We are back today with episode 2 of the Wheel of Time, Shadow’s Waiting. Before we get started, I once again want to remind everyone that this is an in-depth review and deep dive into each episode, so show spoilers abound here. The purpose is to fill in the gaps and point out differences between the show and the book, while not spoiling future events from book knowledge. That being said, I have purposefully skipped over some explanations because I am waiting for them to be explained in the show. Afterall, I’ve only seen the first 3 episodes, and I don’t know what’s coming next.
One of the big things that I did not explain was the ta’veren that Moiraine was searching for. What are ta’veren and what does it mean that Rand, Mat, Perrin, and Egwene are ta’veren? I was hoping a more solid explanation would come up in the show, but I also found the definition on the ‘explore’ section of the Wheel of Time page on Amazon.
When the Wheel of Time needs to mend or realign the Pattern, it creates ta’veren: bending a person’s life-thread in such a way that all surrounding threads are forced to swirl around it. This creates a ripple effect across the Pattern, making the person a focal point in the weave. People who are ta’veren find themselves at the center of strange and improbable events, both good and bad.
Does that clear things up? Haha! Basically, a ta’veren forces change in the way events happen around them. Almost a deus ex machina for the ta’veren, but the change in events causes ripples that can adversely affect other innocent bystanders. Say, someone shoots an arrow at a ta’veren, but the arrowhead is cracked, so it is easily deflected by something as simple as a button, causing no real harm. Later, someone may trip and fall onto that same arrow, and be killed instantly by it. This is accurate for both book and show. There is definitely more to being ta’veren, and the effects it has in the world, but I will let this topic lie until we know if it’s going to be a large plot point in the show or not.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at the bonus content for episode 2. The first is our second origin story titled The Fall of Manetheren. I suspect that if you are here, you have already watched the show and know that Moiraine tells our Emond’s Fielders the tale of their ancestry. The old blood runs deep in the Two Rivers. Other than some visuals and great atmospheric music, this origin story doesn’t add much to Moiraine’s story as far as knowledge and lore goes. I would still recommend watching it as it’s only a couple minutes long, and I am biased because this is one of my favorite pieces of lore from the books.
The second piece of content is another Behind the Scenes, but this time it is a look at Brandon Sanderson’s legacy. For followers of my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of Sanderson, and that is because of his work on the Wheel of Time. It introduced me to his writing, and I am so grateful for that. He is a very talented and captivating writer. Watching his retelling of when he received the first call from Harriet to continue Jordan’s work on the books was a joy to watch.
That was all of the bonus content for E2, so now on with the show. After the recap, the first scene opens on a camp of white tents where people dressed in white are going about their day. Welcome to the Children of the Light, or as the common folk call them, White Cloaks. We hates them. They are the religious zealots of the Westlands, and right off the bat we are introduced to one of the Hand of the Light, Eamon Valda, as a young boy delivers his meal. The Hand of the Light are even detested by the rest of the children, and we are shown why. Abdul Salis plays Valda, and does an excellent job in provoking disgust right away.
In the scene, he eats a little bird that doesn’t quite appear fully cooked, then goes on about how scrumptious it is. Bleargh, yeack. As he walks, we are shown who he is talking to. A poor Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah who is tied to a stake to be burned alive. What a cruel way to die, and doubly so since the Yellow Ajah are dedicated to healing others. She has also had her hands cut off, which I guess is to stop her from channeling. Now, this is not accurate to every Aes Sedai in the books, as they do not need their hands to touch the source, although there are a few who may need aids or focuses to do it. It completely depends on the channeler what her limitations are. The way to ensure a woman is not able to touch the One Power is to render her unconscious, give her Forkroot tea, or have another Aes Sedai use the One Power to ‘shield’ her. I can understand this change in the show as it’s easier to associate hands being bound as a ‘shield’, and it just makes an Aes Sedai more vulnerable.
Edit: On my third (yes third) watch through of E1, I did notice that Moiraine threw an axe into a trolloc with a nod of her head. I am leaving my previous text because Moiraine still had to use a body motion to wield the One Power, and the Yellow Ajah is still tightly bound and presumably unable to use the source, but I will note this for future episodes. The truth is, at this point, I simply don't know the limitations on channelers wielding the One Power.
