The Wheel of Time Season 2 continues to weave itself through the dense original text with visual grandeur. As the series adaptation chips away at the story, the characters find themselves in dramatically different circumstances than the first, with a greater cohesion of the story as its sprawling cast touches all corners of this sprawling world. With a triumphant and exciting finale, Season 2 delivered a stronger, more confident storyline compared to the first, despite the underutilization of some key characters and some meandering storylines that failed to deliver.
The major failing of The Wheel of Time Season 2 is how it engages with characters and the slow pacing of getting them to where they need to be by the season’s end. The characters are always going to be split apart as they go on their own adventures to ensure the endgame they want, but the way in which the series does it often grinds the plot to a stop. The first few episodes in particular stumble their way through the plot, each feeling like a place setting rather than offering narrative flow and movement that pushes the characters and expands on their journeys. It’s not until the severity of the Seanchan is truly depicted with Egwene’s capture and Moiraine’s reuniting with Rand to save him from Lanfear that the season picks up the pace and begins to actually act on the building blocks they’ve precariously and all too patiently set in place.
It also didn’t help that so much time at the start was spent with Lan and Moiraine in what are, yes, important stories in fleshing out the characters, but ultimately uninteresting compared to the rest. It would’ve been a much better use of the show’s time to explore Perrin’s new, burgeoning abilities as a wolf brother, especially with Marcus Rutherford being up to the task. Instead, Perrin’s storyline is largely sidelined in the back half, along with Nynaeve. At the very least, Nyneave has an explosive first portion of the series, with Zoë Robins demonstrating her considerable strength as an actress.
The best character work of The Wheel of Time Season 2 belonged to those of the dark, such as the Forsaken. Fares Fares as Ishamael and Natasha O’Keeffe as Lanfear all but run away with the season, both imbuing their characters with subtle notes of grace that feed into their beguiling characters. They may align themselves with the dark and enact many acts of cruelty, but to label them as strictly antagonists undermines the depth their characters are written. Lanfear clearly loves Rand, even if it’s partly inspired by her love for his past self, Lews Therrin, and advises him in the finale that she’s the only one looking out for him, while Ishamael and Moiraine seek to use him.
Kate Fleetwood as Liandrin, a member of the Red and Black Ajah, also remains a highlight. Her noteworthy severity is undercut this season with her own tragic backstory, making her even more engaging than she already was, especially in comparison and contrast to someone like Moiraine.
The greatest aspect of the series however and especially Season 2 continues to be the lavish and detailed costume and set design. Both elements are key to world-building and creating spaces that feel authentic and lived in. Any fantasy series needs to establish a sense of time and location to allow full immersion — something that a series like Rings of Power lacked. While The Wheel of Time might suffer from messy plotting and forced narrative pivots, it never lacks in appearance as each set and piece of costuming is meticulously detailed and character-appropriate. From the structure and grace of Moiraine’s dresses that allow for swift movement, to the Seachan’s getup that shields the eyes as if they bear no witness to the evils they’re committing, to the futuristic garb Lanfear wears in the dream world, every item of clothing adds to the overall worldbuilding and expansion. Each part of the world and each city that the characters visit are painted in their own vibrancy, the White Tower’s cool interiors in stark contrast to the warm plains of Falme.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 gets off to a stalled beginning but further finds itself as it nears the ending, culminating in a series-best highlight in the Season 2 finale. With a third season on the way, Season 2 tees up what should be a more confident and established world, the writing has found its rhythm, and the characters and actors who play them are more engaging as the stakes rapidly become more and more critical. The world is expanding, and Rand’s rise as the Dragon Reborn is bound to set them off into greater fantastical realms.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 is available to stream on Prime Video.
The Wheel of Time Season 2
The Wheel of Time Season 2 gets off to a stalled beginning but further finds itself as it nears the ending, culminating in a series-best highlight in the Season 2 finale. With a third season on the way, Season 2 tees up what should be a more confident and established world, the writing has found its rhythm, and the characters and actors who play them are more engaging as the stakes rapidly become more and more critical.