The Wheel of Time (TV series)

The Wheel of Time is an American epic fantasy television series released through Amazon Prime Video. The series is based on Robert Jordan's novel series of the same name and is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios, with Rafe Judkins serving as showrunner.

The Wheel of Time
The logo shows the words "The Wheel of Time" on top of a coiled silver snake
GenreFantasy
Based onThe Wheel of Time series
by Robert Jordan
Developed byRafe Judkins
Starring
ComposerLorne Balfe
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
ProducerRosamund Pike
Running time54–62 minutes
Production companies
Release
Original networkAmazon Prime Video
Original releaseNovember 19, 2021 (2021-11-19) –
present (present)

The first season, consisting of eight episodes, premiered on Prime Video on November 19, 2021, with the first three episodes released immediately and the remaining five on a weekly basis after that, culminating in the season finale on December 24, 2021. A second season was announced in May 2021.

Premise

The Wheel of Time follows Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai, a powerful organization of women who can channel the One Power. With her Warder, Lan, she seeks a group of five young villagers from the secluded Two Rivers, believing one of them is the reincarnation of the Dragon, an extremely powerful channeller who broke the world. The Dragon Reborn is prophesied to either save the world from a primordial evil known as the Dark One, or break it once more.[1][2][3]

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Episodes

No.Title [14]Directed byWritten byOriginal release date [15]
1"Leavetaking"Uta BriesewitzRafe JudkinsNovember 19, 2021 (2021-11-19)
Moiraine is an Aes Sedai, who can channel an elemental force called the One Power. Years past, the male half of the One Power became corrupted, driving male channelers insane, and Lews Therin Telamon, a channeler known as the Dragon, tore the world apart in his madness. Some Aes Sedai wish to eliminate male channelers, but Moiraine and her Warder Lan Mandragoran search for the Dragon's reincarnation to defeat the Dark One, a force of primordial evil. Their search leads them to the Two Rivers and four possible candidates – villagers Rand al'Thor, Perrin Aybara, Mat Cauthon, and Egwene al'Vere – whom they plan to take to the White Tower, the centre of the Aes Sedai. Rand, who is besotted with Egwene, is disappointed that she intends to become the next Wisdom, a village leader and healer who cannot wed. Trollocs, beasts following the Dark One, ambush the Two Rivers. Nynaeve al'Meara, the current Wisdom, is taken and Perrin accidentally kills his wife Laila. Moiraine battles the Trollocs with the One Power and is injured. The four villagers reluctantly join Moiraine and Lan on their journey to keep the Trollocs away from their loved ones.
2"Shadow's Waiting"Uta BriesewitzAmanda ShumanNovember 19, 2021 (2021-11-19)
In a Whitecloak encampment, Eamon Valda burns an Aes Sedai. The Two Rivers villagers flee with Moiraine and Lan from pursuing Trollocs and a Fade. They flee across Taren's Ferry. To prevent the Trollocs from following, Moiraine uses the One Power to sink the ferry, incidentally killing the ferryman, disturbing the villagers. Along their journey, Egwene learns she has the potential to channel, Perrin encounters strange wolves, the villagers have disturbing dreams about the Dark One, and mistrust and tension between Moiraine and the villagers grow. Moiraine grows wearier and exhausted from her injury, and when Trollocs catch up, Lan makes the hasty decision to have them enter Shadar Logoth to escape. While in Shadar Logoth, the group is attacked and separated by Mashadar, the evil darkness that inhabits the city. The group is separated and disoriented. Nynaeve is revealed to be alive and confronts Lan about the villagers.
3"A Place of Safety"Wayne YipThe Clarkson TwinsNovember 19, 2021 (2021-11-19)
Nynaeve escapes, outsmarts and kills the Trolloc that captured her. The Two Rivers villagers are separated from Moiraine and each other - Mat and Rand trekking across the wilderness in one direction, Egwene and Perrin in another, and Lan and an injured Moiraine are confronted by an angry Nynaeve demanding to know the location of the villagers. Wolves follow Egwene and Perrin, and Perrin has a nightmare about the wolves and the Dark One. They find safety and rest with the Tuatha'an or Tinkers, a peaceful nomadic group. Mat and Rand argue about whether to go home or to the White Tower, with Mat showing darker tendencies that Rand dislikes. They encounter a gleeman, Thom Merrilin, in a village where he steals their gold. Later, Thom rescues them from a Darkfriend. Nynaeve and Lan argue about the villagers and whether Nynaeve should heal Moiraine. Eventually, Nynaeve concedes, using herbs to help the Aes Sedai while Lan scouts. Moiraine recovers enough to travel, and they encounter Red sisters on the road, including Liandrin, who have captured the self-proclaimed Dragon Reborn, Logain Ablar, a man who can channel the One Power.
4"The Dragon Reborn"Wayne YipDave HillNovember 26, 2021 (2021-11-26)