With that gruesome scene out of the way, we finally get to see the opening credits. The wheel is weaving threads into patterns with stunning visuals and haunting music. I very much approve of the opening credits. Very fitting imagery.
The next shot is of our main characters racing away from a band of trollocs who are following too closely for comfort. It’s still light at the beginning of the scene, and fades to night to show us how long they’ve been running. They make it to Taren Ferry, and convince the ferryman to take them across just in time, as the trollocs soon descend on the dock before the group is even halfway across the river.
Luckily, trollocs can’t swim and are scared of deep water. The fade leading them is not happy about it, and Moiraine lets us know that fades are able to control trollocs, at least to a point. Moiraine then sinks the ferry to save them, but the ferryman is set on getting back across the river to save his son. Dude… do you SEE what’s over there? The shoreline is literally filled with 8-foot snarling man-beasts, and an eyeless who just screamed at you with a protracting mouth full of dental nightmares. And you call Moiraine a monster and dive back into the river? That’s some questionable life choices right there.
The group stands helpless on the shore as the ferryman swims out to his sinking ferry, only to be caught and sunk in the whirlpool Moiraine created. We see a moment of remorse on Moiraine’s face as she watches, regretting she cannot save him, but then she snaps back to the direness of the situation to once again force the group onward. With the river as a barrier between them and the army of trollocs, they are able to find a place to rest for the night.
Here, we see Moiraine channeling over the horses, giving them their strength back, and Lan admonishes her, knowing she needs rest. This is accurate to the books, but it was given to us as hints in Rand’s thoughts, and I always liked this little detail. You see, the horses that the group were riding were well bred, sturdy horses, except for Egwene. She ended up on Rand’s shaggy little mare, Bela, who was just a workhorse on their farm. Rand was constantly worried that Bela would fall behind, not being able to keep up with the faster horses, but Bela never faltered. Later, Lan confirms Moiraine was giving them her strength, but in the show, we get the visual instead.
The group then talks about the loss of Nynaeve as well as the Dragon Reborn prophecies until Moiraine admonishes them and tells them to sleep. The scene shows them doing just that, or at least Rand is trying. This scene is short, but something very interesting happens here. Moiraine enters, kneels over Egwene as Rand watches, and Moiraine makes the same gesture over Egwene as she did the horses, but this time we do not see the traces of the One Power. However, by her body motions, it’s obvious that she channeled. By my count, this is the 4th time that we have been shown a woman channeling without seeing the weaves of the One Power. The first two were in the opening scene when Liandrin Sedai caused the rocks to fall and when she gentled the man. The next was when Moiraine heated the water in the bath. Now we have this scene, which we are basically viewing through Rand’s eyes. Men and woman who cannot channel cannot see the weaves. This is a big detail in the book, and I am thrilled that they have used it in the show. I still wonder how they are going to use and not use the visual of the weaves going forward, but the addition of this scene gives me hope that it will be used in creative ways.
Moiraine then takes Egwene for a walk and gives her a lesson on being an Aes Sedai. Words are important, and how we use them are important.
One, to speak no word that is not true.
Two, to make no weapon with which one person can kill another.
Three, never to use the One Power as a weapon, except in the last extreme defense of her life, or the life of her warder, or another Aes Sedai.The Three Oaths
Moiraine then explains that she did not kill the ferryman and walks Egwene through her logic, which calms Egwene’s anger and mistrust. Egwene is ambitions, as we learned in E1 when she chose the life of a wisdom instead of marrying and raising a family. Her expression changes when Moiraine tells her she can touch the source and become an Aes Sedai. After walking Egwene through a channeling exercise, Moiraine says,
It is not you that listens to the wind. It is the wind that listens to you.Moiraine Sedai
I particularly love this line, and it is exactly what Egwene needed to hear in that moment. Egwene then finds Rand sleeping behind the horses and lays down with him, waking him. He tells her he wanted to be alone, and she leaves. This is a short scene, but I think it signifies that whatever physical relationship they had is now over. Although it might not have been said out loud, the two have already made their decisions about each other.
