This will be our full spoiler review and episode breakdown for The Wheel of Time, season 2, episode 5. 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 avoid this review.
After a bit slower episode 4, albeit with a great cliffhanger, we were left eagerly awaiting the next episode. And boy, did it deliver. Read on for our summary, or skip ahead to our review, book to screen analysis, and individual ratings.
Summary of Episode 205 – Damane (written by Rohit Kumar)
High Lady Suroth (Karima McAdams) arrives in Falme with Ishamael (Fares Fares) and Alwhin (Jessica Boone) to deliver a gift to High Lord Turak (Daniel Francis): Loial (Hammed Animashaun) and Ingtar (Gregg Chilingirian). Turak is not impressed with the gifts and even less impressed with Suroth’s unsanctioned actions at Atuan’s Mill. She’s punished by having her long nails sliced off and is dismissed. Ishamael stays to present Turak with another gift: the Horn of Valere, carried in by a whistling Padan Fain (Johann Myers).
Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) has discovered that Elyas (Gary Beadle) has been leading him back to Atuan’s Mill instead of following his captured friends. Angered, he leaves Elyas behind, but Hopper follows and tells Perrin that Uno’s body is still in Atuan’s Mill, displayed in a cage. Perrin goes to retrieve Uno, but before he is able to open the cage with a hammer, an Aiel in a nearby cage warns him that doing so will make a lot of noise and draw attention. Perrin is then interrupted by a young man, Dain (Jay Duffy), who advises Perrin to stay away from the Aiel woman. Perrin discovers that the Seanchan have been driven out by the Whitecloaks and spots Eamon Valda (Abdul Salis) speaking to Dain. Perrin frees the Aiel woman and the two of them best the Whitecloaks together. Perrin begs the Aiel to spare Dain’s life. She does, and the two leave the village. She introduces herself as Aviendha (Ayoola Smart). She explains she is searching for the car’a’carn, a prophesied figure for the Aiel, and tells Perrin she’ll follow him to Falme, as she now owes him her life.
Verin arrives back at the White Tower and reconnects with fellow Brown Ajah sisters Yasicca (Katie Leung) and Nyomi (Rachel Denning). She enlists their help in obtaining information about the disappearance of Nynaeve and Egwene. Sheriam has written record of the two traveling with Elayne to visit her brother Gawyn in Caemlyn, but an examination of the handwriting by Yasicca reveals a hint that the note was written under Compulsion, a forbidden weave. Verin later confronts Liandrin, who feigns ignorance.
Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood) is in the Ways with the bound and shielded Nynaeve (Zoë Robins), Egwene (Madeleine Madden), and Elayne (Ceara Coveney). Nynaeve realizes that Liandrin is Black Ajah and has been trying to recruit Nynaeve for the Dark. Liandrin exits the waygate near Falme where Suroth is waiting for her with her sul’dam and damane. Liandrin delivers the girls, but before she leaves, she uses fire to break the ropes binding the girls’ hands and releases the shields. The sul’dam use the damane to attack the girls, who run and defend themselves. Nynaeve and Elayne manage to escape, but Egwene is captured. Nynave and Elayne later sneak into the city of Falme, but are caught by a mysterious man who knocks them unconscious. The girls wake in the care of Ryma (Nyokabi Gethaiga), an incognito Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, and her warder Basan (Bentley Kalu). Suroth put out descriptions of the girls and the whole city is looking for them. Ryma warns the girls about what the Seanchan do to women who can channel.
In Falme, Turak interrogates Ishamael, trying to figure out where he came from, how he rose so high in the ranks, and what he wants. Turak grants Ishamael one request, which is that Turak accept a gift from Suroth. The gift: a freshly caught damane more powerful than any they’ve had in long time. It’s Egwene. She is collared and leashed by a sul’dam, Renna (Xelia Mendes-Jones).
