This will be our full spoiler review and episode breakdown for The Wheel of Time, season 2, episodes 1-3. 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 episodes and seasons of The Wheel of Time spoiled for you, please read our spoiler-free review instead.

Introduction

After more than two years since season 2 began filming, and almost two years since season 1 first aired, the long-awaited sophomore season of The Wheel of Time adaptation on Prime Video is here. As with our reviews of season 1, we here at WoTSeries fully understand that adaptations need to make changes, so in our spoiler reviews we will be comparing and contrasting the television series to the books and analyzing how significant changes might affect future storylines.

Because the first three episodes were released at the same time, this initial spoiler review will be massive. If you just want to see our individual ratings of each episode, you can scroll to the end of the article. We’ll be specifying things we liked and disliked in each episode, and then give an overall summary at the end.

Summary of Episode 201 – A Taste of Solitude (Written by Amanda Kate Shuman)

Somewhere, a young Tuatha’an girl plays outside a star-shaped building. Trollocs approach, and she runs into the building in terror to find her mother. Inside the building, she scrambles under a table where her mother and other people are meeting, including a woman with long nails, a Shienaran soldier, and an Aes Sedai. She’s greeted by the man Rand faced off against, and seemingly destroyed, at the end of last season (played by Fares Fares). In a tense scene, he challenges her beliefs about the nature of good or evil, ending with her gently patting a Trolloc on the cheek.

We catch up with our main characters nearly a year after our group first left the Two Rivers in the last season. In the months since we last saw them, our characters have scattered to different corners of the world. Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) has been staying at the home of two other Aes Sedai, sisters Adeleas (Nila Aalia) and Verin (Meera Syal). She copes with her loss of channeling by throwing herself into her mission with renewed dedication while also actively pushing Lan (Daniel Henney) away with her cold, aloof behavior. A struggling Lan seeks advice from Verin’s warder, Tomas (Heikko Deutschmann), while Moiraine meets with Illianer captain Bayle Domon (Julian Lewis Jones). She skillfully manipulates him into giving her a copy of a poem that was written on a cuendillar moon dial near Cairhien before it broke. She also learns that there have been men wearing black cloaks following Domon; she advises him to return to his ship and get as far away as possible. She later leaves on horseback, but encounters multiple Fades. Though Lan comes to her rescue, they are outnumbered and overpowered, and it is only the timely arrival of Verin and Tomas that saves them.

Meanwhile, Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) and Egwene (Madeleine Madden) have entered the White Tower as novices, but despite being together, each is struggling in her own way. Since the events of last season, Nynaeve has developed a block and has not channeled at all, but her potential raw strength draws the attention of the entire White Tower. Nynaeve chafes under the rigidity and the pressure of the Tower. Egwene, on the other hand, feels invisible next to the attention given to Nynaeve. Egwene seeks channeling advice from Alanna (Priyanka Bose), while Nynaeve vents her frustration by training with warders Ihvon (Emmanuel Imani) and Maksim (Taylor Napier). Though Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) is forbidden to train novices, she gets special permission from the Mistress of Novices, Sheriam (Rima Te Wiata), to “talk” to Nynaeve. This “talk” does get Nynaeve to channel in anger.

Also hidden away in the Tower is Mat (Dónal Finn). He has been locked up in a cell and kept under observation by the Red Ajah.

Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) has been travelling with Loial (Hammed Animashaun) and a group of Shienaran soldiers led by Lord Ingtar (Gregg Chilingirian) on a hunt to reclaim the Horn of Valere that was stolen by Padan Fain (Johann Myers) at the end of last season. They meet up with a new tracker hired by Ingtar, a mysterious man named Elyas (Gary Beadle) who is called a “sniffer.” Elyas leads them to where a group of Tinkers was attacked, and it’s at this location that Perrin has a strange vision of the violence that happened there. The dead include a Shienaran soldier, one of the Darkfriends that helped Fain enter the city. Ingtar insists they bury all the dead, including the soldier who betrayed them. Perrin admits to Ingtar that Fain’s betrayal of the Two Rivers fills him with rage, and Ingtar responds that perhaps Fain had a reason.

