Wheel of Time – Episode 8 – The Eye of the World

Here it is, the final episode of season 1, The Eye of the World, and what a mixed bag it is. I will admit that on my first watch, I was less than thrilled with what we got. The CGI was unfinished, the storylines didn’t gel, and the post-editing felt very rushed. Most of this can be attributed to the pandemic and the loss of Barney Harris. Although we felt that some in episode 7, it really came to a head here in episode 8. There was a lot riding on this episode, and unfortunately, the show struggled to overcome those hurdles. However, it’s not all bad. Let’s hop right in and see what we got.

Again, no origin story, so we’ll start with the cold open; 3000 YEARS AGO.

This can be no other than Lews Therin Telamon, the Dragon. He seems quite distraught as he argues with Latra Posae Decume, a woman strong in the One Power and Lews’s counterpart in rank and political standing. Lews has a plan, but Latra disagrees. I’m relying a little on book knowledge and lore here to fill in the gaps as their conversation glosses over everything, but Lews wants to seal the Dark One away, and he needs the power of the women channelers to help him in a Circle. Latra is refusing to help, and she goes on to convince every woman with the power to join Lews proposed Circle to refuse him. This created a dividing line between the men and women of the tower that was never resolved before Lews took his 100 companions and tried to seal the bore. Without the aid of women channelers, it’s possible Latra’s action is what inevitably caused the backlash on Saidin and the breaking of the world.

I thought one of the things that was a neat lore drop was when Lews called Latra the Tamyrlin Seat. In the Age of Legends, the Ring of the Tamyrlin was bestowed on the leader of the Aes Sedai, whither male or female. The use of the Amyrlin Seat in the current age has been theorized as a bastardization of Tamyrlin. Unintentional or not, I think it’s neat the way the story shows us in little details like that just how much was lost during the Breaking, and how history changes. Remember, the Breaking destroyed the land, so even history books and artifacts were destroyed along with it. Much was lost.

What I didn’t like was the fact that Latra calls Lews the Dragon Reborn. Yes, his soul was reborn, but he earned the title Dragon during his lifetime. Rand is the Dragon Reborn. I guess they think show watchers are not smart enough to figure that out on their own so they had to say that Lews was the Dragon Reborn also? The official name for the soul is the Champion of the Light. Yes, it’s a small detail and doesn’t really matter for the show story, but it irked me.

At the end of the scene, we get this beautiful, futuristic view of what the Age of Legends is, a mashup of magic and science combined.

And remember this equally stunning view during the opening scene of the show?

I thought those looked like buildings! I just didn’t think it would come back around again. It’s amazing that these buildings survived the breaking of the world and were displaced so far from their original location during the Breaking.

After the opening credits, we follow Moiraine and Rand during their trek through the blight. They stumbled across a dead and rotting body, and Moiraine tells him that boys like to test themselves against the blight and most often fail. They continue on.

As far as the blight looks, I think it’s fine, at least the close-up shots. The wide shots don’t look as great, and I’m guessing it’s because post-production work was rushed due to the covid shutdowns. The design of it is fine at least. Not exactly how I pictured it in my mind, but it works. I’ve also heard some rumors that they lost their original Blight filming location due to the shutdown, but can’t find any proof of that, and also don’t know if there was a change to the design. Anyway, this is what we get, a massive tangle of brambles and roots growing in on each other, and a warning from Moiraine that it’s a rot that spreads from the Dark One’s prison.

Wait a sec.

So, if the Blight originates from the Dark One’s prison, and the prison is at the Eye of the World that is only a day’s walk from Fal Dara, that would mean that the Blight isn’t very big at all? Or maybe it’s only been expanding North while the Borderlands keeps pushing it back? Either way, the Dark One’s prison is close. In the books, the Eye of the World was something else entirely as was Moiraine’s motivation in trying to get there. I won’t spoil what the EOTW is or those motivations, because there is still room in the story for the show to bring it up again. Although surface level, this change was fine in the show, but it does bring up some inconsistencies in the story that were not addressed well. Distance being one of them.

