Wow. I’m not sure what to say. I actually procrastinated on watching the episode because I know it’ll be another year or so for Season 2. This is why I never would have binged it. I was hoping to stretch out my viewings so that I will only have 43 weeks* to wait until the next season.
And then once I watched it, I had a bunch of “What even was that?” to unpack.
I’ve read some critical reviews of the episode and some less-critical ones and now I think I’m ready to tackle this task. Probably.
We start the episode with a flashback to the tail end of the Age of Legends, with Lews Therin Telamon trying to convince Latra Posae Decume, the leader of the female Aes Sedai, to help him seal the Bore on the Dark One’s prison. She is afraid of what could go wrong and refuses to help him. He ends with a line that if the women will help, they won’t fail.
There’s a line in this scene in which Latra calls Lews Therin “the Dragon Reborn.” Is this an error, or has Judkins come up with a way to shorthand a plot point by having Lews Therin have also been the reincarnation of the soul known as the Dragon?
I’m leaning towards error, myself.
After the opening titles (and why is the Brown sister shown at such an odd angle? That’ll make it really hard for me to make it an icon), we pick up with Rand and Moiraine in the Blight. They had to create the Blight in a studio because they had a real-world location chosen, but COVID put an end to that.
We get a scene with Egwene and Perrin fretting over Rand. Now, at this point, it’s been hinted that Perrin had a thing for Egwene and maybe he still does. And when Egwene turns to him for comfort, he wraps his arm around her.
Now, someone (don’t know who! sorry!) on the WoT subreddit opined that. . . . Okay. I’m getting ahead of myself.
In the books, The Shadow Rising specifically, the ruler of the tiny city-state of Mayene, Berelain, starts to pursue Perrin romantically. Perrin is in love with Faile, though. So, when Perrin finds out that the Whitecloaks are in Emond’s Field, expecting that he will die, and knowing that he cannot bear to watch Faile watch him die, tries to make Faile stay behind by telling her that he prefers Berelain.
This gives Berelain hope that he will choose her and she becomes a real pain in the ass from there onwards.
Anyway, my fellow Redditor suggested that as part of the streamlining, maybe they were going to jettison Berelain and make Egwene the woman he tells Faile that he prefers. And since Perrin is certainly attracted to Egwene, there will definitely be more truth to the lie he tells Faile to try to drive her away than with Berelain.
Nynaeve sends Lan after Rand and Moiraine and they say a tearful goodbye, particularly since Lan has given up on them ever being together.
Rand and “the Dark One” have a confrontation in a dream in the Blight. Afterwards, Moiraine gives Rand a sa’angreal, which will make Rand much more powerful than he would be alone. Her big plan is for Rand to “put him (the Dark One) back where he belongs.” Wow. Thanks for that well-thought-out plan there, Rainey.
Meanwhile, Trollocs are approaching Fal Dara. They evacuate the foreigners who want to leave, which includes Min. I have to admit that I was wondering how the foreigners would get out of Shienar but when I looked at the map, I realized that the Trollocs are coming from the north and the foreigners are fleeing to the south.
Of course, while Min gets the heck out of Dodge, Egwene, Loial, Nynaeve, and Perrin are staying. What follows in this storyline is a battle scene and as I’m usually “meh” about battle scenes, I’ll try to sum up the interesting parts.
Since the Fal Darans believe that this is Tarmon Gai’don, they dig The Horn of Valere out from under Agelmar’s chair, assisted by Perrin and Loial. Meanwhile, Amalisa leads a circle of channelers to stop the Trollocs once they get through the first defense of the city. I assume that Amalisa was in charge because she is the only one who has been to Tar Valon. She may also be the only one who’s ever used the Power in battle.
Of course, the channelers defeat all 10,000 trollocs in a scene that either presages or maybe will even replace, the little Roto-tiller trick the Asha’man will use at Dumai’s Wells, if we ever get there. The difference, however, is that where the Asha’man use earth and fire, the channelers here use lightning.
