The Wheel of Time Season 2 1-4 – A Tale Tangled by Too Many Threads

SERIES REVIEW – In the later installments of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” book series, a diverse ensemble of characters emerges, often muddying the narrative and rendering it lacking in action. The second season, produced by Amazon Prime, is no exception to this pitfall: Rafe Judkins and his writing team handle the characters in a scattered manner, ironically echoing one of the original work’s most significant flaws.



The first season was complicated by the sudden departure of Barney Harris, resulting in the absence of troublemaker Mat Cauthon in the critical final episodes of the season. Dónal Finn, his replacement, does quite well in the new episodes, but his character development, which leads him into an unexpected trap, does not land as effectively as it should. Ishamael, the Dark One’s charismatic lieutenant, spends his time plotting and recruiting. But he’d be even more compelling if he weren’t so blatantly branding himself as a grandmaster of deception and shattered dreams.

At the end of the first season’s final episode, an exciting teaser for the second season dropped. This sneak peek faithfully reflects the structure of Robert Jordan’s book series, where each volume ends with a little taste of the next book.



Too much brooding, too much pondering, too much fretting


The season begins on a somber and contemplative note. Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is trying to escape a dire situation caused by his ability to channel the One Power. He risks not only his sanity, but also those he loves. At the end of the first season, he faked his own death and went into hiding. He is now in Cairhien, a place where the vast differences in the wealth of the people reveal the fractured nature of the city.

The series’ exploration of Rand’s darker side offers intriguing possibilities, especially in the Cairhien-centric storylines. However, when he nearly burns down a building during a sexually charged dream, and the scene centers on a woman seeing him as a man for the first time, the effect is more awkward than erotic.

In the series, Rand and Mat Cauthon (Dónal Finn) go their separate ways, leaving Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) alone. He is searching for the Horn of Valere, which was stolen by the traitor Padan Fain (Johann Myers) at the end of the first season. The basic story is provided by the book “The Great Hunt”, in which all three are searching for the magical artifact.

In Perrin’s segments, too much time is spent on memories of his late wife, which doesn’t really add to the narrative and instead serves as a distraction. However, Perrin’s storyline provides the most significant catharsis of the season with the introduction of the Seanchan, a mysterious seafaring people. Their appearance on the show vindicates Robert Jordan’s original vision. The Seanchan’s on-screen arrival is terrifying and brutal; their soldiers wear terrifying helmets, and their striking costumes and well-choreographed movements make these creatures all the more compelling. Hopefully, as the season progresses, they will take on a more prominent role and events will speed up.



Strange script choices


Moiraine Damodred’s (Rosamund Pike) unexpected loss of speech, which robs her of her ability to use magic and severs her mystical connection to her keeper, Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), raises many questions. Though Moiraine holds her own with or without magic, the show spends a lot of time showing her trying to break free from Lan while the stoic warrior ponders how he can help her. Her condition without magical powers also feels pointless and repetitive, as this storyline has already been explored with other characters in the previous season. Given the powerful enemies Moiraine has to face, her shortcomings only increase the possibility that she will be outmatched. It’s a good thing she’s not following Yennefer’s lead from the second season of The Witcher and wasting time trying to recoup her losses, but instead preparing for the upcoming apocalyptic battle between the forces of Light and Darkness.

The intrigues of the White Tower, where Rand’s country-wise friend Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoe Robins) and childhood love Egwene Al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) learn the art of magic, are highlights of the series’ early episodes. The Wheel of Time serves as a meeting point for the grand world-building of The Lord of the Rings and the political intrigue of Game of Thrones. This complex web unfolds primarily at the Aes Sedai headquarters, the White Tower, where the girls train to become wizards and the women make crucial, nation-shaping decisions.

These mysterious changes will likely go unnoticed for viewers who have not read the original book series. But even they may have trouble keeping track of the plethora of new and returning characters.



Outstanding performances


Madden and Robins are excellent, the contrast between them is amazing. Nynaeve refuses to accept all the praise she receives for her magical abilities, while Egwene is jealous and wants to do everything by the book, but gets no special results. The authors also go into detail about what it means to live a long life as an Aes Sedai, introducing both Moiraine and her main enemy, Liandrin Guirale, who skillfully handles Nynaeve, and sheds light on what can happen when the heroes get too caught up in saving the world and forget about the power games.

For those viewers who have not read the books, the changes in this season will probably go unnoticed. However, even for them, I think it will be difficult to follow the large number of new and returning characters. Unfortunately, the mesmerizing main title sequence that showed the pattern that connects all the characters in the universe and the Aes Sedai factions disappeared in the first four episodes, replaced by a simple spinning logo. If a change was necessary, a Game of Thrones-style map would be much more helpful to viewers.

The first four episodes of the second season of Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time differ significantly from Robert Jordan’s books, and the changes are mostly not beneficial to the characters and plot. While there are positives and promising storylines, the season needs to get back on track quickly to fully realize the potential seen in the first season.



The Wheel of Time Season 2 1-4

Direction - 6.4
Actors - 7
Story - 6.2
Visuals/Music/Sounds - 7.5
Ambience - 6.8



The second season of The Wheel of Time is complex but also scattered, with too many characters and rushed storylines. Although there are promising elements, such as the appearance of the Seanchan or the intrigues of the White Tower, the season quickly needs focus and direction to reach the high standards of the first season.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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