This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. We stand with the SAG-AFTRA. Without them, the movies and television shows we cover would not exist.
Fans of the fantasy genre have a large variety to choose from on screen, like Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time. The first season premiered all the way back in 2021. Now, The Wheel of Time 2×01 continues the journeys of the characters, sometimes physical and sometimes emotional, in an entertaining and involving fashion.
The Wheel of Time began as a successful book series in 1990 by Robert Jordan. It would grow to 14 books over more than 20 years and take two authors to complete. The world here has a lot of recognizable elements: magic, creatures, prophecies, and the struggle of good versus evil. The first season of this show slowly improved its world-building and character dynamics as each episode progressed.
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) used her powers as an Aes Sedai– the women most talented at channeling the One Power– to gather and protect five villagers. Any one of them– Rand (Josha Stradowski), Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), Mat (Donal Finn), or Nynaeve (Zoe Robbins)– could be the Dragon Reborn. This person is prophesied to either save the world from the Dark One or break it. Through various events, Rand was revealed to be the Dragon Reborn. The next part of these characters’ adventures begins in The Wheel of Time 2×01 in a way that suggests a lot of potential yet to come.
“Nothing worthwhile is ever neat and tidy.”
During the confrontation Moiraine and Rand had with the Dark One (Fares Fares) in the first season finale, the Dark One broke Moiraine’s connection to the One Power. This episode now begins to explore the effect of that on her and on her bond with her Warder, Lan (Daniel Henney). The connection between an Aes Sedai and the male protector she chooses is supposedly stronger than any other. (Though not necessarily romantic– both Moiraine and Lan have other love interests.) Moiraine seems bereft without her power but she is also still working to fight against the Dark One.
But Moiraine doesn’t talk about this work with Lan, causing friction between them. They are staying with another exiled Aes Sedai and her Warder and sister. These older people council Lan to try more listening with Moiraine. “That’s the first time in my life someone has told me to be quiet,” he responds. Did Lan just make a joke?!?!? And there’s another fun moment when the Aes Sedai’s sister asks her to move out of the way so she can watch Lan training shirtless! This show continues to recognize what they have with Henney as Lan and take advantage of it. The audience is at least a little invested in Lan and Moiraine’s relationship to improve in the near future.
“Do I look like a monster?”
The friends that Moiraine suspected might be the Dragon Reborn have all been scattered to different places. Perrin had the most tragic start, accidentally killing his wife in the Trolloc attack that prompted the group to leave their small village. He carried around tremendous guilt for that. He is now helping what is left of the army of Fal Dara find the Horn of Valere, which will help in the Last Battle. Perrin’s anger slowly came to overshadow his guilt. Anger at himself but also at the person who stole the Horn because he was someone they thought they could trust who turned out to be a Darkfriend.
Perrin is able to do more with his anger than most because he has some connection to wolves that has yet to be fully explained. Seeing him work through that over time will be satisfying if done well. At the same time, Mat was also in a sad situation when the series began. His parents were not stable and he felt responsible for his little sisters. He also had the least resistance against temptation toward the Dark. He couldn’t even bring himself to complete the final stage of their journey, which is why Moiraine had the Aes Sedai take him into custody. His future could be the most complicated if we want to see him get a happy ending.
“You’re as stubborn as she is.”
One person who will be angered about the Aes Sedai having one of her friends captive is Nynaeve. She was always fiercely protective of her friends. In fact, her astounding powers at channeling have only manifested when someone she cares about is in danger. Egwene also has strong magical abilities, and they are both at the White Tower to train with the Aes Sedai.
Nynaeve hasn’t channeled in the five months they’ve been there. But the others are still talking about how powerful she is and Egwene seems to have a touch of jealousy. This ties into the intriguing politics among the Aes Sedai which was one of the best subplots of season one. It also provides dramatic possibilities for the rest of the entire series.
As for Rand, he went into hiding after facing off with the Dark One because when men channel magic, it drives them insane. The confrontation broke the Dark One out of his prison, so the Last Battle is still on the way. Rand will have to face his destiny but the one glimpse we get of him in this episode suggests he still cares about his friends and wants to protect them. As a start to the season, The Wheel of Time 2×01 reacquaints the viewer with its relationships and conflicts very well while also creating interest in what’s to come.
The Wheel of Time is streaming on Prime Video.