Egwene, Nynaeve, Mat, and Perrin, though separated, all celebrate Bel Tine. They think of the loved ones who have passed on, including Rand (Josha Stradowski), who they believe to be dead. Unbeknownst to them, Rand is also celebrating. Head shaved, he hangs a Bel Tine lantern alone in an unknown city.

Review of Episode 201 – A Taste of Solitude

Likes: We loved the numerous callbacks to the first season. One especially poignant example was how Moiraine begins season 2 in the bath, a clear contrast with the bath scene from the pilot episode where she’s able to effortlessly channel and heat the water. In one brief scene we see how far she’s fallen. Something as simple as heating water, that she so long took for granted, is no longer available to her. Similarly, the Bel Tine lanterns at the end were another beautiful parallel with the pilot episode, providing a stark example of just how far these characters have come in one year, and making the audience wonder what else is in store in the coming months and years. It also beautifully emphasized the bond between these characters — despite the time and space between them, they will always be together.

As we mentioned in our initial spoiler-free review, one of our first impressions of season 2 was “everything feels bigger and more real.” Early in episode 1 we follow Egwene through the White Tower as she performs her novice duties; this one short sequence, from the Amyrlin’s quarters to the kitchens, did more to show the scope of the White Tower than season 1 ever did. It’s also refreshing to see the Aes Sedai wearing more than two outfits and also branching out into outfits that aren’t all monochrome. The Novice dresses even include pilling on the fabric, another small touch that adds a huge amount of realism.

Liandrin’s twisted mentorship of Nynaeve is a highlight. Not only does it provide more context to Nynaeve’s struggles with channeling and finding her identity as a potential Aes Sedai, it sets up the eventual betrayal when Liandrin (presumably) hands her over to the Seanchan. It gives her a believable reason to trust Liandrin. Really, Liandrin in general is a highlight, and we’re still not quite used to the fact that Liandrin of all people has become one of our favorite characters in the tv show.

Just as in season 1, there are conversations between characters that contain layers of information and emotion. Ingtar and Perrin’s discussion of revenge, and the internal struggle that’s clear on Ingtar’s face, is one such scene. The inclusion of this conversation also hints that Ingtar will likely have the same beautifully tragic ending as his book counterpart, which is widely viewed as one of the most emotional moments in the entire series.

Finally, Lan’s fight against multiple Fades was incredibly epic while also serving as a clever way to show how the loss of Moiraine’s channeling affects him almost as much her. Without the bond, he’s lost his edge. He’s thrown off balance. Having that be part of your life and especially part of your fighting ability for twenty years, only to lose it completely, should be devastating. If anything, it’s a testament to his incredible talent and strength that he’s still able to hold off Fades as long as he did.

Dislikes: We don’t need to get into the infamously odd ending to season 1, but the whole “Loial and Uno and everyone got stabbed” situation is never addressed. Along the same line, the fake-out deaths are getting a bit old. Lan and Moiraine at the end of the episode were, once again, mortally wounded and fortuitously saved at the last minute.

While we love the longer episodes, we do miss the beautiful opening title sequence. It was stunning and one of the highlights from season 1. Presumably this was something Amazon cut after market research showed short intros lead to higher viewer retention, but it still hurts to lose.

Lan, on his black horse Mandarb, comes to a halt, suddenly.

The Wheel of Time – Episode 203 – Credit: Jan Thijs // Copyright: © 2023 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

Summary of Episode 202 – Strangers and Friends (Written by Katherine B McKenna)

Haunted by nightmares, Rand awakens in the middle of the night, sharing a room with innkeeper Selene (Natasha O’Keeffe) with whom he’s established an intimate relationship. The next morning he reports to a sanitarium, where he has been working as a caretaker for some of the patients. He seems to have formed a bond with one patient in particular, the endearing Errol (Nasser Memarzia) who is a veteran of the Aiel War and a blademaster. Errol teaches Rand about some sword forms until they are cruelly interrupted by Yann (Darragh O’Toole), who finds joy in tormenting the poor patient. At night, Rand tails Yann and beats him up, but accidentally escalates and uses the One Power in the process. The next day, Rand is assigned Yann’s shift at the Sanitarium, giving him access to a more famous patient: Logain Ablar (Álvaro Morte).

