Over the course of its first season, Amazon’s Wheel of Time adaptation opted to turn the Dragon Reborn into a mystery to be solved. For six episodes, viewers were left to ponder who would be the Dragon Reborn: Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene or Nynaeve. Book readers, of course, knew it would be none other than Rand. However, the series looked to be going in a potentially different direction – until episode seven confirmed Rand to be the Dragon Reborn. “The Eye of the World” sees him come to terms with who he is, all while he recalls a prior life he’s lived. In the end, it makes for a quiet finale, to an otherwise fantastic first season.
The episode picks back up with Moiraine and Rand making their way through the blight in search of the Dark One (Ishamael). As they fight their way through the blight, the others remain back in the city of Fal Dara, trying to figure out a way to help. Their initial reaction is to run after Moiraine and Rand, however, they know that should they step foot into the blight, it would more than likely result in death. Still, Lan is willing to chance it in order to find Moiraine. So, he uses tracking skills taught to him by Nynaeve to find her, while she aides the others in finding another way to help. The storyline essentially stretches over the show’s nearly one-hour timeframe, and yet, despite so much happening, the story ultimately feels stalled.
As the episode cuts between the two locations, we see Rand make his way to the Eye of the World with Moiraine following close behind him. Flashes begin to appear as Rand recalls a prior life in which he’s already been to the Eye of the World and faced the Dark One. Their last meeting ended with the Dark One winning. This time, though, Moiraine is willing to do what is needed to ensure Rand does not stray from the light – even if it means killing him. As Rand enters another realm with the Dark One, one where he’s presented with a future with Egwene in which they have a child. It’s a future he wants, and one Rand nearly gives everything up for. Thankfully, however, he soon realizes that the future he’s being presented with is nothing more than a fantasy. Even if he can make it a reality, it isn’t a future Egwene has a say in and therefore isn’t one he can accept. It’s this moment in which Rand successfully overcomes the Dark in order to defeat the Dark One – at least temporarily.
Unfortunately, though, by this point, an army of Trollocs have already made their way to Fal Dara along with Fades. While the city itself does not fall, those that stayed behind to fight soon find themselves facing certain death. While Egwene and Nynaeve help by accessing the One Power and helping Lady Amalisa (Sandra Yi Sencindiver) channel enough power to try and take down the armies before they make their way to the city. The scene is a stunning one as the lighting stands in stark contrast against the gloomy background. It’s made all the more powerful as the women collapse under the weight of the One Power, with Egwene seemingly the only survivor, until she heals Nynaeve.
When Rand “defeats” the Dark One, he makes Moiraine promise to tell the others he has died to ensure he can head out on his own. It’s a strong ending to an otherwise uneven episode, however, it’s the closing scene viewers will most likely be talking about going into Season 2. As the episode ends, we see a young girl on a beach. Out of nowhere, a horde of ships come into focus in the ocean, catching her eye. It’s the Seanchan, and they’ve seemingly created a tsunami upon their arrival.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Wheel of Time because it has successfully managed to combine excellent character work with a love of the source material. It never tried to go full action series as the show respects its source material, which is something most adaptations fail to do these days. Unfortunately, though, because of how eager the show is to stay true to the source, it sometimes feels unsure of how to adapt Robert Jordan‘s work. While there are some fine character moments in “The Eye of the World,” the episode only barley moves the storyline forward.
Yes, there are some big moments, such as Moiraine losing access to the One power and Rand making the decision to leave the others are quite memorable. However, the bits in between are slow-going. It’s a shame, honestly, because the first season was a great success overall. “The Eye of the World” seems to feel like an afterthought. It’s slow, the few action bits are stellar, but the CGI work is wonky, and the Dark One could have been handled so much better.