The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8 is the best episode of the series to date. Finally delivering on its full potential, “What Was Meant To Be” is a blistering episode that leans fully into its fantasy roots and allows the ensemble to reunite in a way that creates a resounding, heroic moment. As someone who has read 10 of the 14 novels by author Robert Jordan, watching the adaptation has often come with its own caveat of understanding that there’s only so much the creator Rafe Judkins can do to capture the full scope and scale of this dense, sprawling series. That caveat is unnecessary in episodes such as this that give each character their standout moment, with fan favorite Mat, in particular, allowing his act of bumbling heroism that best captures his character to date.
“What Was Meant To Be” finds all of the characters in Falme with Rand there to both try and rescue Egwene as well as have his debut moment where he will be declared the Dragon Reborn as prophesied by legend. It turns out that Egwene doesn’t need his help, though to save herself needs to resort to an act of brutality against her captor that smartly never comes across as triumphant. She is visibly impacted by what she did as both an act of survival as well as clear vengeance. Rand, however, needs all of the help he can get as he still isn’t at the point where he can take down a member of the Forsaken alone, even if he’s able to kill a group of Seanchan warriors — including their ruler, Turoch — in a single blow.
This need for help is what creates the most stirring parts of the episode, as his allies and friends race to help him from bringing him the Horn of Valere to stopping other Seanchan from shielding his ability to weave. The former is the most thrilling, as Perrin passes the Horn to Mat to run to Rand. When Mat ends up being the one to blow the horn and sound the call to the dead who will rise up in battle, it’s a reminder that even though Rand is the pusher of the wheel of time itself, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaneve are all ta’veren as well. All of them have pivotal roles to play, which is why it’s such a chill-inducing moment to see Mat get his hero moment after being the victim of circumstance so often in the series, wielding the dagger that once possessed him.
But though he stands against the dead warriors who have risen to help the Dragon Reborn’s plight, his humanity comes into play when he tries to help Rand against Ishamael, throwing the dagger in order to save him before realizing the Ishamael before him was an illusion, the dagger sinking into Rand’s side instead, making Min’s vision come true. And that’s where the whole group arrives, Mat cradling Rand as Egwene looks to stand between her friends and a Forsaken, before Perrin offers further shielding, while Nynaeve and Elayne look to heal Rand’s wounds. He might be prophesied, but he’s alive because of them.
It ends with Rand plunging a fiery blade into Ishamel (the fire-bound sword being key imagery to the source material) the heron insignia branding itself into Rand’s skin, further marking him as the Dragon Reborn. Ishamael, along with Lanfear, has been such a fascinating character throughout the series, playing the role of the big bad this season with nuance. The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8 makes clear that while he and Lanfear are on the side of the dark, their connections to Rand’s past lives, Lews Therin in particular, always muddied their intention and ability to destroy him. Ishamael’s last moments are embracing the oncoming darkness, finally able to rest after seeking the destruction of time for lifetimes. Lanfear might soon come to envy that peace, as she faces off with another unleashed Forsaken, Moghedien, at the end of the episode.
Even before the big standoff that reunites our core characters there are moments of beauty that help illuminate what makes the series such a bold adaptation, even when it suffers under the weight of its source material. While Moiraine and Lan’s storylines are often the dullest, their sequence of being bonded again as Warder and Aes Sedai is beautifully done, the weaving effects taking on a graceful, intimate note as they surge the two together, drawn into one another’s orbit. Along with the special effects, the costuming remains stunning, each piece representative of the characters such as Ishamael’s leather vest designed like an exoskeleton, to Lanfear’s more modernized garb that speaks to someone who was there before the world broke.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8 is an enormous triumph for the series which has stumbled and meandered at times in fully capturing the essence of what makes this story so captivating. The immersive world-building pays off in “What Was Meant To Be” as the characters reunite and stand against their biggest threats to date, while those lurking in the shadows grow even stronger. An action-packed and engaging episode, the finale finally showcases the show’s greatest potential in one of its more critical moments, sticking the landing.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8 is available now on Prime Video.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8
The Wheel of Time Season 2 Episode 8 is the best episode of the series to date. Finally delivering on its full potential, “What Was Meant To Be” is a blistering episode that leans fully into its fantasy roots and allows the ensemble to reunite in a way that creates a resounding, heroic moment.