Anyway, we jump to Egwene packing and Perrin coming in to talk some sense. Apparently, she was ready to follow Moiraine and Rand into the Blight, unwilling to let Rand go. They both cry while feeling helpless, and also make up for the fight they had in episode 7. I hope this is the last time it’s brought up. Let this plotline die without fanfare just like it did in the books. Just so you know, it was equally weird and ignorable in the books as well.

Back to Rand and Moiraine, who have continued their hike. They have grown close to the Seven Towers of Malkier, Lan’s fallen kingdom. It’s only taken 40 years for the Blight to rot and destroy the towers. It’s great that they included this. They just look like stalagmites, but I wonder what they looked like before. When the two stop for a rest, Rand tries to get Moiraine to open up, but she dodges his question in typical Moiraine manner.

We then move on to Lan and Nynaeve, where Nynaeve admits how she found them after Shadar Logoth; because Moiraine has a tell. She will tell Lan what it is if he can bring Rand back to her. She also admits that she’s having thoughts of going to Tar Valon to become an Aes Sedai instead of just being a Wisdom who never weds. Lan’s answer is disappointing and beautiful at the same time as he lets her down easy, and almost exactly from the book. I can see why they changed it up a little for the show, but at least they kept that first line.

I will hate the man you choose because he is not me and love him if he makes you smile. No woman deserves the sure knowledge of widow’s black as her brideprice, you least of all.

al’Lan Mandragoran

We jump back to Rand, where we see him wake from a nap. Dude, you were sleeping? In the Blight? Okay. I guess he didn’t get any sleep the night before, or since he’s been in the Ways, but I would think just nodding off in the Blight would be a tough thing to do. However, as Moiraine spiels about the power of dreams, she gets stabbed in the back of the head with the sword tip coming out her mouth. Shocking and unexpected, yes, but we immediately know that Rand is in a dream.

This is confirmed as Fire Face pops up, being the person that killed Moiraine. He speaks, and his mouth moves so poorly when he tells Rand he didn’t expect it to be him. I liked the following segment as Rand nails Fire Face in the eye with an arrow. Speaking parts with that mask on just weren’t working, and it seemed the show writers agreed when The Man says “that’s better” after it’s gone. I do wish there had been some more appearances of Fire Face before his human reveal, but I can also see how this would have been hard to work in with how little time Amazon gave the series.

The man is credited as Ishmael THE MAN, which is weird, because the forsaken is named Ishamael. Close on the spelling but still incorrect, so we’ll just refer to him as The Man going forward. They should probably completely remove the ‘Ishmael’ on the credits as it could be confusing.

The Man obviously knew Lews as he tells Rand that he looks nothing like him, but it’s still him. Interesting since he just told Rand that he didn’t expect it to be him. He can see it behind his eyes. Okay.

Anyway, The Man berates Rand for coming for him with only one Aes Sedai when he came with 99 before who were far stronger than Moiraine. I actually really enjoyed the dialogue and The Man’s demeanor as he points out all the flaws in Moiraine’s plan. He’s not in the least frightened of Rand even when Rand pulls a sword on him. Although we learned in the cold open for episode 7 that Tam is not Rand’s real father, this is where Rand finds out the truth. The Man wants to continue to talk, but Rand refuses and stabs himself in the stomach to wake himself up.

This is interesting and makes me wonder how they’re going to handle the ‘dream world’ in the show. They’ve used it quite a bit throughout the season, but we’ve yet to get an explanation of what’s going on. Until we see more of it, I will just put a pin in this scene and hold off on book lore for now.

Rand wakes up, and Moiraine once again spiels about how dreams have meaning. Rand isn’t having any of it, and he walks off, forcing Moiraine to follow. His next actions kinda give Moiraine a taste of her own medicine until she finally reveals her plan. She hands over the sa’angreal that we saw in episode 1!