Next, we cut to Perrin in front of the firepit and… Why aren’t any of you resting? Anyway, Perrin pulls up his pant leg to reveal that he’s been wounded. It’s too dark at this point to see if it’s trolloc poison or just a normal wound. Egwene then joins him, and he hastily lowers his pant leg, keeping his injury to himself. Perrin asks Egwene if he thinks they’ll ever go home, and Egwene doesn’t have to think long before she tells him no.
Back to Rand, who has a slight cough, and… WTF? He pulls a BAT out of his mouth. That’s not healthy, Rand, and quite frankly, a little gross. As he’s panicking over what just happened, he looks up and sees a dark figure coming at him from the woods, who seems to have a major skin condition.
And then Rand wakes up. At least it was just a dream… until he sees the bat is still there! He walks around the corner, seeing more bats and that the others are awake. Moiraine urgently questions them and uncovers they have all dreamed the same thing. Dreams have power.
After her cryptic explanation, Rand blows up and demands that she give him more information. He’s done running, he isn’t sure that anything she’s said to them is true, and he calls Lan an errand boy. Not saying that any of these concerns aren’t warranted, despite the proof of the trollocs chasing them, but maybe don’t insult the blademaster? Anyway, Egwene is the first to saddle up Bela to head off after them, and even though Rand calls Egwene on out it, she fires right back at him, pointing out how weak Moiraine is getting and how stubborn Rand is. That’s a thing, if you haven’t noticed yet, but it’s basically world renown that the people of the Two Rivers are stubborn. Egwene also mentions the trollocs killed Laila, and we get a brief shot of Perrin dropping his head as he has yet to reveal how his wife actually died.
We have Mat, an unexpected choice, talk sense to Rand, and he is the second to saddle up. During this, he says the line “till then, the lady does shoot fireballs, so let’s try to stay on her good side.” I love this line and the way Mat delivered it.
Then we see Lan standing stealthily in the background, unseen by the Emond’s Fielders as he watches them ride out. Why? What’s going on here? Nothing comes of it that I can see other than a deduction that Moiraine was partially bluffing. Maybe Lan was hanging back to make sure the group would follow, plus he would be close by to protect them if needed? I don’t know. I felt this scene was a bit odd and disjointed, especially when the next cuts to Lan having been scouting ahead of the party with word they are about to encounter some White Cloaks. Perhaps this is an attempt to show the passage of time, but the scenes did not flow well for me at all.
But…. WHITE CLOAKS. Oh no. Even Moiraine is shaken as she gives Lan her ring and quickly instructs the group on how to behave. The first White Cloak to speak to them is Geofram Bornhald, who is at least polite as he asks them to dismount their horses. The conversation he has with Moiraine is particularly interesting as Moiraine tells him she is going to visit a sister in White Bridge. Does Moiraine have a sister? This catches Egwene’s attention. She knows the oaths that Moiraine is bound to now. Speak no word that is not true. Moiraine plays it very cool and Bornhald lets them go…
Except.. ahh crap, there’s Valda. Bornhald introduces him as a questioner, and I loved the impatience that Bornhald shows toward Valda. It is a good example of how the soldiers of the Children of the Light feel about the Hand of the Light. They speak of war again while the group is being questioned, but what is this? They name who is leading the war! Logain! This is a new piece of information.
As the questioning continues, along with Valda’s prodding of Moiraine, she can’t help but wince when he squeezes her wound. Bornhald becomes interested again as Moiraine tells them truthfully of the trolloc attack, and then in a separate answer that they came from Taren Ferry. Also, damn girl. Maybe you should pause long enough to bandage that wound? It’s not looking so hot.
Anyway, in an interesting turn of events, Bornhald actually advises Moiraine to seek out an Aes Sedai to heal the wound. Valda has no comment on this except for a parting, cocky phrase about the Light. Don’t you just want to slap him? The music is quite tense as they ride out, possibly foreshadowing something or just placing a lingering sense of unease in the viewer until the White Cloaks are gone, but the group rides away without further incident.
