Wheel of Time – Episode 6 – The Flame of Tar Valon

Amazon has delivered another Wheel of Time episode packed with world building and an introduction to new lore. There was so much that happened this episode, but before we jump into it, let’s take a lot at the bonus content.

Amazon fixed them! They are no longer hidden in the X-ray section but are on the main page for everyone to easily find! Also, they have added the ability to turn CC on. This is great, and I will go back and rewatch the previous shorts just so I can understand what’s being said. Why they didn’t just do this in the first place is beyond me, but I’m thankful for the improvement.

The origin story we get this week covers some Ogier lore in An Ogier’s Longing. I’m sure they’ll go into this more in the show, but this explains why Loial is such an oddity, and why when he first meets people, they are scared or think he’s a trolloc. Since Ogier rarely ever leave their Steddings, and trollocs just do not come far out past the Borderlands, both races are mostly viewed as myth. In this bonus short, our Ogier narrator tells us a bit about why that is for Ogier. Steddings have mystical properties that bind Ogier to them, as well as block anyone inside from using the One Power. Ogier’s cannot be away from their Stedding forever, but that time frame varies from ogier to ogier. If they are away too long, the Longing sets in, and if they do not return, they will eventually wither away and die from it. It is not too dangerous for Loial to be away from the Stedding as he has time to explore and adventure, but if the Longing does set in, he will have no choice but to return.

I wonder why this was given to us as bonus content instead of being told in the show, but hopefully we’ll get to hear more of Loial’s stories straight from him. These bonus content videos are really nice, but it amplifies the desperate need the show has for more episodes per season. With the success of the show, hopefully this is another complaint Amazon will listen to and give us more time!

Now, on with the show!

Our cold open is of a young girl sleeping in a small fishing hut. Her father comes in to wake her, calling her by her name, Siuan. Remember when Moiraine mumbled this name in episode 3 during her fever dreams? Well, we are in a very long-ago flashback, where the young Siuan Sanche is a fisherman’s daughter with a foul mouth.

Is that the fabled Stone of Tear we heard Dana talking about in episode 3 in the background there? GIDDY!

Anyway, as the two set off to fish, Siuan helps out her father a little with the One Power to untie the knots, and he admonishes her, afraid of what might happen if the village sees. She promises she won’t do it again, but the village has already seen enough. Tear is not welcoming to those that can use the One Power, and we see just how strongly they are against it when the two find their hut burned down. The Dragon’s Fang has been scrawled across the one convenient wall that still stands in the ruins.

Before when we’ve seen the Dragon Fang, it was always associated with trollocs. Here, it was done by the village, and they are labeling Siuan a dark friend, simply because she can channel. Tear has never forgotten or forgiven what happened during the Breaking of the World. Since they were willing to go this far, Siuan is no longer safe, and her father sends her off alone to the White Tower.

I am so happy they were able to add so much of Siuan’s background in one opening scene. It was probably one of my favorite openers that we’ve seen so far. Although we heard the tale in the books, we never got to see it. This was excellent.

After the opening credits, we are back at present time, and Moiraine looks stunning as we find her standing in the Hall of the White Tower. Leane Sedai, Keeper of the Chronicles, bangs her staff on the floor to call order as she introduces the Amyrlin Seat. The Amyrlin enters as the camera pans up through floors upon floors of the Hall in a breathtaking view. No wonder that echo is so satisfying when Leane bangs her staff.

Enter Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, the Flame of Tar Valon. Beautiful…

Although Liandrin, Alanna, and Moiraine bow as they’ve been brought before the Amyrlin, Leane calls in the False Dragon. Siuan immediately has them remove his chains, and Liandrin looks like she still wants to kill him. Siuan then asks Logain if he knows why he’s there, which I’m going to guess is her testing his madness. Otherwise, that’s kinda a dumb question. Instead of admitting guilt, Logain bites back and tries to taunt her with a reference to how weak the White Tower is now, but Siuan doesn’t take the bait. Her punishment to him is to basically force him to live when all he wants to do is die. He’s dragged from the hall, pleading with her to kill him.

