A promotional image for the Wheel of Time on Prime. Up top it says "Amazon Original Series" while at the bottom, it has the logo and premiere date. The image centers on Moiraine with the other heroes to her left and right. Above them is a fade on a horse and the army of trollocs that follow them.

Read these Thoughts About the Wheel of Time S1E1 Because

by | Sep 6, 2022 | 0 comments

Read these Thoughts About the Wheel of Time S1E1 Because

The first episode of any show has a lot to do: introduce the characters, the world, and the conflict at the heart of the show. “Leavetakings” does that clunkily but overall, this was an excellent way to begin a series.

SPOILER ALERT

I’m trying to write this so both long time readers and show newcomers can get something out of it. There will obviously be spoilers through the end of the first episode. There will also be spoilers for the rest of the books, but I will put them in white text. If you don’t want to be spoiled, scroll on past. If you do, highlight the text to read it.

And with that, we start at the end.

After the first several audiobooks, there’s an interview with Robert Jordan where he talks about what he was thinking when he wrote the series. One thing he mentioned was the absurdity of the wise old wizard coming to town, telling people they have to save the world, and having the people just believe the wise old wizard and join the quest.

And yet… that’s exactly how the show does it. I’m sure they did it because they had a limited runtime, but I didn’t like it for a couple reasons.

One, it led to an awkward moment where Moiraine heals Tam and Rand immediately starts blaming her for the trollocs being there at all. I get it. They had to transition from the healing to Moiraine telling them all they have to go, but I wish they could have done it differently.

BOOK SPOILER COMING

Two, it eliminates the differences between the motivations the characters have to leave Emond’s Field and those differences are important. Mat and Perrin leave because Moiraine put some magic on the coins she gave them that would make them amenable to her suggestions. Rand didn’t, and that was Moiraine’s first clue that he was the Dragon Reborn. She had to bribe him by healing Tam. Egwene left because she wanted to see more, learn more, and do more, while Nynaeve left because she wants to protect her people. In both cases, the reasons are fundamental to the character.

Mat’s Backstory

Fucking hated it. More so even than Perrin’s.

He’s portrayed by the show as someone forced into thievery by poverty and neither of those things are in the books. He doesn’t need to be poor and/or a thief to do the thing he does in Episode Two.

BOOK SPOILERS

Mat’s character arc in the books is mostly flat. He’s fundamentally the same guy at the end of the books that he is in the beginning. He likes to have fun, gamble a bit, and fool around with willing women, while maintaining a healthy disrespect for the rules and those who make them.

But he’s fundamentally a decent guy. When push comes to shove, he does the right thing—for the wrong reasons sometimes—but the right thing. The only way that’s true in the show is if you think his love for his sisters justifies his thievery. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t like that it’s even a question.

That said, I absolutely adore that they made it clear he loves his sisters more than anything. It’s a bit of a departure from the books, but it’s fundamental Mat. He sees his parents abrogating their responsibilities, so he steps in and does what’s needed.

When the trollocs attack, he gets the fuck out of there because who wants to fight trollocs, but as soon as he learns the girls are out there somewhere, he rushes to look for them. That’s Mat to his core.

Perrin’s Backstory Because Ugh

I understand why they did it. I do. I still fucking hate it.

Loss is fundamental to Perrin’s character.

BOOK SPOILERS

Perrin’s big thing is the fight between his fundamental decency and the fact that he’s very good at violence. He doesn’t want to be violent. From The Shadow Rising on, he knows the damage violence does, and he loathes he has the capacity to do that.

The show clearly wanted to move that from Book Four to the start of the series and they needed to condense the time frame. They didn’t have the time to introduce the parents and the other kids. So they tapped into existing cultural touchstones. Introduce the wife. Kill her off. Make Perrin feel guilty not just about killing her, but about not being a good husband and BAM, there’s an explanation for his internal struggle and why he’s such a goddamn dick to Faile in TSR.

Other Random Shit

  • I liked they introduced madness manifesting as other people. You know, for spoilery reasons.
  • Ditto for the river imagery with Egwene, also for spoilery reasons.
  • The talk about braids was fantastic. For all the times Nynaeve tugs her braid in the books, there’s never much talk about why. We’re left to think it’s just a thing she does when she’s angry or frustrated. The show gives us a beautiful context. Tugging her braid reminds her she’s not dealing with shit alone. For someone who has been lonely and isolated for so much of her life, that must be tremendous.
  • Egwene ran around like a helpless doofus during the trolloc attack. I get it for character arc reasons, but I still hate it.

Questions

Why did that trolloc kidnap Nynaeve? Amid wanton slaughter, a trolloc grabbed Nynaeve and hauled her off somewhere, even dropping her so he could snack on another trolloc. They must have wanted her alive, but why?

SPOILER QUESTION

Do you think Tam knew, or at least suspected, that Rand is the Dragon Reborn? He obviously knows the circumstances of his birth, and when they survive Narg’s attack in the show, Tam says “You” have to leave. Maybe that’s just because he wants to protect his son and knows the trolloc wound will probably kill him. Or maybe he knows the trollocs are there for Rand. What say you?

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