Depredations and depravities reign on this week’s Wheel of Time

Still no safeword in Tel'aran'rhiod, Rand.

Enlarge / Nonetheless no safeword in Tel’aran’rhiod, Rand. (credit score: Amazon Studios)

Andrew Cunningham and Lee Hutchinson have spent a long time of their lives with Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time books, they usually beforehand introduced that information to bear as they recapped every first season episode of Amazon’s new WoT TV collection. Now they’re doing it once more for season two—together with insights, jokes, and the occasional wild idea. These recaps will not cowl each factor of each episode, however they are going to include main spoilers for the present and the e-book collection. We’ll do our greatest to not spoil main future occasions from the books, however there’s at all times the hazard that one thing would possibly slip out. If you wish to keep utterly unspoiled and have not learn the books, these recaps aren’t for you.

New episodes of The Wheel of Time season two can be posted for Amazon Prime subscribers each Friday. This write-up covers episode six, which was launched on September 22.

Andrew: As typical for an episode of Wheel of Time, this one does a bunch of issues and goes a bunch of locations, however the episode’s centerpiece can be very acquainted to e-book readers: Egwene’s seize by the Seanchan.

The Seanchan consider that channelers are too harmful to be left to their very own units. They’re captured and leashed and customarily handled as beloved pets at finest or monsters at worst. Egwene’s seize and torment within the books is a cornerstone of her character, and this episode is hard to look at in locations. It’s additionally one of many first instances that the present’s model of occasions is clearly more practical and impactful for me than the model within the books—the advantage of doing issues in a visible medium.

High Lord Turak and the Seanchan, opening for GWAR this weekend at The Gasworks!

Excessive Lord Turak and the Seanchan, opening for GWAR this weekend at The Gasworks!

Lee: Oh yeah, completely—this episode positively ratchets issues up a notch or 5. No extra Bel Tine presents for Egwene or dancing with Aram—it is straight-up torture time, courtesy of our mates from past the western sea. We’ll doubtless (ultimately) study not less than the broad outlines of Seanchan tradition, however the essential bit is the one we’re being proven proper off the bat: to the Seanchan, channelers are sub-human. “You aren’t a girl,” Egwene is instructed. “You’re a damane.”

Egwene spends the episode trapped in a cell—in “the kennels,” as they’re known as—studying about all of the quirks and options of the Seanchan a’dam. It could be fascinating if it weren’t so grotesque and terrible. The a’dam’s creator (an Aes Sedai, although we hear way more about her within the books) appears to have put appreciable effort into considering of all of the potential methods a damane would possibly combat again after which programmed round them. The a’dam cannot be eliminated by the damane. The damane can’t contact the wristband management leash, even when it isn’t being held by anybody. The machine even prevents the damane from touching different objects that the damane perceives to be weapons—which is simply downright insidious, as a result of it turns new damane into energetic contributors in their very own breaking. Egwene can’t even choose up a water pitcher to drink, as a result of she will’t cease occupied with smashing the sul’dam’s head with it. She solely will get to drink water after she has satisfied herself that she will not assault the Seanchan.

It is tough. It is actually tough. In between the placed on the glasses pour the water scenes, we get to see Egwene convulsing repeatedly as she fights with the a’dam—a lot in order that she ruptures blood vessels in each eyes. And this takes up about half the episode.

As you level out, although, that is an absolute cornerstone of Egwene’s character. It is the honing that may form her into—effectively, into what she ultimately turns into. (It is not a spoiler, I do not suppose, to say that the POV characters of an epic fantasy collection all have Essential Destinies™ laid on them, and Egwene would not be capable to inhabit the function—roles, even—she finally ends up having to inhabit with out this shaping.)

Things are not going great for Egwene.