We’ve learned about ter’angreal before, but sa’angreal and angreal are different. Ter’angreal have a specific purpose and can only do one thing when powered by either Saidin or Saidar. Some will only work with one half of the One Power, some work with both. For angreal and sa’angreal, they amplify the channeler’s power, sa’angreal being much more powerful than angreal. This distinction of the two might not make it into the show, but it exists in the books.

All of these objects of power were created in the Age of Legends, and the knowledge was lost after the Breaking. Many of the objects that were created were scattered all over the world, if they weren’t destroyed. They are rare and coveted by the White Tower and other groups who want to hunt and collect these artifacts.

As far as this jade carving of a round little man, it exists just like this in the books, although Rand came upon it in a different way. With Moiraine telling him that it was men that made the sa’angreal, it stands to reason that it can only be used to amplify Saidin, as it is in the books. This would also explain why Moiraine never used it herself. However, the show immediately reminds us that women can also be the Dragon in this universe with Rand accusing Moiraine that she thought it was Egwene. So, why would Moiraine risk taking a rare artifact from the tower that can only be used by men? Maybe the answer is as simple as this was the only one she could get her hands on. Who even knows. This just seems to be another change which is okay in theory, but the follow up ramifications of the change weren’t addressed well.

This next scene was a shout-out to book readers with Nynaeve trying to ‘listen to the wind’. However, she’s been unable to do so since she first channeled. Egwene listens instead and can feel the shadow spawn screaming in the Blight.

Then we’re back with Rand and Moiraine, with Rand asking her to teach him how to channel. Moiraine declines, telling him that every time he channels, it will take him closer and closer to madness. It’s one answer, but it’s been established in the show that women can’t see men’s weaves. Also, in the origin story about Saidin and Saidar we learned the two are opposite to each other. Moiraine could walk him through the exercises that women use when they learn to channel, but it’s very likely that they will not work for Rand as men cannot grasp Saidin the same way women grasp Saidar.

Moiraine is sure that Rand will channel, though, as he’ll be backed into a corner and it will happen instinctively, just as it had with her while she was being beaten, just as it did with Nynaeve when she healed everyone at the brink of death, and just as it happened exactly with Rand before when he escaped Dana and when he saved Egwene in the Ways.

I also appreciate that Moiraine added another mention of using Air and Fire weaves while she was being beaten. Although the show hasn’t gone into the different types of weaves yet, at least they’re establishing some lore they can build on in the next season.

We then jump to the remaining Two River’s people accosting Min in her inn, wanting to know of the vision she saw for Rand. Before they get any answers out of her, Min sees Nynaeve burning out and all the soldiers in the inn dying. Then the horns of war blare. Although Rand and Moiraine can see the trolloc army rush towards Tarwin’s Gap, Moiraine convinces Rand that they cannot turn back from their course.

As the horns continue, we get our first scene with the borderlanders, and Lord Agelmar giving orders to protect the Gap and the City. He tells Lord Yakota that he knows what he needs to do, but at this point, I did not know what this was in reference to. Lord Yakota seems shocked by the order but heads off to comply without responding. Lady Amalisa is adamant that the Gap will not hold against the attack, but I think Lord Agelmar knows that.

Rand and Moiraine reach the Eye of the World, and Rand exclaims that he knows this place. He then confronts Moiraine about her upcoming role if she goes with him, confirming that she is aware she will die, and he tells her to stay. She gives him a faint smile but continues on. They’re both so stubborn.

Oh, and here’s Lan, making his way through the Blight. He spots the towers of Malkier, so apparently the advice Nynaeve gave him on tracking Moiraine was pretty spot on. Good luck, Lan! Keep running!

