Wheel of Time – Episode 3 – A Place of Safety

The title of episode 3 gives us a bit of hope for our fleeing friends from Emond’s Field. After all, the position we left them in wasn’t great. Before we get started with the episode, I’ll go over the bonus content first.

Our third origin story is titled The Greatest Warder. I was excited to watch this because I had no idea who it could be about. So far, the only warders we know are Lan, and the story of King Aemon from the Fall of Manetheran. The short is three minutes long and opens on a Warder training camp where we see one of the sword trainees get knocked down by another wielding a quarterstaff. The trainer then tells the boy who was knocked down the story of Jearom Gaidin. Two things here. The first, I’m thrilled that we are finally seeing the term Gaidin. This is the title and official name of a warder, just like Aes Sedai is the name of for the women of the white tower. I wasn’t sure if it would be used in the show as it’s not exactly a plot point, but I’m pleased to see it, even if it is only in a short.

The second is, although this film presumes to be about Jearom, it’s in fact about his single defeat. The one farmer that defeated the greatest blademaster that ever lived with a quarterstaff. It is just an origin story and doesn’t seem to give us as much lore as The Breaking of the World and The Fall of Manetheran, but I enjoyed it just the same. Unlike the other two shorts, this one does not coincide with episode 3.

The legacy series is the second short, where we learn about Rafe Judkins, the show runner. I actually am not familiar with his work aside from what I’ve seen from WoT so far, but hearing him talk about his journey and his process is enlightening. We do see more of Brandon and Harriet talking about Rafe here, as well as various behind-the-scenes shots. It is an interesting watch.

Now what we’re all here for. Episode 3.

The first glimpse we get is of a body being dragged away, but wait! It’s Nynaeve! This is a flashback to when she makes her escape. We are also shown how violent and savage trollocs are as one literally rips the guts out of his wounded comrade. Nynaeve is able to use this chance to run, but the trolloc gives chase. There’s a tense moment as she hides in her sacred pool while the trolloc stalks her. Man, the trolloc make-up and costume is amazing all the way through. The fact that they have human eyes is so unsettling. (shivers)

The trolloc then enters the pool, but the hunter quickly becomes the prey as Nynaeve sees her chance and attacks, winning the short battle. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. YOU GO GIRL!

But also, on my second rewatch, I noticed that the blood in the pool is in the shape of the Dragon’s Fang. That has to be intentional, right? I don’t think this means anything other than an easter egg, but I thought it was neat.

After the opening credits, we snap back to where we left off at the end of E2, with Nynaeve’s blade at Lan’s throat. She wants to know where her friends are, and Lan needs her to help Moiraine. Although Lan is honest, his skills in negotiation are lacking, plus he underestimates Nynaeve. She tries to make good on her threat, but Lan is more skilled and easily subdues her with a surprised, “You actually tried to kill me.” Nynaeve then bites him, still not relenting, and Lan knocks her out with his dagger.

We jump to Rand and Mat on a rocky landscape, where Rand is screaming Egwene and Perrin’s name as loud as he can so that everyone in the Westlands can hear him. Thankfully, Mat gets him to shut up before any lingering trollocs find them, and they argue for a bit before they decide which direction to go. East. Rand says all roads lead to the White Tower, and some more great dialogue follows from Mat with, “that’s not how roads work.” Sometimes you’re such a woolhead, Rand.

Then we see Perrin and Egwene being driven across a very windy landscape with wolves howling in the background. They find some brush and try to light a fire, with Perrin using a knife and stone (and he cuts himself, OUCH!), while Egwene tries a different method. She attempts to reach for the source. They do eventually get the fire lit in a desperate attempt, but we see no visual weaves to indicate Egwene’s success, and Perrin immediately tries to lighten the mood by asking “Was that me or you?”

This scene didn’t exactly go down the same way in the books, and although Egwene tried, she was not able to light the fire. If I remember right, Perrin laughed and admonished her. Although the show scene somewhat simplifies Egwene being able to light the fire (which we are not assured that she did), I did prefer Perrin’s reaction here better.

Much like Rand and Mat’s conversation, Perrin and Egwene decide to keep going East.

And we’re back to Lan, where he has Nynaeve tied up until she calms down. She still makes her threats but does talk her way out of being bound by agreeing to help Moiraine. As she’s gathering plants, Lan finally asks her how she was able to track him. Nynaeve answers with a “said you could ask, not that I’d answer”, and leaves it at that. EHEH. I don’t know what made me giggle more, her response or my husband’s scoff. The answer is quite simple, though. Nynaeve just has mad forest skills.

Okay, I’m being coy like Nynaeve, but I don’t feel this story is quite finished yet, and I’d rather have her be the one to tell it on screen.

