A season finale needs to feel like both a resolution and an invitation to keep watching future seasons. Viewers need some sort of closure but also enticement to tune in for the story yet to come. The Wheel of Time second season finale succeeds at these things. During The Wheel of Time 2×08, I cheered, I cried, and most of all, I wanted more of this story.
Season one of The Wheel of Time was good television. It created a world, introduced characters, and provided a lot of action. Season two has been even better. The pacing of the plot has been relentless, the character development has been strong, and the scope of the action only increased. As the next stage in Rand (Josha Stradowski) and his friends’ adventures fighting against the Dark unfolded, the story felt grander. The excitement has just built and built. New characters have had a meaningful impact our connection to the central heroes has deepened. The storytelling has simply been more mature. And it also felt like the writers had a clear finale in mind.
The Wheel of Time 2×08 is a thrilling and rousing season finale. And the writers don’t forget the genuine emotion. It’s a satisfying example of fantasy television, and most of all, it sets up a third season that I personally cannot wait to watch.
“You have always been my better.”
Oh my, where to start with this episode? That I’m actually allowed to talk about? At the end of the previous episode, Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) defied the Amyrlin Seat– and her lover– Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) to take Rand to Falme to confront Ishamael (Fares Fares). The Seanchan are holding Egwene (Madeleine Madden) captive in Falme. Ishamael is imprisoning Mat in Falme. Perrin and his new friends head to Falme too. Nynaeve (Zoe Robins) and Elayne (Ceara Coveney) are in Falme trying to save Egwene.
In other words, everyone’s headed to Falme so bring on the epic battle sequences! They are quite impressive, and they have an unexpected layer. The Whitecloaks also head to Falme to face the Seanchan invaders. It’s ironic because both these groups have similar views toward women who can channel magic. They don’t see them as human. And yet, the Whitecloaks are the only ones confronting this army because the Seanchan have been able to enslave any Aes Sedai who comes to investigate them.
Of course, our heroes are now doing their part as they gather in the same place for the first time all season. I challenge any viewer to not be affected as these people who care so much about each other reunite after such a long time apart. This is especially effective when you consider how they all started the series. Oh, how they’ve grown.
“In a thousand lives, I never have.”
The growth I found most satisfying in this finale was Mat’s (Donal Finn). Of all the friends from the Two Rivers, Mat has been the one least able to resist self-destructive impulses. Ishamael has played on that on behalf of the Dark. Or he has tried to, at least. This episode proves Mat is more resourceful and braver than he has ever had a chance to be before. And a much better fighter than expected, too. Finn’s performance is wonderful. He really conveys the feeling that Mat’s even surprising himself.
Most of the other characters also get a hero moment and there is satisfaction from watching each one. Especially Egwene’s. Seeing Elayne begin to fit into this group is pleasing as well. I wish Nynaeve would more fully exercise her rare power but that can be a treat for the future. The situation between Moiraine and Lan (Daniel Henney), on the other hand, needed a positive reconciliation. Viewers get that. Lan figured out in the previous episode that Moiraine was not actually cut off from magic. Now that she can touch the One Power again, their bond is restored.
While all the good guys are demonstrating their unity, the Dark is a different story. Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) is not on the same page as Ishamael and she intends to arrange things so that she is the only Forsaken he gets to bring back. This conflict among the bad guys just makes for juicy drama and I have no doubt future seasons will develop this further. The final scene here pretty much guarantees that. And I will watch. Because The Wheel of Time 2×08 is one of the best episodes of the series so far. It is truly a fitting finale for a superb season overall.
The Wheel of Time is streaming on Prime Video.