Another scene with Agelmar and Amalisa follows with Amalisa trying to convince Agelmar to wear his father’s armor. He refuses and tells her and the women need to protect the city for as long as they can. He knows they will fall, but he wants to do what he can to slow down the Dark One’s army. He even says that Tarmon Gai’dan, the Last Battle, is here. Amalisa is swayed and proudly declares she will not let the city fall.

Rand and Moiraine descend into the Eye of the World, and Moiraine admits that they have no idea what the place was used for. All the information on it was purged from the Tower by Darkfriends.

The overhead shot of the floor is beautiful. I love that symbol and what it represented in the Age of Legends. In this age, the white tear drop is the symbol of the Aes Sedai of the White Tower.

When Moiraine questions Rand on what he remembers of the place, he says it’s fuzzy like a dream. He does see visions of Lews fighting someone there, and Rand says it was the Dark One that looks like a man.

As he bends down to touch the symbol, he’s transported back to his home in the Two Rivers. He finds Egwene and his daughter Joiya outside, and everything appears perfect. Red flags!

At the Eye, Moiraine is holding his unconscious body and trying to wake him when The Man appears to her. She channels the One Power, sending spikes of Air at his neck, and The Man huffs. With a flick of his wrist, he shields Moiraine and effortlessly cuts her off from the source. He then taunts her with how horrible it must be to know and feel that the One Power is there but not be unable to touch it.

There’s some speculation as to what happened in this scene; if The Man actually stilled Moiraine or just shielded her. The image we have of the webbed weave being laid over Moiraine, although very fast, matches the same web that was placed on Logain in episode 4. It does not match the image we saw of Logain being gentled, so I believe Moiraine was just shielded. Also, the little flick he did with the One Power at the end, I believe he tied the shield off so he’s not actively holding it any longer. This is a weave that the Aes Sedai could not know in this Age, or they would have done it to Logain while he was being held captive. Not only were artifacts lost in the Breaking, but so were knowledges of certain weaves. This would be one of them. This is just my theory, and in no way confirmed.

And then… we get one of the saddest scenes in the whole episode. A shot of the horrible trolloc CGI and post-editing nightmare that I fully blame on covid. Considering how astonishing the trollocs looked in the earlier episodes, this is a travesty for the show. I fully expect the design and look of them to be better in the next season when the production is given the time they need to create a beautiful show.

The next thing that follows is just a series of quick scenes one right after the other. The short length of scenes and cuts in this episode are insane and exhausting.

After Lord Agelmar dramatically charges the gate at the Gap, we jump to Lady Amalisa giving orders to the women of Fal Dara while the foreigners flee. We get a quick shot of Min who GTFO, and Amalisa calls for any woman who can channel the One Power. Meanwhile, Lord Yakota and his crew remove the throne and began to break through the tiled floor with some hefty pickaxes. A quick scene of Loial telling Egwene and Nynaeve that Amalisa is calling for channelers follows, and then Lord Agelmar fires on the approaching trolloc horde. The attacking numbers at least look somewhat impressive and overwhelming.

*sucks in a deep breath*

Lady Amalisa is standing outside the city with two other women when Nynaeve and Egwene enter, stage left. This is some weird placement, as it really does look like they’re standing on a set instead of out front of a huge fortress, or that they’re even outside at all.

But let’s move on to Perrin who is feeling helpless and having a breakdown about the Way of the Leaf. Loial gives him a pep talk and tells him to ask how he can help.

Then we’re back to Rand in his dream for a scene that will hopefully last longer than 10 seconds. He’s doubting his reality and begins to question Egwene, but she answers everything perfectly, so he lets himself believes it’s real.

And then she freezes in place, and The Man shows up. The Man then begins to tempt him with making his false reality real, but he’s also speaking to Moiraine and continuing to taunt her with Rand’s decision. Moiraine, however, is willing to kill Rand before he chooses the Dark One and puts a knife to his throat.