Her attention then turns to the three sisters that gentled him without a trial. Liandrin defends their actions, and Alanna supports her, which comes as a shock to Moiraine, but Moiraine affirms they all would have died if they had not gentled him. Here’s a little background. Not all Ajah’s get along well, and most only seem to tolerate the Reds. This is why it was so shocking for Alanna to defend Liandrin, despite what actually happened. This is also pointed out later in the show, but this is explanation as to why Moiraine was in such disbelief.

Despite the united front of all three sisters, Siuan is not swayed and reminds them (as well as telling us for the first time) that the Aes Sedai laws are not for their comfort, but to protect the people from them. She lays the fault on Liandrin since she was the one in control of the gentling, and her penance is delayed until the morrow.

Liandrin isn’t finished as she twists the attention back on Moiraine, pointing out that Moiraine was hiding Nynaeve, one of the most powerful channelers that they’ve seen in a thousand years. This is the kind of bickering and backstabbing that is the normal state between the Ajahs.

In Moiraine’s defense, she says she was unaware that Nynaeve could channel. Hrm. Interesting. I know they used the word ‘spark’ for Egwene, but to have missed it in Nynaeve must mean that the sensing skill is not going to be used in the show. Although I’m a bit disappointed, I can understand it as this can lend more mystery in the show instead of having to explain every time a channeler masks themselves. It could also be confused with masking a bond, which is mentioned later. I’ll allow it.

When that fails, Liandrin then moves to attack Moiraine at the heart of her Ajah, that even though she’s been away from the tower for so long, she has failed to report back any substantial warnings. This gets a rise out of one of the Blue sitters, and the damage has been done. The Amyrlin questions her, and Moiraine refuses to tell her why she was traveling. Siuan comes down hard on her as Moiraine kneels before her, but she still will not reveal her secrets. The ‘cannot’ instead of ‘will not’ is big here.

As they leave the Hall, Alanna suggests Moiraine publicly apologize, but then they run into Liandrin, who continues her threats. During this brief scene, Liandrin says she knows Moiraine, and I wonder just how much. The scene in the previous episode where Liandrin brushes Moiraine’s hair back makes me wonder.

Anyway, Moiraine blows off the threats to go have some tea. But wait, what’s this? She’s not in the White Tower anymore. In fact, she looks to be at the same inn where the boys are staying, and we see Nynaeve and Loial leave in the background. Lan comes in with a nod, and they go to barge in on Rand and Mat. Rand is surprised they’re alive, and Lan snips back with a, “Well, it’s nice to see you, too.”

Side note: Rand and Lan’s relationship in the book was always endearing to me, and it’s nice to see some of this finally coming through in the show.

Moiraine’s attention immediately turns to Mat, and Rand actually pulls his sword on Lan in an attempt to protect his bedridden friend. Another great line comes from Mat as he says “Bless his heart. He tries,” and Lan immediately disarms Rand. As Lan has Rand pinned to the bed, Rand is screaming to leave Mat alone, he hasn’t channeled.

The world doesn’t need a Dragon like me.

Mat Cauthon

Can I just quote all of Mat’s lines? Everything he says is just amazing. I might be biased because he was one of my favorite characters from the book, but Harris is killing it.

Moiraine creeps up on him, seeing he’s sick, and he lashes out with the dagger. The cursed dagger from Shadar Logoth! Moiraine catches it with her weaves and immediately begins to cleanse Mat. The whole sequence with the weaves were remarkable, and I was enthralled by the healing process as Moiraine pulled the darkness from Mat. It is obvious she is strained once she finishes and retreats to the balcony to catch her breath. Rand follows her (although there is no clear indication of how much time has passed), and thanks her for saving Mat. Moiraine tells him that he must keep an eye on Mat. He’s strong to have survived the dagger for so long, but if he touches it again, the evil might consume him.

Before Rand has a chance to respond, Nynaeve and Loial return. Moiraine bows her head to Loial and calls him ‘Builder’ before she snaps at Nynaeve for not coming to find her. She comes down hard on Nynaeve, telling her, “if Wisdom is the title you claim, then I suggest you start using some.”

FYI, this was my husband’s favorite quote for the whole show so far.

 We then get a scene of Moiraine in a steam bath with some very light, non-sexual nudity. Maigan Sedai, the Blue Sitter that spoke up in the Hall, comes to join Moiraine and tell her she should stay in the tower, but in doing so, she also drops what could blossom into some big plot points for season 2. Ships are disappearing off the West Coast, and Aiel have been spotted on this side of the Spine of the World. Also, no one knows how the trollocs even got to the Two Rivers.

