The penultimate episode of season 1, The Dark Along the Ways, was a big one. More lore! More characters! And finally some answers.
What we don’t get is an Origin story. This is the first time that we’ve not had one with an episode, so I’m wondering if they’re done? Maybe done for now. There is so much deep lore left to go into, but who knows what they will crossover from the books to the show.
Without that, let’s just get right to it. I’m not sure if people like to watch the ‘previously on’ for shows or not. I mean, if you’ve been away from the show for a while, it can serve as a recap, but mostly it’s a nest of spoilers. This isn’t just an issue with WoT, or Amazon, but I’ve noticed it for a lot of popular shows from different networks. It’s a big flashing billboard for those characters that you thought you saw the last of 5 episodes ago, but as soon as the ‘previously on’ goes over their old scenes, you know they’ll be popping up. That defeats any type of reveal that was planned. For that reason, I normally skip the ‘previously on’ for the first watch.
But if you watch it or don’t, nothing will prepare you for the cold open. Hands down, I think this is one of the best cold opens yet. We see someone running on a snowy battlefield. She’s bloody black veiled, and carrying spears. An Aiel! AND SHE’S PREGGERS! Not just a little preggers, but in labor preggers. She removes her veil, ready to push, but is interrupted by Cairhien soldiers trying to kill her. Rude.
The battle sequence that follows is just amazing. The scene really does justice to the warriors of the Three-Fold Land and their skill in battle. Unlike some of these Cairhien soldiers that might never have fought before, the Aiel live in a very dangerous and treacherous land. They’re all battle hardened and formidable fighters. So what did the king of Cairhien do? Piss them off by breaking the truce between their people. It was here on Dragonmount when the Aiel finally pushed in far enough and killed the king for his sins, and then they just… left. The war ended once they finished what they set out to do.
Oh yeah, and the Dragon was reborn.
The Aiel woman, Tigraine Mantear per the credits, is a far superior fighter and dispatches all her attackers until the labor pains disable her. A soldier takes the opportunity to knife her in the back, but she still kills him before falling to her knees and crawling to hide behind a rock. Another soldier finds her and points his sword at her, and this is a good time to skip to the opening credits. Of course.
We rejoin with our group in the Ways as they yell for Mat. While Nynaeve is arguing to reopen the gate, Loial says that any use of the One Power will draw in the black wind, Machin Shin. Our Two River’s people do not know what that is, but it also makes me curious as to how they’re going to get out if they can’t channel.
The arguing continues with Nynaeve and Rand wanting to open the gate for Mat, and Egwene wanting to move forward with Perrin supporting her. With Moiraine, Lan, and Loial already moving ahead, the group has no choice to follow. Nynaeve vows to find Mat after their ordeal is over, and it is all that can be said as Rand gives one last longing, pained look at the Waygate.
The group moves forward with the focus shifting to Moiraine and Lan. Lan questions what if Mat is the Dragon? Moiraine says that if that’s the case, she can’t let Mat near the Dark One because of the chance he’ll turn to the Shadow. This is different from the books, obviously since we lost the actor that was playing Mat, but I also like this change for one reason. They’re able to go deeper into the storyline that the Dragon can just as easily turn to the Dark One than fight against him. It’s a good reminder, and the storyline actually fits with the loss of the actor. Although there will be some Mat scenes that I will miss in the upcoming episode, the writers had to make do with what the had, and there’s always a chance those Mat scenes/lines can show up in season 2.
While the group traverses the pitch black of the Ways, Loial begins to tell everyone what the Ways used to be. Always lush, always spring, always inviting. Now they’ve been corrupted and are dangerous. I’m not sure how well it’s coming off in the show as we haven’t got a lot of screen time with Loial, but he is very long-winded and will talk, and talk, and talk. This time, Rand ends his rambling with a, “We understand.”
Lan then drops back to comfort Nynaeve, telling her that Mat is safer where he is. They are interrupted as Perrin spots something in the distance that human eyes just shouldn’t be able to see. Rand does ask him about it later, and Perrin shrugs it off, but I kinda wish they had left the scene alone. I don’t think we needed this heavy-handed pointing out of Perrin’s spectacular eyesight. Give us little clues, please.
Loial informs the group that what Perrin spotted is a Guiding Stone, basically the maps of the Ways that only Ogier can read. This one has been defiled, so it will take some time for Loial to decipher it, and he asks for their patience.