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and Rand (Josha Stradowski) are fleeing Selene, who we now know is the Forsaken Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe). Moiraine tricks Lanfear into following a stablemaster (Laura Crowhurst) and riderless horses for some distance while escaping with Rand to Cairhien. In Cairhien, Moiraine takes Rand to her family home to get horses and clothing. The exhausted pair are avoiding sleep because of Lanfear’s mastery in the dream world, Tel’aran’rhiod. Moiriane interrupts Anvaere (Lindsay Duncan) and her son Barthanes (Will Tudor) in the midst of wedding preparations. A tearful Moiraine later reveals to Anvaere that Rand needs protection that she may not be able to give. The entire Damodred family and the city of Cairhien could suffer if she makes the wrong choice. Anvaere gives Moiriane advice, which leads to her realization that Lanfear was famously in love with Lews Therin Telamon, the previous Dragon, and if she wanted to hurt Rand she already would have. She shares the idea with Rand, who agrees to sleep and try to get information from Lanfear about the Dark’s plans.
Ishamael and Lanfear reconnect and scheme in the dream world, briefly discussing the other Forsaken as well as their own motivations. Lanfear reveals that she’s biding her time until Rand falls asleep.
Rand awakens in a barren dreamscape, strapped to a wheel and face to face with Lanfear sitting on a throne.
Review of of Episode 205 – Damane
Likes: Between Verin’s investigations around the Tower, Forsaken having secret meetings in Tel’aran’rhiod, and Perrin freeing an Aiel from a cage, watching this episode felt a lot like reading the books — wondering which characters we’d catch up with in the next chapter and always wanting to read more.
Natasha O’Keeffe was already amazing as Selene, but now that the mask is off and she can truly dig into Lanfear’s personality, she’s killing the role. It was a delight to watch the complete change in her demeanor and mannerisms and see her full range as an actress. We especially enjoyed her meeting with Ishamael in Tel’aran’rhiod which, although not verbatim from any particular chapter, felt exactly like the many Forsaken “Zoom calls” in the books.
Verin’s Sherlock Holmes escapades were also a treat. Her scenes with Sheriam and Liandrin had an additional layer of subtext once you realize Verin’s true allegiance. The hints were masterfully subtle, likely only noticeable to book readers. Also, Verin and Yasicca’s handwriting analysis reminded us an awful lot of the Wheel of Time fandom’s famous ability to theorize over even the tiniest details…not that we would know anything about that level of obsessive sleuthing.
Aviendha dancing the spears — need we say more? Ayoola Smart has, in a few short scenes, completely won our hearts. We also loved the numerous pieces of lore and worldbuilding dropped throughout her and Perrin’s interactions, right down to her avoidance of picking up any swords during the Whitecloak fight. The show has certainly succeeded so far in establishing the Aiel as fearsome warriors. We can’t wait to see multiple Aiel in a scene together.
The Seanchan continue to be bizarre, alien, and terrifying. By spending several episodes establishing the nature of the Seanchan, by the time Egwene is captured, the audience has real reason to fear. It was chilling to finally see the infamous damane leash, an element of the books that further adds to the traumatic and dehumanizing treatment of channelers in Seanchan hands.
Dislikes: We hope future fights with Aiel will have less frenetic cuts so we can better enjoy the fight choreography. We also missed seeing Mat and Min, who are already quite low on screentime this season. We assume they’re just traveling to Cairhien and we’ll catch up with them in the next episode. However, with only three episodes left this season, we hope to see our favorite gambler’s luck change soon. Our last minor critique is Suroth’s bald cap looked a little goofy, but in fairness, the Seanchan aesthetic is quite goofy canonically, so we aren’t dwelling on it too much.
Changes From Book to Screen
Moiraine: Moiraine’s plot, while hardly verbatim from the books, does continue paying homage to her overarching book goal of learning everything she can about the Dragon Reborn and how best to guide him. While we initially were dubious of the change to have her cut off from the One Power at the end of season 1, we’ve ended up enjoying the additional tension that has added to her plotline this season.