As Moiraine is grabbing her towel, a small sprig falls out, and we know she’s gotten a message. The next scene is Moiraine walking with what I presume to be a yellow sister who leads her to Egwene and a sleeping Perrin. At least Egwene seems happier to see Moiraine, but immediately asks if she’s seen Rand and Mat. Moiraine answers with “I have people watching for their arrival.” How many times have we heard that now? Twisty words, Moiraine. Tsk tsk.

Egwene confirms they were taken by White Cloaks, but she also tells Moiraine she took something from them as well, and hands back all the Aes Sedai rings that Valda stole. She adds that Valda won’t hurt anymore sisters, but don’t be so sure about that Egwene. I got a feeling Valda’s not done just yet.

Moiraine doesn’t respond, and the two drift away so that Egwene call tell her about Perrin’s golden eyes. This is another big shock to Moiraine, so now we know that whatever is going on with Perrin is not a common occurrence. She warns Egwene not to tell anyone else, including other Aes Sedai. Egwene’s worried that he’s the Dragon, but Moiraine still isn’t sure. She tells her to rest and heal, and to be ready when she sends for her.

Next scene is Moiraine in her chambers, seemingly getting ready for bed. Lan bursts in without even knocking, which was great in itself, and then is quite upset that Moiraine has ‘masked their bond’. It’s not clear here if she used the One Power to do so, but it’s a bit different in the books. Small detail that doesn’t really matter. Lan says the Tower is dangerous now, and he can’t protect her if he can’t feel her. Moiraine tells him that protecting their Two Rivers friends should take priority, even though he doesn’t want to hear it. He also orders her to be back before dawn, but before he leaves, he says to “give her my love.”

Their relationship with each other is great. With as stern and commanding as Moiraine is with everyone else, Lan is the only one that can get away with talking to her like this, plus she accepts and expects it from him. It is refreshing to see a different side of both of them.

As he leaves, Moiraine once again turns to look at a painting on the wall. This was also featured in episode 5, with some speculation as to its significance, but now we finally get more information. This is more than just a painting of a woman at the edge of a doorway.

Moiraine, looking stunning in an oversized, plan white dressing gown (or just a very large shirt?), channels into the painting and a ‘doorway’ opens. I love seeing all the channeling in the show. Every time they do something with the weaves, it’s always so well choreographed, and the weaves look excellent.

As Moiraine steps through the doorway, we see Siuan sitting in what appears to be a better furnished fishing hut like the one that was burned down in Tear. Her hair is down, and her strapless dress is showing off some rocking tattoos.

But what’s this? Siuan does not treat Moiraine the way she treated her in the hall. In fact, her immediate opening dialogue hints that it was all an act, albeit a role the two are forced to perform, and when Moiraine calls her Mother, it confirms it. Siuan does not like Moiraine reminding her of her role.

Siuan closes the distance between them and… WHOA! So nice to finally confirm what ‘pillow friends’ actually mean in the book. There have been theories around for years just how close Moiraine and Siuan are, and we finally get to find out!

When have we ever followed the rules.

Moiraine Damodred

After the fade to black, we see both Moiraine and Siuan in different outfits as they talk about Moiraine finding the Dragon, although she’s still unsure which one of them it is. Nynaeve is too old, but Moiraine is questioning the prophecies. She’s even wondering if a Gleeman’s tale she heard could hold weight for a many headed Dragon. She even doubts Gitara Sedai’s vision even though she was there when she was just an Accepted. Siuan states that they were the only ones there that witnessed it.I’m going to sidestep now into book lore because I feel the show has finished explaining Gitara, but she was such a cool character in the books. She was very strong in the One Power and had the talent of ‘Foretelling’ that was so powerful, no one ever doubted what she saw. One night while she was sitting with the then Amyrlin Seat, Tamra Ospenya, and two Accepted, she sat up and screamed, (slightly edited to avoid a possible spoiler):

He is born again! I feel him! The Dragon takes his first breath! He is coming! He is coming! Light help us! Light help the world! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder! He burns like the sun!

