The Wheel of Time series, based on the beloved saga by author Robert Jordan that spanned two decades, 14 books, and had to be finished by fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson once Jordan passed away, was always going to be a tough adaptation. Bringing with it a rich, dense lore that suffered little impatience as it introduced new characters in nearly every book, slowly expanding this world to its limitations, the television series needed a deft hand to trim, condense, and make TV-ready. Season 1 largely stuck the landing, but The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 – 3 indicate a stronger, more confident point of view as the characters embrace their destinies.
Season 1 left off after Aes Sedai Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) had been cut off from the One Power — the source of energy that all but runs the world they’re living in. Despite that severance, Moiraine and her Warder, Lan (Daniel Henney), still seek to find Rand al’ Thor (Josha Stradowski). Rand has been prophesied as the Dragon Reborn, one of the rare men who can channel who holds the power to either break the world or be its salvation, and Moiraine is determined to guide him onto the path of the former. Rand, however, has yet to embrace that prophecy, instead believing that since he’s touched the One Power, he may become a threat to his loved ones due to the madness that infects male-wielders.
Our characters now are split, with Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) at the White Tower, training to become Aes Sedai, and Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) sent on an important quest to obtain the lost Horn of Valere that will lead him to more answers about who he is and his developing powers. Mat (Dónal Finn) is held captive by the Red Ajah Liandrin (Kate Fleetwood). However, even as the characters pursue their paths, no matter the challenges they present, they are forever linked.
Despite the heroes being the main focus of the series, The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 – 3 spends a great deal of their time on the darkness that prevails in this world, having slunk out of the shadows in Season 1 and having become a more prominent threat. The premiere sets the tone with what’s to come in the opening sequence, where the Dark One speaks to a little girl, teaching her about the monsters of his army, the Trollocs. The creature design is superb. These beasts, an amalgamation of predators from our world, combined to create a walking nightmare.
That darkness permeates throughout The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 – 3, as the stakes these characters are up against grow increasingly formidable.
With such an expansive cast of characters who explore every corner of this world, it would be easy to be lost in the plot. Still, The Wheel of Time excels in crafting distinctive landscapes and settings that clearly announce where each character is and the type of threat they face. From Perrin’s caravan and introduction to Season 2 threat the Seanchan to Egwene and Nynaeve’s meanderings through the hollowed-out hallways of the White Tower, the world may be dense, but it’s visually enriched.
There are notable flaws, however, and even though there’s a lot of story to burn through, the writing still needed some trimming to not lose the viewer. There’s clarity of tone and character but some murkiness in how each sequence plays out, often running longer than necessary.
Some of the actors remain stiff in their delivery. Still, Robin’s is extraordinary this season as Nynaeve pursues becoming an Accepted, the next stage of becoming an Aes Sedai following Novice, where both she, Egwene, and newcomer Elayne (Ceara Coveney) begin. Fundamentally opposed to how the Aes Sedai operate and invested in their need for secrecy, she makes for a superb character study as she seeks what she’s loathed for so long, her immense power catching the eye of many while in the Tower. Episode 3 is a particular highlight as we watch as she grapples with the challenges presented to her when faced with accelerating to becoming an Accepted.
The strongest aspect of the episodes is how they deal with the questions we must ask ourselves as we seek goals or answers. From the very start when the Dark One asks the little girl why she perceives the Trollocs as monsters, to Nynaeve being asked to answer what brought her to the White Tower, to Perrin trying to decipher Padam Fain’s motives in stealing the Horn of Valere — questions are key to Season 2 of The Wheel of Time. And they’ll only grow in prominence as Rand and Co. must come to terms with how linked they are within the weaving of time, their lives forever bound to it. We see this as Moiraine continually makes decisions that seem to go against reason, putting the bond between her and Lan at risk as she determinedly puts herself in harm for the sake of the Dragon Reborn.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 — 3 establishes place and tone while mainly serving as a reintroduction to the characters. While the premiere doesn’t offer the most thrilling plot developments as we check in with each main character to see where they’ve been, it showcases plenty of what made Season 1 such a solid adaptation. Episodes 2 and 3 fare much better as we meet new characters and explore cultures we’ve yet to be introduced to. From kinetic, fluid camera movements while tracking the action to a strong lead performance from Pike to craftsmanship that understands the need to add texture and vibrancy to this world, there are plenty of areas that make the premiere worthwhile. It’s immersive, even if it’s slowly moving us past go.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 – 3 are available to stream on Prime Video, with new episodes airing every Friday.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 - 3
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episodes 1 – 3 establishes place and tone while mainly serving as a reintroduction to the characters.