Wheel of Time, Season 1 Episode 7: the Dark Along the Ways

Today I will probably spend entirely too much time worrying about how one of my favorite Lan/Nynaeve scenes from the book will play out in the series, and wonder if they’ll just skip it. I will also wonder what Mat would have done in this episode if Barney Harris had returned after the COVID shutdown.

Lillies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island
A bed of lilies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island.

We start out where we ended last episode — with them calling for Mat to join them. After the Waygate closes, they demand that Moiraine open it back up. Moiraine tells them that she cannot because channeling in the Ways is dangerous and that Mat has made his decision.

In service to the medium, Judkins made changes to the way the Ways work. In the books, it is pitch black inside the Ways, but here there’s constant thunder and lightning. This allows the audience to see something of the bridges and islands.

Machin Shin is also different in the series. In the books, it mutters about blood and screams and will rip your soul out if it catches up to you. Here, the voices are individualized — Machin Shin picks up your doubts and fears and tells you that they are true.

They encounter a Trolloc and reflexively Egwene channels and pushes it off the bridge into the void below. This attracts Machin Shin, but fortunately they’re at the Fal Dara Waygate by then. Nynaeve does another amazingly strong bit of channeling and pushes Machin Shin away.

They arrive in Fal Dara and a lot of the things that Machin Shin said to them bear fruit while they wait for the morning so they can head to the Eye of the World.

We meet Min, finally. I mean, we couldn’t’ve met her earlier, because she can see who the Dragon Reborn is. She works in a pub and Moiraine takes the Emond’s Field Four to the pub so Min can read them. She sees stuff that we know is coming, like Perrin as Wolfbrother and Egwene and Nynaeve going to the White Tower. The scene of the darkness trying to swallow up the sparks was more understated than I’d hoped it would be, but you can’t have everything.

One of the things that Perrin heard from Machin Shin was that he killed Laila to be free of her because he was in love with another woman. That woman turns out to be Egwene. Now, if you’ve read The Eye of the World, you may remember that Perrin gets very jealous of Egwene once Aram starts paying attention to her. So, yeah. I don’t think that Judkins made that up out of whole cloth.

Lan and Nynaeve’s romance progresses. She stalks him when he goes to dinner with a family in Fal Dara. He knows she’s there, though, and catches her. Then he invites her to join them for dinner. After they return to the keep, they go to bed together. I was kind of disappointed by this development. I liked the kind of slow burn thing that book Lan and Nynaeve get, but I also acknowledge that Judkins thought that he might only get one season, so I can accept that he’d want Lan and Nynaeve to get together by the end of the season.

Now, for my concern about one of my favorite scenes. That’s when Lan calls Nynaeve “Mashiara.” The book explains “Mashiara” as “Beloved of heart and soul, . . . but a love lost, too. Lost beyond regaining.” And everyone here who’s read the books knows that Lan is counting his Mashiaras before they hatch, because Nynaeve isn’t going to give up that easily, dammit. And I just love that whole thing.

The problem is that we’ve established that Nynaeve in the series doesn’t speak the Old Tongue. I mean, the “Mashiara” scene will kind of lose its punch if she has to go to someone else for a translation. I’m hoping that since she had the conversation about not being able to speak the Old Tongue with Lan, she has been taking lessons offscreen. Then we can get our translation not from someone explaining it to Nynaeve, but from someone (maybe Nynaeve, maybe someone who overheard the conversation) explaining it to another of the Emond’s Fielders.

While Lan and Nynaeve are .. . doing whatever they’re doing, Rand cannot sleep. He gets out of the bed he’s sharing with Egwene* and goes back to the pub where Min works. Turns out that one of the things that Machin Shin told Rand was that he is the Dragon Reborn. We see the scene where a delirious Tam says that Rand is a baby he found. We also see that he channeled to break down the door in Breen’s Spring and that he pushed the Trolloc off the bridge. Or maybe he and Egwene both pushed the Trolloc off the bridge.

Min tells him her first viewing, in Tar Valon. She saw a man who was going to help a woman give birth on the slopes of Dragonmount and take the baby home and raise him in a small village between two rivers and that that baby was something impossible. We watch Tigraine give birth to Rand as Min tells the story.

After this, he asks Min what she sees now and she says that she sees rainbows, carnivals, and three beautiful women. I like this line because if the series had ended there, the three beautiful women would have been Egwene, Moiraine, and Nynaeve. As the series will be continuing, the three beautiful women are going to be Aviendha, Elayne, and Min herself. Well played, Mr. Judkins.

Egwene, Nynaeve, and Perrin join up in Nynaeve’s certainly unslept-in room and decide that they all want to go to the Eye of the World. Meanwhile, Rand has already told Moiraine that he’s the Dragon Reborn and they’ve already headed off for the Blight.

Now, had the series ended after one season, I think that Rand would have won and, since we haven’t introduced the “the blood of the Dragon on the stones of Shayol Ghul” bit, or even the “she’s not for you, nor you for her, at least, not in the way you both want” part yet, Moiraine would have died and Rand would have survived. There’d be some kind of series tag implying, or stating outright, that Egwene and Nynaeve would have gone to Tar Valon and eventually that Rand and Lan would have been their husbands and Warders.

Now, the million-dollar question. Did they completely rework this episode when Barney Harris didn’t come back or what? Because the way it stands, I cannot see how he’d fit in. I guess that maybe he could be off establishing the uncanny luck that Mat has after he’s separated from the Shadar Logoth dagger, maybe? Like, when they’re at the pub he’d head off to a dicing game and when they meet in Nynaeve’s room he’d’ve spent all night dicing and be in a hurry to head to the Eye of the World because the people he’d beaten certainly wouldn’t’ve followed him into the Blight? I guess?

We also see Padan Fain come out of the Waygate and Loial disappears entirely at21:07. Maybe Loial is enjoying Fal Dara’s library. I bet Fal Dara has a great library.

* Several people on the Wheel of Time subreddit are upset about Egwene and Rand having sex together. I’m currently reading The Shadow Rising and when Berelain throws herself at Rand, Rand refers to her as wanting to act as though they’re betrothed. And Egwene and Rand have been promised to each other since they were children.

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