After three episodes where the series largely reintroduced the main characters while teeing up their larger storylines, The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 4 finally delivers on moving the pieces forward. As Moiraine finally reunites with Rand in the shocking final moments, while Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene are put in grave danger at the hands of Liandrin, “Daughter of the Night” is an intense hour of television that marks the halfway point of Season 2.
For all of its movement, as characters shift and draw focus to different corners of the world, there’s plenty of specific character building too — even if growth isn’t always attached as well. Rosamund Pike is critical as Moiraine, bestowing upon the character the regality and weariness that comes from an elongated life, perched in different palaces and able to bear witness as the world tears itself apart. Moiraine is, by design, an unlikable character, motivated by her own beliefs and impulses and undeterred by those around her. Director Sanaa Hamri captures her severity and isolation when she returns to visit her sister in Cairhien, the queen of the city, whom she hasn’t seen in decades. While her sister has aged, Moiraine’s face has remained the same. Hamri captures the distance Moiraine puts between them — literal and figurative — making this castle for all of its opulence a dreary set design.
Moiraine’s performance is further expounded on when she visits Logaine (Álvaro Morte), manipulating him to convince him to teach Rand how to channel. She needs him not just because her connection to the One Power has been severed, but also because the ways in which women and men channel are so vastly different she wouldn’t be able to instruct him. The sequence allows Morte to flourish while honing in on Moiraine’s cutthroat demeanor. Because she doesn’t promise him freedom in exchange for helping Rand, but death. When someone who channels are cut off they often commit suicide, the trauma being so engulfing. She’s promising him she’ll make it so he gets the chance to if her favor is delivered on.
Moiraine in the books by Robert Jordan is more aloof. Between the first two novels, The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt she has six POV chapters. The Wheel of Time television series is much more interested in exploring how her mind works and it’s a strong, credible change from text to screen. Her final interaction with Rand, whom she saves from Selene (who is far from who she appears to me) promises even greater friction as his world has once again been torn apart by forces he wishes not to recognize.
No one is having a great time though in The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 4, barring Perrin who learns more about his abilities, finally being given a name for what he is — Wolf Brother. His ability to see the world through the wolves surrounding him and being able to communicate with them offers him greater safety, a necessity following his run-in with the Seanchan in Episode 3.
Perrin aside though the main cast of heroes are suffering. Nynaeve may now be an Accepted, having survived her journey through the Arches, but her connection with Liandrin causes nothing but trouble. Liandrin has been beautifully fleshed out, her righteous anger not defending her actions but giving them greater context, making her decision to betray Nynaeve all the more powerful. Kate Fleetwood does a tremendous job of making sure her fury is worn for all to see.
In a world run by immensely powerful women, Liandrin cuts a fascinating figure. As part of the Red Ajah, she’s in a position of power in which she dictates the livelihoods of men who channel her vitriol for men enabling her actions. She should seem untouchable and, as she renders Nynaeve unconscious along with Elayne and Egwene, she certainly seems it. But her fear of the unknown and her grief and what she could have and was bound to lose paints such a tragic, pitiful portrait. She and Moiraine work as one another’s opposites. Moiraine might be cut off from the One Power, but she cut herself off from unnecessary emotions ages ago.
Beyond the characterization, the episode is yet another strong reminder of the considerable talents behind the scenes that help build such an immaculately detailed world. The costume designs are lavish, from Nynaeve’s Accepted gown to Selene’s flowing dresses that suggest a temptress before her truth is revealed.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 4 still stalls out midway from a lack of consistent pacing but picks itself up again by the episode’s end when the action kicks into gear. While certain characters such as Matt and Min (Kae Alexander) aren’t given enough screen time, the rest are given ample time to further develop their personalities while the plot moves them to their rightful paths, with some proving to be more threatening than others.
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 Episode 4
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 4 still stalls out midway from a lack of consistent pacing but picks itself up again by the episode’s end when the action kicks into gear.