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The fantastic world of magic and prophecy in The Wheel of Time returned for season two with an episode that eased audiences back into all the characters and relationships slowly. The next episode is different. The Wheel of Time 2×02 is an eventful episode for all the characters as they interact with each other and with new faces too.
Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) suspected five different young people from the same village might be the Dragon Reborn, who can save the world from the Dark One…or break it. Season one revealed that Rand (Josha Stradowski) was the Dragon Reborn but all of them were going to have a meaningful part to play in the fight between good and evil. And the way they relate to each other has its own effect on their actions. The first episode of this season demonstrated how the main characters are separated from each other. Geographically in some cases and emotionally in others.
This interpersonal drama is escalated in The Wheel of Time 2×02 but several plot strands also progress. This episode has more action than the previous one, which is nice, and it also feels more connected to season one. Which, in turn, makes it feel like a strong piece of the overall narrative.
“We can be alone together.”
Viewers got only one glimpse of Rand in the season 2 premiere but this episode shows exactly what he’s been doing. Rand believed he confronted the Dark One in the season one finale but he just set his most powerful lieutenant free. Rand doesn’t know this yet. He simply went into hiding from everyone because men who can channel magic go insane. He wanted to spare his love Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and his friends from that.
He’s been working as an orderly at an institution taking care of the men who have been “gentled” by the Aes Sedai. That means the women who can channel magic have removed the men’s ability to do so. Rand feels a kinship with these men, believing that their loss of a grip on reality is the fate that awaits him. He also obviously misses Egwene and the others but that doesn’t stop him from finding comfort with Selene (Natasha O’Keeffe).
I cringe for Rand right now. He clearly feels bereft of the people and places that used to be his whole world and afraid about becoming something he doesn’t want to be. But he needs to find a more productive path forward if there’s going to be a positive resolution to the real final battle that’s coming.
“We were never equals.”
Moiraine seems to understand better than anyone about that Last Battle. Or at least, as much as anyone can. She is an Aes Sedai without access to magic at the moment but she still seems to have a plan to do something to help defeat the Dark One. Plans that do not include her Warder, Lan (Daniel Henney). The bond between an Aes Sedai and her Warder has been presented as almost sacred. Moiraine and Lan have always seemed to have genuine respect for each other as well. Their strained relationship here is tough. But we also know things aren’t over.
They’re not the only ones going through a rough patch. Egwene’s relationship with Nynaeve (Zoe Robins) was like a younger and older sister but now jealousy has gotten in the way. They are training with the Aes Sedai at the White Tower and there are frequent comments about Nynaeve’s rare power. Egwene feels abandoned by Nynaeve. But the friendship she’s struck up with the new royal novice Elayne (Ceara Coveney) shows hope of helping.
The most important plot point in this episode happens with Perrin (Marcus Rutherford). The final moment of season one was the stunning appearance of a fleet of ships on the far western shore with magicians of their own who attacked by conjuring gigantic waves. Perrin and the army from Fal Dara encounter these foreign invaders now. They are frighteningly powerful. It’s an exciting fight sequence followed by “Oh, no” dread. That is the reason that The Wheel of Time 2×02 feels like an eventful, exciting episode throughout.
The Wheel of Time is streaming on Prime Video.