I was going to wait for another batch of three episodes. But these two had so much happening in it that I decided to tackle it on its own. So… I guess that’s what we’ll be doing for the rest of this season.
Divided, the Emond’s Fielders continue their journey towards the White Tower. Rand and Mat escape to a barn with Thom Merrilin. Perrin and Egwene take refuge with the traveling Tinkers. Lan and Nynaeve establish a rocky alliance in order to save Moraine and find the others; in order to do so, however, they must unite with a group of Aes Sedai carting the false dragon Logaine to the White Tower. Though separated, they all continue their journey to Tar Valon.
These episodes are probably my favorite of the season so far. They’re different enough from the book, adding plenty of stuff that I really enjoyed, while being faithful enough to still undeniably be the Eye of the World. Granted, it’s still far from perfect. Some of the changes are odd, others baffling. But it does a lot of things that I really like!
Episode four has the single strongest opening in the season so far. Seeing Logaine in action before getting captured is amazing! We can see why men fear him, yet we also get a glimpse as to why they respected and followed him. Honestly, I feel like this is how the season should have started!
We also get our first meeting with Loial! I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, he doesn’t look anything like how I imagined him from the books; call that a technical limitation of the show. On the other, they got his characterization down pretty well! Even if they rely on the ‘he doesn’t know how humans work’ angle a little too heavily.
The best thing these episodes do is ground the relationships. Each dynamic feels much more fleshed out and real than they did in the books. Nynaeve and Lan actually have some buildup in their romance, rather than just instantly falling in love with each other for seemingly no reason. Going through heavy shit brings Rand and Mat closer together rather than farther apart. Thom’s presence is short-lived, but he has so much presence that he quickly becomes a stand-out in the cast!
All the performances are really good. From minor characters to the main heroes, everyone here is doing really well! It certainly helps that the script is rock-solid. None of the dialogue is horrendous or groan-worthy. It feels like the Wheel of Time while still being organic and interesting.
The visuals are the most mixed aspect of the show. Some of the cinematography is amazing. But most of the action scenes are still really rough looking. Some visuals in those action scenes are really creative, sure. But between lacking visual effects and choreography, they often feel more like LARPing than an actual fight.
That said, the sets all look amazing. The White Tower is incredible, its hallways wonderfully carved and majestic. The city of Tar Valon looks absolutely wonderful, being bright and colorful and varied. Most of the costumes still look amazing, and those touched up by CGI look great. The Fade looks absolutely incredible when it steps into action, making perfect use of the shadows!
These two episodes are a definite improvement over the first three. Not flawless; some of the changes they made are bizarre, if not bad. But I like how the show is carving out its own identity without butchering Robert Jordan’s original work. It’s not a perfect show, but it gets better and better with each episode.
Hopefully, some of those bold changes they’ve been making end up being for the best.