Egwene immediately questions Moiraine on how she broke the three oaths, and Moiraine explains that nothing she said was a lie. Aes Sedai are physically bound by the three oaths and simply cannot lie. However, the truth is always subjective and words can be twisted, as we just saw. Also, if an Aes Sedai believes something to be true, she can say it. Remember the opening scene of E1 when Liandren told the man that when he touches the power, he makes it filthy? This isn’t true and is in fact the other way around. In the origin story the Breaking of the World, we were told that when the last Dragon, Lewis Therin Telamon sealed the bore in the Dark One’s prison, the Dark One lashed out in one final attack, tainting the male half of the One Power. So when men reach out to touch it, they are touching the filth that is already there, and this is what drives them mad.
So did Liandren lie?
Not if she believes with her whole heart that when men touch the One Power, they do, in fact, make it filthy. At that point, what Liandren said is not a lie.
Aes Sedai will always tell the truth, but it might not always be what you think you hear. So listen carefully.Moiraine Sedai
This was a plot device I actually loved while reading the books. Egwene seems equally impressed in this scene.
More riding, more beautiful landscapes, more of Rand sulking. The travel is hard and wearing on everyone, and Mat sees this. So what does he do? Break into song. As I already stated before, the lore of Manetheren is one of my favorite pieces of lore from the book, so to hear the whole group sing this song gave me chills. Such a great moment. Not only does it showcase each of their personalities, but it also shows the bond between them. Mat is bored, so he starts singing. Egwene, eager to follow along, joins in right away. Perrin provides back up, and sulky Rand finally joins in last while Moiraine and Lan are witnessing this song from the outside. Lan actually looks quite confused. Maybe they don’t sing in the borderlands.
But this gives Moiraine the perfect lead in to tell us of Manetheren. It is a quite a long story, and I’m so glad they found the time to showcase it. Rosamund Pike delivers it perfectly. However, this story isn’t just in-world lore, but it also teaches us a little more about the warder bond, and how it affects those that are bound. Queen Eldrene was able to feel her husband die because she was a channeler, and he was her warder. Her grief over his death was not just because of the loss of her husband, but because she lost her warder. This never ends well if the Aes Sedai loses a warder, but it’s much worse on the warder if he loses his Aes Sedai.
Queen Eldrene was a very powerful channeler, (and yes there are degrees in how powerful each channeler is), but we also learn that it is possible to channel too much. She took in far too much of the One Power for her body to handle, and it killed her. There is also a lesser degree of this where channelers can burn themselves out by drawing in too much, which is similar to gentling and stilling. It’s a tragic story, but it does serve its purpose in not only teaching the Emond’s Fielders about their ancestry, but the audience as well about the limitations of the channelers.
And after a brief sentence to let us know they’ve been traveling for days now, we jump straight to another hint of world history… Shadar Logoth. Keep in mind that our Emond’s Fielders have never been outside the Two Rivers, and even though the scenes are short and we are only notified in words, the group has traveled quite a ways now. Their knowledge of the outside world is limited.
There is a tense scene between Egwene and Rand still not able to find where their relationship stands, and we quickly jump to Perrin as he hears wolves, then shows us that his wound is not looking great. Dude.. just tell Moiraine. She’ll heal that shit for you… Oh… Hi puppies! Good doggie… yes, lick my leg. That’s much better than having Moiraine heal the wound.
Side note, I loved this scene and am very excited for this plot line to play out.
So, we go from the weird wolf scene to the shadowspawn finding our group. Moiraine is nearly comatose, so Lan does all he can think of to do to save them. Enter Shadar Logoth. Considering how the horses, trollocs, and fade react, is this such a good idea? Of course not, so here we go!
First thing I will say about this is that the set is absolutely beautiful. The stillness and absence of any movement aside from our party, the darkness of all the once grand, towering buildings that seem to suck in the light. I couldn’t have imagined it better.
Another side note: I simply enjoyed the fact that Perrin is the one that is carrying Moiraine, and that Lan has trusted him to do so. Perrin is so gentle and protective of her as he helps Lan care for her.
Lan then launches into the history of Shadar Logoth, which was once called Aridhol, a magnificent and powerful city that shut themselves in during the trolloc wars, offering no help to their allies. He links the story back to the one Moiraine told us of Manetheren, and this was the city that had promised them aid. I just want to clarify, that there was such evil in the hearts of men in this city that they devoured themselves as their evil manifested into something wicked and terrible. The evil came from them and was not an outside force coming for them.
