As a reminder, when we say “full spoilers,” we’re including the entire book series, as we will be discussing changes from the books and potential ramifications for the future. If you don’t want plot points from the books that may show up in future seasons of The Wheel of Time spoiled for you, you may want to just scroll down to the ending, where you’ll find our final thoughts and ratings.
The cold open shows young Siuan Sanche (Keira Chansa), years earlier, fishing on the river with her father (Peter De Jersey). She channels to help him untangle the fishing nets, and he worries that someone has seen her. When they return home, they find it’s been burned and the Dragon’s Fang is painted on the gate. Her father sends her back down the river so she can go to the White Tower.
Back in the present, the Logain capture party has been summoned to the Hall of the Tower to answer for their actions. Guards bring in Logain. He insults the Aes Sedai and their leader the Amrylin Seat, Siuan (Sophie Okonedo), saying they’re weak and everyone knows it. He brags that he raised an army within a year and people will remember that he — only one man — fought against nine mighty Aes Sedai and still killed one. Logain’s composure shatters when Siuan calls his bluff and says she won’t give him the satisfaction of death. He will be kept prisoner and used as an example for other men who can channel. He begs for death but is removed from the Hall.
Siuan dismisses the party except for Moiraine, Liandrin, and Alanna. She reminds them Logain deserved a fair trial, but Liandrin insists they had no other choice. Alanna and Moiraine agree — all the Aes Sedai would have been killed, not just Kerene, if they hadn’t gentled Logain. However, since Liandrin was in command after Kerene died, Siuan says the fault and punishment will lie with her. Liandrin balks at this, asking why Moiraine is never questioned about what she’s doing out in the world, why she seemingly had no idea of the imminent Trolloc invasion or Logain’s army’s size in the south. Maigan (Sandy McDade), a Blue Sitter, objects — this is Blue business, after all — but Liandrin counters that Siuan should still want to question Moiraine, unless she’s giving her special treatment because she was once Blue Ajah herself. And so Siuan questions Moiraine, who refuses to reveal the purpose of her travels. Siuan puts on a show of admonishing her and says she will decide what Moiraine’s punishment will be.
Later, Lan leads Moiraine to the inn where Rand and Mat are staying. Rand tries to protect Mat but is easily disarmed by Lan. But Moiraine quickly discovers the Shadar Logoth dagger. Lan and Rand hold him down while she channels to remove the corruption from Mat. Rand thanks her for saving Mat, and is relieved that Mat must not be the Dragon since he can’t channel — it was the dagger all along. Moiraine isn’t so sure, because Mat is strong enough to have resisted succumbing to the dagger’s evil, where most people would have been lost weeks earlier. Moiraine also admonishes Nynaeve for not immediately telling her about Mat — her pride could have killed him.
Moiraine meets with Maigan in a bath house. Maigan says Siuan is losing her grip on power, as evidenced by a Green and a Blue agreeing with a Red at the Hall. Ships are disappearing off the west coast, Aiel have been spotted outside the Waste, Trollocs invaded the Two Rivers — “the whole world’s gone mad,” she says. She reminds Moiraine that they Blues need to stick together and back Siuan, and recommends Moiraine stop wandering around the world and actually settle down in the Tower. A servant delivers a secret message to Moiraine in the form of flowers in her towels, and Moiraine departs to meet a Yellow sister (Evelyn Mok) who’s found Perrin and Egwene.
Perrin has been healed by the Yellows and is resting. Egwene gives Moiraine the rings she took back from Valda. She tells Moiraine that Perrin’s eyes went gold and it seemed like he somehow summoned the wolves. Moiraine insists she tell no one, as many would do him harm if they knew. She doesn’t know if she can rule him out as the Dragon, because there’s a lot they don’t know about what form of powers the Dragon will wield. She leaves, telling Egwene she will call for her tomorrow.
That night, Moiraine masks the warder bond and Lan stands guard while she channels into a ter’angreal and emerges in a fishing hut with Siuan. They embrace, and it’s clear they’re secretly in a relationship and putting on a show for the rest of the Tower. Siuan says she was forced to put on a display for the Tower to punish Moiraine, and that it’s made their goals even harder to accomplish now. After they do some intimate catching up, Moiraine tells Siuan she’s found the Dragon — well, five possible Dragons. How can they know for sure that they can trust the prophecies? They’re thousands of years old and have been translated countless times. What if Gitara’s Foretelling was wrong, about the baby being born that moment, and they can’t discount Nynaeve for being too old? Siuan says there’s one thing all the prophecies have in common: the Dragon will either defeat the Dark One or join him. Moiraine says she’ll kill them herself before she lets that happen. Finally, Siuan reveals she’s been having the same dream every night. The Dark One is at the Eye of the World, barely clinging to life. If they strike now with the Dragon, they could defeat Him.