The channeling is so strong that most of the women involved end up not just burned out, but burned up. The only apparent survivor is Egwene, who somehow manages to heal Nynaeve’s death. I hope Nynaeve wasn’t completely dead, just mostly dead.
Meanwhile, after they unearth the Horn of Valere, Padan Fain and a bunch of Trollocs show up and start stabbing people. Fain says that the world needs the balance of the Light and Dark and Fain is, I guess, just doing his best for his side. We get hints that perhaps Mat will fall to the Dark at some point in the series, and boy will the Mat fankids be up in arms about that! Fain stabs Loial with the Shadar Logoth dagger and takes off with the Horn of Valere.
In the books, they need to get the Horn of Valere back because Horn of Valere and they need to get the dagger back to heal Mat, since they can’t break his connection to the dagger without it. I suspect that the urgency for the dagger will be to heal Loial.
Then we get to the big battle at the Eye of the World. Unlike in the books, where the Eye of the World is a big pool of untainted Saidin, here it is some kind of underground chamber. Rand remembers being there as Lews Therin and he reaches down to touch the “ancient symbol of Aes Sedai” in the floor, only to find himself back in the Two Rivers, now married to Egwene. They have a daughter, named Joiya, and seem to be very happily married.
Rand is suspicious of this, and tests Egwene. She remembers a shared childhood memory, but shows no interest in being either a Wisdom or an Aes Sedai.
“The Dark One” turns up and tells Rand that through the Power, he can make this dream a reality. He teaches Rand the achieving the void trick that we didn’t have time for Tam to have taught Rand, and Rand begins to channel.
Outside of that dream world, “The Dark One” is talking to Moiraine and taunting her about the possibility that Rand will turn to the Dark, at which point, Moiraine pulls out a knife and holds it to Rand’s throat. You see, Moiraine would rather there be no Dragon Reborn than an evil one. I can respect that.
Eventually, Rand denies “The Dark One’s” plans and fights him. You see, the Egwene that Rand loves would never just walk away from becoming an Aes Sedai and Rand would never do that to her.
I loved that part.
Happy New Year, by the way. I just finished that paragraph above before midnight and am picking up here on the night of January 1, 2022.
After Rand finishes blowing “The Dark One” away with the Power in the sa’angreal, he tells Moiraine that he’s done and that she should tell everyone else that he’s dead. He could feel the madness taking hold of him while he was channeling and since the madness causes men to kill everyone they love, he is leaving and he doesn’t want anyone to find him again.
After Rand leaves, Lan shows up and Moiraine tells him that Rand is “gone.” Then she tells him that she cannot unmask the bond because “The Dark One. He. I can’t touch the Source.”
This is going to give Moiraine something to do next season. She doesn’t have much to do in The Great Hunt, so while Egwene and Nynaeve are going to Tar Valon, and Perrin heads off to find the Horn of Valere with whoever is left of the Shienaran army, Moiraine will probably be looking for the solution to her shielding/stilling.
Later, Moiraine is holding a piece of something white, which is cuendillar and unbreakable, even by the Power. It seems that the penny drops there and she realizes what The Eye of the World is. Because it certainly seems to me to be the Bore, the place where the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends opened up The Dark One’s tomb and tried to destroy him/it. The “ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai” is the seal. In the books, there are seven seals all in that shape, all made of cuendillar. I guess we have one large one here.
Moiraine says that this wasn’t the Last Battle, it was the first.
The season ends on a tag in which a flotilla of ships is approaching the western coast of Randland and women in gray dresses with kinky-looking ball gag things in their mouths channel the water into forming a tidal wave. And the season ends.
I put “The Dark One” in quotes throughout, by the way, because we don’t know if we’re going the same way as in the books, but in the books, that character turns out to be the Foresaken Ishamael.
*An interview with someone behind the scenes said something about The Wheel of Time being a holiday thing, so my guess is that it’ll start eight weeks out from Christmas 2022, which somehow ends up being October 30, 2022.