Nynaeve uses her wisdom skills to make a poultice for Moiraine as Lan watches, and she warns him it’s going to hurt. Then… ew… Nynaeve sure is thorough. At least she knows what she’s doing, but Moiraine is still unconscious. Nynaeve says they have to give it time.

We jump to Perrin waking up in a house during a thunderstorm, which we know for a fact this is not where we left him. It’s another dream! A disturbing one at that as he is searching for Laila, only to find her dead and being eaten by wolves. This doesn’t stop her from shooting a milky glare at Perrin, which causing him to jump, but that’s not the worst. No… then we get this.

Now, in the books, I never could quite picture this dude correctly. He was described as having his eyes and mouth filled with what appeared to be endless caverns of fire. Couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Even fan art didn’t help, but this. This helps. I say bravo, Rafe! Also, give this man some moisturizer.

If that wasn’t enough to wake Perrin up, Egwene is shaking and yelling at him because the wolves are close. They set out at a run as the wolves nip at their heels, chasing them through straggly trees until they break out into an open plain. The wolves then began to lag behind as Perrin and Egwene run on.

The screen transitions to another beautiful landscape shot of rocky hills, and we’re back with Rand and Mat, who complain about being cold. Rand seems to be in a better mood, and they soon stumble onto the town of Breen’s Spring. For a little book info, this town was barely mentioned, although it is likely that Rand and Mat passed through it. I do enjoy that we are seeing some of the smaller, lesser known locations.

If you’re looking on the map, which I’ve also used in a previous post, Rand and Mat must have just stumbled onto the Caemlyn Road, which is south and quite a ways from Shadar Logoth. Egwene and Perrin have found the Caralain Grass to the north. They are no longer even remotely close together. As for Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve, I’m not exactly sure where they are.

Before the two enter the town proper, they pass by a dead man in a cage. Mat spies a purple crystal tied to the man’s belt and quips about the cage as they walk off. The town seems to be full of broken and weary people with not a smile in sight, at least not until the enter the Four Kings Inn. People here are laughing and having a good time. The barmaid welcomes them as Rand orders soup and asks if any others his age have been seen around town. The barmaid, Dana, says the only new person has been a Gleeman.

A Gleeman!

Enter Alexandre Willaume as Thom Merrilin, the Gleeman that, in the book, was introduced in Emond’s Field before the trolloc attack. As I stated in the review for episode 1, there were too many people to introduce someone else, and I 100% approve of Thom’s first appearance here, as the change is able to showcase him more. The first thing he does is comes out to sing a dark and beautiful song for the crowd. I am in awe.

The colors of his morning
The darkness of his night
Little graves that gave no warning
A sun that brought no light

He saw his whole world breaking
That tortured soul I met
In a prison of his making
The man who can’t forget

I can still hear the way that he cried
For the ones he was missing
I can still hear the way that he cried
For the ones he had lost

He saw them in the rivers
He felt them in the rain
In dreams he heard them whisper
The truth that is his pain

He caused the whole world’s breaking
That tortured soul I met
In a prison of his making
The man who can’t forget

Thom Merrilin

Beyond beautiful, and so powerful. The inn is silent after Thom finishes singing. The haunting performance about the last dragon has the crowd dumbstruck until Dana asks the room if they’re all going to cry or if they want another round. The Inn then breaks into cheers while Mat get’s pickpocketed and Thom collects his gleeman donations. The group is served, and Mat discovers he’s lost his coin, only for Thom to produce the bag and point out the pickpocket. Thom at least pays for Mat’s meal but leaves without giving Mat his coin back. This doesn’t go over well with Mat, but Rand calms him down so the patrons of the Four Kings don’t put him in a cage

Back to the plains, where Perrin and Egwene are still cold, and still have wolves howling behind them. They stumble onto some tracks, and the two are tentative to follow, afraid there might be White Cloaks ahead. Egwene points out that the wolves led them there, and the two continue their hike.

The next scene we find Rand still seems to be in a great mood as he teases Mat, and the two go to Dana asking for a place to rest. Dana offers to accommodate them if they work for it, and Rand is happy to split wood. Mat, on the other hand, is feeling extra crabby as he tells Rand that Egwene and Perrin are probably dead. Mat lays down some hard truths and goes back to Dana while leaving Rand to chop wood by himself.

As Dana is trying to find what work suits Mat, Mat mentions that he’s a horse trader. Yay! Shout out for book readers! How true this is for the show, I don’t know, but I did enjoy this addition. Although Mat wants to find the work with the least bit of effort, he ends up serving the inn patrons. He immediately falls into some banter with them which earns him a tip. The conversation feels smooth and natural, and I really like Izuka Hoyle as Dana. Superb job of being a warm and friendly barmaid.