If he’s asking for patience, then we’re gonna die.Mat Cau… I mean Rand al’Thor
The group rests while Loial does his thing, and Lan and Moiraine acknowledge that something is following them. The group beds down, and as Rand and Egwene cuddle up together, Perrin turns his back on them as he curls up alone. Nynaeve catches this but doesn’t say anything. Interesting.
Of course they can’t get a full night of sleep as Egwene is woken by some whistling in the distance. She calls for Rand as she stands up, and a trolloc leaps down in front of them. Hey buddy! How you doing? Let’s name you Narg.
Narg is quickly knocked off the edge into the bottomless void by the weaves of the One Power as Egwene flinches back into Rand. Loial is disgusted that a trolloc could be in the Ways, but now the mystery is solved as to how the Dark One’s army got to the Two Rivers.
Perrin notices that it got a lot colder, and Egwene confesses that she didn’t mean to channel. Moiraine warns them that Machin Shin will speak to them and not to listen. The Black Wind is too close now, and they have to divert to the Fal Dara Waygate, which is thankfully much closer. It’s a rush to the portal while a hissing, screeching wind chases behind them. They make it to the Waygate, but the Black Wind also catches them, blowing out their torches. It has a few things to say.
You’re wrong about everything. You’ll murder these children and call it heroism.
You’re nothing, an imposter, a fraud.
Egwene will never love you as much as you love her. She left you once, and she’ll leave you again.
You wanted Laila dead, out of the way. That’s why you killed her. Because you loved another woman more than your wife.
You can’t protect her. You’ll watch her die.
You’ll hear their screams as they die, just like you heard your parents, and you’ll do nothing to save them.
In the books,
Flesh so fine, so fine to tear, to gnash the skin; skin to strip, to plait, so nice to plait the strips, so nice, so red the drops that fall; blood so red, so sweet; sweet screams, pretty screams, singing screams, scream your song, sing your screams…
Nynaeve is being pushed to her limits as the Black Wind continues to attack her, and she staggers away from the group while Lan screams at her from behind, but he is unable to reach her.
You lost Mat, and now you’ll lose the others one by one, till you have nothing and no one. You can’t protect them. You can’t.
With a roar, Nynaeve latches on to the One Power again and pushes back Machin Shin. The others watch in astonishment, as this is the first time those from the Two Rivers have seen her channel, and Egwene begs Moiraine to hurry. Nynaeve can’t hold out much longer.
Moiraine looks over her shoulder, and I loved this moment of seeing both Moiraine and Nynaeve channeling at the same time. Moiraine gets the Waygate open, and as the others rush through, Lan grabs Nynaeve to pull her to safety. They exit into a dry and barren landscape, and the group takes a moment to catch their breath. Nynaeve looks remarkably less strained the Moiraine, and I don’t know if that’s intentional or an oversite. Nynaeve, untrained as she was, held back the Black Wind while all Moiraine did was open a Waygate.
Normally, everything that happens in the show means something, and I would trust that this detail would come back around later. However, this was the first episode filmed after the Covid shut down, and it is not the only scene that I felt was a little off. I’m going to ignore this for now but keep it in mind if it ever pops back up again. I mean, it could all just be due to Nynaeve’s stubbornness, am I right?
Anyway, they have made it to the fortress city of Fal Dara. The Eye of the World is only a day’s walk beyond the city, so they would have been very close if they had made it to the original Waygate. As Moiraine takes in the state of the group, she notices they still aren’t quite over their latest ordeal. Rand is crying and flinches away from Egwene while Perrin is brooding and mopey. The closest thing we get from Moiraine is her telling the kids to put whatever the Black Wind told them out of their mind, and then she’s off again.
We then get some wide sweeping views of the Fal Dara lands and the stronghold, and it looks beautiful. I loved finally having this on screen in front of me to see. TARWIN’S GAP!! I did kinda always envision the surrounding mountains as being taller, but still really cool to see.
After the group is escorted into the stronghold, the greeting party addresses Lan before Moiraine, calling him Dai Shan. He was welcomed ‘home’ and even given a hug by a man with an eyepatch. That’s UNO! WOO!! I whole-heartedly approve of his casting.