Perrin and the Shienarans continue tracking Padan Fain. The trail leads them to an abandoned fortress on a river, where Perrin once again sees a vision of violence before realizing that what he’s seeing is not real. Elyas comments on Perrin distinguishing between vision and reality, and Perrin angrily tells Elyas that he wants nothing to do with whatever the tracker is doing to him. Shienaran soldier Masema (Arnas Fedaravicius) leads Ingtar to the horrific sight of a Fade nailed to a door. Later, they stop to rest at a small village called Atuan’s Mill. Elyas keeps his distance, advising Perrin that the Shienarans aren’t his pack. That night, Seanchan soldiers attack. The Shienaran group puts up a valiant fight, but the arrival of sul’dam and damane quickly ends the resistance. In the morning, the villagers are rounded up to greet the arrival of a massive palanquin carrying the Seanchan High Lady Suroth (Karima McAdams), her voice Alwhin (Jessica Boone), and Ishamael.

In the Tower, Egwene meets Elayne Trakand (Ceara Coveney), a new Novice who arrives with a retinue of servants. Elayne is the Daughter-Heir of Andor, the nation the Two Rivers belongs to. While the meeting does not exactly go smoothly, the girls develop a budding friendship. Nynaeve is whisked away by Liandrin to witness an Accepted (Esther Ayo James) heal a young girl of breakbone fever. Nynaeve is amazed by the healing and Liandrin informs her that as an Accepted, she would be able to learn from all the Ajahs. Liandrin reveals that she’s asked Sheriam to be in charge of Nynaeve’s studies. Liandrin can’t teach Novices, but she can teach Accepted. She advises Nynaeve that if the Aes Sedai approach her to take the test to become an Accepted, she should say yes. Nynaeve later secretly follows Liandrin through passageways that lead her to the streets of Tar Valon. Liandrin is revealed to be visiting an old, bed-ridden man near North Harbor. She gives the man diluted crimsonthorn to help with his pain, and Nynaeve mistakenly believes the old man was a male channeler Liandrin was trying to kill. She tells Liandrin that the crimsonthorn won’t actually help with the pain the man is feeling in his heart. Liandrin strikes Nynaeve and screams at her to get out, and after her departure it’s revealed the old man is her son.

Alanna and her warders meet with Sheriam to advise against Liandrin’s suggestion that Nynaeve take the Accepted test. Sheriam tells Alanna that Liandrin’s cabal of Aes Sedai have already called a vote. Knowing she can’t do anything, Alanna opts to leave to help Moiraine rather than stay in the Tower. Back in the Novice quarters, Nynaeve overhears Egwene telling Elayne that she feels like Nynaeve is never around when needed. Elayne advises Egwene against being jealous. Nynaeve leaves, distraught, but is then summoned by Liandrin to the lower levels of the White Tower to meet Sheriam and Leane (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) who begin the ritual for the test to become an Accepted.

Mat has been secretly chipping away at the stones in the wall of his cell. Eventually, he’s able to remove the stones enough to reveal the adjacent cell which houses Min (Kae Alexander). Min helps him widen the hole and joins him. The two bond over a drink, with Min revealing her powers to Mat and Mat responding that he wouldn’t want to know his future. Min eventually sees a vision of Mat apparently stabbing Rand.

