If anything has been missing from Season 2 of The Wheel of Time, it’s been interactions between the core five, Two Rivers group who start our journey. The books the series is based on does this too, very often dividing the main characters as they explore further regions of the world, it’s always at its best when we are reminded of their beginnings and the friendships, the innocence of youthful nativity, that hold close before thrown into the blazing fury of the world. The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6, “Eyes Without Pity” reminds us of why those connections are so critical.
“Eyes Without Pity” is one of the darkest hours of the series thus far, as Egwene struggles under the control of her Sul’dam — a Seanchan woman who possesses the ability to control damane, women who control the one power. With a powerful tool, known as the a’dam, the Sul’dam utilizes this power to break the will of those they’ve enslaved, until they’re able to weaponize these victimized women for the sake of their sheer strength. Egwene’s journey throughout this episode is marred with constant brutality and emotional manipulation, as she desperately tries to win the upper hand while Elayne and Nynaeve seek some sort of rescue mission.
It’s a solid reminder that no matter the otherworldly forces and magic of the world, so much of the evil is rooted in humanity’s most foul impulses. From the Seanchan whose power is born from wrestling away the strength of others, to Lanfear’s darkness having been unleashed due to her feeling of abandonment and wanting to bring her lover from a lifetime ago back to her, humans in The Wheel of Time and many other stories are destined for cruelty. It’s why the aforementioned moments of friendship are so necessary in episodes such as this, where we see how that comradery can inspire hope and a necessary break from the bleak nature of the paths they’re walking.
Because things are only about to get worse, it would seem. The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6 has a lot of moving parts that take place in the shadows, with Lan confronting Rand at the end of the episode prior to the latter making his departure from the city to try and go find Egwene once he realizes Ishmael helped capture her. That it follows Mat and Rand’s reunion makes it all the more bittersweet. Josha Stradowski and Dónal Finn have a sweet chemistry as they embrace, Finn’s Mat exuding such wholesome awe and having been able to meet with his childhood friend again.
It’s made even more bitter when Min unveils the truth to Mat, damning herself in the process, by telling him that if he were to leave with Rand it would result in heartache. “If you love him, stay away,” she pleads. And it seems to work though with how the screen brightened by having the two share a scene it would seem a waste. The forces of dark — Lanfear, Ishmael, Liandrin — are consistently the strongest elements of Season 2 due to the amount they’ve been given to work with. But the actors who play the Two Rivers five — Stradowski, Finn, Zoë Robins, Marcus Rutherford, and Madeleine Madden — have also demonstrated considerable depths untapped in Season 1. As the heroes of the story, they’re best when they’re given scene partners to help elevate their narratives. They might not always be able to work with one another due to the mechanics of the plot but they deserve the same level of writing.
It’s especially notable due to how certain characters such as Lan and Moiraine and their plots grind the pace to a startling halt in “Eyes Without Pity.” Daniel Henney is listless as Lan, a character in need of an overwhelming presence, while Moiraine is better as an accompanying character. The horrors of the world as well as the small moments of levity are brought into greater focus when they’re not involved, Episode 6 suffering when they’re on screen.
The episode moves at a quick clip, trying to force as many storylines in as possible. From the dream shared between Rand and Lanfear to Rand’s meeting with Logain and his exploitive realization of his pure power, the episode is the result of the season starting off at a slower pace as it eases us into the main story. With only two episodes left, it will be interesting to see if they’re able to wrap up the current storylines with the necessary sense of conclusion. With so many threads being pulled at however and characters all chasing their own objectives, it seems unlikely for a clean ending.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6 delivers an emotional storyline that embraces the darkness of the world through its story with Egwene. Impacted by a fragmented and splintered storyline that rushes to move characters — namely Rand — around, it loses some of its impact due to that frantic plotting. That said, due to the continued strengths of the production and costume design, the devastation of Egwene’s storyline, and the brief, but necessary, moments of light such as Rand and Mat’s reunion, “Eyes Without Pity” is a captivating if inconsistent installment.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6 is available to stream on Prime Video, with new episodes airing every Friday.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 6 delivers an emotional storyline that embraces the darkness of the world through its story with Egwene.