The group is led into a throne room where they meet with Lord Agelmar. Again, Lan is greeted first before Agelmar turns to Moiraine. He asks Moiraine why she is there, but before she can answer, he launches into a diatribe about how he can protect his own lands and doesn’t need any help. I love the look on Moiraine’s face as she stands there and lets him make an ass out of himself. When Moiraine finally gets a chance to speak, at least Lord Agelmar is wise enough to listen to her and takes her suggestion to wall up the Fal Dara Waygate, as well as apologize to Moiraine. He offers them a place to stay, and we learn here that Fal Dara supports Aes Sedai as well as welcomes their support. This is very unlike Tear from the previous episode. I like that we’re already seeing that kind of diversity in the show.
Then we get a look of someone else walking out of the Waygate, although we only get a shot of his back as he swaggers toward Fal Dara. I wonder who that could be?
The Lady Amalisa, Lord Agelmar’s sister, is showing Moiraine to her chambers, and we see her use the One Power to light the torches in the hallway. Moiraine also asks to see Min, and Lady Amalisa refers to her as a Seer. Amalisa then asks Moiraine about why she was in the Ways, and Moiraine counters by bringing up the time Amalisa spent training in the white tower.
Moiraine takes Amalisa’s hand and fingers the Great Serpent ring on it. This one has no stone. Many territories that are in good standing with the White Tower will send their royal and noble sons and daughters to the Tower to train. Some of the daughters can actually use the One Power, as Amalisa can, but are too weak to be raised to the shawl, and the men get to train as Warders. There is a slight difference in the books as the Great Serpent ring does not have a gem in it. Instead, it is a slimmer ring with the serpent eating its own tail.
This is the original officially licensed ring from Dragonmount that was crafted by Badali Jewelry, and more of what I always pictured the ring to look like from the books. I will not include a Dragonmount link here because the page has spoilers on it, and the Badali Jewelry is a 404 because they no longer own the license. That has moved to Amazon Studios, so these original rings are no longer available. I never bought one, guys. I MISSED MY CHANCE.
Anyway, I do like the show version of the ring, and the simple gem inside it to designate which Ajah the sister belongs to, although every Ajah wears their color anyway. In the books, the Aes Sedai actually wore a shawl of their Ajah color with the flame of Tar Valon on it. Hard to find anything official, but here is some good fanart by DrowElfMorwen from Deviantart.
Only full sisters get the shawl, but sisters, accepted, and tower-trained women get the ring. In the show, it appears tower-trained women get the ring as well, but the gem has taken the place of the shawl. However, there has been the comment of ‘being raised to the shawl’ said in the show, so it still exists, but in what context, we don’t know yet. Will be fun to find out.
Back to the show, Moiraine asks Amalisa to get a message to the tower to find Mat. When Amalisa asks who the message should be sent to, Moiraine says the Red Ajah. DUN DUN DUN!
This is scary, but Moiraine has to stop Mat if he’s a threat. This will also keep the Reds off her back while they hunt Mat down and will in turn bring him to the Tower since he can’t be gentled. He’s still a threat to himself with the dagger out there. Hopefully, even in the Reds hand’s, he’ll be in a safer place. Cold, Moiraine, but calculated, nonetheless.
We then get a scene of Moiraine leading the Two Rivers kids through the streets of Fal Dara, and Rand is still trying to shake off the effects of what happened in the Ways. Egwene tries to support him, and he gives her a half smile. Perrin is brooding as he follows behind them, and he catches sight of someone walk by. A laughing, swaggering man who closely resembles Padan Fain. Nynaeve says it can’t be him since he was killed on Bel Tine.
Yeah. I remember. Do you?
Perrin drops it and mentions how far away Bel Tine seems now.
The group makes it to the inn, and Moiraine spots her Seer while the kids sit at the table and talk about the Tuatha’an. Cute banter as Rand tries to wrap his head around vegetarianism, but of course Nynaeve would rather keep a close eye on Moiraine, who is asking Min, the Seer, for details. Min doesn’t much care for the treatment, but Moiraine throws in a bit of blackmail of revealing her identity if she doesn’t comply. Damn, Moi, you can be real cold sometimes.
There’s a moment where Min stares at the group and we can see a glow around all of them. Min starts off by trying to identify one of them as the ‘big brooding one’, but Moiraine cuts her off saying, “They’re both big, and they both brood.” That got a good chuckle out of me.