After Lan finishes spitting out his explanation, so quickly in fact that it was as if he was uncomfortable talking, Mat speaks up. God, I love Mat. He points out that this is the most he’s ever heard Lan speak, and why the hell did he bring them there if the city was so dangerous? Lan does not respond to Mat’s baiting, and instead, gives the group two simple rules to follow. Touch nothing and eat only the food you brought.
So the first thing Rand does is wonder off from the group to go exploring. You doofus. Still, this does give us the opportunity to see a sweeping view of this broken and cursed city. I need a higher res version to set as my background.
Then Egwene shows up and Rand takes her hand, letting her and the audience know that all is forgiven. He has accepted her choices and now they can move on. Yay!
Next scene, we’re off to Perrin and Mat as they have a touching moment as Mat gives Perrin a dagger Laila made. Of course, this wasn’t in the books because Laila wasn’t in the books, but I enjoyed this moment between the two, and it is one of my favorite additional scenes so far.
And then, as the group is sleeping, the evil of Shadar Logoth wakes. DUN DUN DUN!! (dramatic, I know. Can’t help it.)
Mat is woken by soft, eerie voices, and he goes to investigate. The horses are restless, but seem fine, so Mat keeps walking until he catches a glimpse of a shadow. This obviously looks like a person cast the shadow and wasn’t the creeping black gunk we saw in the previous scene. The shadow leads Mat to a treasure room, and Mat… Come on. You had two rules to follow. Why are you touching it? Stop touching it!
Okay, the ruby-hilted dagger is quite gorgeous. The prop department is on point with this one.
The horses are still restless and screaming, and Egwene and Rand run out to see the manifested evil (which is named Mashadar in the books) creep along the ground to one of the horse’s hooves, and the horse turns to ash. It was a gruesome scene and hard to watch, but luckily, three of the other horses break free and run, while Aldieb, Moiraine’s mare, and Mandarb, Lan’s warhorse stay quite calm. I am guessing they have seen their share of shit in the past and a bit of ancient city-eating evil is just another Tuesday for them. I hope Bela was one of the horsies that got away! She did in the books, but it’s such a small detail that it doesn’t matter much in the show. Every horse was named and had a personality in the books, with a lot of description given to them. The only one I ever cared about was Bela.
Note: I’m just going to call the sentient black gunk Mashadar even though it’s never mentioned in the show because it’s simply easier typing Mashadar out than sentient black gunk everytime.
Anyway, Moiraine finally wakes up long enough to realize where they are and tells Lan he’s killed them all. I liked this line, although this is not how it happened in the books. Moiraine very much led them into Shadar Logoth herself and set down wards to keep Mashadar at bay. It was trollocs finally being pushed in and disrupting the group that led to flight, but the results were the same. I actually liked the change in the show with Moiraine being handicapped by her wound.
The Emond’s Fielders come together in front of the building they were camping in, but Mashadar separates them, pushing Egwene and Perrin one way while Mat and Rand are forced to flee in another. As they run, Mashadar follows, giving Lan enough room to get Moiraine out and escape on their horses.
After a tense few minutes of the scattered groups fleeing, Rand and Mat make it out through what looks to be a sewer pipe, while Egwene and Perrin are pushed to the top of the wall and make a terrifying leap to the lake below.
The episode ends with a defeated Lan trying to give Moiraine water that she is unable to take. Then a trolloc blade is pressed against his neck. OH NOS!
BUT, it’s Nynaeve! Yay!! She’s alive!! And she wants her Emond’s Fielders back.
Nynaeve is one of my favorites in the book, and Zoe Robins is killing it! I love her so much, and it just makes it better that my husband cannot stand her. We have a bit of a rivalry going on here, but I will stand my ground.
This episode did not seem as rushed as the first, but there was still a lot going on, and we learned quite a bit more about the show lore. The lore of Shadar Logoth/Adrihol is not quite complete, but I only covered what was talked about and shown on the show. There’s no reason at this point to go into it further unless it’s brought up again.
And now I deem this post finished! I’m off to work on Episode 3 and hope I can get it finished and posted before Episode 4 airs. This is quite fun, but also more work than I originally thought it would be.
Until then, Have a joyous Thanksgiving and Happy Reading!