The Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3 review!
The first three episodes of Season 1 dropped today and as a fan of the books I was keen to check them out as soon as possible. I’ll start by saying that as a fan of the books, this first Season was always my biggest worry. Most of Season 1 is based on the first novel in the series, The Eye of the World. As a reader I found the first book the least interesting of them all and a story that struggled to seem to know how to get going. Sadly, this is also true so far in the first 3 episodes of the show. Especially,
There are some strange choices made to the source material in episode 1 and it remains to be seen whether this was a wise choice. I won’t be getting into spoilers as such. However let’s just say that I was aware of which one of these kids was the Dragon Reborn by the end of chapter 2 in the book. It really isn’t kept as much of a secret from the reader. Though, the Dragon themselves certainly is not aware at this stage of proceedings.
However what threw me most was that the a lot of extra content was added in to that first episode that was not in the books and I struggle to see the value of it. Strangely whilst extra content is added in we seem to absolutely fly through any kind of character development in that first episode. Frankly some extra time spent preparing to leave the Two Rivers would have helped a lot. Instead Moiraine tells them they have to leave and why and then in the next scene they are all leaving with no goodbyes to their families whatsoever almost.
Episode 1 was a little awkward, until the fight scenes which I thought were really well done. I loved the looks of the Trollocs and the Aes Sedai in action. But it feels like it should have been a feature length opening and take some time in a few places first.
On the run and being chased by a mob of Trollocs and Fades, episode 2 was by far the best episode of these first three. There are some nice moments of exposition and all the while it feels like the pressure is on. Once things move into the city of Shadar Logoth, I think you could really see the love and care the team have to get this right. A few details have changed, but the end results are the same.
Although never named in the show, the Mashadar scenes I thought were visually very interesting. I think we also get to finally see the cast really getting into their roles a little here for the first time. Perrin is a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, Mat is pretty certain all this is BS, Egwene is a bit mesmerized by Moiraine, and Rand is starting to get angry with how little information anyone is giving him.
The darker aspects of this series are for me where it shines and thus episode 2 shines brightest for the being the darkest episode so far. Ultimately this episode splits the leads up into three groups. Rand and Matt are off on their own, penniless and cold. Egwene and Perrin similarly, meanwhile Moiraine, is badly injured and under Lan’s protection.
I do want to briefly discuss the Whitecloaks and their introduction in this episode. I’m liking some of the changes being made to this group in the show. I always felt like they were rotten to the core in the books and yet, never quite do anything till much, much later in the series. Here’s hoping they remain as a very antagonistic force in the show. Though, I can’t say I was a fan of their weird uniforms.
A more focused, darker, intimate and therefore fun episode.
In the books, this period of time after Shadar Logoth was a little long and pointless to me. I hope therefore we are not in this same situation for another couple of episodes. The return of Nynaeve was fine, but I didn’t care much for her backstory of how she got there. Of the three groups I mentioned above we definitely spend more time in this episode with Rand and Mat. Though again, hopefully not as much as we did in the book, where they go from village, to village, to town and everything repeats. Through this POV we are also introduced to another major character for the first time in Thom Merrylin, a Gleeman (bard) the two run into at a bar.
Not gonna lie, at first I hated what they did to Thom, the musical number felt as far away from the book description of a Gleeman to make me wonder what I was seeing. However once the music was over, I actually liked this version of Thom just as much as the book counterpart. Though, I seriously think the showrunners need to work on his musical numbers a little more. The moment was somber for what I’d expect to see from a Gleeman who also does slight of hand tricks and tells stories and juggles.
The ‘Dark Friend’ scene, which I won’t get into details about was really, really well done. I wondered when we might see something like this crop up as it does several times in the books. However, I was not actually ready for it or expecting how it all happened in the show. It was fun. So that’s Rand and Mat with Thom now, and Moiraine and Lan have now got Nynaeve with them, as they go looking for some Aes Sedai to help heal Moiraine. This is a smaller segment of the episode other than Nynaeve’s backstory.
I only want to give one nod to small moment between Nynaeve and Lan which I thought was the first time I caught a glimpse of Nynaeve’s character. So far this version of Nynaeve in the show is completely different from the books. But I think that’s because of the five leads, maybe Nynaeve got the roughest treatment in how the story was changed in that first episode?
Finally there is the journey that Perrin and Egwene are making whilst being pushed on their way by a large pack of Wolves. There’s not much going on here it seems, although as a book reader, I know some seeds sown here will bear fruit soon.
Overall, better than episode 1, not as good as episode 2. so…
Honestly, this is not a bad start for the show. However if you are struggling already, my advice is to carry on a little more. The story is told from the Emond’s Field Five’s point of view in the books and not Moiraine. Therefore the decision to make Moiraine the lead in this season causes some narrative issues which I feel they’ve had to work around. If the series was told from the POV of these five and Moiraine was playing the mysterious stranger instead, I think it would work better. However, the look, and quality of the show is there, and hopefully as this story finds it legs later on, so will the show.
The cast are all impressive enough, the one lead I’m not quite convinced on yet is Marcus Rutherford as Perrin. To be fair Perrin wasn’t a character I liked until much later, so maybe it’s just that he doesn’t get too much to do? If anything I felt like Perrin should be even bigger than Rutherford is. Not necessarily height wise as he is 6′ 2″, but bulk wise.
The decision made with Perrin in episode 1, which I won’t discuss for spoiler reasons, didn’t help here. Maybe the writers wanted a way to explain why Perrin is so quiet and doesn’t do or say much at this point of the story. However, in the books we do get a lot of what is going on in Perrin’s head. I’m not sure the writing team has currently found a way to make Perrin engaging whilst also keeping him as a taciturn gentle giant, yet.
If The Wheel of Time makes it to Season 3, it’ll explode into a hit. That’s where these characters really start to come into their own and the whole world is opened up. However I just hope enough viewers are engaged with the story as it meanders through what is a pretty average opening book in an otherwise excellent series.
That’s my Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3 review. What did you think if you have watched them yet? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts below.