More quick scenes, one of Perrin and Loial headed to the throne room to help dig out the tiles, and Amalisa praying for her brother as the trollocs charge. Light help Agelmar, but it’s not looking so great as he gets skewered against the wall.

Back to Rand, where The Man cuts frozen Egwene’s throat with the power, and then heals it while Rand begs. Rand then asks how to make it real. It’s not like Moiraine can hear what’s going on in Rand’s dream, but she presses the knife against his neck hard enough to draw blood.

Oh, and here we go. Padan Fain has the super-secret words, which he uses to gain entry further into the fortress, and he’s guarded by two fades. Oh boy!

But then Perrin and Loial have finally dug through to their prize to uncover the Horn of bloody Valere!! WOO!! Okay, I didn’t see that coming. In the books, the Horn was practically a mythical object and was hidden at the Eye of the World, but this can work too. When blown, the horn will call the most powerful heroes to fight in the Last Battle, and they need to get it to Rand somehow. For some reason, they added this part in after the scene below, and it’s literally 5 seconds long. Perrin looks up, sees Padan Fain disappear down the hall, and he gives a longing look toward an axe before dismissing it and leaving to find Fain.

We are back to the women for a short moment as Amalisa wants to link with the other women. Remember, Amalisa spent years training at the White Tower, so she knows how to channel, and she knows certain weaves, but she just didn’t have the strength to become a full Aes Sedai. As the trollocs charge, the women form a link, although it doesn’t look the same as when Liandrin held the link in episode 4. Yes, Amalisa knows weaves, but she probably has never been the controller of a link, so this one is rudimentary and dangerous.

One thing that is cool that I was unable to get a screenshot of is Egwene and Nyneave’s weaves are much brighter than the other women’s weaves.

Back to Rand, where The Man is teaching him how to open himself to the One Power and channel. The Man is also taunting Moiraine, letting her know that Rand is channeling, but they don’t even know what he’s going to do. Moiraine draws more blood.

AND WE ARE BACK TO THE LADIES AGAIN. My god, these cuts are giving me whiplash. Amalisa pulls more and more of the one power. Lord Yakota FINALLY pulls the Horn of Valere from the floor, because for some reason it took three five-second scenes to actually do that, and Rand is crying while he channels.

I did like the juxtaposition of Rand’s channeling switching to Egwene on their side of the battlefield. Amalisa is still in control, and still pulling more of the One Power until she calls down lightning on the incoming horde and obliterates them. I’m sure those are weaves she knows or has at least had some practice with since she was able to use Fire to light all the torches in episode 7. However, she begins pulling too much and burns out one of the poor ladies. That’s not good.

Nynaeve yells at her that it’s enough, but Amalisa can’t let go, and she kills another one of the unnamed ladies. As Egwene collapses, Nynaeve falls next to her, and Amalisa is caught in the euphoria of Saidar. She continues to burn them all out while Nynaeve begins to heal Egwene, shielding and saving her from Amalisa.

And then as Amalisa burns out, Nynaeve appears to die after giving Egwene a touching bit of advice.

Blah.

As Egwene cries over Nynaeve, feeling helpless and needing to do something, it calls back to the speech Moiraine gave Rand early about the One Power. Egwene needed it, and it was there. She heals Nynaeve completely, totally cheapening her ‘death’ and speech, and this was the one thing that I disliked above all others in the show. For one, Egwene doesn’t know how to heal, and she is not a strong healer in the books. Healing is absolutely Nynaeve’s thing, plus she was the strongest channeler there. It seemed she had the strength to live long enough to outlast Amalisa and then heal Egwene instead. I think this would have made more sense and not been as cheap.

Also, side note, Rand killed all the trollocs in the book, but this change was fine, and possibly better, had it been executed better.

Meanwhile, Rand has to make a decision of who he’s going to side with, and Moiraine sees him reach for the sa’angreal. Although this could still go in favor of the Dark One, but it gives Moiraine hope that’s he conscious enough to fight against the shadow.

