Quote of the Episode: “Women hold the one power, but men still control much of this world and they are rarely kind to little girls that show a spark of being greater than they are.”-Liandrin
With Wheel of Time episode 5, we are past the halfway point in the series, and it feels like we are flying through the season. I really wish we had gotten a 12-episode season, because I’m trying to figure out where and how they are going to land this plane. They have flown through a lot of stuff. It sometimes feels like when you’re playing a video game and someone skips a bunch of dialogue to get to the main quest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we didn’t spend 4 episodes in the Two Rivers, but I am curious as to how some of this fast-forwarding is going to affect future storylines. But hey, I look up and here we are at Wheel of Time episode 5, and we just hit Tar Valor. Overall, this was a solid, clear transition episode, so I’m expecting big things from episode 6. I’m convinced that some of us have forgotten how to watch tv. Being able to binge a season’s worth of tv in a weekend has ruined us in ways. Every episode can’t be Michael Bay explosions and M. Night Shyamalan twisty-turns. We have to have transitions, monologues, we have to have episodes that scaffold us into the awesome, and I think that’s what episode 5 was.
As always, continue at your own peril, because spoilers are Whitecloaks, and I am Hopper coming for your throat.
In the opening scene of Wheel of Time episode 5 , we are burying a lot of bodies. It is a somber scene, which sets the tone for the rest of the episode. In other news, we finally see everyone converge on Tar Valon. I know my fellow BookWryms, (now called BookCloaks by some) have been giving the show 0/4 stars, but we have to be able to admit when the show gets something right; we should all be able to admit that the opening shot of the White Tower was impressive. While riding to the white tower, Moraine gives a bit of monologue which in retrospect seems ominous “Stepin is a strong man, he’ll deliver her ring to the tower.” A bit of foreshadowing here?
It switches over to Rand and Mat, and Mat looks sick enough to demand horse de-wormer and a colloidal silver treatment from an Aes Sedia. We get into the city and we get our first “Blood and Ashes” curse from Rand, some of you don’t care, but me and the rest of the Bookwyrms have been patiently waiting. The show did a good job showing us the scope of Tar Valon and how awed the boys were by it. The show has also been sneaking things in. I don’t know how many of you noticed, because I didn’t see it until my 3rd watch through, but the boys had a stalker. Padan Fain sitting in the shadows not looking sketchy at all. We see Mat struggling with the omicron variant and his conscience, unsure if he killed the farm family or not.
We switch over to Nynaeve, in The Tower, giving Moraine grief (yes, I know that just sounded like a CLUE board game reference). I love Nynaeve, although I will say I’m mildly disappointed that this is the first episode where she doesn’t stab someone. Moraine and Nynaeve giving off some real mother daughter vibes, but like daughter who went away to college for a semester and came back a bit mouthy.
We see Perrin and Egwene start off happy and living their best life which means something bad is going to happen in about 5… 4…3…2… Whitecloaks. This whole scene was amazing. Valda is really good at making me hate him, but the arm locking thing that the Tinkers did was giving me big “Instagram activism” energy. What in the “Carebears Stare” was going on here? Did the Tuatha’an really try to stop the Children of the Light with the power of love? Only thing missing from the scene was Valda screaming “stop resisting.” In the words of Valda, it was the Way of the Leaf against the Way of the Light, and the leaf crumbled.
Ogier Sighting! Ok, so this was originally a source of tension for me. Loial is one of my favorites in the book, but the early art we had for him didn’t mesh up with what a lot of us thought Ogier were going to look like. But as soon as Hammed Animashaun started talking I HEARD Loial. He sounded just like I always heard in my head while reading the books. After a bit of slow repertoire with Loial, Rand decides to parkour himself up and join Mat up and watch Logain get paraded through the streets of the Tar Valon, all that was missing was a middle-aged woman with a bell yelling SHAME! Also, another Fain stalking/sighting here, and right before he disappears we get a nasty Joker-style laugh. Once again, perfect casting for Padan Fain.
We get on over to Warders & Friends, and they are clearly preparing for some sort of ritual. There is a bit of crosstalk between the Warders, and I’ll admit I’m a bit torn here. None of this happens in the books, so I was trying to figure out the why. Why waste all this time on scenes that don’t occur. Without embracing spoilers too much, I think they are letting us know how deep the bond between warders and Aes Sedai runs. It really seems like they are preparing us for a thing, I just hope the end result is worth it. Stepin’s line, “First you lose Moraine and then tell me how easy it is to jump from one woman to the next,” almost made Quote of the Episode, because Stepin delivered it with just the right amount of angry frustration. I thought his whole scene with the ring melting back into the gold was hauntingly beautiful.
Another scene switch in Wheel of Time episode 5 and we are at the White Cloak Police Department (WCPD) watching them prepare Egwene, and I am really getting a weird, uncomfortable vibe here. Great bit of camera work watching how the show contrasted the brutal care they took with Egwene and how rough they were with Perrin. Watching Valda carve up the pig was a bit of foreshadowing I didn’t catch the first time around. The most unsettling thing was that even as we are watching them bathe and clean the fingers of Egwene it felt wrong. It felt less like care and more like cleaning an animal and getting it ready for ritual sacrifice.