Moiraine and Lan are recovering after having been Healed of their wounds. They leave for the White Tower with Adeleas and Verin who have decided to join them on their journey. On the road, Verin reveals to Moiraine that she knows far more about what Moiraine has been up to, including that she’s found the Dragon Reborn. Verin offers to get information for Moiraine from the White Tower.  Moiraine later shares the story of how she and Lan met. Lan takes the Old Tongue poem from Moiraine’s saddlebag without her noticing, but she ends up instructing him to return to the Tower without her. She tells him the truth: Rand is alive, and the cuendillar broken at the Eye of the World seemingly freed Ishamael, the Forsaken. Alanna and her warders arrive to take charge of Lan, and Moiraine leaves alone.

Review of Episode 202 – Strangers and Friends

Likes: Since the end of season 1, book fans have been wondering how Rand could possibly learn how to swordfight while being separated from Lan. The inclusion of Errol was a clever way to not only provide a way for Rand to get closer to Logain, but also to provide him a few building blocks of training. Errol was a delight as a character, and though his screen time was relatively brief, Nasser Memarzia made a lasting impression. This veteran also felt like a nod to Robert Jordan himself, whose personal experience with trauma from the Vietnam War is evident in his writing.

While the pairing of Min and Mat is a brand new plot thread, it works wonderfully. The two are some of the most fun characters in the books, and it’s a delight to see them bringing that side out of each other. There was also great foreshadowing in Mat’s attitude towards not wanting to know what lies in his destiny. And speaking of characters, Elayne Trakand — need we say more? Ceara Coveney so perfectly encapsulates Elayne’s blend of intelligent but naïve, spoiled but generous, forceful but kind. We loved the nods to her enjoyment of drinking and also and for tinkering with things, especially weaves. Just a few short scenes endear her to the audience and beautifully establish her and Egwene’s relationship.

Season 1 used subtle sound clues when it came to Padan Fain’s whistle. Season 2 continues this trend, this time with the whispers Rand hears when channeling. He’s already hearing voices, but it’s subtle enough that some watchers might not notice on first watch.

The fight at Atuan’s Mill at the end of the episode felt like a massive level up from season 1. The stunt choreography and cinematography were exceptional, and each main character had their moments to shine. We can’t wait to see how future combat scenes will be adapted.

Dislikes: While we understand the intention of the scenes, the rift between Moiraine and Lan is incredibly difficult to watch, and the drama feels somewhat heavy-handed at times. We’re doing our best to withhold judgment until the plotline is resolved, hopefully by the end of season 2. This is admittedly an area where it’s difficult for us to separate the show from our knowledge of the books, where Moiraine and Lan’s tension — albeit under different circumstances — was more subtle.

Nynaeve, one of the Arches in the background, looks over her shoulder with a worried expression

The Wheel of Time – Episode 203 – Credit: Jan Thijs // Copyright: © 2023 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

Summary of Episode 203 – What Might Be (Written by John McCutcheon)

Nynaeve chooses to take the test to become Accepted and go through the three arches. In the first arch, she sees a vision representing the past: she is with her father Beerien (Jonathan Hawkins) when they are attacked by brigands. Nynaeve’s mother Elnore (Melissa James) rescues them and they run to their home. Beerien locks Nynaeve in the cellar just before the brigands break in, and before Nynaeve can help save her parents, the way back appears — a silver arch. She runs through. In the second arch, she sees a vision of what could be the present: there’s a plague outbreak in the Two Rivers and Tam al’Thor (Michael McElHatton) is dying. Natti Cauthon (Juliet Howland) is the Wisdom now, and she is preparing crimsonthorn to euthanize Tam. He asks Nynaeve to stay with him, but the way back appears and Nynaeve runs through. Finally, Nynaeve enters the third arch, where there’s a shattered vision of her wearing red and remembering Lan’s words to her. She suddenly emerges with no memory of what happened inside, but with blood on her dress and Lan’s hadori in her hand. The Aes Sedai offer her an Accepted’s Great Serpent ring, but she refuses and leaves the Tower, knowing that it means she can’t return. Nynaeve says goodbye to Egwene and leaves. Along the way, she runs into Lan. The two embrace and Nynaeve doesn’t see the silver arch appear and disappear behind her. Back in the testing chamber, the arches stop glowing and Leane proclaims that Nynaeve has made her choice and did not emerge from the final test. Upset, Sheriam leaves, and despite Liandrin’s stoic attitude, once she’s alone she throws a vase in anger and grief.