Moiraine is healed by the Aes Sedai and shown an imprisoned Logain, held by the continual channeling of several Aes Sedai. Liandrin and some Aes Sedai want to "gentle" Logain, permanently severing his connection to the One Power. However, Moiraine believes he might be the Dragon Reborn. Egwene and Perrin travel with the Tinkers, heading towards Tar Valon, and they learn that through "the Way of the Leaf", they have vowed never to use violence. Rand, Mat and Thom stay the night with a rural family. Thom tells Rand that he suspects Mat may be able to channel. His suspicious behavior resembles that of Thom's nephew Owyn, a man who could channel but killed himself after being gentled by Aes Sedai. That night, the family is killed by a Fade. Thom distracts it, allowing Rand and Mat to escape. Logain's army of followers arrives just as Logain uses the One Power to escape. Kerene Nagashi of the Green Ajah is killed protecting Moiraine and Liandrin from Logain's attack, while Lan's throat is slit. Nynaeve heals Lan and the injured Aes Sedai through a stunning display of the One Power. Liandrin and the Aes Sedai gentle Logain.
5"Blood Calls Blood"Salli RichardsonCeline SongDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
The Aes Sedai bury Kerene and Logain's army. Lan, Moiraine, Nynaeve and the Aes Sedai travel to the White Tower of Tar Valon for a month. Moiraine warns Nynaeve of the Aes Sedai's political machinations. The Whitecloaks waylay Perrin, Egwene and the Tinkers. With Aram's help, Perrin and Egwene initially escape, but are captured by Eamon Valda. Valda suspects Egwene can channel, and tortures Perrin to force Egwene to channel. Egwene and Perrin escape when wolves attack the camp, seemingly connected to Perrin. Rand and Mat arrive at Tar Valon, where Rand is disturbed by Mat's odd behavior. Rand meets Loial, an Ogier, who notes that Rand resembles a foreign Aiel. Loial helps Nynaeve reunite with Mat and Rand. Logain is paraded around Tar Valon, laughing madly when he notices Rand and Mat watching. Lan and the other Warders console Stepin, Kerene's Warder. Moiraine and Alanna discuss Stepin's mental state. Alanna warns Moiraine of both Liandrin's motives and the impending return of the Amyrlin Seat. The following morning, Lan finds Stepin dead by suicide. Lan serves as the primary mourner at Stepin's funeral, overcome with grief.
6"The Flame of Tar Valon"Salli RichardsonJustine Juel GillmerDecember 10, 2021 (2021-12-10)
Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat, questions Liandrin for Logain's gentling and Moiraine's travelling for 20 years. Visiting Rand and Mat, Moiraine detaches Mat from the tainted dagger from Shadar Logoth. Moiraine has also found Egwene and Perrin. Maigan, a Blue Sitter, orders Moiraine to remain at the Tower and Moiraine tries to hide her motives from Liandrin. Moiraine asks Loial a favor. Moiraine and Siuan meet in secret, and the two lovers discuss their plan to find the Dragon Reborn. Moiraine takes a reunited Nynaeve and Egwene to meet the Amyrlin, where Egwene is awe-struck and Nynaeve is suspicious. In the hall of the Tower, Moiraine is exiled by Siuan in a ruse to allow her to leave the Tower with the Two Rivers villagers. Moiraine gathers the Two Rivers villagers and Loial at a Waygate where they will travel to the Eye of the World to confront the Dark One and uncover who the Dragon Reborn is. Mat hesitates, and the other villagers, Loial, Moiraine, and Lan enter the Ways without him.
7"The Dark Along the Ways"Ciaran DonnellyAmanda Kate Shuman & Katherine B. McKennaDecember 17, 2021 (2021-12-17)
The Two Rivers villagers who followed Moiraine into the Ways argue about returning for Mat but continue forward. Loial guides them along the Ways, which have been corrupted. The group encounters a Trolloc. Egwene repels the Trolloc, but the One Power attracts Machin Shin (Black Wind), which provokes their deepest fears. Nynaeve repels Machin Shin with the Power while Moiraine opens the Waygate to Fal Dara. A man also in the Ways follows them to Fal Dara. Once there, they argue with Moiraine, who reveals whoever is not the Dragon would die if they reach the Eye of the World. Moiraine visits the seer Min Farshaw. Nynaeve and Lan (the heir to the lost kingdom of Malkier) have sex. Egwene and Rand reconcile. Rand recalls that Tam was present at the Battle of the Shining Walls and encountered a pregnant Maiden of the Spear who died giving birth to Rand whom Tam raised. Machin Shin taunted Rand he is the Dragon. Rand had channeled to escape both an earlier Darkfriend and the Trolloc in the Ways. Rand and Moiraine leave Fal Dara to go to the Eye of the World, leaving the rest behind.
8"The Eye of the World"Ciaran DonnellyRafe JudkinsDecember 24, 2021 (2021-12-24)
3000 years ago, the Tamyrlin Seat warns Lews Therin Telamon of the dangers of his plan to imprison the Dark One. In the Blight, Moiraine gives Rand a sa'angreal, an ancient object to enhance his power to defeat the Dark One. At the Eye, Rand sees a vision of him and Egwene starting a family, which the Dark One tells him can come to fruition if he gives his power to the Shadow. The Dark One cuts Moiraine's connection to the One Power. As the Fal Dara army falls to an attack by thousands of Trollocs, five women – including Nynaeve and Egwene – channel against the attack and destroy the Trollocs. All but Egwene burn from excessive channelling. Egwene then heals Nynaeve. Perrin finds the Horn of Valere, which can summon the greatest warriors of history. Padan Fain steals it, revealing he is a Darkfriend who visited the Two Rivers to find the five ta'veren. Rand attacks the Dark One with the sa'angreal and fractures the unbreakable symbol he stood upon. Fearing madness, Rand goes into hiding. Lan finds Moiraine, who tells him that this was not the Last Battle. In the west, great ships arrive, whose channellers generate powerful waves.

