The Dark Along The Ways
Episode 7 of The Wheel Of Time begins with a woman called Tigraine Mantear rushing through the snow. This is the Battle of the Shining Walls, the final battle that ended the Aiel War.
Under the shadow of a massive volcano, she singlehandedly takes out a whole bunch of soldiers while heavily pregnant. However, she’s stabbed in the side for her troubles, despite killing all of these men. Well, all but one anyway. As she looks up at a lonely blade pressing down, the scene cuts.
Meanwhile, Mat’s decision to stay behind has far reaching consequences. The Waygate can’t be reopened but Nyn promises the others that when this is all over, they’ll go back and find him. Moiraine though is concerned. Given Mat was seduced by the dark magic in the blade, if he’s the Dragon Reborn, she’s not going to let him near the Dark Lord no matter what. According to her, she knows what choice he would make.
They’re in The Ways, a mysterious gateway of sorts that connects numerous different islands with bridges. On the way, they find a defaced Guiding Stone. It would appear that there’s something following them, but unfortunately with the stone scratched up, Loial needs more time to decipher it and figure out which way they need to go. So for now, they need to hang tight.
In the middle of the night (or later on, it’s hard to say given it’s always dark here!) a single Trolloc arrives and confronts them. The gang realize they need to leave, and quickly.
As they cross a thin bridge, a black wind swarms around them called Machin Shin, whispering to them and taunting the gang over the choices they’ve made thus far in this journey. Nyn is there though and manages to hold it off by using her powers. It’s enough time for Moiraine to conjure up a portal and escape.
This barren, deserted landscape they arrive in plays host to the fortress city of Fal Dara. Together, the gang head inside the palace (completely unchecked or stopped I may add) and meet Lord Angelmar Jagad, the man in charge. Moiraine warns him that the Dark One is massing an army. All she asks is that men keep watch at the Fal Dara Waygate.
In confidence, Moiraine speaks to Lady Amalisa, asking her for help in finding Mat. She wants the message sent along to the Red Ajah. With the wheels set into motion, Moiraine decides to take the three remaining kids to the Eye, intent on finding out who the Dragon Reborn really is. And they leave at dawn.
When she leaves them to their thoughts, the kids begin to doubt Moiraine’s prophecy. Egwene is the one clinging to hope here, as Nyn exhibits her doubts over the whole journey. When the attention turns to Mat and whether he could be the Dragon Reborn, the kids all fall out and begin arguing.
As things simmer down, Nyn heads out in the night and follows Lan. Watching from the window, she sees him sitting at the table with a family, eating. He’s well aware of what she’s doing and invites her in to join them. After a nice meal, Lan leads Nyn back inside the fortress. As the sparks of sexual energy crackle between them, Nyn and Lan hook up that night.
After the implied sex between them, sitting on the edge of the bed, the pair talk about the fate of the world and destiny. Specifically that of Lan and what’s brought him here – and who the family was that they shared food with. Nyn understand Lan’s desire to find a place to fit in and belong, which is why he’s so loyal to Moiraine.
After patching up his differences with Egwene, Rand ends up having frightening visions that night, bringing him to Min Farshaw, the woman whom Moiraine spoke with earlier in the episode about the kids. Now, she’s seen visions of a baby born on the mountaintop, linking back to those scenes at the start of the episode.
It turns out this babe was raised by the soldier as his own son in the wake of her death. Whoever that child is, they’re the Dragon Reborn. When Rand asks if he makes it back from the Eye of the World, the silence is deafening and speaks for itself.
Rand interprets this as a sign that he’s the Dragon Reborn. When he tells Moiraine, she takes him out to the Blight, a large, gnarly desert of trees full of skeletal remains and darkness. She’s taking him to the Eye, and leaving the others behind.
The Episode Review
Now, I’m not fully clued up on the books but can someone explain the logic in leaving the other kids behind just because Rand thinks he’s the Dragon Reborn? I thought the whole idea of this story was that Moiraine didn’t know who the Dragon Reborn was and wanted to take all of them to the Eye?
Most of this episode sags under the weight of unearned romance, with Lan and Nyn getting together while Egwene and Rand kiss too. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it comes across as cheesy and a little cliched, especially when we’ve missed crucial characterization and time for these kids to actually be fleshed out into deep, interesting players.
Someone else this week mentioned that this show feels like a more expensive version of The Shannara Chronicles and I have to agree. As someone who loved those books but was disappointed by the adaptation, I can fully understand why people are disappointed by this.
Some of that perceived cheapness comes from the lighting, which feels wholly unnatural. Some of the interior shots are so brightly lit that it destroys the immersion. Take the chat between Moiraine and Lady Amalisa as an example. While they talk, the hallway is dim, with several torches illuminating the place. But yet, both Moiraine and Amalisa are lit so brightly and distinctly that it feels like they’re in a separate room altogether.
These moments are unfortunately way too frequent in this show and now, with one episode left, The Wheel of Time looks set to bow out its first season with a big finale… but little emotional weight to go with it. At least not from this reviewer anyway. I’m Not sure if anyone else feels the same way but The Wheel of Time is a bit of a disappointment. If this doesn’t motivate you to pick up the books and give them a read, I don’t know what will!