In Atuan’s Mill, a young damane Miri (Valerie Vachkova) walks amongst the gathered townspeople, pointing out women who are then taken away. Alwhin, meanwhile, explains that all of the land on the continent used to belong to the Seanchan, and that if they swear oaths of fealty, the sins of their forefathers will be forgiven. Uno is ordered to swear first, but he defiantly refuses and is killed in gruesome fashion. All the townspeople bow in fear, including the remaining Shienarans, Loial, and, reluctantly, Perrin. Some time later, Perrin is being transported in a caravan by Seanchan soldiers to Falme. He wakes suddenly to see Ishamael sitting across from him. Ishamael reveals to Perrin that he knows about the feelings he’s been suppressing, and the more Perrin embraces his wolf abilities, the more he’ll belong to Ishamael. Wolves suddenly attack the caravan; Elyas breaks Perrin free and he follows a wolf to apparent safety.

In Cairhien, Logain reveals that he knows Rand can channel. Rand asks Logain how to control saidin, but Logain refuses to answer unless Rand brings him a bottle of Ghealdanin red wine. Back in the Foregate, people are lining up to become a Hunter for the Horn of Valere while Selene watches. Rand looks through her bottles of wine but Selene tells him a Ghealdanin red can’t be found in the Foregate and whisks him away to get one elsewhere. Later they’re shown in a party full of Cairhienin nobles. Rand is assumed to be an outlander lord and even receives a dinner invitation from one noble, Lady Dhulaine. He’s approached by Anvaere (Lindsay Duncan), who advises him against accepting an invitation from Lady Dhulaine. Rand burns the invitation instead of responding. Anvaere knows Rand is staying in the Foregate and admits the reward the Queen is offering to find the Hunt for the Horn is fake, and it’s simply a method of distracting the commoners. Selene extricates Rand from his conversation and gives him a bottle of Ghealdanin red wine. Rand leaves suddenly, taking the bottle of wine with him and heads straight to Logain. Appeased, Logain tells Rand the answer to his question: he can’t control saidin, and Rand leaves, upset. Selene confronts Rand back at her inn, furious that she left him, which leads to a passionate round of apologies where Rand begins to channel weaves of fire as Selene watches. Rand awakens to discover he had been dreaming, yet weaves still surround his hands. Rand and Selene flee as the building is engulfed in flames.

Egwene finds Sheriam in Nynaeve’s room, cleaning up Nynaeve’s possessions. Sheriam tells Egwene that Nynaeve is dead and leaves. Elayne tries to comfort Egwene, but shuts Elayne out in anger. She later confronts Liandrin who is melting what would have been Nynaeve’s Accepted ring; Liandrin reminds her that raw power doesn’t equal survival, and she should focus on being smart if she wants to survive.

Liandrin releases Mat from his captivity, angrily telling him that a woman died during the Accepted test because Liandrin had been too distracted looking after Mat. She informs him that Egwene is in the Tower and also tells him a few choice words that cut to the bone and hit at the heart of his insecurities. Now free to roam the White Tower, Mat finds his way to the gardens where Egwene is crying. He hesitates and ultimately leaves without her seeing him. He returns to his cell and releases Min. She wastes no time leaving through his open door, and he reluctantly follows. Outside the Tower, the two prepare to leave, but Min ducks into a building to get something where Liandrin is waiting for her. Min has some sort of agreement with Liandrin, where if she succeeds they’ll both be free of what Moiraine is supposedly holding over them.

Egwene finds the testing chamber and unsuccessfully attempts to channel the arches open. Elayne finds her and manages to talk sense into her, offering to stay the night in the testing chamber so Egwene doesn’t have to leave Nynaeve.