Rand: Understandably, after spending months with Selene before learning her true identity, Rand has developed real feelings for her. In the books, he never develops this depth of relationship with Lanfear, so this change to their dynamic sets up the potential for some very interesting character interactions down the road.
Perrin & Aviendha: In the books, Perrin frees a caged Gaul from Whitecloaks. While we hope to see Gaul in a later season, Aviendha is undeniably a more important character. Introducing her here makes sense, and combining her introduction with Gaul’s is a nice nod to the book.
Cairhienen Nobility: We now know the identity of the Queen is Galldrian. While the reveal definitely took us by surprise, it works within the story to gender swap a minor character in order to facilitate a political marriage between the ruler of Cairhien and Barthanes Damodred. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but based off of what happened to King Galldrian in the books, we don’t expect the wedding to end in marital bliss. Also, will Barthanes be a Darkfriend in the show like his book counterpart? Or could Anvaere be the Darkfriend? She’s certainly had ample motivation to turn to the Dark over the years, and as Liandrin said to Nynaeve, “every woman has her price.” It might also explain why she singled out Rand at the party in Cairhien. At this point it would almost be more of a twist to have Barthanes be the Darkfriend instead of his scheming, plotting mother.
Black Ajah Hunt: Verin is a beloved character in the books, but is typically one that remains in the background, observing. Having Verin investigate the girls’ disappearance is a new story thread, and a welcome one. We wonder if Verin will be the one who initiates the Black Ajah hunt (as Siuan did in The Dragon Reborn). If so, we think the ramifications of this choice further down the line will be very intriguing.
Forsaken: We now have confirmation that Moghedien and Graendal are both still Forsaken in the show. We also got a reference to “the boys,” which unfortunately doesn’t narrow down which of the male Forsaken that could be. Assuming we only have eight of them in the adaptation, this could imply that there are three female and five male Forsaken. Alternatively, perhaps they chose to name drop the ones we should be keeping an eye out for first. Will we see another Forsaken revealed before the end of this season?
Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne: Often dubbed the “Wonder Girls” by the fandom, these three’s episode 5 plotline stayed almost identical to its book counterpart. Considering this is a particularly crucial piece of Egwene’s character arc, we are looking forward to watch it play out on television. And fully expecting to have our hearts broken over and over by Madeleine Madden.
Battle in the Sky: With two mentions of a battle in the sky, first by Verin and now by Ishamael, it seems almost certain we’ll see this adapted for the television show. Fans have long speculated that this would be cut from the show, as it would be too difficult to adapt well. We think it’s fair to expect it not to play out identically to the books, but exactly how is anyone’s guess. Based on scenes in the trailer and other promotional materials, Rand will confront Turak in the final episode, but considering he hasn’t been training with Lan to hone his blademaster skills, we wonder how that fight will play out onscreen.
This episode was a consistently great episode of television from start to finish. Every scene was laced with tension and nothing felt prolonged or unnecessary. It was also just a sheer delight to watch as a book reader, jam packed with lore references, worldbuilding, and Easter eggs. These references also felt earned, as the show has been laying the groundwork for most of these concepts and can now finally flesh them out and provide the non-reader audience with terms like Tel’aran’rhiod and the Black Ajah.
Amongst the four of us, this was one of our favorite episodes of the show so far. It’s also the third episode of the television series to receive a 5-flame rating by one of our team (after The Flame of Tar Valon last season and What Might Be this season). Season 2 as a whole certainly feels like the show has found its footing. We can’t wait to see more.
Episode 5 – Damane (Overall: 4.6/5)Lane: 5/5, Sara: 4.5/5, Eri: 4.5/5, Omar: 4.5/5
Episode 5 of season 2 was released on September 15, 2023. The season will contain eight episodes in total written by Rafe Judkins, Amanda Kate Shuman, Justine Juel Gillmer, Dave Hill, Katherine B McKenna, Rammy Park, John McCutcheon, Rohit 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.