When Dana asks Mat where he’s from, he answers with Baerlon, after almost saying The Two Rivers. I guess his hometown is a secret. Baerlon is not far from the Two Rivers though, so close enough. Dana tells him the quickest way to get back would be by riverboat, another book nod as the two had already been on a riverboat by this point, and she also lets him know he’s going to need a lot more tips to pay for a ticket. Double that if Rand is going as well, but Mat says he’s only gonna need one ticket.

Dana then launches into some background on her life and the town, working the dirt to only die there and be covered up with the same dirt. She dreams of making it out, but Mat doesn’t share the same mindset. His goal is to get back to his sisters if he has to beg, borrow, or steal. Dana warns him against the last, and the cage is mentioned again. What ya gonna do, Mat? Hopefully, not something stupid.

We get a brief check-in with Moiraine, and Nynaeve telling Lan she’s never seen anything like this poison before. Lan then rides off, leaving Nynaeve to watch over a fading Moiraine.

Egwene and Perrin are still wondering along the trail, coming upon some fog. Perrin says he’ll go ahead to scout, but Egwene disagrees with that plan. When Perrin balks, she tells him he doesn’t have to protect her, promising they will stick together. She correctly assumes that Perrin is being overprotective or her due to what happened with Laila, and she repeatedly tells him it’s not his fault. Perrin tries to argue, telling her it is, but she persists, and Perrin can’t get out the story of what happened. The two set off again together after they hug it out.

The next scene is creepy for the viewers sake, I guess? I don’t know what exactly they were trying to do or why they were going for something so unsettling here. I guess we are supposed to be seeing the world through Egwene and Perrin’s eyes, and they are rightfully frightened as they find themselves suddenly surrounded in the fog. A man’s voice them asks them, “Do you know the song?” As they’re approached, a woman asks them the same. There is nothing amicable or benevolent in this groups demeanor to put Egwene or Perrin, or even the audience, at ease, at least not until Aram, played by Daryl McCormack, steps up to sensible tell his elders they obviously don’t know the song.

Aram then instructs Egwene and Perrin how to respond to the questioning, which is in fact a ritual greeting, and the woman finishes the ritual by saying they seek still, and finally introduces herself like a normal person. Ila then notes that they both look awful. Well, yeah, you just scared the shit out of them. Nevermind they’re cold and hungry too.

Egwene and Perrin are then taken to the camp where they are fed as Ila and Aram explain who the group is. The Tuatha’an, or the tinkerers. Basically gypsies with a twist.

The Tuatha’an, also known as the Traveling People or Tinkers, are a nomadic people who follow the pacifist Way of the Leaf. They will never engage in violence, even in self-defense. They also follow a strict vegetarian diet. It is said that in the Age of Legends their people knew a Song that would unite the world in harmony. Their nomadic ways stem from their perpetual search for the Song.

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Then we’re back to Rand chopping wood, and we see a well-done transition as Rand splits another log to reveal Dana standing behind him. Her facial expressions and posture in this scene are very cute. She lets Rand know she let Mat off an hour ago, but Rand says he won’t show up until all the work is done, giving the audience more clues about Mat’s lay about nature. At least Rand has done enough work to earn them a room instead of a tarp.

As Dana is showing Rand the room, he continues to protest that a tarp is fine, but Dana won’t have it. She says they’ll be nice and snug there where no one can hear them if they need to work out their issues. Bit of cute conversation follows, and Dana and Rand end up sharing a drink.

Another quick scene of Lan riding and spying some red tents in the distance, and we know what he’s been looking for. The red sisters we saw in the episode 1 must still be close by, and they are who can save Moiraine’s life. There really is no concept of how long he’s been gone as we cut back to Nynaeve tending to Moiraine, but I figure it’s been at least a few hours. Moiraine is mumbling in her delirium, and I only caught this when I was rewatching for the third time with the subtitles on, but she actually mumbles Suian. Of course I can hear it now, but I did not know she was saying anything intelligible at all on my previous two watches. Nynaeve doesn’t seem to have a reaction to this, and Lan is back to get them moving again. At the end of this scene, Moiraine opens her eyes, thanks to Nynaeve’s poultice.

We have arrived at one of my favorite scenes of this episode. Mat has wondered off to the caged dead man again, but he’s not alone. A figure steps up behind him and drops a knife into his hand as an old-western guitar riff plays. So dramatic! It’s Thom! Mat brandishes his dagger in defense, but Thom lets him know he’s only there to bury the man. During the exchange, Mat mentions he survived trollocs, and that catches Thom a little off guard. He wants to know how a farm boy from the Two Rivers has met a trolloc. Before Mat can deny it, Thom displays his world knowledge by listing why Mat can’t hide where he’s from, including his asinine attitude and stubbornness (there it is!).

