THE WHEEL OF TIME (Season 2) -- A Terrific Start to the Second Season of This World-Renowned Fantasy Series
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Wheel of Time is a long-running fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan. It was turned into a television series on Prime Video a couple of years ago, now entering into its second season on the streaming service. Fans have been eagerly waiting for this season because they weren't exactly over the moon with the first season of the show. The book series is very dense and in-depth, and Season One didn't capture that as far as the fans were concerned. I for one liked what I saw from Season One, and I'm excited for what Season Two can bring to the forefront.
Season Two shows the five have all been separated and are on their own, away from the help of Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Blue Ajah — a subsect of the Aes Sedai, a section of women who have the ability to wield the One Power, which makes them some of the strongest people in the realm. She has saved the realm with the help of her ward al'Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and the sisters in the other sects, but it didn't prevent her from losing one of the five…. or so she thought. In Season Two, she embarks on a mission to find Rand al'Thor (Josha Stradowski), while she breaks up with her servant/protector, al'Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney).
The other members of the five each have their own various difficulties that they need to try to overcome. Nynaeve al'Meara (Zoe Robins) and Egwene al'Vere (Madeleine Madden) are at the tower, learning how to use their gifts and find one of them is more important to the Ajahs than the other. A Red Ajah specifically, Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood), takes an interest in her and her training, which goes in a direction most unexpected for all involved.
Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) has found himself with a group of warriors who have been broken away from the kingdom they've sworn to protect. On their journey to find a haven, they get captured or in some cases killed. With the help of a new friend, he escapes his captors, who are trying to take over the land one town at a time. They both have abilities from the One Power as well, which can help them find their place in a special pack.
Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris) is in prison, and he's a ploy for one of the Red Ajahs to find out about him and his ties to the five and the One Power. She sets another prisoner as a ruse to get them to escape and find his friends. Like the other subplots in the series, this one will lead to bigger things in the overall context of the season. Season Two is littered with subplots like this one that made the first four episodes all that much better.
There is an overarching storyline involving Stradowski’s character, which comes to a distinct cliffhanger at the end of the fourth episode called "Daughter of the Knight." He must find out if he is the dragon or not. He works in a health care facility/prison to learn about the power he wields from the previous man, who could wield the One Power that drove him mad. He is a prisoner there. Also, he shacks up with a beautiful innkeeper who may have a secret of her own.
The first four episodes of Season Two of The Wheel of Time were a great setup for the rest of the season. They give the audience watching at home on Prime Video just enough to whet their appetite. I was completely enamored with the endings of all four episodes I watched. They all had fantastic cliffhangers, with the fourth episode having the ultimate cliffhanger of them all.
The writers, Rafe Lee Judkins, and Amanda Kate Shurman, and the creator of the book series, Robert Jordan, do a great job setting up this second season. They give each of the five terrific character arcs and keep fans excited for what is coming down the road. Throw in the arc of Pike's character, and this season picks up nicely from Season One. Not having read the books, I can only go off of what I'm watching, and this is on par with The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon in terms of recent fantasy shows.
Fantasy shows like this must have a distinct look and feel to make fans and critics like myself believe in what we are watching, despite the strange dialogue. The show creator does that by having the costumes, hair and makeup look good, visual effects and stunt work look authentic and immersive. They must be as good — if not better — than other shows of this nature. I can say without question this show from a technical aspect is first-rate. This is a great-looking series thus far.
Season Two of The Wheel of Time packs a wallop. Each episode I saw had fantastic cliffhangers. All the main characters had good arcs that will make fans get invested in this season from the start. The writing is a major strength, but the technical aspects are as good as you'll see in a fantasy show such as this. I am eagerly waiting for what happens next after the fourth episode. I'm sure fans of the books and Season One will be as well.
The Wheel of Time streams on Prime Video beginning September 1. Four out of eight episodes reviewed.