Min goes on to identify Perrin, who has golden eyes and blood running down his chin. Rand is rocking a baby, but she can’t identify whose. For the girls, she sees a white flame and a ring of gold, but she doesn’t say which one belongs to who, and Moiraine doesn’t ask for clarification. By the look on her face, it seems she has already come to the conclusion of what these images mean for them. Min doesn’t always understand her visions, but she does know that all four are linked, and that’s rare. The visions are clear, which means they are important to the pattern, but no one vision is stronger than the others.
Man, I miss Mat being here to get her visions of him, but hopefully that gets rectified next season.
Min then gives Moiraine a vision of her own. She sees the Amyrlin Seat in full regalia, and she’s going to be Moiraine’s downfall. OOO! Spicy! Even as a book reader, I don’t know where this is going, but I’m very interested to find out.
The next scene is of the group back at their quarters, and Moiraine comes in to tell them they’re leaving at sunrise. Nynaeve confronts her, again, and again, Moiraine snaps back, but she actually does tell them what Min can do. She wanted to know which one of them was the Dragon so she could save the rest because she truly believes the others will die. Yes, Moiraine’s cold, but she has a very important job to do, and she still cares for the Two Rivers people.
After some argument, the gives the group an illusion of choice, but Rand sees through it. Nynaeve is still willing to fight her, though… Of course. The group continues to bicker as tensions are high. Egwene still wants to go because she believes in the cause, and she appeals to Nynaeve to look past her pride. Rand doesn’t want to lose anyone else, and Perrin questions if the Dragon is Mat. This leads to further argument between Rand and Egwene, with Perrin defending her, and…
Nynaeve let the cat out of the bag. Apparently, Perrin has been crushing on Egwene hard, but her comment about them ‘fighting’ over Egwene just doesn’t make sense. This isn’t a love triangle, y’all. Fighting and triangles have to have more than one participant aware of what’s going on. Rand never knew Perrin liked Egwene, and Egwene has no romantic feelings for Perrin. This is simply (no matter how weird and how off this whole scene feels) Perrin crushing on Egwene. That’s it.
Was this in the books? Yes, it was very subdued, as all of Jordan’s romantic relationships were written, but it is there. Perrin was very jealous of Aram when they were with the Tuatha’an, but he never, ever made his feelings known to Egwene.
As far as the show goes, I guess this explains why Laila didn’t go to Egwene’s ceremony, and why she was so unhappy. Does it explain why she had a hammer hefted over her head ready to come down when Perrin axed her in the stomach? No, but it’s a detail I haven’t forgotten. Maybe it was editing, or maybe she was swinging at the dead trolloc, or maybe she was swinging for Perrin. I don’t know.
Anyway, this scene just felt off. Not because of Perrin’s crush, but because the whole thing felt forced. I get that the tensions are high, and it’s a prime environment for a fight to break out, and maybe they were missing an instigator with Mat’s absence so they had to write around it, but this is the second scene that I really didn’t care for at all. Plus, it just seemed to drag on and on. (First scene being the introduction of the Tuatha’an.)
But hey, WE GOT A NYNAEVE BRAID TUG! That was about the only organic thing about the scene, and I didn’t think the braid tugs could be organic.
The next scene is a heart to heart between Moiraine and Lan. At least she takes down her walls a little bit with him. She feels like she’s taken everything from him, but Lan disagrees. He says she gave him a purpose to live and die for. Moiraine then sends him out to the city to say his goodbyes, which is indication that she believes the two of them won’t make it back either. Before Lan can leave, she tells him, “I like her, you know.” It’s almost as if she’s giving him permission, or at the least, urging him on to live a little.
Lan goes to visit a family in the city while Nynaeve continues to stalk, I mean track him, but Lan catches her and asks her to join them. After some heartwarming family interaction, they walk back to their quarters, and Lan just says good night and leaves Nynaeve in the hall. She walks away looking quite disappointed, but as Lan is showing off some gnarly scars, she barges into his room and straight-up asks him if he wants her to go.
YOU GO GIRL!
I will say, their relationship in the show is so much better than what happened in the books. As I said before, Jordan’s romance writing was so subtle, I’m sure most of it didn’t even exist, so when Nyn came on to Lan in the books, it floored me. I was not at all expecting it. I loved being able to see it unfold on screen so well.