Issues usually are not going nice for Egwene. (credit score: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: My “that is true to the books” mind appreciates these scenes so much however there’s a superb line to stroll; Sport of Thrones grew to become notorious for a way often it brutalized its feminine characters. This nearly at all times took the type of sexual assault, perpetrated by males in positions of energy in opposition to ladies who lacked it. Wheel of Time hasn’t gone to that effectively, and if it stays in any approach true to the occasions and themes of the books, it will not. But it surely’s one thing I hope the present is aware of.

Shifting on to different characters, we get an excellent little bit of Mat and Min for the primary time in a few episodes. Present-Min has made a cope with the satan (one in every of them, anyway) to deliver Mat again into Rand’s orbit, as a result of Min has had a imaginative and prescient that Mat will kill Rand, and Ishamael has a vested curiosity in Rand being lifeless. Mat and Rand meet and have a genuinely touching reunion right here, and I will say I additionally suppose the present is dealing with their relationship a bit higher than the books right here. Guide-Mat, particularly at this stage within the story earlier than we had ever entered his perspective, is truthfully simply sort of a dick?

Perhaps it is as a result of he picked up a dagger that makes him completely suspicious of everybody round him, however his response to discovering out what’s going on with Rand is to not assist him however to be a distant jerk. Of all of the issues to not like in regards to the books, you nearly by no means get an excellent sense of Rand and Mat and Perrin as precise mates quite than Individuals Whose Fates Are Intertwined By Future. We’re instructed that they are mates. Their actions often indicate a point of loyalty to at least one one other. However very not often do you simply get to see two dudes have a hug and a beer as a result of they’re genuinely comfortable to see each other.

Lee: We do certainly have but to listen to any one of many Two Rivers Bros lament that the opposite Two Rivers Bros are so significantly better with the women, if nothing else. I do want that the present had time to let that friendship breathe somewhat extra, however alas. And the place is that dagger, anyway? I do know the place it is presupposed to be within the books at this level—I do not need to say, in case it spoils one thing for somebody, but it surely’s addressed early on in The Nice Hunt and in reality is without doubt one of the issues that’s being hunted for by our primary characters—however I can not recall if we have seen the place it at the moment is within the present.

I need to spend a second on Rand and Logain, too—if for nothing else than to name out the primary on-screen picture of somebody taking part in “stones,” the in-universe title for what we might acknowledge as Go. Stones is a sport performed in Randland by intellectuals and generals, and it is a on condition that if you happen to see a personality taking part in stones, that character is meant to be tremendous good and sensible and presumably an authorial self-insert. (“Take a shot each time somebody is taking part in stones” is nearly as in style an informal WoT ingesting sport as “Take a shot each time Nynaeve tugs her braid” or—my private favourite—”Take a shot each time somebody says one thing in regards to the Darkish One’s taint.”)

Logain is as soon as once more introduced in to show Rand—however actually, to show us—how channeling works for males. (I hope we nonetheless get you-know-who educating Rand later, however Logain is certainly moving into that different fellow’s footwear right here.) In a pleasant little compact scene, the false Dragon manages to show the true Dragon three essential science details in regards to the One Energy: ladies “give up” to saidar, however males “seize” saidin; if you happen to take an excessive amount of in, you may burn your self out; and that Rand is extremely highly effective, able to doing “something” and combating “anybody.”

Upon releasing the supply, Rand then learns a bonus #four truth: the Darkish One’s corruption suffuses saidin. The e-book makes it sound like channeling the corrupted male half of the ability is type of like railing ultra-heroin whereas concurrently chugging down uncooked sewage, and when Rand releases the supply, he additionally releases his lunch. Ew.


“UNLIMITED POWER!!!!” (credit score: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: Yeah, the present has visually referenced the Darkish One’s taint (on saidin! His taint on saidin!) earlier than, again when Logain might nonetheless channel. Girls get to weave sparkly strands of sunshine and males must channel this inky black stuff. However now Rand is getting a giant dose of it for the primary time and it does not go nice for him. Rand’s sanity and the diploma to which he’s nonetheless “himself” will change into main issues.