Within the arches, Nynaeve has been living a life in the Two Rivers with Lan. The two of them have a young daughter, Elnore (Asia-Sky Fenty), and Perrin and Mat are visiting. Suddenly, Trollocs attack their house. Nynaeve locks Elnore in the cellar, but emerges to find the Trollocs have already killed Mat, and Perrin and Lan fall as she watches. Enraged and senseless with grief, Nynaeve unleashes an uncontrolled explosion of power that pushes the Trollocs away and causes the silver archway to appear again. Nynaeve gathers her scared daughter in her arms and runs through the arch only to emerge on the other side empty-handed and covered in blood. Her heartbreaking screams awaken Egwene and Elayne, and Egwene comforts Nynaeve as she mourns the loss of what might have been.

Review of Episode 203 – What Might Be

Likes: We’ll start with the obvious — Nynaeve’s Accepted test. The writers even managed to briefly trick many book readers with the implication that Nynaeve had emerged from the test and refused to continue her training. Zoë Robins absolutely shines in this entire sequence, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with how the test was depicted on screen. (Once we managed to stop crying, that is.)

Jessica Boone’s accent as Alwhin was amazing to hear. It’s a well-known piece of trivia that Robert Jordan described the Seanchan accents as Texan. Alwhin had just the right amount of Southern drawl to inject menace in her words without going overboard into farce. We’re curious how much variation there will be among the Seanchan accents. Just as there are regional accents in the Westlands, given how large the Empire is, it makes sense for there to be slight differences in the way people speak.

Several wardrobe moments stood out this episode. The first was Rand in that red coat. Kudos to costume designer Sharon Gilham for giving fans a taste of the Rand they know is coming. The embroidery of herons in flight is a wonderful detail. The second was the Cairhien party; the costumes were lush, detailed, and rich. Finally, even it was only in the testing ter’angreal, we still loved a glimpse of Lord Mat — the poor guy deserves something different after wearing the same threadbare outfit for ten episodes.

And speaking of Mat, how about that foreshadowing of him losing his left eye? These Easter eggs are sprinkled throughout the television series but it’s always a delight when they appear.

Dislikes: We’re so sad to see a fan-favorite character go, and in such a horrific way. Poor Uno. We understand the choice within the context of the television series, but it’s still hard to say goodbye, especially after Guy Roberts’ fantastic portrayal.

Book to Screen Comparisons

Multiple comments from Rafe have indicated season 2 would be a combination of The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn. This isn’t surprising, as the books have many repetitive plot beats. However, mashing two sequential books into one coherent storyline is never going to be easy, and we had quite a bit of trepidation about how that would play out this season. Overall, in the episodes we’ve seen so far, the writers have done a commendable job of weaving the two books together.

Moiraine and Lan: This is one of the biggest changes from book to show. Of course we know Moiraine wasn’t cut off from channeling in the books. However, her plot in The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn is fairly thin, consisting of a few chapters of prophecy research and then a lot of chasing after Rand. The writers’ decision to cut her off from the Source — and we’re still convinced she’s shielded, not stilled — was a way to inject more conflict into her television plot, as well as give an A-list actress like Rosamund Pike more compelling material to work with. Ultimately, so far Moiraine seems to be on a similar trajectory to her book counterpart. She’s clearly hunting for information, collecting and researching, and we know from trailers and other promotional material that she will eventually end up in Cairhien, where it only seems reasonable she will find Rand. Instead of her epic takedown of Be’lal at the Stone of Tear at the end of The Dragon Reborn, she could play a similar role at Falme, if freed from her shield. Lan’s plot is similarly lacking in these two books, and sidelining Daniel Henney for a season is clearly not an option, so the changes to his story are very similar to Moiraine’s. His struggle to find meaning without Moiraine is also clever preparation and foreshadowing for what’s to come.

Rand: On its face, Rand’s plot is also significantly changed. But the main beats are there, just reworked and in different geographical locations. He’s alone now, similar to the way he’s alone in much of The Dragon Reborn, but there are still echoes of the journey he undertook in The Great Hunt: he learns about sword forms, finds a mentor who teaches him about the games nobles play, and struggles with learning to control the One Power without going mad or worse. Pairing him up with Logain, while not in the books, is a fantastic adaptational choice that will fuel his desperation to find a mentor who can actually teach him how to channel. Another notable change is to the relationship between him and Selene: he didn’t meet her as a damsel in distress in a portal world, and they’re also in an intimate relationship. We’ll see how their relationship in the show plays out, but so far it seems like a more believable and adult way for the characters to interact, especially considering the way the younger characters were matured for television. But despite the changes, Selene’s dialogue is still full of subtle references that book readers will catch, and we love watching their interactions. A standout moment was when she tells Rand she’ll kill him if he leaves her again, moonlight glinting in her eyes.

Perrin: Perrin’s odd abilities last season took a backseat to his trauma over the loss of his wife. With Elyas in the picture now, it seems he’ll begin his book journey of discovering how to manage this connection with the wolves. Ishamael’s words were another clever way to make him reluctant to embrace this connection. This all rings true of book Perrin, who struggled many times over the choice between peace and violence. The show certainly seems to be prolonging Perrin’s wolf journey, which seems reasonable since in the books his character infamously peaks early and then spins his wheels for multiple books.

Mat: It would be remiss of us not to point out that Mat’s journey this season probably needed to be reworked entirely from the original season 2 draft scripts that were written prior to the sudden departure of Barney Harris. While we wonder what that original season was meant to look like, what we have instead does work well for the character. Mat already struggled in season 1 due to his family dynamics, but his decision to stay behind while his friends headed off into danger is something that still haunts him. The Mat of the books is a reluctant hero who often thinks one thing, but then does the complete opposite. He puts himself into danger for the sake of his friends even while grumbling about it, and this type of behavior makes sense when viewed from the perspective of a young man who feels guilty for failing his friends once but also has had to live many years of looking out for himself because of his parents. Of course, all book fans are going to be wondering, what about his fight with Gawyn and Galad before leaving the White Tower? Showrunner Rafe Judkins previously commented that was a scene he was excited to adapt, but he wanted to make it “more believable”. With signs pointing to Gawyn and Galad’s introductions being held for season 3, we think that iconic fight won’t appear this season, perhaps giving the show a chance to first establish Mat’s quarterstaff skills.

Nynaeve: Nynaeve seems to be spending a bit more time as a Novice than in the books, but that makes sense considering her television counterpart has barely channeled after arriving at the White Tower. While her block has been changed a little — only channeling when angry or scared, and seemingly formed because of her trauma in Fal Dara — her Accepted test in the show is very similar at its core to her test in the books. The most blatant difference is the change to her first arch, but the show’s version featuring her parents feels truer to the core of Nynaeve’s fears. This change also provided additional emotional resonance due to the parallel between her experience as a child in the first arch and her experience as a mother in the final arch. While some readers may find her third arch was significantly changed, the show ultimately expanded on the book version. In the books, in the third arch she enters a vision of her as the queen of Malkier, with Lan and their children, and is tempted to stay to the point she misses the arch to return. Once she realizes what she’s done, she manages to channel and bring back the exit.

Egwene: It seems that Egwene is needing to work much harder than her book counterpart to learn to channel. Her budding frustrations of being overlooked despite her hard work and her potential are brought to the forefront. This feels absolutely true to Egwene’s book nature and helps provide additional believability to why she is so ambitious and so eager to learn. It also provides an interesting starting point for her journey of struggle ahead. Will she come to regret her desperation to be acknowledged by other channelers? We shall find out.