And then Rand says the best line of the show.

But what about what she wants?

Rand al’Thor

I found this fitting and a good end to this dream, because Rand is truly accepting that Egwene gets to choose her own pathway. Although it’s been a conflict for him through most of the season, this shows he’s grown and growing as a person. Some weird screen transitions follow where Rand wakes up, but part of him is still in the dream world (I guess?) and the camera spins round and round until finally Rand channels the One Power through the sa’angreal and melts The Man, cracking the seal in the process.

The Man took this turn of events quite calmly and even smirked as he dissolved.

Apparently, whatever Rand decided to do here, Light or Dark, either choice would benefit The Man.

Meanwhile, Perrin has been wandering the halls of Fal Dara and being scared by bats while looking for Fain, only to hear screams and a fight in the throne room. He runs back in to see everyone on the floor and bloody with Fain sheathing this.

Yes, that’s Mat’s ruby-hilted dagger! How and when did he get it?!? I know this scene was meant for Mat, and it really suffered for it, but I’ll overlook it. It’s not like they could have done anything different here. I’m just sad that Perrin didn’t get a storyline of his own. I guess there are no wolves in the Borderlands.

Fain monologues some about how he’s been spying on them for years for the Dark One as he steals the Horn of Valere. Plus, he was behind the trollocs and he sent them to capture the five ta’veren from Emond’s Field. He says they need balance, and that some of them will turn to the shadow, and we get a scene of Mat looking pretty shady as he walks into Tar Valon. This had to be old footage, but at least we get a short clip of Mat.

Fain goes on to tell Perrin that this isn’t the end, but the beginning, and all five have a part to play. Perrin finally picks up the ax, but he doesn’t use it (because really, what was he going to do against two fades?), and Padan Fain cool-guy slow-mo walks out with the Horn of Valere safely tucked under his arm. I am hoping this is going to be a bigger plot in season 2 when we have Mat back.

Now for the last of Rand and Moiraine for season 1. Rand says he feels the madness, and he doesn’t want to go back. He wants Moiraine to tell them that he perished, and even though she says she can’t lie, he says she’ll find a way. He doesn’t even tell her where he’s going to go. I don’t think he knows, but here’s where he’s headed. OH BOY!!

This change to the story I can get behind. This accelerates Rand’s arc, and the show needs it. I am so excited for this and what we will see in season 2.

Moiraine sits on the floor, poking at the broken shards of the seal as Lan finally catches up. He asks where Rand is, and true to her word, even for Lan, she shakes her head and says he’s gone. Lan demands the bond be unmasked, but Moiraine says she can’t. She still can’t touch the source, and Lan comforts her as she cries.

She then goes on to pick up one of the busted shards and tells Lan it’s cuendillar, which is also know as heartstone. Cuendillar was created during the Age of Legends, but the weaves that created it have been lost, so this is another rare artifact. Cuendillar is nearly indestructible, even by the One Power, as far as everyone knows. To see that Rand busted this is a pretty big deal. Moiraine correctly assumes that this wasn’t the last battle, but the first.

Then we fade to black before we get our very last scene of the season. A fleet of ships arrive on the far Western shore, interrupting a little girl digging for clams. Women with gray dresses, golden collars and pacifiers step on deck, followed by women with painted faces. They shout something in an unknown language, and the collared women began to channel in unison. They create a huge tidal wave to overtake the shore, and the whole scene is spectacular.

And that is the end of season 1 of the Wheel of Time.

Although the season wasn’t without its flaws and weak points, overall, I really enjoyed what we got. It held on to enough of the book lore that everything felt familiar and right but also had plenty of changes and new scenes that it still felt fresh. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone with a great love of fantasy. I am left hopeful and excited for season 2 now that they have the foundations laid.

I’ll be back to my regular scheduled posts next week. Until then, Happy Reading and Watching, and have a safe and happy New Year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s