Production

Background

In 2000, NBC optioned the screen rights to Robert Jordan's fantasy novel series The Wheel of Time but did not ultimately proceed with the production.[1] In 2004, Jordan sold the film, television, video game, and comic rights to the series to production company Red Eagle Entertainment.[1] In 2015, Red Eagle Entertainment paid air time to cable network FXX to air Winter Dragon, a 22-minute pilot for a potential The Wheel of Time series starring Billy Zane and Max Ryan that allowed Red Eagle to hold on to the rights to the project.[16] Subsequently, the company sued Jordan's widow, Harriet McDougal, for her comments about the pilot;[17] the lawsuit was settled in 2016.[18]

Development

A new adaptation of the series was announced on April 20, 2017, produced by Sony Pictures Television in association with Red Eagle Entertainment and Radar Pictures. Rafe Judkins was expected to serve as showrunner for the series and executive produce alongside Rick Selvage, Larry Mondragon, Ted Field, Mike Weber, Lauren Selig and Darren Lemke. McDougal was set to serve as a consulting producer.[19] By October 2018, the series had been in development for a year, and Amazon Studios had agreed to produce it.[1][20][21] Uta Briesewitz was confirmed as the director of the first two episodes in February 2019.[22] On May 20, 2021, Amazon renewed the series for a second season ahead of the series premiere.[23] The first episode of the second season is titled "A Taste of Solitude", with the teleplay by Amanda Kate Shuman.[24]