While Mat helps Thom get the man down, we learn more about Thom’s vast knowledge as well as more world lore while he tells us about the Aiel. As we get a shot of red hair, Thom says it’s rare to see that color outside the Aiel Waste. Mat has at least heard of Aiel, but he thinks they’re as bad as trollocs, and Thom corrects him. They are fighters, but they are bound by honor, and he explains the black-veil the Aiel’s use when they fight, even going so far as to show us.

Now, he puts the veil up on the dead man, but then tells us he wasn’t veiled and was no threat. Okay, I get it that this is just part of the show narrative, and it’s a teaching moment for not only Mat, but the audience as well, but c’mon! There is no way to know if that veil was up or down when he died. It’s not like he put himself in that cage, either. I get what they were trying to do, but that bit did pull me out of it a little. Still love the scene as a whole, though.

Once the lesson is over, Mat says he needs money to get home. Thom is very understanding about desperation and turns his back as Mat loots the body. In a touching moment, Mat apologizes to the dead man, and the two bury him.

While this is happening, Rand and Dana are getting to know each other a little better. As they’re talking, we get some more locations spat out at us that I hope we get to see on screen someday! The Stone of Tear, the Lion Throne of Caemlyn, and an Ogier Stedding. I’m very excited to see all of these places.

Talk turns to the Wheel and philosophy, and Dana makes a move to kiss Rand, only to be quickly shut down. As she gets up to presumably leave, she shuts the door and locks it, asking if her hair makes her look too much like Egwene. Whoa! How does she know that name? As Rand tries to overpower her, she deftly fights him off and nabs his sword. His heart just isn’t in it as he still seems a little shocked at the swift change in events.

As Rand is banging on the door for help, we see Mat and Thom finish burying the Aiel, and before they part ways, Mat snags his money back from Thom, showing him he’s not without some skill of his own. Thom, in a very caring and fatherly manner, tells Mat to take care of himself so he doesn’t find him in a cage.

Rest, warrior of the Three-fold Land. May your soul find water and shade.

Thom Merrilin

Rand is still banging on the door for help, and Dana lets us know he’s not going to be able to break it down. It’s made of steal oak! So… Rand breaks it down. I guess she should have double checked those hinges. I did like the ‘screw you’ look Rand gave her before he busted out.

As Rand takes off running, he immediately runs into Mat who was thankfully milling around right outside. They then take off in a mad-dash through the small town to escape the crazed, sword wielding barmaid. Although they seem to be outpacing her, she breaks away to cut them of in an alley away from the crowd, who would undoubtedly take her side if they got involved.

Here we find out why Dana betrayed them. She’s a servant of the dark, and she sees all five of them in her dreams, but only one of them can be the dragon reborn. She can at least deliver these two and gain favor with the Dark One. Afterall, the world still knows who Ishamael is after 3000 years, although this is the first time the name has been mentioned in the show.

Aside from her dreams of glory, in a heart-felt plea, she begs them to help the Dark One break the Wheel so it can end their suffering. She’s already called a fade to capture them, and you can’t outrun a fade. It seems they’ve run out of options until a dagger flies in from offscreen and skewers her right through neck, killing her near instantly. Thom has saved them!

I just have to say that Izuka Hoyle’s performance as Dana was brilliant. She was equally as great with her sweet and charming personality and her crazy darkfriend side. I was wondering why she was getting so much screen time as this specific character does not exist in the books. I was pleasantly surprised that she is our first introduction to a darkfriend, who can be anyone. Unlike shadow spawn, Aes Sedai and their warders cannot sense them.

Darkfriends are human supporters of the Dark One. Some have been tempted by promises of riches and power, others seek immortality, while some believe that supporting the Shadow is necessary to keep the world in balance. Most Darkfriends keep their support of the Dark One secret, meaning anyone, anywhere could be a Darkfriend.

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Thom offers them help, and Mat convinces Rand to go with him. As Dana bleeds out, her blood forms the pattern of the trees as we transition to our final scene. Nynaeve is upset that Lan has led them in the wrong direction, but he ignores her. He instead tells Moiraine they need her now, and the camera focuses first on a woman dressed in green, then to a woman dressed in red. We know that the red is an Aes Sedai of the red ajah, so that means… Yes!! Our first glimpse of a green sister, the battle ajah!

Liandrin Sedai comes out to greet them but tells Moiraine they are too late. They’ve already captured the man calling himself the Dragon Reborn. Horses pulling a wagon with a caged man approaches as Moiraine and Lan stare on. The ending clip is of Logain raising his head, and his gaze just seeps malice and rage. That man is not gentled.

Logain Ablar

Oh boy.

Next episode is going to be so good.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving break here in the U.S.! The vacation days delayed this post, but I will be working on the episode 4 review right away. I will definitely have it up before episode 5 airs, and I will also get a new page up dedicated to the series review.

Until then, Happy Reading and Watching!

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