We fade-to-black and find Rand shooting his Two Rivers longbow and missing the bullseye a lot. Egwene comes up, wondering why he hasn’t come to find her to apologize. Ahh, there’s the book Egwene coming through. Anyway, the two work on their communication skills, discussing Perrin as well as Mat, and then they make up. Rand tells her to go to the White Tower so she can be an Aes Sedai, and he’ll be her Warder. That’s the best choice of foreplay words Rand could have used on her, and we get another fade-to-black.
We’re back with Nynaeve and Lan, with Nyn prepping for her walk of shame. Ya know, scratch that. I don’t think walk-of-shames really exist in this world as people seem to be more understanding of sexual nature as well as preference. It’s refreshing.
Lan catches her and Nynaeve learns some of his history and what Dai Shin means. Lan is a future king of Malkier, smuggled out by his father’s armsmen the night the city was overwhelmed by the Blight. A king without a kingdom. This helps Nynaeve understand why he allowed Moiraine to bond him, and although Nyn believes he belongs to Moiraine, Lan points out that a Wisdom never weds. Man, looks like their relationship is going to have some hurdles, but she stays when he asks her to.
Back to see how our other couple is doing post-coitus, and Rand is having flashbacks to Winternight. Man, I am SO glad we get to see some of Tam’s fever dream. Tam mistakes Rand for Kari, his wife, and who Rand thought was his mother. Kari was unable to have children, so when Tam finds a crying baby in the snow, he brings him home. Kari died when Rand was very young, so he doesn’t remember much about her.
After Tam tells Rand of the baby in the show, his flashback jumps to Dana when she had him trapped behind an iron-oak door. Three men his size couldn’t break it down, that is unless they’re pulling in some tainted Saidin to help push them through.
Rand also mentions that he thinks he’s seen Dragonmount before. When you were born on it, Rand? Or when you broke the world as you created it?
He shoots bullseye after bullseye as the flashbacks keep coming. Flicker, flicker, flicker. And we’re in the Ways again with Narg jumping down on them.
It’s you. You’ve always known it’s you, deep down. No matter how fast or how far you run, you cannot escape your fate. You are the Dragon Reborn. You are the Dragon Reborn.Machin Shin
SURPRISE! I bet y’all didn’t see that coming. /eyeroll
So, it seemed pretty obvious who the Dragon Reborn was because they never gave Rand a purpose. I don’t know how big of a secret they wanted it to be, but I can only assume that changing the lore up a bit to allow the Dragon to be female widened the pool just to create a bigger mystery. I think if they had given Rand more agency, it would have come off better. Play it up a bit more of Rand becoming Egwene’s Warder, and bring out his bow sooner than the penultimate episode. As we see, Rand is excellent with the bow. This would at least give him something to do other than argue and brood.
I also didn’t much care for the way it was revealed. I couldn’t wait to see Rand channel, but we got it in an infodump flashback. I would have liked to have seen a real-time channel before we got the flashbacks, but here we are, running into the inn to accost Min and ask her for some viewings, which after some banter, comes with another flashback. Min’s first vision was of a man carrying a baby and Rand’s heron marked blade!
When I looked at him, I saw snow and blood. I saw a baby born on the slopes of Dragonmount. The man raised him in a wooden house besides fields of sheep, in a sleepy village surrounded by two rivers. And that baby… That baby was something impossible.Elmindreda Farshaw
There’s the confirmation that Rand needs, although he wants to know what she sees now. Rainbows and carnivals and three beautiful women. She also sees the Eye of the World, but she doesn’t say if he makes it back.
The next morning, Egwene goes in search of Nynaeve, but her chambers are pristine. I like her soft smile and chuckle as she sits to wait for her. When Nynaeve arrives, she apologizes, and Perrin comes in soon after. Nyn asks them what they decided, and it turns out they both want to go. Whatever Nynaeve has decided for herself is irrelevant now, as she won’t let them go on alone. They then discover that Rand is missing, but before they can search for him, Lan comes in with some bad news. Moiraine has masked their bond. This can only mean one thing.
The two have set off together to save the others. I mean, I don’t know why Moiraine left without Lan, cuz if she dies, he won’t be far behind her, but I understand the signifigance of the moment. Aside from that, the blight looks amazing, and the twisted version of the theme song that plays during this reveal is spectacular.
I cannot wait for the finale. Although they’ve stayed so close to the source material, there have been enough changes that even I don’t know what’s going to happen in the final episode. Only a few more days of waiting to go! Until then, Happy Reading and Watching!