The lead characters from Emond's Field were written as older compared to their book counterparts, as the production team thought that television shows with seventeen-year-old lead characters could feel like young adult fiction, which was not a genre they felt was suitable for the series.[25]

Casting

Rosamund Pike was cast as the lead Moiraine in June 2019.[4] Further main cast members were announced in August 2019: Daniel Henney as Lan Mandragoran, Josha Stradowski as Rand al'Thor, Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara, Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al'Meara, Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon, and Madeleine Madden as Egwene al'Vere.[6] In September 2021, Dónal Finn was cast as Mat Cauthon for the second season when it was announced Harris would not be returning to the role after the first season.[7] In October 2021, Ceara Coveney, Natasha O'Keeffe and Meera Syal joined the cast as series regulars for the second season.[26]

Filming

Principal photography for the first season started on September 16, 2019.[27] Filming in Prague was halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic[28] but had resumed by April 2021[29] and concluded in May 2021.[30] Filming for the second season began on July 19, 2021[31] and is scheduled to conclude in February 2022.[32][33]

Release

The series premiered on the streaming service Amazon Prime Video on November 19, 2021, with the first three episodes available immediately and the rest debuting on a weekly basis.[34][35] The first two episodes premiered in theaters in London, UK, and select cities across the US on November 15, 2021, ahead of the streaming release of the first three episodes.[36] The series was the most watched Prime Video premiere of 2021 and among the most watched Prime Video premieres on record;[37] the premiere was also the most pirated television program of the week.[38]

Reception

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an 82% approval rating and an average rating of 7.25/10, based on 73 reviews. The critics' consensus reads, "The Wheel of Time's revolutions can be a bit creaky as it tries to stand out from other fantasy series, but it succeeds admirably in making Robert Jordan's epic approachable for the uninitiated."[39] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 55 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[40]

Ed Power of The Daily Telegraph gave the series 4 out of 5, writing: "In its early episodes this big Wheel has enough sweep, mystique and momentum to suggest that it can keep on turning and give Amazon the global hit it dearly craves."[41] Keith Phipps of TV Guide gave the series 4 out of 5, writing: "Most importantly, it works as a piece of storytelling, creating an elaborate fictional universe but also reasons for viewers to care about that universe's fate and intrigue about what happens next."[42] Lucy Mangan of The Guardian gave the series 3 out of 5, writing: "It's absolutely fine. It's got brio, it's got style and it’s got enough portentous voiceover book-ending events to make everything feel high stakes."[43] John Doyle of The Globe and Mail wrote that the series had "a certain charm in its depiction of ordinary people living in this beautiful but fraught place", but criticized it for what he described as "an overreliance on special effects and spectacle, to the point where you’d rather get back to the people involved."[44] Preeti Chibber of Polygon stated, "The Wheel of Time is a very strong start to a much-awaited series and created by someone who has a clear understanding of how adaptations can soar when complementing their source material rather than just copying it."[45] Mini Anthikad Chhibber of The Hindu described watching the first two episodes of the series as "a fun experience", and praised the visuals and action.[46]

Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone gave the series 2 out of 5, praising the show's visuals and writing that it "may bring in some fantasy fans starved for any morsel of magic and wonder", but added: "the whole thing is empty, if expensive, calories."[47] Fiona Sturges of the Financial Times gave the series 2 out of 5, writing: "While there is enough violence and faux-mysticism to keep genre fans happy, convincing human interactions are harder to find."[48] Chancellor Agard, writing for Entertainment Weekly, noted a lack of character development despite the series' overall watchability.[49] Variety criticized the series for speeding through too much story.[50] Brian Lowry of CNN described the series as "Amazon's poor-man's version of The Lord of the Rings", and wrote: "the characters simply don't possess enough pop to draw in those who don't come immersed in the mythology, and the special effects are uneven."[51]

Notes

  1. ^ Bose is credited as part of the main cast from season 1, episode 3.
  2. ^ Animashaun is credited as part of the main cast from season 1, episode 5.
  3. ^ Okonedo is credited as part of the main cast from season 1, episode 6.
  4. ^ Alexander is credited as part of the main cast from season 1, episode 7.
  5. ^ Fares is credited as part of the main cast from season 1, episode 8

References

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External links