The Wheel of Time

Moiraine in the Wheel of Time series

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

The world is broken.

Ages ago, certain men and women called Aes Sedai discovered they had the ability to touch the True Source and wield the One Power. This same power is what the Creator used to forge the universe and the Wheel of Time.

But the male half of the One Power, called saidin, became tainted.

How? For that we must go to the very beginning, when the Creator sealed away Shai’tan, the Dark One, at the moment of creation. But Shai’tan eventually broke free.

Lews Therin Telamon was the most powerful Aes Sedai in the world at that time. He became known as the “Dragon,” and he commanded the forces of Light in the struggle against the Dark One.

The Dragon defeated the Dark One and sealed him back in his prison at Shayol Ghul, but at a terrible cost.

The Dark One managed to touch saidin during the battle, sullying it with his evil. And as a result, Lews Therin and all other male Aes Sedai went mad.

In their madness, they murdered the innocent, slayed their loved ones and caused massive hurricanes and earthquakes that broke the foundations of the earth itself.

In the end, the female Aes Sedai took it upon themselves to use their half of the One Power, saidar, to either kill or “gentle” (cut off from the True Source) every one of their brethren, thus saving the world. And so they have done ever since, seeking out any and all men able to channel the One Power and gentling them.

But the Wheel of Time uses the lives of men and women to spin a Pattern that repeats itself in every age.

And now, a prophecy states it’s time for the Dragon to be reborn once again to defeat the Dark One … and destroy the world in the process.

The Great Hunt

Moiraine Damodred, an Aes Sedai, has been watching the Pattern for some time, looking for clues in the prophecy as to who could be the next Dragon.

Her search leads her to a quaint little mountain town called the Two Rivers. The people here are humble, made up of mostly farmers, but descended from an old, warrior bloodline.

And there are now four Ta’veren living among them—people whose threads in the Pattern of the Ages are so strong that the Wheel actually weaves around them.

Rand, Perrin and Mat could each be the next Dragon. It could also be Egwene, Rand’s pseudo-girlfriend, since the prophecy doesn’t specify if the Dragon will be reborn as a man or woman. But Moiraine doesn’t have time to figure out which because the town is set upon by Trollocs (evil, mutated beasts that serve the Dark One and live to kill).

After the battle is won—largely due to Moiraine’s use of the One Power—she and Lan (her Warder, which is a type of personal guard) explain that the Trollocs came for the same reason that she did.

So, if these four Ta’veren want to save their loved ones from more death and destruction, they’ll have to follow her back to the White Tower in Tar Valon (the home of all Aes Sedai).

They set out immediately, pursued by Trollocs all the way. They hope to find answers and protection at the White Tower but also fear what will happen to the one who becomes the Dragon. Because while the Aes Sedai may want to help the Dragon defeat the Dark One, they may also want to destroy the Dragon to prevent the second breaking of the world.

That Wasn’t in the Books

Robert Jordan wrote the first novel in The Wheel of Time series back in 1990. Unfortunately, the author was diagnosed with a terminal disease before he could finish the final three books. So, he wrote a bunch of notes for the person who would succeed him to ensure it ended how he wished. And his widow chose fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to take up the reins and finish the series, which concluded in 2013.

The books had quite a bit of content that made them more of a strictly adult fantasy series than say Harry Potter, and we see that content reflected in Amazon’s lavish, live-action take.

The Trollocs I mentioned earlier are gruesome, violent beasts. They leave carnage in their wake. And killing one will guarantee you a bath in blood. But on the totem pole of dark creatures, they’re actually pretty close to the bottom. Myddraal, also known as Eyeless or Fades, command the Trollocs. Much more dangerous (and frightening), these pale creatures have distorted faces with no eyes and enough teeth to make a shark jealous.

But they all serve the Dark One. And while we’re assured he hasn’t managed to escape his prison yet, he still manages to appear in the dreams of the Ta’veren as a shadowy figure with “eyes like embers.”

Humans and Aes Sedai, for their part, aren’t innocent either. Many secretly serve the Dark One. And even those who stand for the “Light” twist situations to suit their needs. (A remorseless Moiraine destroys a ferry to prevent Trollocs from using it to cross a river. And when the ferry’s owner tries to stop her, he winds up going down with the ship.)

In a way, we can see parallels between the Creator and God and between Shai’tan and Satan. But in the Wheel of Time universe, Light and Dark are equal opposing forces, which is drawn from Eastern spirituality. And there’s also hints at Buddhism and Hinduism in the cyclical nature of the Wheel itself.

The dual nature of the One Power, saidin and saidar, also reflects Eastern cultures. And here, the idea that men are tainted because of their connection to saidin has become so strong that women aren’t just equal to men but rather dominant over them.

However, not everyone agrees with this matriarchal culture. And a particular sect of soldiers called the Children of the Light takes it upon themselves to persecute anyone who walks in “shadow,” which includes the “Tar Valon witches.”

Additionally, there’s some content that never crossed the pages of Jordan’s books—or at least if it was, he used discretion so as not to make it vulgar.

Early in the series, Moiraine and Lan share a bath. You could say it’s not sexual because it’s a larger bath located in a public bathhouse, and the two never even touch each other. However, the shot of Lan’s unclothed rear end felt objectifying and very unnecessary—particularly given the TV-14 rating that Amazon has given this show.

And it doesn’t stop there. Rand and Egwene have sex the night after her coming-of-age ceremony. It’s completely offscreen, but we see intense kissing beforehand and the pair gathering their clothes after. Almost certainly we’ll see more sex and skin as the season (and series) wears on.

There are some other changes here and there that will certainly have book purists screeching, “That wasn’t in the books!” And while I normally shrug off the changes that Hollywood makes to character and events in film adaptations, this time I agree with the purists. The differences between Amazon’s story and the original will leave many fans saying, “The book was better.” And honestly, I think it has more to do with the addition of gratuitous content than with structural changes.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 19, 2021: “Leavetaking”

Moiraine and Lan arrive in Two Rivers searching for the Dragon reborn.

We see a man’s unclothed rear end as he enters a bath. An unmarried couple kisses passionately before the camera changes. Later, we see the man gathering his shirt and the woman wrapped in blankets after having a sexual encounter. A married couple embraces and lies in bed together. A married man flirts with several younger women while his wife looks on. His wife then tells their son that he will turn out just like his dad. Two people share a bath, though it isn’t sexual since it takes place in a public bathhouse. We see a woman’s exposed back as she dresses. There are a few jokes about sex and male genitals.

Trollocs attack Two Rivers, killing everyone in sight and even eating a few. Several people, including Moiraine, fight back. Moiraine uses her powers to throw rocks, lightning and fireballs at the Trollocs. Lan beheads multiple Trollocs. A man goes into a battle rage repeatedly stabbing a Trolloc with an ax before accidentally stabbing his wife, mistaking her for a Trolloc. A Trolloc drags a woman off by her hair. A man finds several sheep slaughtered.

Several people protect their loved ones during the battle. One man risks his life to find and save his sisters. Villagers tends to injuries and corpses the day after the attack.

An Aes Sedai uses her power to collapse a cliff. She and several others then combine their powers to “gentle” a male Aes Sedai, causing him to scream in pain. (The man was experiencing hallucinations as a result of the madness caused by using the One Power.) We hear that a girl was rejected by the Aes Sedai because she was poor.

Moiraine uses her powers to heal the wounds of several people. We hear that a woman born blind was gifted as a seer. The Two Rivers people celebrate Bel Tine, an annual ritual meant to help “guide” the spirits of their loved ones back to them. As part of a coming-of-age ritual, a woman is pushed off a cliff into a river. She survives, which qualifies her as an adult in her village’s eyes.

People drink to excess. A man’s younger sisters ask if their mom is “sick” when she is drunk. People gamble. A man steals a bracelet hoping to sell it to earn money for his family. Someone jokes that a man’s marriage means his life is over. We hear uses of “b–tard,” “d–n,” “p-ss” and “pr–k.”

Nov. 19, 2021: “Shadow’s Waiting”

Moiraine and Lan suspect that either Egwene, Rand, Perrin or Mat is the new Dragon and lead them on an expedition to Tar Valon to find out who.

Moiraine realizes that Egwene can touch the True Source and begins to teach her how to control the One Power. Rand, Perrin and Mat all have a dream about bats and a shadowy figure with fiery eyes. In Rand’s dream, he coughs up a dead bat (which we see), but Mat says the bats’ necks spontaneously broke in his.

When Moiraine is physically examined by one of the Children of the Light, Lan states that the men from his country know to keep their hands to themselves. Despite hating Aes Sedai, the Children tell Moiraine to find one to heal her wound (which was sustained during the battle in Two Rivers). A wolf mysteriously licks a wound of Perrin’s instead of attacking him.

An Aes Sedai is burned alive. A man removes the ring from her severed hand as a souvenir (and we see six other rings already on a chain). A man eats a bird, noting that the intact beak and claws make it a dangerous delicacy. A Trolloc drowns after being pushed into a river. A Myrddraal roars, revealing its many teeth.

The group enters the ruins of a city called Shadar Logoth, or “Shadow’s Waiting.” They learn that the city was destroyed by its own evil, and that even Trollocs fear it. While there, the evil (which literally appears as a shadow) besets them, grabbing a horse and reducing the creature to ash.

When Moiraine destroys a ferry, its owner tries to stop her, claiming that he needs the boat to get back to his family and save his son from the Trollocs. And as the boat sinks into the river, the man dies with it.

We hear about a city that was destroyed by forces of the Dark One. The men of the city defended the river border for nearly two weeks, waiting for their allies, before they realized that nobody was coming to their aid and were killed. The city’s queen felt the death of her husband and used the One Power to wipe out the remaining forces, but the power burned her alive in the process.

People drink wine. We hear uses of “a—,” “b–tard” and “p-ss.”

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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