Another thing I didn’t notice until my second watch of Wheel of Time episode 5 was that as soon as Valda tears Perrins shirt off you hear the wolves start howling. I didn’t notice the wolves the first time until Valda started slicing into Perrin…anddddddd BOOM! We got our first GOLDENEYES sighting! I just want to say this…Valda has some cleaning life hacks. He got about 4 slices in on Perrin and didn’t get a speck of red on his outfit. That boy Valda was “white party” ready even after a bout of torture. It’s a bit impressive.
After a small bit of verbal fencing between Liandrin and Nynaeve, we get back to Loial, and I realized something. One of the criticisms of Loial was that he was too short for an Ogier. But I think something else happened, I think either we got some weird camera angles, or they were trying to show how tall Rand was. If I remember correctly from the books that’s one of Rand’s prominent features, his height. I say this because when Loial gives a small stump speech before revealing Nynaeve behind door #1, we see him duck beneath said doorway and then stand straight up, and it’s clear that he is taller than the door. This means Loial is Ogier tall, so I think we can come off the ledge. If we ignore the Bob Ross afro, I am perfectly fine with saying, THIS IS MY LOIAL. Speaking of the side-part afro, I also wonder if this is a deliberate move. I wonder if the Ogier in the stedding look more like “what we think they are supposed to look like.” Maybe this is “Tar Valon Loial,” or “post getting chased through the streets” Loial. Could be Loial with a updo and some spa treatment, but that voice and speech pattern is mos def my Loial.
Back to CIA Agent Valda and we quickly find out his enhanced interrogation techniques bit off more than he could chew. Egwene splits her weaves and casts a puff of smoke at Valda. He was fixing to “unalive” Egwene when she freed Perrin who did his Bruce Banner impersonation. I would of loved to hear a “We Come” from Hopper, but the wolves wrecking the Whitecloaks once again proved how invaluable Wu-Tang would be in this world because you gotta “Protect Ya Neck.” Wolves were swarming like killer bees “Can I get a Suuuuuuu?” and Perrin and Egwene use this moment to make their escape. Egwene tries her hand at impersonating Nynaeve and stabs Valda on the way out, but she made a rookie mistake. Egwene didn’t follow Zombieland Rule #2: Double-tap. Nynaeve on the other hand would of double tapped, triple tapped, and then slit Valda’s throat for good measure Let’s hope this doesn’t come back to haunt Egwene.
We spend the next few scenes getting some Wheel of Time lore. We learn about the Yellow Ajah and their love of healing, some more internals about the bond between warders and Aes Sedai and an opening introduction to the Forsaken. But we end with an absolutely haunting scene that also, never happens in the books. But even though the Book Cloaks have raised hell, I think this scene gives us some incredible insight. Stepin completes Moraine’s foreshadowing; he was strong enough to carry the ring to The Tower, but that was about it. Stepin sleeps Lan and then ends his watch in front of the Amyrlin’s front door and we get to the Warder’s death rites. I’ve seen a bunch of arguments between the Fandom about this scene in particular. Sadly, they weren’t arguing about the unintentional Wolf of Wall Street references, but rather or not Lan Mandragoran would have screamed in grief, shed a tear, shown any humanity.
Ok, to my fellow Bookwyrms, who have not yet become Book Cloaks, I’ll admit, I too originally had my personal issues with how Daniel Henney had portrayed Lan. I expected more of a grizzled drill sergeant with a thousand-yard stare. But I think stripping Lan of any humanity shows a basic lack of understanding of the character. Lan’s “stone face” wasn’t a deep character trait so much as it was his own personal armor and duty. As the last in the line of Malkier I think Lan felt it was his duty to be stoic. Lan had to represent not just Malkier, but the Borderlands, the broken Towers, and The Golden Crane. Lan literally carried a nation on his back. Stoicism for the sake of stoicism wasn’t his driving force, duty was. Duty is heavier than a mountain, death as light as a feather. And I have no doubt that neither, smooth-faced Daniel Henny’s Lan, or the stone-faced drill sergeant in my imagination would have balked at doing their duty for a fellow warder. Lan Mandragoran wouldn’t have hesitated to thump his chest or bare his soul in sobs if that’s what duty would have demanded of him.
And that’s where we end. Granted Wheel of Time episode 5 didn’t end on a cliff hanger, but we got a lot of information. I want to see what they do with these last three episodes. Where do we go next? How will they end the season? How long will we stay in Tar Valon? We will get some of these answers in the next episode, and I’m sure the Bookwyrms, Book Cloaks and ShowSworn can’t wait to love and hate Episode 6. I’m willing to wager against the Jak O’ Shadows that the series is going to end strong. Anyone want to wager against me? Come on. Don’t be scared. It’s time to roll the dice.
Want to catch up on what you missed from the Wheel of Time? Check out BNP’s other reviews here.
Cover image via tvline.com