Thoughts on the Wheel of Time Episode Two

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Because absolutely no one asked for it: a Wheel of Time expert’s opinion on episode two of the new TV series. Thoughts on part one are available if you missed my musings on that.

I don’t go into detail about later events in the books, but I do reference them in a general way, so stop reading at this point if you’re only familiar with the show or the first book or so.

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So far the intros to both episodes suck. They’re clearly meant to establish some of the various factions and human opposition the team faces. I can barely see that as a reader of the books. If this is your first introduction to the WoT, you are not getting a very good introduction to some of these groups.

The Whitecloaks are self-righteous jerks. The intro established the jerk part, in spades, but gave us nothing of the righteousness. None of them say a word about the Light, and there’s nothing to indicate that they fear/hate the Aes Sedai because they think the Power is too powerful for any human to wield. There’s just some sadistic behaviour for the sake of shock and horror. It seemed like a blatant attempt to appeal to fans of Game of Thrones. The Whitecloaks do awful things, but most of them do them out of true conviction. No sign of that.

Oh also, the Children of the Light are excellently trained, disciplined, and equipped soldiers, and I don’t feel that was well-established visually. These guys look like fancy dress parade. I mean those costumes are cool, but I’d have liked to see more gleaming steel and bristling weapons and a little less fanciness. Now the super well equipped camp and servants for the highest ranking soldiers and such, that part seems a bit more on point. But they’re marching to war, they should look combat-ready.

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Quote to my husband during the cool opening credits after the Whitecloak nonsense scene: I’m already annoyed in case you’re wondering.

There were a lot of moments where I loved the way shots were framed and composed and so on. The thwarted Trollocs on the bank of the Taren River is one of them.

The Fades are properly terrifying.

TV Moraine is even more steely than book Moraine, to Master Hightower’s dismay.

The scenery is just magnificent throughout the journey. Both the natural vistas and the hints of ruins.

I don’t object to Egwene being upgraded to ta’veren in this telling. She is able to accomplish astonishing things and greatly affects events. Some of the other women do as well, but Egwene stands out in a way. By training and inheritance Elayne was meant to impact the world. Min and Aviendha are special people with special talents, but a lot of their influence on events comes from being in the right place at the right time. Nynaeve’s influence is largely plain human doggedness, and she wouldn’t want it any other way. Egwene is not the most powerful of them as channellers. She doesn’t have the same background of training as Elayne or even Aviendha. What she achieves at her age feels more right to me if she’s ta’veren.

This is a side note, and on the books as much as the show. Increasingly we are discovering that a fair number of people can’t visualize mental pictures at all, or to only a limited degree. My mind’s eye is pretty fuzzy, though not completely absent. A lot of Aes Sedai training seems to involve visualization, and the Flame and Void is a similar thing I think. Interesting question to think about how someone who can touch the Source could learn without being able to visualize.

“You don’t listen to the wind, it’s the wind that listens to you.” I thought the conversation between Moraine and Egwene was well written.

Rand is awfully whiny and petulant already. Only a little of it comes off as Two Rivers stubbornness and natural suspicion. Book Rand really didn’t start to get on my nerves until at least book five or six, and he had a lot more on his plate then!

I think part of it is that they haven’t established any relationship between Lan and Rand yet, which should have started during this episode. This should also be when Rand starts sword training. He’s a prodigy, but not one without any training.

Screen Shot 2014 09 15 at 5 46 13 PM 0 0 pngSometimes the first lesson is which end of the sword to hold.

Someone needs to call out Bela by name or this whole thing is a complete fail.

Ah, the sadistic jerk Whitecloak is a Questioner. That intro was still a missed opportunity to you know, introduce people to this faction, but not totally off-base.

This encounter with the Whitecloaks is a fair bit different than the full group’s encounter in the books, but given the other changes made, it works. It does better building of the Children of the Light than the opening scene. But I am still not getting much of a sense of their religious fervour or their relentlessly unrealistic desire for perfect order. We can’t see Questioner = Inquisition if we don’t see much conviction to the group as a whole.

Moiraine’s discussion with Egwene about lying without lying is a great example of that idea, which is a pretty important concept to understand about Aes Sedai.

I don’t know if it’s the actor or the acting, but man does Perrin look uncomfortable riding. Which is decently in character I think.

The Manetheren scene is well written and very moving. I heard they had to argue to keep it in. Sigh.

More great vistas!

TV Rand is more annoying than book Mat.

I heard they spent a packet building Shadar Logoth, of course you’re going there Moraine.

Bela!!!

“The Trollocs, why are they just standing there?” Because you are making terrible life choices.

“Touch nothing.” That means you Mat!

Whoa, you can tell they really did spend a packet building Shadar Logoth!

Apparently Perrin’s imaginary wife was very wise.

Ah Mat, just when I was starting to like you so much. But you kind of have to have that dagger for the story I guess. The dagger and the box it was in both look pretty cool.

Mashadar (that black mist stuff) knows how to make an entrance! Super creepy and gross.

And now I must rescind my complaint from episode one that they did not establish how wood-wise and sneaky Nynaeve is.

Chyntia juls HxUhf2MZS3k unsplashPhoto by Chyntia Juls on Unsplash.

But… still no Thom. And no sword training or Lan-Rand relationship, and unless they’ve made some significant changes, that now can’t happen for a while.

I understand why they skipped Baerlon and Mordeth, and compressed some other stuff. I’ve read interviews where they felt it was awkward to hire someone for what is a bit part now and be sure they’re available for meatier stuff later. Also why confuse audiences who haven’t read the books with so many people and places that aren’t that essential to the plot. There is a LOT of book, they’ve got to compress somewhere! 

There were a few huh moments and missed opportunities for world building, but on the whole I liked episode two a lot better than the first! I assume we’ll finally get to meet Thom in the next episode!

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Wheel of Time Episode Two”

  1. You are very kind to them. Though after episode two I was also holding back the brimfire, some. Just wait. It’s getting worse in a hurry. Me, I’ve red the series a few times. Despite being severely anoyed at several issues, despite itching to edit increasing amount of it as the series progress (until Sanderson miraculously mannages to wrap up all the meandering nice and tight, in only three books – not sarcasm at Sanderson, but at the later of Jordan’s books, btw). Still this series have something in it that have had me read it many times. I will likely read it again in a few years. I’ve been looking forward to the TV series of a great story in desperate need of skilled editing and major surgery. Episode one was a downer. Episode two was worse. Episode three increase the downward momentum signifficantly. Episode 4 is a free-fall into a dark pit of oblivion. The film-craft shredding of a novel to the abysmal level of the Eragon adaption. There is no salvagin this TV show. It’s not WoT, the show only retains the name of the series and the names of characters. The rest is gone. The story telling is painfully bad. Even if they distance this show as much as they do from the books, I was willing to go along with it, if they made a good show of it in their own right. FUBAR. The actors do well enough with what they are given, but crap script and dredful directing only let actors salvage so-so much. Moirain and Lan are ok. Thom is not Thom when he finally gets on stage, but I like this Thom also. The rest of them have nothing at all to work with. I started my Prime trail to watch WoT. Suffice to say I won’t be paying even one month of subscription.

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    1. It’s disappointing that they’re putting so much more money and effort into their Lord of the Rings series, since that already has a high quality adaptation. :-<

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  2. The first production team: “How can we bring “Game of Thrones” to the small screen as an enjoyable, profitable, and more or less true-to-the-books experience?”

    The second production team: “How can we make as much money as “Game of Thrones” did? And how can we make this more like “Game of Thrones?” “

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