Gitara Moroso

Ugh, I love that quote. Chills. As soon as she screamed it out, she promptly died in Tamra’s arms. Siuan and Moiraine were forbidden to ever speak of what happened, and Tamra assigned a small group of trusted sisters the task of searching for the Dragon Reborn. Kerene was one of those sisters. Since Kerene is already gone in the show, it’s no spoiler that she died in the books ( drowned in a river). Tamra, on the other hand, was murdered. None of the sisters that were assigned in the search succeeded, and the responsibility fell to Siuan and Moiraine alone. Both in book and in show, the two take this responsibility very seriously, sacrificing so much so they can fulfill their duty to help save the world. It is one of my favorite foundations of a story that I’ve ever read, so I wanted to include the book version here.

Back to the show where the two are still trying to plan their next steps. It’s revealed that if any other sister finds out what they’re trying to do, they could be stilled, which is a fate worse than death for a channeler. They bicker some, but Siuan calms the situation, and it’s just another clue as to how close these two are, and how well they know each other. Not only does Siuan know how to calm Moiraine, but Moiraine also knows how to read Siuan. She finally gets it out of her that Siuan is having dreams of the Dark One.

At the Eye of the World.

DUN DUN DUN!! (This is the name of the first book in the series.)

So now that Moiraine has a destination, she reveals that Maigan, the Blue Sitter that has rank over Moiraine, has ordered her to stay in the Tower. That leaves them with the only option of Siuan exiling Moiraine. The two old friends are finally out of time.

The next morning, Moiraine and Lan are already on the move, and it appears Lan has done his part in checking on our Two Rivers friends. As Moiraine is getting updated while they are walking through the hallways, Liandrin stops them, revealing that she’s been keeping tabs on Moiraine. Liandrin knows about Mat, Rand, and that Moiraine went to see them at the Light’s Blessing Inn. She even knows about Egwene and Perrin.

Liandrin threatens to blackmail her, (but for what purpose?), but Moiraine turns on her, telling her she knows about the man Liandrin meets in North Harbor. This is enough to shut Liandrin up, but man, am I curious. A Red with a man? This is a very interesting detail that I hope we get more information on later. Just as a reference point, Liandrin was not introduced to us until the second book, so none of this played out like this in the books. In fact, we never made it to the White Tower in book one. The events to get us where we are going in the next two episodes all went down in Caemlyn. Fun Fact!

Glory to the Builders! When Moiraine and Lan arrive at their destination, we get to see more of Loial! I loved Lan’s explanation that he is very upbeat. Moiraine needs Loial’s help, and the scene transitions to the Hall. The reason why Moiraine calls Loial Builder, is because the Ogier built the White Tower. They are very talented stonemasons that can shape the stone in ways humans cannot. Due to the Longing, structures built by Ogier are rare.

This is Egwene’s first time seeing Ogier craftmanship, and she is in awe. As Moiraine tells her she is going to have an audience with the Amyrlin Seat, Nynaeve enters, and it is a tearful and heartfelt reunion. However, Moiraine cuts it short because the Amyrlin is waiting. Despite Nynaeve telling her to wait, Moiraine cuts her off with a “the Amyrlin only waits for one woman, and it is not you.”

The tone Moiraine uses here is so short and clipped, it’s perfect, and I don’t think she’s forgiven Nynaeve for keeping Mat hidden away. These two may need to work out their issues, but I’m going to love seeing how this all unfolds in the next two episodes.

Anyway, inside the Amyrlin’s room, we see this on the wall, which is strikingly familiar to the one that Moiraine used the night prior. This room, however, does not look the same as the fishing hut they were in.

As the two are presented to Siuan, Egwene takes note of Moiraine’s bow and imitates her, although Nynaeve remains stoically still. Siuan then goes on to say that “you’re the most powerful channeler they’ve seen in a thousand years.” Man, does Eggie look smug!! Boy, is it a surprise when Siuan addresses Nynaeve. This short scene really brings out Egwene’s personality from the books. Nynaeve’s too, as she’s so unimpressed.

Siuan then lectures them on what these two can do with their power and the duty they have before them. Their wants are meaningless. Egwene is prepared to do what she needs to do, although Nynaeve remains silent.

The Wheel does not care if you are young, if you are afraid, if you are petty or weak. It certainly does not care what you want. The Wheel calls you to this, whether you can bear it or not.

The Amyrlin Seat

Lan comes to fetch Moiraine as she stares out a balcony of Tar Valon with tears in her eyes. It’s time for her exile. This scene was so powerful and painful to watch as this isn’t just an exile from the One Tower, but the last time that Siuan and Moiraine will easily be able to meet with each other.

As Siuan lays out her punishment, Leane brings forth the Oath Rod, the same one that newly raised Sisters use to swear the Three Oaths on. Just like the doorway paintings, this object is activated by the One Power. They are both Ter’Angreal.

Here is what the Amazon Prime webpage has to say about Ter’Angreal: Physical objects of varying sizes that can be used to focus the One Power in a variety of ways. The Oath Rod, upon which all Aes Sedai take the Three Oaths, uses the One Power to make the vows sworn upon it unbreakable. Others can act as doorways between places or seem to have no function at all.

Ter’Angreal are really cool objects, and although some can be very helpful, some are also very dangerous. The Talent for making Ter’Angreal was lost long ago, so all the existing ones that survived the Breaking date back to the Age of Legends. The more dangerous ones have taken many Sister’s lives as they tried to study them. Even some that are used in the present age may not be used for their original intended purpose. Ter’Angreal lore in the books fascinates me, but enough of that for now. Back to the very serious scene happening in the show.

By the Light and the hope of my salvation, and rebirth, I, Moraine Sedai, do swear to honor and obey Siuan Sanche, Daughter of the River, clever as a pike, strong as the tides, and never return until she calls me home, or may my Creator’s face turn from me and darkness consume my soul.

Moiraine Sedai

It is done. Moiraine is now bound by an oath she cannot physically break; even if she wants or needs to. As Moiraine turns to face the other sisters in the hall, they all turn their backs to her. Siuan is the only one that watches her go. As she exits, the Sisters waiting outside line up as she walks out, and Liandrin is the last Red to turn away. Alanna is the last of all to turn, and the scene ends.

Moiraine is next seen on Aldieb, riding out of the city and through a forest into a wide-open field with an odd stone structure at the top. She is alone, but doesn’t have to wait long for Loial, Perrin, and Egwene to join her. Lan also brings the remaining group, and this is the first time Rand and Egwene have seen each other since Shadar Logoth.

Again, another great reunion with some fun banter, but Moiraine rushes them on. Lan and Moiraine say goodbye to their horses, and the rest of the horses follow them as they run off. Loial says it is because they cannot survive the Ways, and although the horses went with them in the books, I can totally understand this change for the show. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to try to film those scenes with the horses.

Nynaeve speaks up, wanting answers, and Rand clarifies that they don’t know what the Ways are. Loial explains they are ancient pathways that exist out of space and time, and is prepared to say more, but Moiraine cuts off the long explanation to state it’s the fastest way to the Eye of the World, where the last Dragon trapped the Dark One. (The location isn’t exactly book accurate, but it can work. Interested to see where it goes from here.)

Moiraine gives a very dark speech about what the Dragon’s duty will prevent and leaves it ambiguous as to what will happen to the others who aren’t the Dragon. The group basically knows and accepts at this point they’re walking into certain death.

Moiraine channels the One Power to open the Waygate, which is not book accurate at all. Loial was with them in the books because the Ogiers built the Waygates and knew how to open it with an Avendasora leaf. I’m not sure why this was changed in the show, but I do appreciate the visual we got. The Avendasora leaf is said to be trefoil, and the weaves Moiraine uses very clearly resemble that.

The others look on in both amazement and wonder as the pathways are revealed on the other side of the doorway, and Mat asks if it’s too late to change his mind. ☹

Oh, Mat. Oh, Barney.

As the rest of the group enters a very foreboding, cavernous space, Mat stays behind.

So, this was not at all how it happened in the books, but according to a Dragonmount tweet, episode 6 was the last one that was filmed before covid shut them down. Although there is much speculation as to what happened with Barney Harris, he simply never returned after production started up again. I think at this point, it is safe to say we will not see Mat again until season 2 where he will be portrayed by Donal Finn.

Whatever happened, it is a shame because I think Harris had a great portrayal of Matrim Cauthon, and I am sad to see him go so early on in the show. However, I cannot wait to see Finn’s Mat, and the rest of his story in season 2 and beyond.

I am also very excited to see these last two episodes, and I cannot wait for Thursday. Until next time, Happy Reading and Watching!

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