The present’s therapy of what occurs to channelers after they will not channel remains to be fairly inconsistent with the books; former channelers within the books are not any extra able to seeing weaves or educating a channeler than a non-channeler could be, however Logain remains to be totally conscious of what Rand is doing and what he can do.

On that subject, let’s discuss one thing I’m much less obsessed with: we’re at episode six, and I am nonetheless probably not positive the place Moiraine or Lan’s plotlines are going, and the choice to take Moiraine’s channeling means away and have her spend half the season sniping together with her sister of their massive stuffy home simply feels prefer it was performed so each Moiraine and Lan might mark time whereas issues occurred to the opposite characters. Perhaps one thing stunningly explosive will come from it, and I am glad to see that Siuan Sanche is again within the motion, however give me “scenes of Rand bargaining with Lanfear within the dream world” or “scenes of Nynaeve and Elayne attempting to save lots of their good friend whereas doing a little true-to-the-book bickering” over “scenes of a girl attempting to write down a letter whereas her nephew offers her a sandwich.”

Lee: However Barthanes Damodred makes the finest sandwiches. Moiraine stated so and Aes Sedai can’t lie.

Yeah, I agree that components of the season really feel sort of interminable, regardless of how bloody quick it’s. I too might have performed with possibly a bit much less Moiraine-arguing-with-her-sister and in addition a bit much less of regardless of the hell it’s Lan has been doing with Alanna and the Funky Bunch, however I have been fairly pleased with the World of Goals bits.

Talking of, I need to ask a query that my spouse and I each really feel fairly unified on: when Lanfear banished Ishamael from Rand’s desires, was she actually banishing him? As a result of it appears way more Lanfear-like for that total bit to have merely been Lanfear conjuring after which de-conjuring an imaginary Dream Ishy. It looks as if the sort of factor she’d do.


Perfection. (credit score: Amazon Studios)

Andrew: OK, so, hear me out—I feel it is actually Ishamael, and it is due to a brilliant delicate but-obviously-meant-to-be-noticed factor about how he seems within the World of Goals.

Take a look at scenes early within the episode the place Ishamael is speaking with Min in her desires. Sometimes he “freezes,” such as you would on a Zoom name the place Your Web Connection Is Unstable. Within the scene the place he is tormenting Rand earlier than Lanfear sends him away, he is doing the identical factor. The visions Rand is getting from Ishamael often freeze-and-jump in the identical sort of approach, one thing I believed was only a technique to creep out the viewer till you made me begin occupied with it.

However Lanfear, somebody recognized for her mastery of the World of Goals, does not transfer like this. I feel the present is attempting to make use of this to speak that Ishamael can function on the planet of desires, however he isn’t notably adept at controlling it, and he can simply be booted by somebody extra gifted than he’s.

It does appear Lanfear-ish to attempt to earn Rand’s belief this fashion, by developing a situation that makes her appear extra reliable. However bear in mind, book-Lanfear is the one who hooked Rand up along with his book-channeling trainer. She’s acquired her personal motivations and delusions of grandeur, and the Forsaken usually work at cross-purposes.

Lee: Ahhh, that is a wonderful catch—I would observed Ishy’s freezing however hadn’t made the hyperlink to it possibly being tied to his World of Goals mastery stage. And Ishamael & Lanfear are already colluding, as we noticed final episode, so it isn’t like Lanfear having Ishamael cease by Rand’s dream for a minute so she will “vanquish” him could be a tough ask. Hell, having Ishamael in on the deal would match fairly effectively with each his and Lanfear’s plans—not less than for now. Good name.

A method or one other, although, Rand simply cannot catch a break. He finds Mat once more, however quite than leaving city with Rand to flee, he chooses to heed Min’s warning and keep away. Rand then decides to depart Cairhien on his personal however will get stopped by Lan and Alanna. What are they going to do with him?

