of Nynaeve being burnt out (which in the books just meant that they stilled themselves and was just an expression, not physical). This really irked me.
The parts with Lord Agelmar going to defend the pass and (seemingly) dying was not on the good side either, but I was mostly indifferent about that.
What happened to Moiraine was kind of off-putting as well. The fact that she was apparently severed (while the episode leaves it up to debate and it could be said that she was just shielded, Rafe Judkins is stated to have confirmed that she was stilled). I am not happy about that turn of events, but I am willing to see how they play out that plot thread.
Finally, we get to Perrin’s arch. He has been most underutilized this season and it appears that his scenes this episode were meant for Mat. He helps Uno and the other Shienarans dig out the Horn of Valere from the throne room. Though Padan Fain gets it without much description of why it is important. But what killed me was seeing Uno and Loial stabbed by the Padan Fain. That really made me angry as it seems that they both die. If that is not the case, and they both live (it seems to be suggested by Rafe that they DO live) then fine, but I am not happy about that fake-out either.
Because of the last fifteen minutes or so, I was numb by the time the final scene came on. And while it was good to see the Seanchan arriving, I had mix feelings about it, even after giving it some time. It was exciting seeing them arrive (at least, it would have been if I was not already numb by that scene). I like their design for the most part. I am not crazy about the “ball-gags” used for the Damane. The final scene with the tidal wave heading for the little girl on the beach was clearly for cinematic purposes. Otherwise, there was no logic to the Seanchan doing that to “announce” their arrival.
The episode really started out strong for me but left me feeling empty. It is becoming clearer that they are trying to make this show the next Game of Thrones instead of making it The Wheel of Time. And the other point of dissention for me is that they are really pushing “show don’t tell” when they really need a little more tell. I think this show could benefit from a couple extra episodes per season to allow them to give the plot and character development room to breathe.
In the coming weeks and months, I will be cutting back. I would like to do a full season review as well as a feature detailing what the show needs to do going forward. Namely, what moments from the book absolutely must be in the show. Other features may include a review of Cobra Kai season 4 (if not this weekend, maybe the next). I also will be ramping up the finishing touches on my novella. I may do some reveals including final name, cover-art, and maybe a preview chapter or two. My goal is to have it published by early spring (late March to early April) so I have a lot of work to do. My updates here may be infrequent because of that, and it may be a while before I get to some of the things mentioned above.
I understand that this episode (along with episode 7) had the added crisis of losing one of its lead actors, but there are better ways that they could have fixed it. The last few minutes really drained my pool of excitement leaving just a little puddle. I only hope that next season will refill it.