The following morning, Moiraine and Lan are walking through the halls of the Tower, with Moiraine questioning how Mat is doing. Liandrin suddenly appears behind them and reveals that she knows about Mat, Rand, Egwene, and Perrin and that they’re all from the Two Rivers. Moiriane cuts Liandrin off by saying she knows about the man she meets in North Harbor and that she should back off unless she wants her Red sisters to know about him. Moiraine and Lan then meet with Loial, whom Moiraine invited to the White Tower. Moiraine tells him she needs his help.
Some time later, Moiraine has brought Egwene to the Hall of the Tower. Lan brings Nynaeve, and the Two Rivers women embrace each other. Moiraine cuts their reunion short, however, as the Amyrlin Seat has summoned them both. The two are brought to the Amyrlin’s quarters, where it’s revealed to both Nynaeve and Egwene that Nynaeve is one of the most powerful channelers in a thousand years. Siuan also commends Egwene on her bravery for bringing back the rings of the fallen Aes Sedai. Nynaeve is prickly, as usual, and while Siuan entertains her disrespect at first, she quickly tells the two that the Last Battle is coming and that it’s their responsibility to accept that they have a role to play in the coming conflict ahead. Ever eager, Egwene asks Siuan what they need to do.
Later, Moiraine is taking in the view of Tar Valon from the heights of the Tower. Lan tells her that it’s time and offers to stand in the Hall with her. Moiraine declines his offer and tells Lan to make sure “they” are there.
In the Hall, Moiraine kneels before Siuan, who pronounces judgement on her and declares that she is exiled from the White Tower. Moiraine is made to swear on the sacred Oath Rod to obey the Amyrlin’s judgement. Moiraine is dismissed, and the other Aes Sedai turn their backs on Moiraine as she leaves the Tower, perhaps forever.
Moiraine leaves Tar Valon and makes her way through a forest and to a clearing on a hill where a stone Waygate sits. Loial soon joins her, honoring the promise he made to her earlier. Behind him are Perrin and Egwene, and it isn’t long before Lan brings Nynaeve, Rand, and Mat. The Two Rivers folk hug and reunite for the first time in at least a month, but Moiraine tells them they can catch up while they travel and releases the horses. Loial says the horses would not survive the Ways.
Nynaeve demands to know why they should follow them and Rand wants to know what the Ways are. Moiraine tells them that they Ways are the quickest path to the Eye of the World, where the last Dragon trapped the Dark One. Moiraine says that if they don’t take the opportunity to stop the Dark One now while he’s still weak, the whole world will be destroyed. Egwene asks what will happen to the person who is not the Dragon, and Moiraine tells her that there’s no way to know until that moment comes. Moiraine opens the Waygate and one by one, the party enters. Mat, however, balks and despite the calls of his companions, is still outside when the opening to the Waygate closes.
Likes: The acting in this episode was stellar. Having the tremendous acting talents of powerhouses like Sophie Okonedo, Kate Fleetwood, Álvaro Morte, and Rosamund Pike all together in one scene was enthralling. This episode was only the tip of the iceberg that is White Tower politics, but the cast delivered such a splendid performance that the battle of words was just as exciting as a battle using the One Power. Beyond the intrigue, this episode also allowed us to see Moiraine at her most vulnerable. She’s more genuine than we’ve ever seen her, and we can finally see that beneath the Aes Sedai serenity and confidence lies doubt and uncertainty, as well as a resolve and commitment to her cause if it means sacrificing love, happiness, or her own life.
Keira Chansa and Peter De Jersey were also noteworthy in their roles as young Siuan Sanche and her father. Though their scene was short, it was touching with strong acting from both.
As we touched upon in our full spoiler review of episode 5, we were disappointed that the previous episode didn’t capitalize on the opportunity to show off some fancy Aes Sedai dresses. This episode finally delivered in the way of an alternative wardrobe for our main Aes Sedai cast as well as the stunning costumes of the Amyrlin Seat and the entire Hall of the Tower. It’s clear that the costume team has been paying great attention to detail and this is evident in each woman’s unique costume.
The way that this episode was able to incorporate elements from New Spring and The Great Hunt was great for bringing more of the world building of subsequent books to the forefront of the television series. The seeds to other elements from the books were also planted, such as ter’angreal and gateways, and though they are not brought to the forefront of the story at this time, their inclusion helps to flesh out the world right now in a way that’s not done until later books.
Speaking of fleshing out the world, building upon Moiraine and Siuan’s relationship from the books was a wonderful inclusion that helped to show some of the hidden depths to these powerful women, as well as some of their vulnerabilities, as mentioned earlier. Knowing what’s about to happen to these women makes their scene together even more emotional, and we’re guessing it’s a scene that non-readers will come back to one day — after Siuan’s deposal and Moiraine’s apparent death — and realize how tragic and powerful it is.
Dislikes: There are some nitpicks that we noticed on subsequent watches. Some of Moiraine’s statements very closely skirt the line of truth-telling. Telling Egwene, “I have people watching for [Rand and Mat’s] arrival,” could only be true if she still has people watching for their arrival even after the boys have arrived and she has found them.
Also, as touching as the Oath Rod scene is, some watchers might be scratching their heads at how Moiraine and Siuan are still able to keep their relationship a secret while Moiraine is referring to Siuan with terms of endearment in front of the whole Hall. We assume she was speaking quietly enough for Siuan alone to hear, but the lack of clarity will undoubtedly confuse people. And the acoustics in that room seem pretty hard to hide a whisper…
Some of us felt there were moments when scenes had obviously been cut, leaving the transition between them sometimes awkward. For instance, Moiraine introducing herself to Loial and then immediately cutting to her with Egwene in the Hall. While we don’t need to see every little transition scene, because that’s neither efficient nor interesting television, overly eliminating them can sometimes lead to this whiplash effect that’s enough to briefly break immersion.
And, of course, we can’t help wondering how — despite the wonderful amount of fleshing out they’ve done to the White Tower and worldbuilding in general — they’ll satisfactorily wrap up the season in just two episodes. Rand especially needs some character development, the current lack of which seems a clear side effect of the decision to play up the mystery of the Dragon Reborn’s identity. However, considering the amount of character development they’ve managed to do in a short time already, we feel pretty confident Rand will get the material he needs.
Changes From Book to Screen
As always, there are some changes from the books to the screen, and there are a few eyebrow raising changes in particular that we hope to get an explanation for.
- Moiraine’s ‘trial’ and banishment from the Tower didn’t happen in the books, but in terms of the ultimate effect to her plot, they might as well have considering she never returns to the Tower before her dramatic exit in The Fires of Heaven. If anything, this only raises the stakes for her and especially Siuan. The trial in the Hall, Siuan’s public chastisement of Moiraine, and Moiraine’s exile seem to be setting the stage well for Siuan’s downfall during the Tower coup, as her betrayal will seem much more significant once the other Aes Sedai discover her true relationship with Moiraine and the information she’s kept secret.
- Moiraine uses the One Power to open the Waygate as opposed to the Avendesora trefoil leaf key. If channeling is required for a Waygate to be used, that change could definitely have far-reaching ripple effects throughout the story. However, we will wait to see if there is any further explanation before passing judgement at this time. Perhaps it’s only this particular Waygate that needs channeling, or the Ogier have an additional way to open them with the access keys.
- Siuan channeling at such a young age is another change. Usually people don’t touch the source until they are a little older — in their teenage years — but we know from a behind the scenes picture from young Siuan’s actress that the character was 10 years old in the cold open. This shouldn’t affect the story that much, but it is a difference.
- Speaking of channeling, there also seems to be a small change to the lore in that Aes Sedai cannot sense another woman’s channeling potential unless she is actively holding the Source, as evidenced by Moiraine stating outright that she was previously unaware Nynaeve could channel. We don’t think this is a bad change, as it is slightly more interesting storytelling for Aes Sedai to not immediately know how powerful a channeler is.
- Mat’s healing from the dagger at this point may or may not be a change. Again, it’s inconclusive since we don’t know where that plot line will end up.
- Mat not entering the Waygate is perhaps the most obvious change from the books. Some fans have jumped to the conclusion that this is where Mat’s story ends in season 1, due to Barney Harris unexpectedly leaving the project. This may end up being the case, however, we are waiting to see what happens in the next episodes before judging exactly how much of a departure this is from the books. Even if Mat doesn’t return in season 1, him remaining in Tar Valon could potentially lead him back to the dagger, and/or jumpstart his plot arc in The Dragon Reborn.
As you can see by our individual ratings, some of us liked it more than others, but we all agreed it was a strong episode for the first season. The expanded material and story of Logain has reached an elegant close while the original Two Rivers gang has been reunited, bringing us back to our main mystery of which youngster is the Dragon Reborn.
As we were allowed the opportunity to screen the first six episodes of The Wheel of Time, at this point we are just as in the dark as everyone else. We will be eagerly waiting to watch the next episode when it drops on Amazon Prime on December 17 (7PM Eastern on December 16). There are only two episodes left in the first season and we’re very excited to see how the story of the Eye of the World will be adapted in the remaining episodes.
Episode 6 – The Flame of Tar Valon (Overall: 4.5/5)
Lane: 4.5/5, Sara: 4/5, Eri: 5/5, Omar: 4.5/5