Our reply lies within the arrival of the Amyrlin Seat and fourteen different Aes Sedai (together with a number of acquainted faces, like Liandrin and Verin). An identical state of affairs performs out within the novel—Rand delays leaving Shienar for too lengthy and will get caught having to speak to the Amyrlin, lately arrived within the Borderlands together with her retinue. Right here, it appears like Rand delayed leaving Cairhien for too lengthy and is caught having to do the very same factor. The Amyrlin and Moraine are outdated schemers relating to the topic of the Dragon Reborn, so the plots are all twisting again collectively. (As they need to, since subsequent week is the season’s penultimate episode.)

Andrew: I would speak to somebody for a very long time in regards to the means of adapting this season. Season one was, for all its departures, roughly a closely compressed model of The Eye of the World with a bunch of stuff lower for time. For season two, it is like they wrote each single plot from e-book two (and components of three) on a giant whiteboard after which Tetris’d the story blocks round over and over, shaving them down till they would slot in the quantity of area that the present needed to give. As completely different because the present appears to be, you are at all times working into recognizable bits, simply moved round and recontextualized.

It definitely looks as if most of our heroes are converging on Cairhien, earlier than what I am assuming can be a cataclysmic season-ending confrontation in Falme.

That is the place Nynaeve and Elayne are nonetheless camped out, attempting to determine how you can free Egwene and any of the opposite Aes Sedai-affiliated channelers who’ve been captured by the Seanchan. Nynaeve and Elayne are very true to their book-selves right here as “highly effective ladies who respect one another however would mainly by no means hang around in the event that they weren’t each mates with the identical particular person.” Proper now, it is on them to free Egwene and expose Liandrin, who simply occurs to be a part of the Amyrlin’s posse in Cairhien.

It does seem to be the present goes to be much less affected person than the books about resolving Nynaeve’s “block,” the place she will solely channel below particular emotionally heightened circumstances. Go away it to Ryma (Nyokabi Gethaiga), a member of the healing-focused Yellow Ajah, to interrupt it down in phrases Nynaeve can perceive: when somebody is harm, you do not resolve to assist them, you simply assist them.

Ryma and Elayne try to probe the a'dam while Nynaeve prepares to screw everything up.

Ryma and Elayne attempt to probe the a’dam whereas Nynaeve prepares to screw all the things up. (credit score: Amazon Studios)

Lee: That is a strong characterization of Nynaeve and Elayne’s relationship. My spouse stated that Nynaeve calls Elayne “princess” with about the identical stage of contempt that Han makes use of with Leia in Empire Strikes Again. And poor Ryma—she’ll now be becoming a member of Egwene and Maigan (the previous Blue sitter, performed by Sandy McDade) within the kennels.

Your description of taking part in Tetris with the plots can be spot on—that feels precisely like what’s occurring. I like a few of it, and I do not like a few of it, however I do not suppose I would be capable to do any higher as a author if confronted with the identical size and episode rely constraints because the present is having to function below. If there’s a villain right here, it is probably not the Seanchan, or the Forsaken, and even the Darkish One himself—it is no matter bean counters within the programming division selected these constraints. (There’s an apparent “a’dam across the neck of the present” metaphor that I might draw right here, however I will not. Although I suppose I simply did.) Regardless, we’re reviewing the present we have been given to work with, quite than the longer present we maybe want we had.

I’ve one extra notice from my spouse that I have to learn into the document: “Ingtar has higher smoky eye than Lanfear and Egwene’s sul’dam put collectively.” No argument from me there.

The rest out of your pocket book, Andrew, or have we reached the top for this week?

Andrew: “Wheel of Time? Extra like Wheel of Prime!”
Lee: Hah, sure, I suppose that does imply we’re certainly performed for this week. With solely two episodes left, I am anticipating loads of massive issues very quickly. Massive essential issues. Massive essential large flaming issues, within the sky. As a result of it will be foolish to point out us a horn in act one and never have somebody blow it by act three, proper?

We’ll see you again right here subsequent Friday. Till then, could you all discover water and shade.

(credit score: WoT Wiki)

Learn on Ars Technica | Feedback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *