The Wheel of Time returns for its fourth episode with some pretty interesting developments for a couple characters, as well as introducing Logain Ablar properly to viewers in an episode that delves a little deeper into the lore surrounding Aes Sedai and the fates of male channellers. Its a strong midway point for the season though I worry it may be a little slow as there seems to be a lot the show still has to cover going into the second half.
Perrin and Egwene are languishing in a subplot that gives them very little to do outside of bonding with their new travelling companions. It does help the world to feel bigger and more complex though, adding depth and nuance to the Tuatha’an. Their following of the ‘Way of the Leaf’ (a vow of non-violence) quietly appeals to Perrin who’s been struggling with the fate of his wife since the end of the pilot. It’s indicative of the subtle theme of hope running throughout this episode, whether it’s Egwene suggesting to Aram that they may have already found the Song the Tuatha’an are searching for that will bring peace and happiness or in the little girl who gives Mat her doll because the doll wants to see the world. It can even be found in Logain’s story, in the possibility that the Dragon Reborn is just as likely to save the world as break it.
I find Logain to be a compelling character. I like the way his madness manifests and I am impressed with how well he fought it, choosing to give that man in the beginning a chance to join him instead of killing him like the madness urged him to. He was actually doing a pretty good job at inspiring unity and bringing people together but not even one person with a lot of power can do much against beliefs that are deeply ingrained into the world.
This is what leads to the inevitable gentling of Logain, a word that makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable, likening the men with a connection to the One Power to animals. It parallels nicely with the story Thom told Rand bout his nephew who was gentled after going mad and ended up killing himself because he no longer felt whole. It’s not a fate that should be wished on anyone and it reinforces Liandrin as an insidious character. You can’t help but feel the gentling was justified though after Logain’s power killed Kerene and would have killed Lan and maybe even Moiraine if Nynaeve hadn’t intervened. The One Power within her awakens in a truly spectacular display that pays tribute to the bond her and Lan have formed in this short period of time, setting Nynaeve up as one of the most powerful characters in the show.
The Aes Sedai storyline in this episode also gave us an opportunity to delve deeper into their lore and their connections with their Warders. No bond is greater than the one between that of an Aes Sedai and a Warder and we see that in Stepin’s grief stricken response to feeling Kerene’s death and then seeing her body and in the polyamorous trio which continues the normalisation of LGBT romances in this world in a natural way.
We get a little more insight into the various Aes Sedai factions as well. The Green Ajah are warriors, the Blue Ajah are effectively spies and the Red Ajah are primarily hunters of men with a connection to the One Power as the saidin half of the magic was corrupted by the Dark One. We get a little sneak peek into the politics and relationships between the different factions that I’m sure we’ll learn more about as the season goes on and all our characters convene at the White Tower in Tar Valon.
Over with Rand and Mat, Rand is relegated to a supporting role while Mat has a pretty horrible day by fantasy standards, giving Logain’s tragedy a run for its money. Thom picks up on the fact that he was pretty close to pulling his dagger out on the farming family and warns Rand that they need to look after him lest the Aes Sedai come to gentle him – hence the cautionary tale of his nephew. Rand also notices that things aren’t quite right with Mat and then the audience is treated to a view of the black grainy shadows that had inhabited Shadar Logoth seeping out of his mouth like a rot has taken root inside him. And considering he got his shiny brand new dagger from that place? Yeah. Nothing good can come of that.
I even thought he’d killed that family because of that evil dagger. It took me several hours and a bit of trawling of social media to figure out that it wasn’t him, it was the Fade which is certainly a relief, but this evil dagger, shadow business is only going to get worse from here on out. He’s probably not going to deal well with seeing that dead little girl that reminded him so much of his sisters.
Overall, this episode did a lot to progress Nynaeve’s and Mat’s arcs going into the final half of the season and I hope to see a lot more of Logain going forward. Perrin and Egwene are given some subtle character development but hopefully they’re given a lot more to do next episode to balance out the fact that they’ve mostly just been wandering around for the past couple of episodes.
What did you think of the episode? Wish Perrin and Egwene had more to do? Will Thom escape the Fade? Sound off in the comments below!
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