Verin: It appears Verin has been combined with the character of Vandene, Adeleas’ sister in the books. Book readers know that these two sisters were at the center of one of the long-running “whodunnits” in the books. It will be interesting to see how changing Vandene to Verin will affect how this mystery plays out, if it’s included in the show. Additionally, it seems that show Verin is less “dotty aunt” and more “sweet grandmother.” It’s a subtle difference, but it also makes sense given that this Verin spends quite a bit of time with her flamboyant sister and would therefore be a bit more social. It also still provides excellent contrast for those moments where her true intelligence shines through and we realize she knows much more than she lets on. Verin also serves as a perfect method to communicate prophecies to the audience. She specifically mentions Toman Head, battles in the sky, a sword of flame wielded by a branded hand. Additionally, the gleeman in episode 3 mentions that the Horn of Valere will “summon the Heroes of the Ages back from the grave.” These are all things that should sound familiar to book readers, and their inclusion hints at what we can probably expect later this season.

Liandrin: Liandrin’s character continues to be expanded upon and fleshed out exponentially more than she ever was in the books, doing heavy lifting in both Nynaeve and Mat’s character arcs. The inclusion of a son was a surprise, but it’s the first time the television show has shown what it means for channelers to live far longer than non-channelers. It will be interesting to see where this development leads in terms of Liandrin’s motivations going forward.

Final Thoughts

There’s a central theme emerging this season, and we expect to see it continue: identity. What does it mean to be Aes Sedai? How do you form an identity when you live multiple lifespans, where you watch your loved ones age and die, where your only real equals are an ever-dwindling number of Aes Sedai who are all scheming and plotting in their own ways? Relatedly, what does it mean to want to become Aes Sedai? Is your reason good enough to carry you through the struggle and trauma it will take to become a full sister? Moiraine struggles with redirecting her sense of purpose after losing her channeling and finding out she was terribly wrong about so many things; Lan has lost part of himself and is searching for meaning; Elayne must learn how to simultaneously be a princess and a nobody; Mat is looking for his place in the world, trying to come to terms with his own inner turmoil over whether he is a good person and a good friend; Perrin is clearly conflicted about these mysterious powers and what it might mean to accept them. And, of course, Rand — what does it mean to be a man who can channel, who is destined to go mad? How do you live a life in the face of that? And, as we all know, this struggle is only just beginning. Rand doesn’t know it yet, but he didn’t defeat the Dark One. Ishamael is free, and Rand is still the Dragon. What will that mean for him? These questions of identity will carry on throughout the season, and indeed through the entire series.

As we said in our non-spoiler review, these episodes were a very strong start to the season. It was impossible for us to write about everything without making this review longer than a Wheel of Time novel, but we truly feel season 2 is a large step up and can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Episode 3 was a particular standout — it’s currently our highest overall rated episode and the second to receive a perfect 5 stars by one of our team. We’re excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. We know the destination, but not the journey. That makes for an exciting watch as book readers. We only wish that we could one day have more than eight episodes per season.

Ratings

Episode 1 – A Taste of Solitude (Overall: 4.0/5)Wotseries rating: 4.0 out of 5.0Lane: 4/5, Sara: 4/5, Eri: 4/5, Omar: 4/5

Episode 2 – Strangers and Friends (Overall: 4.0/5)Wotseries rating: 4.0 out of 5.0Lane: 4/5, Sara: 4/5, Eri: 4/5, Omar: 4/5

Episode 3 – What Might Be (Overall: 4.6/5)Wotseries rating: 4.6 out of 5.0 flames

Lane: 4.5/5, Sara: 4.5/5, Eri: 4.5/5, Omar: 5/5

 

Editorial Note

The first three episodes of season two were released on September 1, 2023. The season will contain eight episodes in total written by Rafe JudkinsAmanda Kate ShumanJustine Juel Gillmer, Dave HillKatherine B McKennaRammy ParkJohn McCutcheonRohit Kumar, and Timothy Earle. WoTSeries.com is a news site by fans, for fans, and is not affiliated with any paid sponsors or brands. We stand in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA and encourage donations to the Entertainment Community Fund to support those affected during the work stoppage.

[email protected] | + posts

Lover of fantasy and other geeky goodness.

+ posts

I'm a longtime SFF fan but Wheel of Time will always be my first love. I want to call myself Green Ajah, but--let's be real--I'm probably a Brown. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, writing, and getting lost in the wilderness.